The purpose of this blog is share with others the processes involved in my favorite form of creativity- silk art quilts. The creative process itself is a fascinating thing. I am constantly amazed by it- both its simplicity and its complexity.

I feel strongly that I am a better person since I truly started following my dream. Because of collectors--those who actually buy original art-- I am able to live my dream. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can see more of my work at my website http://www.rebelquilter.com/.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lots of new work

This piece is entitled "Freefall" in recognition and/or celebration of both the craziness of the stock market and earmarking the season. These are gingko leaves in motion. The panels on the right have gingko leaves in gold leaf--not foil--leaf.

The leaves on the left side are done as thread lace. Except for some tuille, every bit of those leaves were done with freemotion stitching. Except for a couple of sashing pieces all was hand-dyed silk. I love the rich intensity of colors.
This piece is still in progress. There is more than one layer. The bottom later is noil that has been dyed and painted with stamps and silk screens. The top layer is divided into 2 main sections. The left is dyed and painted silk organza. In addition, I have used gold leaf to add the alchemy symbols and the woven patch. The right side is also silk organza. It is using more of the pieces I dyed last year when I dyed the fabric for the previous piece (Freefall). The sections have not been assembled with batting yet. I have no idea yet how I'll quilt it.

Here you can get a better idea of the layers. All those circles were printed using a few of my dozens of empty spools.

Another detail showing the right side. After last night's election and Obama's speech I am feeling more optimistic about life in general and especially our future as a country. By the way-- the name of this piece is "Energy of Hope".

I have no idea where this piece is going. It is made up of many of my scraps from previous circle quilts. I added a line of multi-colored couched yarn. This, so far, is just pinned to the wall in rows. I am not sure yet whether it'll be vertically oriented or horizonally. I, for sure, have no idea how to quilt it.
So, while I have been in my studio feeling somewhat aimless, I have found all sorts of directions to investigate. If has been fun.
I think I'll go back to celebrating and drinking in that warm glow of hope. I remember that feeling. It has been a while. I liked it a lot.
Jon will be home tomorrow with his CD completed and ready for publication. This is a landmark event in our lives and I expect that forever after our lives will reflect the changes this CD will have wrought.

Friday, October 17, 2008

New work--Reconcilable Differences

This piece was nearly self-created. By that I mean a piece that seemed to know what it wanted to be even before I began. It started several months ago when I was between projects. When I cut my blocks to build my circle blocks I almost always have anywhere from 1-5" strips that are 8" long as leftovers. Consequently I have drawers full of these mostly silk scraps. When I am in my studio without any perceivable direction I will grab these strips in similar colorations and just build long strips. In this case I had over 16 ft of these strips in various shades of brown.
I began by simply hanging four 4 ft strips near each other. Somewhere in there the concept of reconcilable differences popped into my head. ( I seem to have been surrounded lately by people who love each other but can't seem to get along)
The general layout is 4 vertical strips made up of the horizontal strips. Between them are vertical strips printed entirely in circular images. There is a diamond overlaying the whole thing. Inside of the diamond is a melding of imagery- strips and circles. Outside the diamond each vertical strip has quilting that is individual to the strip. Inside the diamond the quilting is an allover looping and semi- floral pattern. Outside the diamond the quilting is jagged straight lines for the odd strips and all circles for the even ones. Outside the diamond there are words--mine, I, me. Inside the diamond are the words our, us, we.
The concept is that when one goes beyond thinking only about oneself then differences begin to disappear and consensus and compromise can be found.
I would love to see this piece end up in a law office or perhaps the office of someone who works to mediate family relationships. The overall size is nearly 4 ft square. These are only my "blog quality" photos. I'll be shoot it again at higher resolution immediately. If you want to see higher res shots-- email me directly.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dang!!!!! Quilt National anyway!!!

Live Water

Live Water-- detail
Well Gosh Darn!!!! If you know me well you know this is NOT what I have just spit from my mouth. I truly thought this piece had what it took to get selected for Quilt National. The upside is that I can now market the heck out of this piece. Had it been selected it would have been traveling for the next 2 years. Part of the highly restrictive rules of QN is that you can't post the work to anything but your own website. Fear of someone else copying and reposting my work kept me from posting when I completed it. So NOW you can see it in all its glory. This piece finished out at 70" x 105" in three panels. It is a happy piece that takes you to another world. The price is $9750. If you'd like to receive a higer resolution image of this, please email me and I'll get it right off to you. The back side has a similar imagery done in dyes and pigments-- so it could hang against a curtain wall (an interior glass wall) and both sides could work for you.

