Free Comic Book Day 2014

Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. As per their usual, our local public library had a wide array of programs and activities leading up to and on Saturday. We were pleased to pick up some free comics (well, K mostly – despite my appreciation for them, I’m not a huge reader of comics), take in a few activities, and attend the panel discussion about all things Marvel.

me and an Imperial Spy at FCBD 2014

One of the members of the Great Lakes Garrison 501st Legion, Michigan Chapter, was there for photo ops. It was awesome to see a ton of kids cosplaying and getting their photos taken. There were also a lot of games and activities that we left to kids of appropriate ages.

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

One of the fun things happening was that the library had held a contest for which patrons could create their own superhero poster, and the entries were on display in the Library Annex community room. I snapped a few of my favorites, including Thunder Woman! Look how she rides her thundercloud to water the flowers, with her hair flowing dramatically in the wind. That’s my kind of superhero.

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

Name of superhero: Awesome. What more needs to be said?

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

Bubble Spider Woman likes spiders!

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

SkySea: Jumper of Peace. Bonus points for using fabric to make the cape!

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

The Marvel panel was interesting. It was moderated/hosted by Joe Sommers, a professor from CMU (my alma mater), and the panel was composed of three graduate students from the English Department. Some time ago, Sommers acquired a shield that was used in the filming of the first Captain America movie and had it there to show off and pass around. That was neat, but he was surprisingly reluctant to share any details of how he came to have it, which was a bit of a bummer. It was more of a Q and A rather than a discussion of any specific topic by the panel, and the audience asked a lot of questions about upcoming Marvel movies (or movies they hope will be forthcoming). It was interesting to hear what people are looking forward to and interested in.

I was especially interested when one young audience member brought up the topic of women in comics and comic-based movies. She asked how the panel members felt about the representation of women in comics media and how they thought that women could play a more evenly balanced role. The panel’s answer was pretty much, “support women with your entertainment dollars,” which, while certainly a factor, is not in my opinion going to solve the root problem. Until the pen-holders and dollar-holders include more women, we’re going to continue to see a male-dominated industry. We live in a patriarchy and just buying tickets to see a Wonder Woman movie (if such a thing were ever to even come to be) is not going to solve all our problems. I’d have liked to hear the panel encourage that young woman (and others) to get involved in creating and doing herself, and I hope that there will be some women on the panel in future years.

(Note: you can kind of tell from this photo that one of the panel members is cosplaying as Wolverine, which I thought was great.)

me and Kristin at FCBD 2014

Of course my favorite thing was seeing Aquaman, AKA my pal Kristin, who helped put together the day’s awesomeness. She recently spoke at C2E2 about libraries doing FCBD programming, which you can read all about over at Lisa‘s. All in all, it was a fun day and I’m very glad to have a public library who does so much neat stuff.


I wanna take you to the dog park, dog park, dog park!

It’s a gorgeous day outside, so we decided to brave the apartment complex dog park (more of a run, really) even though it is super muddy and gross. (Apologies for the not-great photos throughout this post. My phone camera can only do so much with a wriggling puppy.)

Muddy, messy dog run

The minute we let Coraline off the leash, she took off running laps around the area, making sure to run right through the middle of the disgusting, stinky mud pit near the entry gate every time. Bits of mud were flying up everywhere, but it did not seem to bother her in the least. She mercifully did not manage to jump up on either of us.

First dog run visit of the season

There was, of course, all kinds of other fun to be had: poo to be smelled and shooed away from, leaves stuck in the mud to try to pull free, soggy limp sticks to try to shake, and many many spots to mark.

Beautiful sky

It’s so nice out! It feels like a reward for having made it through all the dismal days of winter.

The apartment dog run is a bit of a mess

Even before we got back to our apartment, it was clear that it was bath time.


We are not amused

While water is one of our favorite things, we do not like it when it is on our face.

Apres bath

We will put up with a good toweling off after bath, though, when it comes with kisses. Now she is all snuggled up under the exploding TARDIS blanket, happily worn out and ready to nap until dinner time. We are all very much looking forward to being able to go to the future Mount Pleasant Dog Park when it opens later this year!


Piecing a Life: Quilts by Ann Kowaleski

It is a quilt-tastic time in Mount Pleasant! In addition to the Lenore Crawford exhibit at Art Reach, we also have the amazing Ann Kowaleski story quilt exhibit currently on display in the Baber Room at CMU’s Park Library. Kowaleski is a well-known quilt artist whose work is influenced by folk art and the cultural traditions of Mexico and Guatemala, as well as everyday life – the way she translates the commonplace into these beautiful handcrafted art pieces is truly inspiring to me.

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

The Spirit: Graham, Dickinson and O’Keeffe (98×45″)

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

This large quilt is a tribute to three well-known inspirational artists from various fields: Martha Graham, Emily Dickinson, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Kowaleski has given each woman a distinct section of the quilt, but uses organic shapes to ease the transitions between the three so there is a feeling of flow. The color palette of each section is fitting for its subject, and, also fittingly, the quilt has a rhythm that evokes the emotions inspired by dance, poetry, and painting.

