Someone Asked, So I am Answering...

What inspires me?

I get inspiration from life itself and all of the interesting items out there. I block out people's art because I want it to come my own experience of living. Someone recently gave me a doll collection of many shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds and clothing styles. I could dedicate this whole year on it. Each exploration would inspire what is next for the next one. I'm inspired by the things that human hands have made such as textile embroideries and laces, antiques, lanterns, old cars. Faces inspire me. Music inspires me. Feelings and memories inspire me. The Masters inspire me. Mastery lures me...


The Nepalese Jacket

Some of my clothing I can't tear apart and it is usually the ones I personally chose and bought. Here's why. My standard is that I like garments that have an ethnic special way about them. My Nepalese coat is one of them, plus just acquiring it has it's own specialness abouut it.

I got it in the fall of maybe 1992 on a Saturday morning when some Mexican people were selling clothing from there. I think this was one of them. But I couldn't figure out why they were selling clothing from a tropical country that was obviously for cold weather. Well, looking at the label tonight answered that question when I saw it was from Nepal. That explains everything because Nepal is in the Himalayas and very cold.

Even the building I got this in is important for me as it is one of my favorite places on Earth with its octagonal shape and colored glass windows. It's the Chancellor Green which is the first library at Princeton University.

This coat has been worn a lot and it has stains that probably won't come out. I need to see if I can find this fabric somewhere from Nepal which seems to be a heavy, soft cotton blend of some kind. Maybe it is raw silk. But would Nepal have silk unless the fabric came from India or China? The design of this jacket is pleasing to look at in its simplicity and very comfortable to wear. The colored woven part which is probably a local wool is in perfect condition. If I can find the nubby off-white fabric I would like to resew this. It's too good to remake into something else.

This one stays in the closet.

Anything that is classic or traditional will be either kept or remade because of its locale or the history associated with it in my life.


Clothing Doings: Sort by Pattern, Color, and Materials

Even though my first makings of clothing isn't for sale but is for personal use, I am going to use the legal guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission for the garment industry which says that clothing has to be labeled as to materials and care.

So, my clothing has to be arranged, first, by what it is made of. Then I will sort by patterns and colors. This is to get into standard business habits just in case I start selling clothing. I have forgotten how to get labels. That costs money. The FTC did say that for clothing that is reversable a tag on the garment isn't necessary, but a slip of paper saying the care and materials is to be in the packaging. This is a good thing to know.

But for now, this is for personal use with an eye to sound and legal business practises. The labeling is the most difficult thing for now. It's winter anyway and reversable makes total sense with a lining between the fabrics. Think warm and cozy. This is all I care about right now.

I have heat on in my house, but as winter wans and the concern for pipes freezing goes away, clothing is a very sustainable way to keep warm.

Also, I know I said this year is for making art, but it is also dedicated to textile art whether drawing it or making it. Working with my clothing in this way is me still keeping on purpose for this year's work.


The Empress Could Have No Clothes if She Wants to be a New Star Anew

This empress writing this could have no clothes if she wants to start anew. It wouldn't take much to pack up her clothes and put them in boxes so as to take them all apart for sewing clothing she actually likes. She really can do that.

Legally, for a person to walk out of her house is to have something on her body to hide private parts, to have shoes on her feet if she will drive or go into a public area and to make sure that she won't freeze to death or roast to death because of too little or too much clothing on her. It really is this way.

Other than that, the rest of the rules are up to me as long as I stay in the United States.

This winter I have found a long forgotten trick to stay warm using clothing and that is to wear pants under a long skirt or to wear a long skirt over pants. I guess these days it would be to wear a skirt over long pants because the fashion has been to wear long pants for a long time. Which, I have to say is quite boring really. Really!

It has felt so warm to wear my clothes like that. It really makes a difference in warmth. The clothing in my closet and bureau is not what I really like in style, but the fabrics are fabulous. People give me their throwaways. I just want to take the seams out of all of it and make new clothes that I actually like. And what that is, is hand-made full length dresses or skirts, and hand made tops. I'll keep the pants as they are because they aren't to be seen anyway except for the bottom shown underneath the skirt.

I want the clothing that is to be seen on me to be hand made by me and in styles I like. The under clothing such as turtle necks and anything unseen can be kept as it is. I want to play with this and see what I can come up with.

I haven't bought a winter coat since November, 1990. I have a lot of coats that people have given me, most of which I don't even wear. I don't like most of them and the one I do wear is for warmth and warmth mostly. The rest are waist length nothings that need to be taken apart and put together somehow into one or more full length coat that is beautiful and keeps me warm.