One of the trickier aspects of making pieces this large is that there are so few venues that will allow pieces of this scale. So my new marketing plan is to send out portfolios to art consultants and architectural firms that have the audience I am seeking.

In the meantime I'll work out my frustration discovering some new avenues with the potato dextrin and see what my next major thing will be. The upside is that my studio is getting a cleaning it hasn't had in over a year.

Good news has also come this week. Barnes Jewish Hospital has selected Burning Leaves to hang in its lobby area. This is a major piece that was most recently shown at William Woods University-- Celebrating Creativity. Thanks to my agent Sandra Kolde. I really appreciate her keeping my work in mind when talking with major accounts. Although I would much rather sell my work outright, leasing provides a foundation that pays my studio rent and frees up my attention for creating.

Now that I am no longer wondering about QN I can get back to wondering if the sky is falling in the stock market. Oh joy!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Recent experiments

I've been spending the month of September playing around. Most of my experimenting has to do with playing around with thickened dyes and silk screen variations. The flashes above were done with freezer paper adhered temporarily to my blank silkscreen. The gingko, yoga gal, and weave were done with my thermofax silkscreens, again using thickened dyes. The pale reddish part was done with the technique of painting thickened dyes onto a silkscreen, letting it dry and then using dye thickener goop to release the color onto the piece.--deconstuctive silkscreening.
This one, as with the previous one, has been built up over several months. This is on a 100% linen that I found for $1/yd on the stack at Walmart. ( I bought the bolt) All except the gloppy streaks were done with thickened dyes and silkscreen. The gloppy was done by simply dripping thickened dyes off the end of a brush.
This is another idea I've been playing with. I had bought a bag similar to this at the Dairy Barn a few years ago. At the time I thought it was a small bag for evening use. As it turned out, it was more of a pocket to wear around your neck. Lately I have been wearing lots of clothes that don't seem to have pockets. That means nowhere to put my phone. So I decided to resurrect this concept using recent colorations. I found a small shop in Hardy, Arkansas that is carrying ( AND SELLING!!!!!) some of my smaller works. I brought them my little pockets-- we're calling them Posh Pockets. At a mere $18 I am hoping they fly off the rack.

I also bought a needle felting machine recently and have been playing around with it. I'm still breaking needles- argh. But it is a fun toy.

My immediate experiments are with Potato Dextrin. I've got several pieces batching right now and expect to receive some more potato dextrim powder in the mail today.

This is the longest I have allowed myself for pure experimenting in ages. While on this jag I am also playing with some disperse dyes, and am delving into the methods Jane Dunnewold and friends have used to laminate imagery and metal leaf to fabrics.

My next major actual project is to do three vertical panels that will have the silhouettes of 3 musicians who were sidemen to my husband's recording sessions. Since he normally plays alone on stage, these will hang as backdrops behind him-- giving the illusion that he is not alone on stage. There will be a stand-up bass, a clarinet or saxaphone, and a lead guitar. Perhaps even a drummer. I am hoping to incorporate some of these new methodoligies into that project. The plan is to use them on the CD cover. It is due out just before Christmas. Time to get cracking!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stolen work

This was truly a roller coaster day. First the good news-- 2 of my works that I have been trying to get into shows for a while finally made it. My Bass Ackwards Series: Sunflower and Bee Balm were both accepted into the 4 state regional show at the Springfield Art Museum. They'll hang from mid October through mid January.
Now the disappointing news-- my quilt Full Moon/ Low Ceiling has been stolen from the wall of my exhibition at the Gillioz Theater. As it is an ongoing investigation there isn't much I can or should say about it except that it appears to have been stolen by a patron of the restaurant Tonic which is next to the theater and shares a lobby/ bathrooms. I am quite encouraged by the response from both the theater and the police. They are surprisingly optimistic about recovery. When I know more and am allowed to share I'll do so. In the mean time I am posting here so there is a place that can be easily referenced. The size is 49" H x 35" W.
This piece depicts the sky on one of those nights when the moon is very full and the clouds are quite low-- creating an eery mauvy glow.
While I am sad at the piece being out there without a legitimate owner I am hoping that it is an opportunity for it to bring joy to someone along its path. And yes-- I WILL prosecute!!!
But the thief cannot take away the joy I felt while creating this piece. I'll have that forever. This is one of my personal favorites.
In the mean time I am spending September experimenting with various resists. Potato dextrin is my current playmate. I'll post some images in a few days.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