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

The Emily Dickinson section includes representations of her poetry as though they are sheets of paper floating in the air around her. Kowaleski uses embroidery to include excerpts from some of Dickinson’s famous poems. I love this technique.


Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

Life in Ordinary Times (45×60″)

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

This piece features Crewel embroidery in combination with traditional quilting and the use of some mixed media such as buttons and ribbon. It also incorporates a variety of fabrics: you can see in the photo above that she used a netting over top of a more traditional material to make part of the woman’s dress, in addition to several other fabrics, some of which are also nontraditional for a quilt.

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

So many things about this piece really captured me: the fact that the woman’s hair is at once somewhat wild, coming off her head in great swoops, but also beautiful and with great texture detail; the way the Crewelwork creates her expression both in the actual embroidery and in the way it affects the fabric it has been applied to; the way the woman’s hands clasp one another (a position that I admit looks quite familiar); and the use of a multitude of colors and patterns in the embroidery and fabrics that make up the woman’s dress to indicate the barely contained mayhem that so often makes up our daily life.


Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

Midlife Musings (60×44″)

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

One of the things I really appreciate about Kowaleski’s quilts is that she captures the beauty of people, especially women, in a way that is not glamorous but instead evokes a more emotional response. These women are each unique in their appearance, though clearly all of a particular cohort. The women here are all supporting one another, and each appears to be wearing a mask. The use of the traditional (as a quilt subject) tulips around the edge of the quilt is a satisfying foil to the scene she’s created at the center of the piece. Likewise, the inclusion of the bread tray doily and the two small works of art on either side evoke thoughts of “women’s work” and the domestic expectations that women have faced (and still do).


Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

Meet Me in the Bathtub (45×69″)

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

This quilt is another that uses a variety of materials to create an emotional response. I especially love the use of photographs printed on fabric as well as the use of ribbon and other embellishments.


Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

Two Women (45×46″)

Piecing a Life: quilts by Ann Kowaleski

I especially like this quilt. It features two women who are, again, supporting one another. They are similar in shape and dress and yet you can see that they are two distinct individuals with distinct personalities when you look at their faces. The way Kowaleski has put together the fabric of their dresses is so pleasing to the eye: the diagonals of each dress bodice point inward, toward the heart, but also create a very flattering effect; the use of ribbon, buttons, and chain; and the color palette which is at once feminine and strong.

These story quilts are such an inspiration. I’m just getting into quilting myself, having only been doing it for a couple of years so far, but seeing artwork like this gives me so many ideas for possible projects and ways to take my quilts to be something beyond just useful or warm. I highly recommend checking out this exhibit, and I hope to see more from Kowaleski in the future.


Lenore Crawford’s Fabric Art

One of the neatest places in Mount Pleasant is Art Reach. It’s a community arts organization that offers a gift shop, gallery space, outreach to schools, scholarships, and regular programs featuring visual art, poetry, music, and pretty much any kind of art you can think of. When we lived here before, they had a relatively small space in the church next to the library, but while we were gone they were able to move to retail and gallery space right downtown on Broadway.

I noticed that they were having an exhibition in the Morey Family Gallery this month called Fabric Art by a local(ish – she’s based in Midland) artist named Lenore Crawford. She combines quilting with fabric painting and a technique called thread painting (also known as thread drawing, according to the intarwebs) to create these beautiful art quilts.

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

Dogwood Blossoms II (31×40″)

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

You can see the very fine detail of her work. She uses a lot of applique technique to achieve the layered look that is reminiscent of the layers and texture you see in an oil painting.

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

I noticed here that she is using a variety of sewing techniques or styles in any one quilt – here we have a great contrast between the straight or barely curved lined of the leaves and petals of the flower and the swirls of the background quilting. Of course the floral motif of this one appeals to the gardener in me.


Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

Grand Poppy (37×43″)

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

I love the combination of media Crawford used in this quilt, as well as the amazing color palette she utilized. The poppy itself is stunning, but the background behind the poppy really drew my attention. The colors range all over the place and yet never detract from the central focus of the main blossom. The variation of colors and stitches she used for the petals really capture the delicate, beautiful texture of a poppy blossom.

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

These beads are lovely – their luster really doesn’t show up well in this photo. What a neat way to represent the anthers of a poppy flower. I also wanted to show another of the stitch techniques she’s used, this time a varied zigzag stitch.


Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

Winter Sky (29×23″)

This one drew my attention immediately. The stark silhouette of the tree combined with the so-familiar colors of a sunset in progress really rings true. Of course I managed not to get any other photos of the detail of this piece, but that doesn’t reflect how I responded to it (perhaps I neglected the camera because I was so engaged with the quilt).

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

The Garden Parasol, Frederick Frieseke (42.5×56.75″)

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

This was the first quilt I saw upon entering the gallery, and I noticed right away that there was a lot of painting within the quilting. It is based on a painting by an American impressionist painter who lived most of his life in France (impressionism and France are two of Crawford’s primary sources of inspiration). If you compare the two, you can see that the quilt is not just a direct copy/interpretation of the original painting, but adds some variation in shape and color choice as well as content. The background scene in the quilt is quite different from the painting (I think I prefer the quilt, actually), and the colors appear more vibrant and intense in the quilt.

