France 2022

Memories of a lifetime with my daughter, Sarah, my granddaughters, Maya & Naomi.

My favorite view in Bonnieux

We started in Nice, stopped in Eze and spent two nights in Monaco.

We rented a car in Monaco and drove through Provence.

We ended with a train and four days in Paris. Our favorites, hands down, were people watching, shopping, and eating!

Great Advice From A New Role Model

Rachel Maddow is by far my favorite news analyst. I happily planned my evening around her regular 9:00 broadcast. And so with good reason, I have been quite sad and even a little lost that she has pulled back to work on other projects and will only be on air Monday evenings.

It created quite the crater in my life and then I heard a fabulous interview with Symone Sanders and wouldn’t you know, she is hosting a new show on MSNBC. at the end of the interview she gave women three pieces of advice: 1 Ask for the things that you want and have worked for- people might tell you no- but you will be pleasantly surprised to sometimes get to yes. 2. Do the work, read, research, execute- you must be able to perform and back up what you say. 3. Be your authentic self. You are okay exactly as you are and it is the world’s responsibility to accommodate to you.

I was so excited to hear Symone, I looked her up and saw the title of her latest book: No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America. What a title!!! It seems like I could have found a Rachel replacement!!

Opening Pandora’s Box

some thoughts from Charlotte Joko Beck

Now one of the illusions we may have about our practice is that practice will make things more comfortable, clearer, easier, more peaceful, and so on. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All of us feel we are separate from life; we feel as if we have a wall around us. As long as we feel separate from life, we feel the wall…..We may be anxious, we may have disturbing thoughts, but our wall keeps us unaware of that.

Pandora’s box is all of our self-centered activities and the corresponding emotions that they create. Opening Pandora’s box is breaking down the wall. So Pandora’s box, that which upsets and disturbs us, is the emergence of that which we have not been aware of before: our anger toward life. It has to boil our sooner or later. This is our ego, that life is not the way we want it to be. It is our fury when the people or events in our lives simply don’t give us what we demand.

As our practice becomes more sophisticated we begin to sense our tremendous deficiencies, our tremendous cruelty. We see the things we hate and the things we just can’t stand. There is grief in that.

As we get more sensitive to our life and what it truly is, we can’t run from it. So I want you to appreciate your practice and your life. That’s all this is about. Nothing fancy. Zen is action itself.

Zen Stitching

March 2022 AAP Featured Artist

March 2022 AAP Featured Artist:Louise Silk

Tree of Life 21 | 2021 | knit t-shirt remnants, perle cotton, machine pieced and hand quilted | 64 x 58 in. 
Louise Silk
Louise Silk began her career as a fiber artist by way of a 1972 article in MS Magazine. The gist of the article was that because men had no interest in quilt making, women were left on their own to explore, create and thrive within an open, sharing community of women. Reading the article activated her exploration of fiber arts as her form of feminist artistic expression.
Years later, after perfecting her skills creating many, many, many quilts, Louise came to understand and incorporate the spiritual component of co-creating with The Divine, as it occurs moment by moment, in every thought and action, and for her, particularly within her stitching.
These skills and practice continued for many more years with many more quilts until the death of her parents. To absorb this inevitability, she incorporated every piece of their clothing and textiles into a series of art quilts. This process exposed the inherent deeper layers of meaning embedded in personal clothing and textiles. 
Today, Louise’s art practice incorporates the above understandings with the transformation of ordinary repurposed textiles. As part of that practice, she operates a zero-waste studio where she reuses every discarded thread, yarn, and scrap.Today, Louise’s art practice incorporates the above understandings with the transformation of ordinary repurposed textiles. As part of that practice, she operates a zero-waste studio where she reuses every discarded thread, yarn, and scrap.

Living during these difficult times, hope continually peeks through with my elevated awareness of the sacred within the mundane exposed while exploring the transformational stitching of ordinary repurposed clothing and textiles.