recent commission

This commission is one I sent off yesterday to its new home in Chicago. It was commissioned as a reward to herself by a lady who had finally completed her training toward her PhD. It is a prime example of combining my talents with the individual desires of my client. She was in love with my quilt (seen below) Ridgeline:Afterglow. She had seen the work while it hung as the focal point in the restaurant Cafe 37 in West Plains, MO. The size and cost of the bigger piece was overwhelming so we collaborated to come up with a more appropriate work for her circumstances. I had a lot of fun revisiting the sunset as a color element and I have refined my trees. Her love of cypress trees plus my previous use of the looking-up-through-the-trees imagery (in Listening for the Silence) steered us toward this combination. http://www.rebelquilter.com/recent_works.htm to see this work.
I had created Ridgeline: Afterglow in 2003 or 4. Since then I have created over 75 works over 27" in width.

Thanks to my longtime friend Suzanne Fuqua from Dallas I have a new gallery I'll be working with. The Cerulean Gallery in Snyder Plaza has one of the toniest addresses and is adjacent to SMU. I had a nicely successful exhibition last year in Dallas at the MADI Museum and I believe that helped to open the door to my work being embraced by the gallery owner. I look forward to this new relationship. Check out their website www.theceruleangallery.com and Suzanne's at www.suzannespaintings.com.
I am back hard at work on my "Live Water" piece. I have begun the quilting on the center panel. It must be finished by the end of the month. Zoom zoom zoom. My local library hasn't added any new books on Cd recently so I have been listening to my sirius radio. It is a recent addition to my studio and a blessing. My studio is in a hollow so I can only get the strongest local stations-- country. UGH. I love listening to NPR Now as well as the coffee house stations.
Hasta la vista.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Live Water Progress

This is the current state of the three panels -- front side.
I decided I would, using surface design techniques, somewhat duplicate the front on the back
Here is a detail of the back panel. You can see I have used the fish again- painted this time. I first dyed the panel using thickened dyes. Hollis Chatelain you have nothing to worry about from me!!! Then to blend the colors more I went back and stamped more color with my 2 favorite stamps. One uses those floor tile spacers- the tiny ones. The other is just pieces of foam stuck onto a piece of plexiglas. I used acrylics and textile medium when needed to thin.
Another of the panels.
This shows all three back panels. Hopefully you can see that they are somewhat a duplicate of the front. I am not trying for an exact match- just a disorientation.

Monday, July 28, 2008


This was not at all the haircut I had planned. In fact I just wanted the usual 1/2" off my normal do. But this is what happened when I requested my hairdresser get off the phone while cutting my hair. She had been speaking to her mother-in-law for several minutes with no indication she planned to get off. After fuming, myself, for several minutes I finally said, "I'll be happy to wait until you are off the phone for you to finish my haircut". She actually said "Why? Am I messing up the cut?" I said, "No. But I am not paying you to talk on the phone. I am paying for you to cut my hair." Several near silent minutes later I commented that it sure was short. She said," Well I had to even things up!" Then she blasted me for treating her so badly and fired me as a client. The conversation went downhill from there and I realised there was no point in trying for rationality any longer.