Right now I am only legally dressed. That is all. I have clothes on and basically look good enough to carry on in society. But the clothing doesn't reflect my taste or what I admire in clothing.

This has got to change and I will begin to straighten this out tonight. I did say that anything I make will reflect my own sense of style.

Don't expect quickly made clothing. I can only promise that every day I will work on it.


The Holiday Meal (cont.)

I'm sorry but I don't have a working digital camera to show this meal. My plan for this blog was to show things like recipes, but it will have to wait.

The hijiki seaweed salad ended up perfect with some extra broth which will be used for the stock base for a soup tomorrow. A bowl of hijiki is in the fridge and it will last a few days. The stir fry was onions, marinated tofu in the Shanghai stir fry sauce, Chinese broccoli leaves, and some fresh garlic. The adzuki beans ended up not too sweet. The brown basmati rice with ginger, fresh garlic and almonds was heaven and is also waiting for another meal in the fridge.

The way eating this kind of meal is done at a Chinese home is that the dishes are spread out in bowls on the table and each person (today, just me) has a rice bowl and little bits of each dish is placed on the rice and it is eaten. The first time I ate in this way at someone's home the atmosphere was so friendly that every time since I have eaten this way I feel happy and at peace and think of that first day at a Chinese person's family home with friends.

Chinese and Japanese meals are cooked with "the five flavors" in mind. They are sweet, salty, pungeant, sour, and bitter. I didn't concentrate on that in making this meal but it turns out that the five flavors are there. The adzuki beans with some honey in them were sweet, the hijiki salad was salty with the vinegar for a little sour? The ginger and Shanghai sauce was pungeant and to a little extent the Chinese broccoli is bitter.

My kitchen is stocked with a lot of rice, dried beans, and other dried foods and I keep the pungeant onions, garlic and ginger around. The various dried seaweeds add a lot of minerals and flavor to my meals when I think of it. This is vegetarian east Asian country cooking and is very hearty. In the West it is also known as macro-biotic cooking. But I have been around Asian cultures so much that upon being around it I came to recognize what people were feeding me was macro-biotic. So instead of going to expensive health food stores I go to Asian markets to buy basic foods that sustain me.

This kind of cooking takes a lot of timing starting from soaking beans overnight to marinating to soaking the mushrooms and the hijiki seaweed. Then there is cooking the rice and beans and cutting everything for the stirfry, then cooking that. It takes keeping up an organized kitchen and then cleaning up. This meal, not including soaking and cooking the beans, took about four hours from beginning to pull it together, to eating it to cleaning up after it.

I did other housework and didn't get to making art today. I really wanted a holiday meal even though I am not around family today. It was a good day.


The Holiday Meal

My house is beginning to smell real good. I decided on a vegetarian Asian meal from basic Japanese and Chinese foods. In actuality there is an overlap of home cooking between the two cultures and it is a little bit hard to say whether or not some of this is Chinese or Japanese. Then there is a little bit of Indian because the rice is brown basmati with garlic, almonds and ginger in it.

In Japan one of the holiday foods is red adzuki beans and rice because together they look festive. They should be cooked together or at least it should be timed so that the rice comes in later, I think. But today the beans cooked faster before the rice was to go it, so they are separate. Adzuki red beans are a hearty bean that is good in the winter months according to east Asian tradition and eating folklore. They are said to be a warming food. A Chinese friend of mine in 1989 served them to me once sweetened in sugar. So today I did it that way. I'm not sure if it done this way in Japan as the way I was taught in a macrobiotic household I lived in in Basking Ridge, NJ in the late '80's is a recipe with kombu seaweed and soysauce for the salt flavor. I'm making hijiki seaweed salad today so there is already the salt flavor in the meal.

Some tofu is marinating in a zesty Shanghai stir fry sauce made by a company called "Tastefully Simple" that my older sister gave me for Christmas. When she saw that she told me she knew it was exactly just right for me. She is right. There are also dried shiitaki mushrooms soaking to go into the hijiki salad. A store called The Great Wall on Route 27 near or in Kendall Park, NJ is where I get the dried mushrooms. It is a lot cheaper this way and I can store them in bulk for a long time instead of having to go through mushrooms in the refridgerator. I live in a rural area and don't want to spend the money on gas to shop, so I buy larger quanities for cheaper at this place.

The hijiki comes dried also and each packet which is $2 something lasts for several days and is totally delicious. I will be cooking it in water and some seame oil, the shiitake and some soy sauce. Then I let it cool down and put some rice vinegar in it with sesame seeds and grated carrot. This is one of the healthiest salads on the planet as it is full of minerals and vitamins.

