Monthly Archives: January 2012

Quilt, Sauce and Digital Thoughts

Without really checking I think this January was probably my most productive blog writing yet.  That’s because I’ve been busy doing things finally.  I think I’ve re-focused my time.  Having the quilt project and knowing that I have a role in a play to do and limited time to myself has done this.  Being in the play requires such discipline and that’s what I needed right now.  I was going too Adirondacker.

After the play, “The Birthday Party”, which opens on July 26, 2012 at the Upper Jay Art Center, I can go back to being Adirondacker…..leaning and loafing at my ease… pursuit of creative endeavors of course.

The quilt is on hold I’m only several squares away from putting it together, but I’m short on one fabric, I’ve ordered it, but don’t you know it’s on backorder.  But, baby isn’t due until mid April.

Today was one of the few days snow has fallen this year.  Sue had to make a delivery to The Community Store in Saranac Lake.  The roads were terrible, it was 40mph the whole way, but we just sat back and enjoyed it, there were few cars on the road.  The town fought hard to keep Walmart out of town and out of the Adirondacks. so the idea of a Community Store sprung from that.  They have wonderful clothing, underwear, socks, all the stuff you need and more.  Now they have Sue Young pendants and mugs.


Sue’s building up a wholesale business, mostly locally with solid businesses that are going to stay in business and actually sell the work.  Pendants have sold very well, they ordered in December and re-ordered in a month, we’re hoping the mug will be a hit with the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival crowd.

After the slow drive there and back I got started on my tomato sauce.

Those are giant cans of diced tomatoes, I might as well make a lot as make a little.  Organic carrots and celery.  I read that celery was a vegetable that really held on to the pesticides.  It’s mostly water so it would have higher concentrations in its cells.  So I’ve switched to organic celery.  Of course its easier now that the kids are grown, the food budget is smaller and there’s more time to shop and think about what you are buying.

So I dice up the carrots, celery and onions, sweat them up and caramelize them slightly down.  Salt and pepper about half and hour.  Add the tomatoes and bay leafs, simmer for about two hours, blend with an emulsifier add spices, simmer for another hour or so.

This makes me a nice tomato sauce stock.  I can freeze this and then add to it whatever I like for the meal I am making.  Tonight I added pesto that we froze and additional basil leafs.  But you could roast peppers and add them, additional garlic….etc….

I use to just add sugar to the sauce to cut the acid in the tomatoes, but then on a food show I saw them use carrots to sweeten the sauce…..tried it and liked it.  I didn’t peel the carrots.

I’ve been working on digital art lately.  I have a nice project going, involving loons.  I once did three different etchings of loons.  “Looner Reflections”, “Looner Reverberations”, and “Loons Bathing in Northern Lights”.  They were very popular, but I didn’t print many of them because they were so hard to print.

I’ve been recreating the idea of Looner Reflections in vector art this time.  I’m having some success, but it’s been a learning process.  I’m beginning to lean toward the idea of creating my own prints digitally.  My ideas are original and unique, I know they would sell very well at the right price point and presented well.  Perhaps next week I’ll be far enough along to put a proof of my idea up here on the blog.

But in the meantime.  I worked on the following idea this evening as I was going over photos in my camera.  I took this photo in Peru NY of a farmers field.
1_31_12_tree1I felt there was a lot here to work with.  I took out the water town, buildings and distant trees.  The big tree I felt was leaning to the right out of the picture… I cut it out but duplicating the photo, splicing the photo in half, rotating the tree about 3 degrees and lining it back up.  Then I cut out the barn and then I put that back and was able to change the color saturation levels on the different objects to make the photo below.

By tilting the tree to take the lean out of it I created a little rise in the field, but that brings the eye back to the middle of the photo.  The barn and tree shadows I burned a little darker as well.

I’ve always liked a scene like this.

Musical Clay Instruments

Sue will be giving a workshop in the new clay studio at the Cultural Center in Plattsburgh, it’s for experienced potters.  Sue has been experimenting, successfully, over the past eight years with making musical instruments out of clay.  Udu’s, ocarinas, flutes, xylophones, and now she’s putting the finishing touches on an instrument that is a combination, drum and ocarina.
1_21_12_suesdrum_ocarina_3Sue has it strapped down while she glued the sheep skin.  She has the head tied and clamped, and around the rim was a pony clamp while the glue dried.