I was so happy that I found out about this exhibit. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning. I also found out that the Art Reach shop takes submissions for consignment by local artists (by jury), so that’s something I may work toward in the future myself.


movin’ on up

Well! It has once again been ages since I posted, because we’ve been super busy with a million more life changes. I got a new job back in Michigan, in the town of Mount Pleasant, which we have missed greatly since moving away in 2006. Since we had packed up all our furniture and household stuff into a storage pod, we had that delivered to our new apartment, along with the U-Haul full of stuff we had from our time in Indiana. It was, in a word, MORE than we would need or could fit into our new place. However, we had to unload everything to see what would work and what was extraneous, so it was a bit of a process to get it all in order.

living room/furniture central

At first the living room was floor to ceiling furniture, but happily we were able to sell one set of living room furniture (couch, loveseat, armchair) the day after moving everything in, so that cleared up a lot of space. We also had boxes stacked in pretty much every area.


dining room/boxville

book box hallway

Because things were so crowded, we had to move things from one area to another repeatedly in order to get it all organized. We were also busy selling off the extra stuff. Hooray for Craigslist and online yard sales! Slowly but slowly, we’ve been able to rehome about half of our furniture and a lot of other small household items we don’t need or have room for. We also sent a lot of our house-maintenance type stuff (lawn mower, snow blower, yard tools, miter saw, etc) to live with Susan for the time being.

After a couple of days, we had a semi-usable living room space!

living room/furniture central

New Craftyton started coming together as well:

New Craftyton coming along

K’s office space got set up pretty quickly so we could stream from the media server on his PC. Priorities!

New Craftyton coming along

Something I’d been wanting to do for awhile was to build a standing desk setup for my PC. I don’t spend tons of time using it for long periods – usually I’m flitting back and forth between it and the cutting table or the sewing machine or the photo-taking setup, so a standing desk makes a lot more sense for me.

To do this, we got a LACK on one of our IKEA runs (we are now the people who make IKEA runs, since we don’t live 3 miles from the store anymore – weird!) and K found a monitor mount on clearance at Target (every time I type monitor, I accidentally type minotaur the first time – I bet in Night Vale they have minotaurs at Target).

monitor mounted!

We haven’t done the proper cable management as of this photo, but the main setup is done!

New Craftyton coming along

We got my thread racks mounted behind the door, so they’re tucked away a bit but still right next to the sewing machine table. I haven’t actually sat down to sew anything yet, but I’ll be ready soon.


After a couple of weeks and a number of false starts, we finally sold the extra queen bed set that had been taking up a lot of space in the dining room. Huzzah!


K made another IKEA run and picked up some BILLY bookcases for the hallway. I was a little skeptical of having bookcases in the hallway at first, but after living with boxes stacked in the hallway for a few weeks, I realized that it would be fine. The bookcases aren’t as deep as the boxes were, so it actually feels almost spacious.



At that point we unloaded all the book boxes (which of course we had moved into the dining room while we put up the bookcases) without much regard for what went where. My goal was really just to empty the boxes so we could break them down and get rid of them!


We also unfolded some of the wooden collapsible bookcases we already had, and loaded them up with CDs and DVDs.


Our goal here is to live within our means space-wise, and K has been busy selling extraneous media online. Yay for minimizing! It seems to be a universal truth that you fill up the space you have with stuff, whether you really need it or not, and we had definitely filled up the 1200+ square feet (plus a nearly equal amount of basement) in our Canton house. It feels really freeing to be letting go of things that we’d walk by every day but hardly ever (or never) used. We know we’ll buy a house again someday, but maybe at that time we’ll be able to think more carefully about the things we acquire.

I’ve now finished my first week of work, so of course I’ve been really tired in the evenings and not up for too much unpacking/organizing. But this weekend we started to hang art and photos, which really makes things feel like home. We also sold the last big pieces of furniture, so our dining room table is actually in the dining room. Baby steps.



We still have more to hang and of course more unpacking to do, but we are getting there.

Overall it’s been a pretty positive experience, despite all the hassle that comes with moving. My only big gripe right now is that we discovered after moving in that smoking is allowed in our building, and we can smell it in the hallways and occasionally in our own apartment. As I’m allergic to tobacco smoke, this is a definite problem. The maintenance service replaced our furnace filter with a stronger, higher quality filter, but it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference. I fear that we will end up having to move AGAIN into a non-smoking building (of course the management did not mention that there was such a thing until after we’d been moved in for a couple weeks) because I’m not sure what other options they can offer that will eliminate the possibility of smoke coming into our apartment. I’m developing a persistent cough already, though, and I do not want our upholstered furniture and clothing to be all contaminated with secondhand smoke. I especially don’t want us to get cancer! Like all the other hurdles, I’m sure we’ll find a solution to this one, though. We will get there!