Today's featured artist is a frequent participant in MMSA swaps. I love her art and have been following her blog, but didn't know much about her personally. It's a great story, Leslie. Thanks for introducing yourself to us. (and I have total art-room envy after seeing your pictures!)
Hi all – I’m Leslie. I live in a small town about an hour east of San Francisco with Maggie the rescued dog, Mabel the rescued parking lot cat, Winston the talkative but mean parrot, and Steve the husband (neither rescued, mean, nor overly talkative). I have a large vegetable garden and a few fruit trees. I read a lot and love to bake.
During my life I have worked as (in no particular order): a long-haul truck driver, a dental lab technician, a horse trainer (have ridden all my life until a bad hip put me on the ground several years ago), a short order cook, GM of an international import/export firm, a pharmacy clerk, and currently as Admin – Fixed Operations of the 5 motorcycles stores my husband owns with 2 other guys. Never a dull moment. And yes, I know how to ride a motorcycle, just chose not to at this point in my life. But in my impetuous youth, I sold my car to buy a bike and drove only that for about a year, hauling around my laundry, groceries, bowling ball, etc, on the back seat.
I got my start in all things creative in 7th grade Home Ec class when we sat down at sewing machines and turned out dorky aprons. Then we made an A-line skirt (this was mid 1960s) and I was hooked on sewing. Made all my own clothes for years and began to quilt to use up all that leftover fabric. Learned to macramé in the 70s, then didn’t do much of anything for a decade as I ran wild in the streets pretending to be a hippie. I never sold my sewing machine, tho, and in the 80s I got seriously back into quilting, eventually joined a guild, served as President (4 yrs), Vice Pres (2 yrs), Quilt Show Chairperson (3 shows worth) and an active member until I moved from the area in 2007. During all this time I also dabbled in beading, jewelry making, pottery, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, spinning, and weaving – with varying degrees of success and duration.
About 15 years ago I discovered crazy quilting and jumped in with both feet. I loved it because it incorporated all those previous crafts I’d tried out, plus a few more, and I could make use of all the stuff I’d accumulated – beads, buttons, fabric, threads, ribbons, sequins, etc, etc. I took classes with two of the biggies in CQ – Judith Baker Montano and Betty Pillsbury. Taught myself to do silk ribbon embroidery and then taught it at Michaels for a few years.
But eventually the arthritis in my hands became too painful to do the tiny stitches that every crazy quilter worth their salt strives for, so I didn’t do much of anything for a few years. We’d moved from San Diego where we’d lived for 25 years to where we are now and I was unhappy and missing my friends something fierce. I work full time and found it very difficult to find friends of any sort, never mind artsy ones.
About four years ago I came across a collage online and the irregular piecing reminded me of crazy quilting but required only paper and glue. I tried it out and the rest is history. I now have the entire front room (living room) of our house as my studio. It’s 16’x23’ and I use every inch. All my art junk is in there, plus my computer and a large flat screen TV, so I pretty much never leave it except to eat and pee.
I do a lot of mail art, art journaling, collage, mixed media, etc, and also a fair amount of digital stuff, working in Adobe Elements 11. The digital thing is just fascinating because the effects you can achieve are limited only by your imagination, and unlike paper and glue, they aren’t permanent. I’m currently on a mission to use up all my old family photos – the actual photos – because I have scads of them and no one to leave them to. So if you get mail art from me, it’s liable to feature a pic of me at five, or my mom at 12, or the family dog from 1960.
My mom died at 62 from breast then bone cancer, and her mother died at 36 from breast cancer. They’re often the subject of my journal pages because there are questions I have that can never be answered. What was in that salad dressing you used to shake up in an old jar and that I can’t replicate for the life of me? Who is that woman in the old photo with Aunt Helen on the cottage steps?
I post the vast majority of what I make on my blog, plus I post freebie vintage images fairly regularly. Come visit me at www.onewomanshands.blogspot.com.
I love MMSA and have really enjoyed receiving the wide variety of art that the swaps produce. I’m always ready for a private swap, so email me at maugreall at gmail.com.
Thanks for having me, Karen!