Ways To Connect:

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Self-Portrait 2021
Video of Louise’s process for making piece #6 Self-Portrait 2021 (shown above)
Additional information on Louise:
During the pandemic she published an autobiography A Patchwork Life: The Hands On Guide To Living Piece By Piece. It can be purchased in book form or read in segments on her blog.SilkDenim is a collaboration project with her daughter, Sarah Silk. Together, we re-make 100% recycled materials into individually crafted objects. We’re particularly attracted to denim because of its rugged practicality and its unique ability to improve with age. Using recycled materials requires us to work with authentic details & create every piece anew, providing a unique one-of-a-kind object that emphasizes the craft & beauty of re-using over discarding. Louise is in the second year of Ten Year Plan to bring together the totality of her work by her eightieth birthday. Two of her goals:To gather, organize and enter my paper and slide archives into the Heinz History Center.To create 14 new pieces for a one-woman exhibition, along with a book of accompanying essays.
Video catalog of Louise Silk’s one-person exhibitionReNew which was on view from January 28, 2020 – February 15, 2021, in the BNY Mellon Satellite Gallery of Contemporary Craft.
About the Featured Artist ProgramEvery month the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Featured Artist will be chosen by the Exhibition Committee. The Committee pulls nominees from the most recent exhibition applications. The Featured Artist will be highlighted in an email newsletter, announced on our social media, and posted to aapgh.org!

Writing vs Quilting

I’ve been very negligent when it comes to any form of writing, so I decided to just own up to it here and see if that changes my committment. It’s so easy to post on instagram and then simultaneously load it to Facebook and Twitter– really it’s way too easy! Maybe Each pictures may be worth a thousand words, but really, they just might not be right!

For example, I got together this very sophisticated palette of 5 shades each of 8 hues of tee-shirt materials to make an updated Tree of Life Quilt.

New Palette

My first attempt with the fabrics produced this quilt:

Tree of Life 2021

I knew I could take it further by layering the quilts pieces on top of each other and made this one:

Tree of Life 2022

I accomplished my goal but now was left with lots of leftovers. What should I do with them? The range of colors reminded me of this quilt that was featured in this poster, made over 30 years ago:

Envisioning and updated version, I came up with these 12- 8 pointed stars:

And with still enough leftovers for another top, I looked back to another star variation I know works no matter the remaining colors, this sunburst:

Have I made my point? A post on social media does not begin to explore my process, like a blog post. It takes more thought but well worth the effort. Enjoy!!

Minority Inspector

As Minority Inspector, I must keep Envelope B in my possession for one year.

For many years now, I have gone to vote and wondered about those older women sitting behind the folding tables in the basement of my community center. Why were so many older? How and why did they do the job of managing the elections? Was there some kind of inside club outside of my awareness? How could or why would I ever consider joining the forces?

Then, the pandemic came. I no longer went to the polls and used the safer, easier, in the comfort of my own home, with the security of my own research mail-in ballot. Those women were totally out of sight and completely out of mind.

But then, the Former promoted the Big Lie along with the fear of fraudulent elections and suddenly, without too much thought or understanding, I became one of those older women sitting behind the folding table in the Sheraden Senior Center, taking an oath to administer fair and legal elections, followed by instructing the youth in the ways of casting a ballot.

Assigned to the 20th ward, 12th district, along with Steve as my Judge of Elections, I worked the polls yesterday from 6:00AM-setting up and organizing the whole process through to 9:40PM- dropping of the completed ballots and computer chips to the downtown county election office. Quite a long tiring day!

A moment of rest for the Minority Inspector

My main assignment was to make sure people got their paper ballots properly counted in the voting machine. This is part of a two-part back-up system of computer system tallies with paper ballot back-up. I also did trouble shooting for incorrectly registered voters, provisional ballots, and all kinds of other things you can’t even imagine, to make sure each person executed his/her right to vote.

Though out the day, I worked on a personal blind faith that those paper ballots would scan and record, but by the end of the day, reading the tape results and participating in the entire start to finish voting system, I cannot over emphasize how wonderfully safely, securely, efficiently and effectively the whole system runs!