So, Katie Grimes, I hope everyone in Thayer, MO sees your scalping and doesn't give you the chance to mess with them. I considered having business cards made of this photo and giving Ms. Grimes the credit she deserves while posting them on bulletin boards all over town.... But a week later, I am nearly over this by now. Grrr. and yes, I even paid her but NO TIP!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

live water

Swarms= schools of fish
To create the fish I first made a stamp using a glue gun to outline the fish shape onto silk organza. Then I came back and painted in the shading. I added fusible web to the back side of the organza. Then stitched around the fish shapes to create appliques. Then I cut away the extra organza and then heat fused the fish down.
This larger view shows how the fish flow onto the first and third panels.
My next step is to dye the backs. I plan to use thickened dyes to paint on the dyes in such a way that it looks like you are seeing the front from the back.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Magic time! Live Water

Here are the blocks up on the wall. In this lighting it isn't terribly brilliant. In real life the colors glow! It'll be divided into three panels each 5 blocks wide. At least this piece is small enough to get all the parts in one photo.

I've used the "excitement energy" to get the first 6 rows of the left panel assembled. Then I went home for lunch and pretty much collapsed with the creeping crud that is going around. I had hoped to get it completely pieced over the weekend but somehow doubt my energy will carry me that far. cough cough, hack hack.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Time to take a deep breath!

Today is the day I'll be doing Magic Time! for "Live Water" I can hardly wait. I have made about 170 blocks which translates to 680 quadrants. I expect to use only about 150/ 600 of them.
The weather is totally spring. On Monday I'll get word on the commission for MSU. Fingers more than crossed--expected even!

So come back and hopefully tomorrow I'll have the first images of the new work.

In the mean time- I'll note the first crocuses and jonquils. Last night we slept with one bedroom window partially open. Our 6 mo old kittens HAD to sit in it. You could just see them discussing the inflow of new information. Mingus was saying, "Look at those birds! and the smells!" Django was saying "Do know how scary it is out there? Those birds could attack!"

So I am off to my studio.....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

EEEEWWWWW! Spring is coming!

The very first sign of SPRING in the Ozarks is the smell of skunk. They are on the move and getting hit on the road. So it is the olfactory sense that first kicks in the anticipation of the end of cold weather. That is good news as we are currently being hit with 36 hours of "wintery mix." There is a 1/4" coat of ice on the car and we are only 6 hours into the 36. I know this because I had to go out to the car to bring in my sketch book.

As crude as this drawing is, it is the sketch for my newest work--"Visions of Plenty:Live Water"

We live in one of the few places in the US that not only has lots of acreage with live water but the cost is generally still under $2000/acre... sometimes lots less. As the race for water gets more heated having live water on one's property will get more valuable. What is "live water?" It is water that is moving-- a creek, a river, a spring.

This piece is well underway. I have the blocks with 2 layers of circles thus far. If I can get down to my studio (2 blocks away--downhill) I'll get the third layer on and get them quartered. Tentative "Magic Time" is scheduled for Sunday. I'll probably have to get out the crimpons (those ice traction thingies) to get down the hill. Oh yeah. I don't have any of those. Hmmm. Guess I'll stay put and make curry instead.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Photo at last--Slipstream Adventure

I'm happy to at last have a "finished" photo of this pieice that I can now use for promoting it. The finished size of the piece is 80" x 156". I'm working on getting the back view compiled. This is actually 4 separate photos which have been combined onto a single canvas. My friend Bruce Carr shot the work and my friend Jim Kraus did the Photoshop work. The only manipulation was to correct some keystoning and evening up the sizes. Great job, guys!!!

The next step is to find venues for exhibition and potential clients for purchase. You'll be seeing this piece in every exhibition that will accept a piece this large for the next 2 years... unless that wonderful client comes along who wants to purchase it early on.

Now on to the next piece-- which is well underway. I expect I'll be doing "Magic Time" for it later this week. There will be approx 150 blocks--smaller than the last one but still quite large. The colors are deep purples to rich blues to citreon green with a light source that brightens one section to light greens. Yum!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Now what?

Last month I finally finished "Slipstream Adventure." I was expecting to start a new job in outside sales that would be now taking up much of my time and creative energy. The job didn't materialize. Now most of my art friends are shouting, "It's a sign! Just do your art!" As much as I wish that was my only focus, the reality is that I spent much of 2006 traveling the country showcasing my wares and 2007 paying interest on those expenses. So I either need to do a whole lot more commissions, sell much of what I have already done, find other art outlets or... gulp... get a job. My work ethic is such that when I take on a job I give it my all. So I know I won't be creating my artwork on the level I have previously if I get a job--even a part-time one.... and NOOOOO network marketing is not the answer for me. Been there, done that, still got the mugs, platters, t-shirts, stained glass awards, etc.