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The she trimmed the goat skin drum head and put a nice fabric border around it.  The drum percussion comes out after making a 90 degree turn, and it comes out through the middle of a circular ocarina.  She below how she plans to play the ocarina.
1_21_12_suesdrum_ocarina_4Clay drum and Ocarina by  Sue Burdick Young, Young's Studio & Gallery, Jay NYSue has a tube coming off the ocarina mouthpiece and she’s wrapped it in a nice fabric.  The mouthpiece is going to have bead work on it.
Clay drum and Ocarina by  Sue Burdick Young, Young's Studio & Gallery, Jay NYThis is where the ocarina mouthpiece meets the tube.  Sue has it glued and wrapped in fabric.
Clay drum and Ocarina by  Sue Burdick Young, Young's Studio & Gallery, Jay NY

The mouthpiece will be beaded.  Here Sue has begun work with colored beads to create the mouthpiece cover.

I hope to shortly record Sue playing her instrument and we will post it here.

Couldn’t get the recording because the piece sold too quickly.


I eagerly anticipated this day.  I’ve come to enjoy quilting, or maybe I enjoy sitting in front of the skylight and having the Adirondack sun warm me on a morning that was 10 below zero.  Perhaps it’s the joy my Mother gets at watching me at the sewing machine, she keeps taking photos of me, apparently she can’t believe it.

It’s also the quiet contemplative time it takes to sew together the pieces of the quilt.

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I’ve precut strips of fabric that I want to use and I just lay them next to and over each other to get a feel for them together.  All the centers of the quilt squares have the deep blue square in the middle.  On the right I’m preparing to sew the first strip onto the center square.


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So I turn the strip onto its back and line it up on the front side of the square and sew them together along the ¼” line.  I then trim the strip to fit the square.
1_15_12_quilt_5After each sewing of pieces together I iron the piece nice and flat.


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My Mom put an Xfactor into this quilt.  After we had started and I’d already made about four squares she decided that she liked this checkerboard blue fabric and that she wanted to have little squares in some of the corners.  I, who never used a sewing machine before and did very little sewing, and that was back in my army days.  (the army actually issued a sewing kit) I now had to do an extra tricky step.

The two fabrics are lined up and then placed good side together and sewed across the right side.  (If you understand that then your doing better than when Mom first told me)


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On the left is what it looks like when it works.  Then I take the strip with the blue plaid attachment and line it up on the fabric pieces I already have sewn.  I sew along the bottom line and then when it’s flipped over and ironed

it looks like this.  Four pieces of a nineteen piece square.

Below is the progression of this square.

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1_15_12_quilt_13 1_15_12_quilt_14

1_15_12_quilt_15 1_15_12_quilt_16

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I’m going fabric shopping tomorrow, I just found out about a fabric store I haven’t been in, I’m turning into a quilting junkie.  I sewed three squares today and now I have eight.  I’m going to need 16 I think, but I’ll put together about 20 so we can mix and match the design and have some choices.

I have an awful lot on my plate it seems all of a sudden.  Tomorrow rehearsals start for the play I’m in this summer, six month commitment there.  So I’m making the time for the quilt making now before that get’s going with too much steam.

Quilting and being a caregiver

I’ve written down the beginning idea of a play.  About a 94 year old woman and her 63 year old son, and how they are making a quilt together for her new great grandson.  Not only am I learning a lot about quilting, but also about my Mother, Me and life.

1_12_12_quiltHere’s my work station.  Not too shabby huh?  Mom has her work table, formerly the dining room table, set so that it’s bathed in the light from the skylight.  It’s also wonderful to stretch my eyes by looking at the window every so often.  Sometimes a small herd of deer will be out there or a flock of turkey’s, sun streaming through the trees, it’s always a changing picture.

The sewing machine is old and belongs to Sue.  I’ve been able to thread it and prepare the bobbin now.  I’ve run into different problems and fixed them all.  I’m understanding more about the machine and sewing with every stitch.

