In the pink

November 9, 2010

I was bouncing along the streets of New Orleans yesterday when this song came on the radio.

I just never tire of listening to it.

The graphics also reminded me of my futile search for a good pink paint color.


Happy House

too strident

Happy House

just about right

Easter Parade of Homes


Easter Parade of Homes


Happy House

I am not happy about the blue accent

Happy House


Happy House


Happy House

This one has a prison porch detail

Nighttime at Little Pink..A Happy House on N.Broad

suburban statement

Happy Suburbia

Arts and Crafts

Happy House

With a dash of FEMA trailer

Happy House with Fema trailer

just pink details

Happy House


Happy House

There is just something about pink

Happy Heart House


The tour detours

November 7, 2010

For some reason I have been doing about the same amount of things I normally do but feeling more pressed for time than ever.

I went to Kansas City for a weekend to see Ida.

Colin + Ida

The fall leaves had passed and I heard that there had not been much of a fall anyway.

One day I went driving off through the fields to Lawrence, Kansas. There is a fabric store there that I like. Sarah’s Fabrics.

I spent enough money to make me feel like my current decision to depend on used men’s shirts as my main material is a good one not just fiscally but esthetically.

But while I was there I did see a fabric line that I really liked. The line included fabric with this woman’s name. Terry Thompson

Although I appreciate some of the bolder lines of fabric that are on the market they almost seem to stand alone and get in the way of any design that they are included in.

But this line of reproduction fabric has a real small tight repeat and they seem to add to a narrative not overpower it.

When I got home I started going through some of the vintage fabrics I have collected over the years and found a few that are in the same family as the reproductions I discovered on my trip.

I always guessed that the black and whites I had dated from the 30’s but a little research suggests they may have been from the turn of the century.

I would guess that since these were manufactured in Mexico they may have been using old designs and just continuing to produce them for years.

This one is my favorite.

Vintage fabric

But I also like this one. Which looks like sperm to me.

Vintage fabric

This one has a nice diffusion of black ink on the flower petals.

Vintage fabric

This was was always a close second to the first one in terms of favorites.

Vintage fabric

And while not a black and white this one has the same balance but with a nice indigo blue.

Vintage fabric

A little color to end the tour.

Vintage fabric

I am going to try and document all the vintage scraps of fabric I have.

Right now I am looking for a set of file cabinets to organize the mountains I have in my studio.

Let me know if you have any old file cabinets you are dying to give, sell or trade.

Commerce where art thou?

September 17, 2010

I had some visitors in my studio the other day.

Ironically it was Keith Johnson from Anthropologie.

I was in Houston a few weeks ago and watched his show, which included a tour of my old shop. So it seemed ironic to have him in my house this past week after hearing about his show only by chance a few weeks earlier.

I found myself hosting a tour of my studio to Keith and another buyer from Anthropologie.

As well as Seema Sudan who, along with her husband run a knitwear design firm here in New Orleans.

Seema used to work for Anthropologie but has struck out on her own here in New Orleans.

I showed them all of my neurotic pillows


Fracttals of fabric


After the tour of pillows we went on a tour of the house of stuff where I live.


After some deliberation they seemed to indicate that they would like to order some of the pillows for a special show in New York featuring New Orleans artists.

And as often happens in the world of creative possibilities, what they seemed to favor was the backside of the pillow. The unintended beauty, of which I am very fond as well.

Pillow back

So whatever they decide will be just fine with me. Any reason to sit and stare at a pile of fabric and then make it into something is a day of semi-bliss for me.

They also expressed an interest in a painting from Jon Schooler.

Jon and Ida

A good day on Apricot Street in New Orleans Louisiana.

In May of 2005 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you know me you know I am not shy about talking about it. In my mind it has never defined me. But rather was a remarkable event in my life which just so happened to coincide with the evacuation of New Orleans.

Here I am in Texas at my friends house..with the folder. Those of you who travelled the path will recognize the folder. The only thing which contained your life during those days in September 2005.

Days of Evacuation

Thanks to Tom and Margie for making sure we had a place to stay. You never know when those friends from college will come in handy.

So in that folder there were a million slips of paper which noted numbers where I could be reached, where I could have been reached and a very slim sense of where we were going.

What was not in the folder was the concoction for my chemo. And all the records and paperwork that slide around you like a tsunami when you enter the system of cancer treatment. The most vital information for my future was underwater in a hospital which still contained people, people who needed to get out. The guilt was crushing. I was out. It was only Thursday at that time.