I know that one of the key definitions of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting a different outcome. On the other hand, I can't tell you how many bios I've read of successful artists, musicians, or writers that contain something along the line of--- "well if I had given up 2 weeks earlier I wouldn't be here." Certainly mixed messages from the universe.

I have never had a problem with persistence. That I have (as long as it doesn't involve deprivation.)

So my solution has several points. Like my annual goal setting- it reads more like a business plan than anything else.
  1. Create work that satisfies me first. Right now this means large scale, intense pieces. It might also mean exploring more thoroughly surface design techniques. But I have found a voice I like with those darn circles.
  2. Build up my shibori scarf wholesale business. I have a listing on Wholesalecrafts.com which reaches 16,000 retailers throughout the country. Update images regularly so my work stays near the top in "new work."
  3. Plan on doing 2-3 wholesale shows in 2009 featuring the scarves. Schedule now.
  4. Stay up to date in knowledge of color trends for fashion and commercial decor.
  5. Get my Rebel Quilter Gallery up and open to the public before the spring tourist traffic hits the area. Get brochure done that can be handed out at the local tourist info sites.
  6. Do a thorough inventory of existing works. Make sure they are all properly documented and whereabouts known. You'd be surprised how complicated this can get when you have over 75 created pieces that are at least 2 ft square.
  7. Enter lots of exhibitions with exisiting work.
  8. Send out exhibition proposals to non-profit galleries and museums for solo shows. Target is 3-5 solo exhibitions per year. Team up with others to promote small group shows.
  9. Respond to requests for qualifications for large scale public art indoor projects.
  10. Get more savvy in my internet news releases so "successes" are noted by the public on a larger scale and journalists seek me outas an authority on artquilts, surface design, and marketing.
  11. Get those who have voiced an interest in commissioning my work to go ahead and let me get started. (I love commissions that let me do my style)
  12. Schedule and promote a series of surface design classes to be taught in my studio.
  13. Line up more teaching and trunk show gigs for pay.
  14. Find a way to pay for a part-time studio assistant or intern.
  15. Continue to make small framed works from remaining blocks of bigger quilts.
  16. Assist my husband in his massage newsletter business target and secure more clients.
  17. Be open to opportunities that come my way for a real "Job." My ego is strong enough that I'd want it to be a job that demands quality performance and high rewards. Outside sales is most likely since it would allow a more flexible schedule--allowing time off for my mother's health issues and my monthly artquilt group meetings which are out of town.
  18. Keep myself open to finding a gallery or two that can handle my large-scale work and actually MOVE them.

I'm sure that list will grow.

I have started a new piece. I'll post in progress photos next time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Done at last! Slipstream Adventure

The 2 left panels of Slipstream Adventure.
The 2 right panels. As soon as I get the REAL photography done I'll compose a single image that lines them all up. Right now I can't do that. This is the 4 panels hanging in my gallery at the front of the studio. As you can see I "wrapped" the third panel around the corner.

This is a detail shot showing the quilting as well as the foiling done with fusible thread.

I am so glad I did this huge project. As I was diving into it I was reminded of the whole house remodel I did in Florida several years ago. Each day it is just a matter of seeing where I was in the full scheme of the project. This project was started 6 months ago. I took off about 5 weeks overall. It's final size is 76" x 154" or about 6 1/2 ft x almost 13 ft.

There is a certain relationship one develops with a project of this magnitude. Understanding its parts and being able to break it down into those pieces is what makes it confrontable. Getting the sequence right is a bit trickier and involves being able to think several steps ahead of where you are. For instance-- I couldn't do the fusble thread/ foiling until I had already done the side binding because I wouldn't be able to press the whole piece once the foil was on it-- it would have melted back off and left a mess. Also-- thinking ahead far enough to tear off the side strips that became the facing before assembling the layers enabled me to have facings that matched the backs. This is something one learns from DOING.. as opposed to simply planning or thinking about it.

This project's inspiration came primarily from a vision I had of a coloration. On August 16th, 2007 I posted an image of a drawing I did with colored pencils. It was my initial vision of where this project was going. This isn't the first time I was inspired simply by wanting to see what happens when I put certain colors together. I'm not aware of other artists having this as an inspiration point. Perhaps it happens all the time. Maybe I'm just weird. I'm okay with that.

