Tag Archives: massachusetts

Widen the lens – how?


side porch

Always, the unconscious is present, making this or that comment in our days, usually quite a bit ahead of our awareness. That’s part of the mystery, the fun, and the intrigue of making art.

But this picture made me wonder if there weren’t ways to build in a practice of less-conscious captures?

I mean something more than accepting that scrap of fabric that fell from somewhere and landed on a quilt, begging for inclusion. And I mean more than embracing a wicked mistake and owning it as part of a now-changed design.

I mean consciously building in a more random catalog. Anybody have any ideas about how to do this? Does anyone do this already (that they know of)? I’d love to hear.

The umbrella picture struck me because I shot it after composing a series of careful studies of the unfurling, magnificent hosta that line our sidewalk. I composed the way I usually do and had some thread of text forming in my head (something about the glory of spring and the changing tides of opinion — in this case regarding hosta — a pedestrian plant that I used to dislike, but now appreciate for its reliability and willingness to endure all kinds of stress — from rabbit-dining to cold shocks, mashing, and even clips by the lawn mower). As an afterthought, I snapped this dappled light and wet umbrella on my way in the door.

I liked this picture so much more than any of the careful shots, that I had to wonder what else I am missing by pointing my lens in predictable directions.  The rake with its signs of recent bed-clearing, the umbrella still wet with a spring rain, and most of all, the dappled  light… these elements collectively said “SPRING” better than my careful compositions. What ELSE am I missing by pointing my lens in ‘pretty’ directions? By deciding in advance what constitutes an image of something, in this case — spring?

And speaking of spring, here are some more shots of my neighborhood and front yard.


a snobby conflict about flamingos years ago led many in Newton to adorn their yards with them


our front yard – these pansies have suffered in the recent cold


one of my favorite nearby gardens


another beautiful garden on Oxford Road

On the route where these pictures were taken I found a lovely hole-ridden grey piece of something – I don’t want to gross anyone out, but it is probably a piece of Kleenex.


found object has become a ‘house’ quilt

More on that tomorrow! But here is a sneak peek:


light coming through

Beech Trees Journal Quilt


Back when I was taking photos of urban scenes to adapt as decorations for a local after prom party, I also took a number of pictures of beech trees.  They live in Brookline, just a street over from Beacon Street, and they are truly magnificent.

This quilt is small, about 8 1/2 x 11″.  I used the bucket feature in Photoshop Elements 3.0 to change the background colors, which transformed the branch patterns into something resembling stained glass.  I changed threads at least three times quilting the piece, which is a departure from my generally lazy approach to thread.


I’ve recently been back to visit these trees and have come to the conclusion that they are most beautiful when the branches are bare.  This time of year, leaves are plentiful, obscuring the muscular structure of the trunks which I so love to look at.


Solstice = ‘Standing Still’

looking-upToday I will go buy Lawrence Lessig’s book “Remix” as a gift for C. so that I can read it, too.  Heard Lessig on NPR yesterday on my way to a time warp in Wellesley.  Given that I have never texted a message or set up voicemail on my cell phone or downloaded pictures from it, it’s time for me to make a little effort.  I’d like to know how to make a transparent layer in Photoshop Elements,  create a podcast and understand the junk in the wordpress forums.  What’s incredible is that I can blog from this far on the other side of the generation gap!

Thank god for Terri Gross, because traffic was snarled up bad.  Never seen Rte. 16 like that.  Probably those folks who would have run around over the weekend put it off on account of the snow.  I had to drive laps in the parking lot and stalk an exiting shopper to land a space.  Normally, I’d be on fire with impatience.  Instead, I hardly recognized myself.   “Which blue cheese would you recommend in a salad with iceberg lettuce?”  “Will these rolls stay fresh until Christmas?” Days earlier, as if part of this approaching timelessness, my watch had gone missing.  I was wandering through the dairy aisle, where several languages were being spoken, supposedly efficient and instead, chatty.  “Is whipping cream the same as heavy cream?”  (I knew the answer, but I guess the approaching time warp was unnerving me).  “Hood, is all the difference.  Hood,” said the dairy guy, who was causing gridlock with his long metal cart.  A grey-haired wool-clad Protestant (I could tell she’d be entertaining for Christmas) nodded, “the same.”  Combing the freezers for puff pastry, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what time it was.  (Thank god for those unsalted pretzels causing such a stink at my house awhile back — I know now never to shop without my glasses).  So, I could see the time on my phone.  YIKES!!  2:38 and I still had to mail my most recent etsy sale box!  I left D. a message.  Then the phone started beeping to tell me it was dying.  And that’s when I knew.  It was the powerful turning of the year.   Standing in Aisle 7 of Roche Brothers in Wellesley, I dropped into a place of expanse, a place where time rushes, then stands still, and rushes again.  Where time, in other words, has no meaning.  It made me giddy.

Solstice, I re-learned reading Joan Hodgson in the bathtub the day before, means ‘standing still.’  How much we long, this darkest time of year, to enter the silence and be still!  And, yet, the holiday asks that we pound the pavement and wander around buying stuff and later rustle up tape, and lights, and nutcrackers from boxes and attics and then to clean and arrange and entertain.  Such warring impulses!  That’s how a little insomnia ended up serving the soul on December 21.






Merry Christmas readers!  Happy Hanukkah!  Blessings of the Solstice!


Lastly, to build on a previous post on fabric and FELT, let me refer you to an amazing etsy crafter ‘kjoo’ who makes felt chokers.


Check out her creations.  I want to know how to felt wool ropes like that so that I can try something along these lines (but my way, of course.  Not to steal). Does anyone have a felting how-to site they’d recommend? How would those felt coils feel around the neck, I wonder? Don’t they look primitive, African, and absolutely stunning?!