Mom just doesn’t have the energy to do the cutting and sewing, she does the design work and I do the labor.

She’s made several changes and taken apart some of what I’ve already sewed, but she was working out her ideas and now I think she has it, we have it.  

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, she threw in an “X Factor”, like in a reality game show.  She wanted to have little squares of a light blue plaid on some of the corners.

It’s certainly harder than what it looks like.  You have to sew the blue plaid into the fabric your going to use, it’s difficult to make it straight every time, and then there are layers going under the needle which adds a new dimension to the sewing.

However, it makes it look more like a baby quilt and it offers up a host of design options for Mom once we get a bunch of these squares made.

I made a trip to the quilting store, I wanted to get something in yellow, but only found one that would work for the quilt.  But they were having a sale and I picked up some blues that looked nice too.  I’m having thoughts and visions of creating my own quilt now, that I can hang in the gallery.  I was looking over the selection of fabrics and thinking of ideas.

When I brought the fabric back to Mom I told her I went to Target.  They do not sell fabric but Mom for some reason doesn’t care for the quilting store I went to and thinks their fabrics aren’t good.  They are, but she’s 94 and I don’t argue unless it’s going to affect her health and well being.

I learned to make sure she doesn’t see receipts, unless I want her to.  She didn’t want bread anymore when she saw that a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Thin Bread was four dollars.  I talked her out of it but there were other things too before I got wise.

So there was no quilting today, because we went to see the Doctor today for a regular visit.  All is fine, Mom just runs out of energy and has angina and she’s 94 and a half.  Tomorrow is a visit to the eye doctor, Mom will be getting some new glasses.  Sue will be coming with us to help.

Probably Sunday will be the next quilting day, I’m looking forward to it.

Gallery views

One of the benefits of having a New Years party in the gallery is that it gets all cleaned up for the new year.  Starting around Thanksgiving we get flowers every two weeks for the gallery, to put in vases and for the Ikebanas.  It really helps sell the work when people can see a beautiful arrangement in Sue’s pieces.
Stoneware pottery vase and goblets by Sue Burdick Young, Young's Studio & Gallery. Jay NYBy the time Holiday shopping is over, the gallery needs to be straightened up and having the party is the perfect vehicle.

Raku vase by Sue Burdick Young, Young's Studio & Gallery. Jay NY Stoneware vase by Sue Burdick Young, Young's Studio & Gallery. Jay NY

It’s very quiet in January and we are closed three days a week now so we can concentrate on studio work.  I love taking a break and strolling around the gallery, looking at the work, getting inspiration and soaking up the good vibes.
1_5_12_gallery_3Some days there is a little snow on the ground and some days there is none, it’s that kind of winter.  Today Sue had a work station set up in the gallery as she was working with a home schooled girl and they were binding a book.  She wrote quite a nice story and she wanted to give the book as a gift to a friend.

When Sue was doing the large mural projects she used a lot of space in the gallery for those projects.  I like sitting by the window, checking out the birds, drawing and listening to music.

But right now is end of year book keeping.  I’ve always been amazed at the amount of book work this little business does.  It’s quite a bit less than it use to be, but it’s enough to keep me busy all this week.  There’s inventory of the wholesale items we buy for the gallery, and inventory of all the supplies we use in the art that we make.  Yearly expenses, etc., etc…

Glad I have the atmosphere of the gallery to keep me sane.

New Years Day

Had a party last night and I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos of the finished crab cakes……bummer.  They were good, I have some frozen, but it wouldn’t be the same photo.

We had 25 and the singers were great.
1_1_12_nyeve_party_5Most everyone had a solo, there was quite a variety of tunes.

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There was acting and choral singing.
1_1_12_nyeve_party_3We borrowed a digital projector because one of the original Sam Balzac tunes was about the Land of Make Believe so we projected some images from a program DVD about Arto Monaco and his Land of Make Believe on the gallery wall while they sang.

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We have done so many parties over the years, we have real glasses and utensils that we keep just for gallery events.  Literally from ten to a hundred, we have done many varied events in the gallery.  New Years Eve parties among them.