As I write this I am awaiting an offer from a prospective employer. I'm thinking my next piece will be along a theme of "When push comes to shove."-- which pretty much covers where things have been at. So I am thinking along the lines of the juxtapositioning of the desire to create art, the need to have an income and the irony that I've worked harder in the last 6 years than I have in my life and that none of those years count at all toward the needed credited quarters of "employment" that allows me to have earned the opportunity at 65 of using Medicare. I don't know about you-- I knew you had to earn social security. But I didn't know you had to earn Medicare. I thought you just paid for it every month. Seems like there is the potential for a social issue there. I never heard of someone not qualifying for Medicare--unless they were a foreign illegal or something.

Thanks for going the distance with me. I WILL have quality photos posted here as soon as I get them. I will include the backs as well. I love reading your comments and appreciate them immensely.

Friday, January 11, 2008

the big tease--Slipstream Adventure

Here is a photo of most of the third panel quilted. I have finished all the quilting on all four pieces--sigh. Make that YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!
This is a detail shot of panel number 2. You can still see my chalk lines for dividing and conquering the overall quilting. The circles with the winding threads goes through all four panels in five different colors. In each panel the sizes shift--getting larger and spiraling all the way.
Again you can see the winding circles plus still the chalk. It'll go away when I get all the steaming done. In order to get all four panels to be exactly the same size I am steaming, trimming and doing the vertical binding on all. Then I'll come back and do the horizontal binding-- more like facing actually.

Also-- I am going to do a little trick using the Charlotte's Fusible Web to add foil to each of the spiral circles. It is a neat little product from Superior threads my friend Marlene told me about. It is a thread form of fusible web. I'll stitch it in the sprials using it as a bobbin thread-- but it can't be done until all the steaming, ironing etc is done. Essentially this means I'll be finishing the whole thing and then coming back, stitching with the fusible web and then laying in the foil. It'll be a fairly subtle touch- I hope.

One of the aspects that most intrigues me is the journey of discovery as a project of this magnitude evolves. You may remember my initial colored pencil drawing-- go back a few months to see it. In August I started dyeing fabrics and began the assembly. I had NO idea then about anything other than the overall color flow. As it began to be assembled the story line about the "Slip Stream Adventure" came into play while listening to a Van Morrison CD. From that began a dialog with myself about how to create the imagery of a slip stream. So the back got the imagery and then I had to translate that to the front in the form of quilting.

To do that I first basted each piece completely so that I was stitching from the back. I stitched around each of the painted circles and outlines of the slipstreams using monofilament thread. This created landmarks that I could see from the front. Then I completely re-basted making the front my stitching platform.

The next step was to divide and conquer the overall quilting. I used an echo pattern but divided the surface into rough triangles of about 6". Then I stitched from the outer edge to the center of each and moved to the next. The circles and pathways between them were marked in chalk. After the overall quilting was done then I went back and did the circles, pathways and slipstream.

So all that is left is the facings and the foil. Hold your breath! It'll happen!

So --hope that holds you for a few more days until I figure out the photography thing.

I have targeted this weekend for final, total, no going back completion. Then I have to figure out how to photograph it! My plan is to shoot all four separately and then assemble them in photoshop. The next runway of learning raises its ugly head!!! (if you know the workflow for this please email me!!!)

Overall I am very pleased with this project. I started dyeing the fabrics in August. I took over 5 weeks off completely between trips to Canada and Florida and one miserable week sick.

You might wonder why I took on a projectof this scale. Besides being an eternal optimist... I have wanted do to large scale commissioned work for a long while now. The last large scale work I had done was in 2003. I was applying for a large scale project and wanted to make sure that if I got that job that I knew what I was in for. Since 2003 I have learned much and was able to apply it. Also-- doing this project with its grand scale had all sorts of logistical details that I wanted worked out before tackling an even larger project. Next week I'll finally hear whether my work is being considered for the Emerson Electric Auditorium Lobby. Fingers are mucho crossed. Their budget is extensive and it could make a major difference in how my next few months go artwise.
Thanks for taking the ride with me. It has been fun.