The rice cooker just dinged so I need to get back to preparing this meal. I'll be back soon.


In a Playful Sort of Way...

The subject matter of my art for the next several months will be anything surrounding textiles. I'm leaving how I approach this to be open for me to explore. What can I come up with using an unlimited amount of imagination and some materials at home.


The Royal Wedding Gown

I'm not a Royal watcher however I do love textiles and the best made clothing. The Royal Wedding Gown is one of the things I am looking forward to the most this year outside of my own life which is a full and busy one. The secrecy behind "The Dress" is part of the allure here. Just for the fun and intrigue of it I wonder what it will be like.

Kate seems to be a very down to earth person from the little I can tell about her and what has been written about her and from photos.

She seems down to earth in a Renaissance kind of way and one who appreciates the best in life. She'll be one maybe who will choose a designer from someone she knows personally and that it will be made by people handpicked by her that are known for their best craftsmanship. Textile artists and designers from the cottage industries abound all over the world. I think she will tap into this rich resource and she may even pick outside of England.

I'm predicting color and the exquisite type materials of the Renaissance but with a modern way about it and very fluid and stylized. It will be made by many hands to help the best craftspeople make a living and bring handmade work to the forefront of the world's eye.

What people don't often realize when it is seen that someone wears an expensive item of clothing is that it is often handmade and that the craftsmanship is often astounding and that ordinary people who just happen to do something exquisitely well get paid to do it. I think Kate is maybe the type of person who appreciates this and she will reflect this in her gown. It is time for people who work with their hands to be appreciated for their skill and when someone has a piece of clothing of this skill, maybe it shouldn't be poo-pooed for being expensive but that the makers of it are very lucky to have been able to do it in the first place.

It may seem stylish right now to downplay richness to look good to people, but actually the exact opposite is needed. Ordinary people need to be paid to work on this quality of clothing and to bring craftsmanship back into skilled hands and be paid for it.

If my voice counts here at all, I think Kate should find as many hands to work on her gown with the best materials to bring money back into the flow of things. And instead of an over billowed dress like Lady Diana's that got copied all over the world, that what should be publisized after the wedding is what went into making it and bringing excellent tailoring and artistry back into making fine clothing.

This is what I am thinking about as the New Year comes in. My mind is on art, artistry in clothing on all levels of wealth and just what is it that a person like Kate will actually come up with.


New Year's Resolution For an Artist

Happy New Year everybody!

My New Year's resolution is a continuation of the last two years' which worked out quite well. Those two were to do everything I set out to do well whether it is school, work, friendships, money or whatever. It worked out well as the first year I got inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and continued to do well in school and at work I got lots of compliments, so I must have been doing something right.

This year the Resolution is being fine tuned to continue what I have been doing, but to add to that to make art every day with materials I can afford and when time is realistic (I'm a popular housekeeper and sometimes that takes center stage; I'm also a popular daughter)) to post it on eBay every day along with exploring materials not only traditionally but to work in ways past forgotten and new ways and to protect the earth and her creatures as I do it. In other words, except for the rabbit glue I already have, to not buy more.

A cool project this year would be to use up all of my materials without buying anything new, unless it is imperative, to make art and to see what other ways I can make money with what I already have in my home.

Cheers to everybody,


New Year's Eve

Part of the definition of party and celebration is to have a fun time and to be very happy. For New Year's celebration, for me it is about preparing for the New Year and not just the holiday. It's about new beginnings or continuation of ongoing good fortune or turns of fortune.

The last several weeks I have been practising and studying to work in new media in art. Some of that is making silverpoint drawings on white and tinted traditional gesso that is rice based and not rabbit glue based. Some of the art is made with gold Japanese ink which comes in ink stick form and is rubbed in water to make an ink or watercolor type paint. It's been coming along, however working with these materials is an art in itself and sometimes I don't get it right.

I only have a few wood panels to make art with right now and they are all gessoed up waiting for me to make marks on. I don't think I will be publish with them until I feel very comfortable with the results and then be able to predictably and continuously put art up on eBay every day.

For the time being I am beginning the year with daily art in colored pencil and/or graphite on eBay because they are affordable materials or let's say free for now until I have to replace them as I have plenty. Colored pencil works well for me because I work totally in an improvisational way. I'll start with ACEOs on eBay which are art cards in card collecting format or 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" size and are for collecting.

My New Year's Resolution is to make as much art as I can within my means of time and money and to practise and learn new forms of expressing myself in drawing and painting media. A goal of mine is to work traditionally and explore ways of doing that without exploiting rabbits and not polluting the earth.