I had no insurance. I was a Charity patient.

So I finally returned to New Orleans after chemo, and radiation and entered a year of Herceptin infusion treatment which was given at Oschner.

So here I am November 2006. Outside the chemo lounge at Oschner, where by the way they have wifi and I blogged there while getting treated.

Karen and Ida  Last Day of Chemo

Ida called that day “the last day you have cancer” and I wanted to believe that.

But cancer is a sneaky little creepy illness. People do all kinds of bullshit to make people “aware” of cancer but let me tell you my friends. When you have it or have had it or have lost someone to it. You need no reminder.

So on that last day of treatment my Dr.,. who if I could remember his name I would advise you to avoid at all cost said “Goodbye” and that was that.

No follow up no nothing. He told me someone from Houma would contact me. That all the oncology clinics at LSU/Charity were still malfunctioning and that “they” would find me.

“They” never did.

So each year I try and find someone to give me my mammogram and my good news. And this year it was St Thomas Clinic, which I highly recommend.

But the mammogram was fishy, and then the sonogram was fishy and finally the MRI was…well what was it???

I was not sure.

LSU told St. Thomas that I had an appointment but only wrote it down on a slip of paper. I spent the last week trying to pretend that the fact that an oncologist at LSU wanted to speak to me face to face was good news.

If there was a way to make good news out of that I struggled with it 24 hours a day. It didn’t help much that a friend mentioned that the Dr. was not just an oncologist but a surgeon as well.

There is only one person left on the list of people you don’t want to talk to when you have cancer and that is the coroner.

So this is why I started this blog. My “Tour of Duty” the fake war against cancer would be a “Tour of Beauty” and I would try as hard as I could to make my life include beauty.

I cleaned my house and fixed the broken stuff that has driven me nuts.

Living room

Stephanie Bruno wrote about it.

During nights I could not sleep I looked at beautiful images and sewed.


I did the math.

If the cancer came back I would have about 8 years to live, if in fact it had spread.

I wanted to see my daughter become an adult.

Here she is as a young butterfly in Mexico where we lived.

Ida in Mexico

She is 20. I wanted to see her make 30.


So the day arrives and I trudge to LSU for my appointment, a friend by my side. I still manage to have some sense of “this is going to be alright”

And it was.

The surgeon said he had no idea why I was there other than I should have never been bounced out. I should have never had to make my own decisions about post chemo treatment on my own.

Slowly my records have been retrieved out of the chaos that came Post K. Slowly my life after cancer will gain some balance. Slowly I recover.

One day my daughter wrote an essay about her mother and New Orleans and she said I was desperate to save New Orleans because the salvation of New Orleans was my own salvation.

Maybe she is right.

I was glad I could call her with good news today.

Ida on the town


August 25, 2010

I took a ride out to Amite county Mississippi last week to examine a house for sale.


Sadly I will not be the mistress of this particular domain. But instead I went to offer my official “Tour of Beauty” opinion.

When you arrive you glide into a car porch.


I know, I know… it’s a car port. But I once heard someone at a zoning board hearing refer to their own car port as a porch and have been waiting to deploy the phrase ever since.

Walking up the car porch steps you enter a sort of real porch/sun/shade room. Or maybe it is the fuzzy room as this picture shows.


Then you enter the dining room which has the best fireplace this side of the Mississippi, or is it that side of the Mississippi?


Each room has enough drapery to wrap a village of Vivian Leigh’s and Carol Burnett’s


Since I saw a few more heavily bagged piles of drapes in the attic one can assume that there is plenty to go around.

Screen shot 2010-08-25 at 8.13.59 AM

There also is a dining table which is not fabulous in it’s historic majesty but rather fabulous in it’s ability to seat the army of Carol Burnett’s.


As for the rest of the house….

beautiful wallpaper


beautiful stairwell


beautiful light fixtures


beautiful front door


beautiful front porch


beautiful grounds


The main tragic interruption of my beauty quest was the large volume of less than beautiful knick knacks or the spanish word for it, chucheria.. which I prefer. Kind of like car porch.


This may be an homage to Carol Burnett. Unsure at press time.

I have been looking at this website for sometime, it’s called Spoonflower and it allows you even encourages you to make your own fabric.

So what I did was take a photo of a quilt square I made and then made a mirrored sequence, and ordered 2 yards.

When I went to textile design school you had to create elaborate designs called croquis. It involved rulers, math and clean working surfaces. Things I avoid at all cost. So I slid over from surface fabric design to weaving finally ending up in printmaking and having insults tossed at me for my interest in textiles.