Kudos to our election board and everyone who participated. Thank The Holy One that we live in the democratic United States of America. May she continue for many generations!

More On My Grandfather z”l

I have been on an ongoing quest to find how more about my grandfather. as I documented in an earlier blog. Because of that blog, a family genealogist, on the other side of my family, found and sent me his death certificate. It had lots of new information to me: where he was born: Russia; his birthdate: September 6th, 1881; the cause of his death: Hodgkins Disease associated with pressure of glands on vital organs; and the cemetery of his burial: Shaary(sic) Torah Cemetary, Whitehall.

With the help of the The Rauh Jewish Archives Burial Records I was able to figure out his grave’s location. It was still challenging to actually locate the grave, but with the help of a cousin, we worked our way around the unmarked rows and were able to zero in on the location and actually find his grave. It was thrilling, really it was!

Tashlich 5782

Let us cast away indifference to injustice; Let us cast away the times we did not reach out to help others; Let us cast away not being better allies because of our own privileges; Let us cast away the times we did not have the courage to speak up about injustice; Let us cast away that we did not help others because we were happy with our own lives; Let us cast away that we witnessed prejudice or discrimination but did nothing; Let us cast away ignoring those in need; Let us cast away not having time to be part of activism in our communities; Let us cast away not giving tzedakah to causes; Let us cast away the complacency in oppression; Let us cast away………..

Written by Elliott batTzedek:

We have abandoned, we have appropriated, we have analyzed, we have arbitrated

We’ve belittled, we have broken faith, we have turned our backs, we have believed the unbelievable

We have grown numb, we’ve given too little, we’ve given too late, we have given up

We have denied, we have distorted, we have hesitated, we have held our tongues

We have victim-blamed, we have zoned out, we have chided, we have chastised

We have taken, we have turned away, we have yielded, we have yet to act

We have kept to ourselves, we’ve been complicit, we have laughed off, we have relied on the law,

We’ve made excuses, we have minimized, we’ve made light of, we have mocked

We have not noticed, we have neglected, we have negated, we have sent our regrets

We’ve averted our eyes, we have forsaken, we have pitied, we’ve failed to imagine new possibilities

We have explained, we’ve criticized, we have rationalized, we’ve refused responsibility

We’ve shamed the innocent, we have silenced, we have suppressed, we have failed to support

We have talked, we have talked, we have talked, but we have not listened

We have not sought the truth, we’ve theorized, we have told ourselves lies, and we have believed them.

French Knots; Again

Over the years, I have done many successful portraits using French Knots. The work began with this portrait of my father and me- using the process of making the portrait to mourn his loss.

Embroidery 1998 from 1990 Photo

The work continues today; this latest one a view of me sitting on a piece of denim furniture I created with my omer portraits as the background. The flying geese border is a homage to one of SilkDenim’s most successful garments, The Poncho.

Self Portrait 2021; 15″ X 13″; embroidery, patchwork, hand quilting

You are welcome to watch a bit of the process of making this piece in this video.

A Ten Year Plan

I have always been a little ahead and to the left and so it makes perfect sense that I would decide to make and execute a ten-year-plan to get me to my 80th birthday. There are many parts to the plan- to be revealed as we go- the one for today is the final phase of developing art quilts. What does that even mean???? I’m not entirely sure, but stick with my process because, for sure, it’s going to be fun!

Reviewing this Tree of Life Quilt that was part of Quilt National 2011, inspired the action of trying it again, ten years later- adding all of my wonderous knowledge and experience over this time period.

Tree of Life 2011

To begin-the palette: last time I went to the Salvation Army and picked the colors I could find that had 4 values- This time, I am using my Omer Calendar to make sure I will focus on each divine attribute- so I wanted 7 colors plus black to white and this time up my game to 5 values of each ( 5 values is what I have always used in the French knot embroideries- making the color much more nuanced).

And so long ago captured inspiration to help me get started on the form: