Saturday, March 21, 2015


I heart moths.

I think of butterflies as the sunny blonde cheerleaders of the bug world, and moths as their sort of punk-goth younger sisters. You know, given to hanging out in dark corners wearing too much eyeliner. Kinda awkward. Whacking themselves senseless against bright light bulbs? Just moth mosh pits.

There is a scene in the movie Angels and Insects (good book, bad movie) where the main dude, a naturalist with a special interest in bugs, tries to woo his insipid love interest by surrounding her in a cloud of beautiful butterflies. Naturally, she is charmed. Not content with this success, however, he brings her back to the greenhouse again that evening to duplicate the earlier event, but this time with moths. Girlfriend is horrified and freaks out. Has a total meltdown. And you know right away that that romance will never work.

They are so creepy and beautiful, I think. And their colors and patterns more interesting than that of butterflies—they're less eager to please. They are also destructive as hell, of course.

The summer I spent at Skowhegan, there was an artist whose studio porch light was particularly attractive to moths. They would go crashing into it, then thud to the ground, stunned. He kept a hotplate full of melted beeswax by his studio door, and, upon hearing a telltale thud, would put down his paint brush, nip outside and grab the still stunned moth gently by the wings. He'd then quickly dip the moth's body into the hot wax, killing it and preserving it all in one gesture. By the end of the summer, he had a shelf of these moth "trophies"—all lined up, one after the other. They were beautiful. But it was a terrible thing to do.

Thank heavens for Pinterest. So much more humane.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

5th ave

Was in midtown yesterday for a haircut. Had to check out Bergdorf's windows while I was there. It's the law.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Too much stuff

Not the worst, by any means.
Do you ever feel like there's just too much stuff in the world? I've been feeling that way lately. The disgusting NYC snow piles have begun to melt, exposing all the detritus frozen beneath them these past few months. Chicken bones, dog shit, crushed water bottles, dirty diapers, fast food wrappers—all scattered across the street, sidewalk and curb. I love Brooklyn, but it is seriously the filthiest place I've ever lived.

Because NYC is small and dense (landmass-wise) garbage days are epic. The piles of black bags on the city streets can reach mountainous proportions. It is stunning to walk through/by SO MUCH garbage. It makes me reaffirm my commitment to living smaller, making do, mending and repairing instead of buying and disposing.

I've also been reading a lot about "fast fashion" and the politics and problems surrounding that. I can't help but consider how quilt fabric production is a part of that problematic cycle (though less egregious, perhaps, than clothing production). Huge amounts of energy and water are required just to grow the cotton. Plus you have fertilizer and pesticide run-off (not to mention the heavy hand of Monsanto and their appalling exploitation of small farmers), and then the dyeing of textiles which requires huge amounts of water and uses terrible chemicals, etc. It's not good.

This presents some problems for me as a quilter. Also as someone who hopes to make a living at some point as a textile designer. I know there are companies that use organic cotton, and that's great, and something I will explore. But knowing just how much clothing and textile waste clogs landfills, I wonder if I shouldn't be using more reclaimed fabrics. Upcycling stuff from thrift stores. That has almost no appeal to me aesthetically, however. Is it a matter of rethinking my process? Reimagining what my quilts would look like made from shirts instead of yardage? I love the quilts Sherri Lynn Wood makes. But I don't know if I want to work that way. I don't really like thrifting. Or am I just being lazy? I don't know.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

sunny days quilt

Pulled another quilt out of the limbo pile. I had started this one over a year ago (gah). Still thinking about that bottom border area. Needs a little finessing. Am thinking I'll finish this one up and gift it to my Aunt and Uncle in Ibiza. The ones with 25 house cats. I think this patchwork should be able to camouflage any color of cat hair.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Yesterday I was going through the photos on my hard drive, sifting through the many pictures I've taken during my walks around Manhattan. I haven't been walking lately—not since the weather got so miserable. I miss it. I could still be doing it, snow in Central Park is always photogenic, but in addition to the cold and slush, my little camera seems to be in its death throes.

If you google "digital camera gone bad" the internets will tell you that that's impossible. But if you dig a bit further, those experts will eventually concede that image quality can, in fact, begin to suffer for various reasons. I've never been particularly careful with my camera, throwing it loose into a bag or pocket, never using the lens cap. Now the focus is no longer sharp, even in bright sunlight. It's not an expensive camera but I'm currently in a philosophical mindset of repair, not replace. Not sure it's even possible to repair it, but I find I am less inclined to go walking without it. So I will investigate and hopefully mend it. Anyway, that's not really what this silly post is even about.

Nope, it's about the small but growing collection of images I've taken of stranger's backs. It occurs to me that this could be viewed as a little creepy/stalkery. And maybe it is. But I first found myself doing it after reading Maira Kalman's book, "The Principles of Uncertainty." Maira, too, is a great walker of cities. I love Maira Kalman.
Mustard corduroy!
So! Much! Awesome! Fake! Fur!
Her tatt reads: You must believe in Spring
Gorgeous fishtail braid!
The girls in their vintage summer dresses!
The color of those pants! Holy Cow!
That coat! Those tights!
That dress: so weirdly complicated.
Unlike Maira, however, who follows and photographs individuals who pique her curiosity and move her with their individuality and humanity, I mostly photograph people whose sense of style is interesting to me. So, though we come at it by different routes (hers poetic, mine superficial), we arrive at the same fundamental place. Or so I like to think.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Online learning

I've been watching a lot of online tutorial workshop things the past few weeks. Mostly I've been making my way through the Skillshare library that is available to me during a month-long free trial. I am finding it surprisingly delightful for a few different reasons.

I've been pretty randomly watching the classes that catch my fancy. I haven't actually done any of the coursework or contributed anything to the discussions, so far. I don't know that I will. I'm pretty content just watching and listening. And thinking, of course. I have no doubt that I am absorbing stuff that will find its way into my work at some point.

One thing I'm struck by is the wide range of video quality—some of it is pretty janky. The lighting and sound quality is not always very good, and even in the best of them, there is frequently a weird camera wobble, like whoever was filming suddenly needed to scratch their nose or something.

With the presenters, there are typically a lot of "umms" and "uhhs" and "oh wait, no, let's try that again?". Which surprised me a little. No doubt at some point (when they've proved to be profitable?) people will polish these sorts of things up—spend the time and money to script and edit. Make it seamless and TED talk formulaic. But for right now it's early days and there is a lot to like about the sort of shoelace and gum production values. At least when the teachers are at the level of Chip Kidd and Peter Mendelsund. It's sort of refreshing to watch them share their knowledge in an "uncanned" format—the artlessness of the production creates a sort of intimacy that I think is kinda great.