In the photo on the left is the large punch bowl bear that Sue made and on the right are examples of the gift boxes we used for Let’s Make A Deal.

We have coasters on all of our displays so even the very large wall can be slid out of the way.  We can seat 25 to 30 comfortably.  I have cardboard sheets measured to fit over the glass displays so we can put hot food on them.  We have electricity on the displays so hot food can be plugged in.  The lights can always be arranged to focus wherever we need to have it.  Sue and I have always said this is like out little theater.  We were step up into it from the studio it’s like coming on stage for us.

We kicked around an idea for many years and tried to find land and finance a small theater because we liked doing this and I was getting interested in doing theater.  We eventually did it through JEMS because we could make it a non-profit and raise enough money, but that’s another story.

I would like to do some kind of theater in our gallery space this year, something funny, I’ll have to look around.  I am going to be in a play in July at the Recovery Lounge, more on that later.
1_1_12_nyeve_party_9Here is beautiful smiling Sue.

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So after the singing and a little noshing I played Let’s Make A Deal.  Had a lot of fun, everyone got a gift of some kind, there was a lot of laughter and spur of the moment funny stuff.

After that I went to the kitchen, opened a bottle of Proseco, and started frying my croquettes and my crab cakes.  We had so much prep done, Sue keeps a list that we check off.  I always schedule in chill time, otherwise you’d get burnt out before the party is over.

I really enjoy cooking and having a party enables me to have a nice culinary kitchen challenge, everything was a big hit, you can’t go wrong with great flavors.

New Years Day was very active for me.  I cleaned the gallery and got it back into shape.  Moved all my drums back and shined all the displays.  I worked on my Mom’s quilt during the day and visited with her tonight at her house.

Any type of New Years resolution would evolve around my time with Mom.  I think I’m finally getting a mental handle on the whole switching roles thing that goes with taking care of aging parents.  Because of that, I’m really beginning to feel a twinge of creativity, but even more so, the desire to do something about it.

So that would be a big resolution to make.

I remember the book “The Artists Way” and an important step in finding the way back to your creativity was to have a “place”, a studio space where your creativity could flourish.  Also to put aside the time for it.

So I’m going to strip my studio, all the old ideas and notes will be out.  I think I’ll pack up a lot of stuff and put it in storage too.  I mean I have papermaking supplies, gocco print supplies, inks I probably won’t use ever again.  Framing stuff that I’ll never use again, because now I just go the easy way and buy the metal frames in bulk.

I’ll replace the old music with new.  I have four albums that Ervidlus gave me over the summer that I haven’t even listened to yet.  Sitar and Indian music, and a wonderful cello and sitar.

Last month I got in lots of New Supplies.  BFK Reeves printing paper, Arches Text Wove, Binders Boards.  I had to get my glue in before the winter because they can’t ship the glue in the winter, so I got the glue, tape and some brushes.  I’m all set.  Let’s see what happens, creatively.

Also this year I want to hike.  Last year I didn’t hike, probably the first year in my whole life, other than being a kid.  I really missed being out in the woods, and that will affect your creativity as well.

I want to discipline myself for this part in the play “The Birthday Party”, set to go in late July.  I have a small part, so that’s perfect for me.  I haven’t even read through the script yet, I’m really not all that excited about it actually, yet.  Talking with Scott about the dynamics of the play was exciting and I’m sure once I can sit down with the cast and we all read it and talk about I’ll get into the spirit of it all.

Sometimes though I shake my head and say to myself, “What have I done?”.  It will require the discipline that I haven’t had of late.  I had it once, I’m sure I can get back to it.  I’ve lost weight with each play I’ve been in, because rehearsals interrupt my dinner hour usually,  So I eat very lightly because it’s either too early or too late.

So I have just a couple of resolutions, oh and drink more water and eat more fruit.

Also I wanted to write some stories and essays and put them in a special place on the blog.

I’ve lived half my life in the Adirondack Mountains now.  I’m 64 this year and I’ve lived here 32 years.  I’m very excited about this coming year.

The year 2011 was great.