At any rate, I am pleased and terrified to see now that textile design is almost turning into a sort of D.J. inspired sampling.

This may be worse than late night booty call texting.


Took the long way

August 16, 2010

I left last week for a road trip to Kansas City. I thought I would take the long way and see some interesting, unusual and inspirational stuff.

Instead I saw that small town America, at least in the parts of Texas, Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas I visited looked like 10 ton bomb had dropped on them.

Leaving Louisiana I had my first meal in Crowley


Rice Town


Then I went to Houston to see an old friend who I have not been able to visit with since I evacuated to her house. So I guess that was my anniversary event. Going back to Houston.

It was great to see her and I got some new shoes too.


There are a lot of trees in East Texas.


Then it was off to Mena, Arkansas. As many backroads as possible.

The hotel turned out to be what appeared to be a meth lab. So I set my sights on Fort Smith, Arkansas instead. My GPS misdirected me down a road which turned ugly fast and a giant man made dip ripped off the mud guard on the under carriage.

After paying more for a hotel in Arkansas that I would have in New Orleans I sat in the auto dealer while they removed 4 screws and charged me 40 dollars.

About each hour I would try and stop in a small town. This photo reflects what I would find upon arrival.


If there was any commerce at all it was a usually an Antique Mall which sold basically the same merchandise. Old Tupperware and Pyrex.

I made it to Kansas City and moved Ida into her apartment. 3rd floor and a 100 degrees. We were blinded by our own salty sweat at the end of it.

ida + colin

Back to Arkansas by way of Missouri.

If you have a chance to stop in Nevada, Missouri to eat breakfast. Don’t. Keep going. Speed if you have to.

Here is the mural in the restaurant.


The bug eyed waitress might have taken me out if she knew I was taking photos of the mural. I made it out alive.

I finally made it to Doe’s Eat Place in Little Rock and as I was pulling up in front my sister sent me a text that her son who was on the last leg of a cross country trip was in the hospital with heat exhaustion.

I was right by the I went and hung out with him.


The ER waiting room was hopping. I never knew where to find the fun in a small town but sure enough the ER is the place.

Leaving Arkansas in the morning I saw some nice old signs and listened to a really great radio station, KABF Community Radio. The link to the site is non functioning. But it was a great 2 hours of music to ride through some pretty countryside.


There were 2 little ladies in a trailer holding a rummage sale.


For the life of me I couldn’t find anything to buy. Scraps of old polyester yarn and fabric. And the old junk store standby, flower vases from FTD. Those things are everywhere.

Finally I made it to Mississippi and stopped to get some cracklins on the side of the road.


My stomach resembles the above photo.

On my great summer vacation tour my first destination was Houston to visit an old friend.

We haven’t seen each other since 2005 when I landed at her house for a few days in August.

She took out this book to show me and I was surprised to see photos of the shop I used to have in Mexico.

Before I saw the photos of the shop I saw one shot of a bedroom interior that had a pillow on each bed. One with the image of a heart and one of a ladder.

The images are designs from a child’s card game “Loteria”.   I worked with a group of women in the countryside who embroidered the images and then I chose the fabrics and assembled them.

We did a lot of work together and most of what I had was lost in the flood so it was nice to see them photographed in this very elegant child’s bedroom.


Then I saw the photos of my old store “duo duo” on Calle Pila Seca.

This first photo was the area of the patio where my studio was .


Which looked out onto this patio.


The first time I saw the interior patio I was walking down the street and the door was opened.

I peeked in and was overcome by the beauty of the space, it was the most sublime combination of austere and decadent. And I went home and tried to figure out a way to justify just renting one room in the building.

Then I walked in and saw the room closest to the street.

And about lost my mind.


Even the glass in the doors between the rooms was decorated, some more vibrantly than others.


Sometimes pieces of the white walls would fall away and you could see where it had been painted many many years before.

Each time a room would become available I would rent it, till I had the entire building.

The owners told me that originally the ceilings had a type of canvas stretched across them and there were allegorical paintings done atop the canvas. They also told me that there originally had been an entire doorway lazy susan so that the owners of the house would not have to see the kitchen help as they prepared and served the meals.

I rented the space for a long time, around 10 years in all and I never grew tired of it.


August 7, 2010

The last few weeks have felt like the whole town was strapped to a tail pipe with the exhaust blowing in our faces.

I had to move a van load of furniture out of my house and into my car.

A friend came over to help me.

Thanks to her and now the rain I feel very relieved.