Monday, February 28, 2011

View Of the Woods

I have been appreciating the beauty of our woods this winter, every morning that the sun has shone through the trees. Now, living in upstate NY, the sun does not shine that often, I admit. But when it does, we really appreciate it.

Optimistically, I am assuming the our snow will once again begin to melt today and this time it will not come back. Being so sure of this, I had to snap a few photos out our windows before the scene was gone for many months. (I am an optimist.)

I love the way the trees reflect in the snow. Notice the angles of their reflections. One of these days I will capture them in an art quilt - probably some summer day when the humidity is oppressive!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Future of e-books

Richard Nahem, the fellow who put together the cooking class that I took in Paris in January, has a blog called Eye Prefer Paris. He is posting some old interviews this week and one is with the owner of a small English language bookstore in Paris - The Red Wheelbarrow. Penelope Fletcher is her name and I found her comments on the future of bookstores given the growth of ebooks to be quite interesting. With the recent announcement by Borders that they are going into bankruptcy and closing many stores, it seems a bit prophetic.

Here is what she had to say:

How are you coping with e-books and electronic reading devices such as the Kindle and how do you see the future of small bookstores like yours?
Kindle makes bookselling boring. I think we are going to see all the big publishers go out of business when books become digitally copied for free, which will be in the next six months to two years. In five years from now, the small publishers will become the big publishers and we will start all over again.  People love books, people like reminders that they exist as individuals and thinking ones at that. Small bookshops like mine, have to ride the wave, but we need to be supported by the population at the same time. We are the same as the wine sellers, the cheese sellers and the universities -we represent the real. Internet, is ephemeral, not real. It doesn't satisfy the self. A digital book does not exist for ever.You can read it on line and then it is gone, or stored away somewhere that requires electricity - you cant pick it up late at night and read your favorite part to a friend or to yourself.  My big worry with kindle and e-readers are that books are going to disappear at a faster rate- print runs of paper books are already smaller and short lived, and the out of print date used to be at two years is now shorter.

If you are interested in reading Richard entire interview of Penelope and following his blog, you can it at this link.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Create a 6x6 square for a good cause

I recently learned of the Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s 6x6 project. It sounds like a lot of fun. Thousands of original artworks, made and donated by celebrities, international and local artists, designers, college students, and youths are donated and shown in a yearly exhibit. Last year over 5,000 artworks from 43 US States and 22 Countries were entered in this astounding exhibition. This year's exhibit is June 4-10, 2011.

Here is how it works:

Anyone can donate a piece. Each artwork that is donated needs to be 6x6 square inches and signed only on the back, as it is exhibited anonymously. The deadline for submissions is May 1.

All artworks will be for sale to the public for $20 each to benefit Rochester Contemporary Art Center (RoCo). Artist names will be revealed to the buyer only upon purchase and all works will remain on display for the duration of the exhibition. Beginning July 1st, the names of artists whose work has completely sold out will be revealed online next to their artwork(s). The 6x6x2011 Online Gallery will be available ( for previewing on May 28th and global online purchasing will begin June 6 at 10am.

You can find out more on the Rochester Contemporary Art Center site, along with a prospectus and entry form.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In another galaxy...

I have spent the past few days looking for a start on a new piece. I tried one approach, rejected it, considered throwing out the idea, decided to transform it, explored many color choices, studied color theory a bit, and am back to my original colors with a much freer mind.

But, all of that process does not make for a very rivoting post. So, instead I invite you to step back for a moment. Take a few deep breaths and take a trip with me to gain perspective. It is easy to get caught up in our designs, our community, our country, our world. Here is 35 second pan of Galaxy NGC2841 (romantic name isn't it!) from the Hubble telescope. The galaxy is beautiful in its own right and a nice reminder that there is so much out there to explore and learn about.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another building block

As I gradually learn about the embroidery software and attachments for my new machine, I am trying to find applications in my art pieces. It is easier for me to absorb new information if I have a purpose. I have been especially interested in quilting with my embroidery hoop. After all, why not?

In the past few days I have been playing with designing a quilt pattern for an art quilt and then actually doing it. I chose the star anise project I wrote about in my last post. I designed a six pointed bud and have actually created an arrangement of them that I expect to use to quilt the surface of my piece.

As  a test, I tried quilting a few of the buds to see how they will turn out. I wouldn't be able to use them as currently designed in other than an art quilt as the back of the quilt is messy. But, I like the way they stitch out. I am looking forward to working on the whole piece next week - when I have my next lesson.

Here is how they have turned out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Experiment with Star Anise

A friend of mine brought back some spices from India to remind me of the scents of the country. Among them was star anise.

According to Wikipedia, star anise "is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening."

I was really taken with the star shape of the fruit and could envision it in an art quilt. So, I have been playing with a beaded rendition of the shape.

Here is where I have gotten to. You can see the original dried seedpods  and my beaded interpretation.

Will keep you posted on how this develops. I have one more beaded design idea to play with.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finished Scarf

I just finally finished a scarf that I had pieced several years back. It is made from kimono material I picked up in the Kyoto markets. I decided to try a thin layer of batting in the scarf to make it more appropriate for winter wear. I am really pleased with the results. Hope you like it too.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Twice the options

Working on my lantern piece reminded me of the importance of really evaluating what you have in your stash. In this instance, I was looking for muted fabrics for several areas in my sketch. While I came up with a few possibilities quickly, I needed more.

It was looking like I was out of luck. However, I then remembered an old tip that once you purchase a fabric, you can use it any way you wish. Flipping pieces to their back, I suddenly had a new range of options and my problem was soon solved.

This tip won't work with every fabric - particularly batiks. But, particularly if you happen to have a collection of dark value prints, it is worth checking the second side. You are likely to find a lighter version of a pattern that you like.

Two examples where the 'wrong side' of the fabric was right.
I used the fabric on the right. It's right side would have been too yellow to blend with the fabric at a diagonal but the backsite was just right.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Three Sisters Marketplace

I am happy to announce that I have juried into the Three Sisters Marketplace and will be offering a select group of my art works, scarves, and quilts through the market place.

This is a new venture for me. It was a goal for next year but the opportunity arose and I decided, why not?

Will create some links to this blog and let you know as I gradually build up an inventory on the site.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Great Source for Unique Parisian Tours

My January trip to Paris was great fun - as would be any trip there. One of my objectives was to get out and interact a bit more - I was traveling on my own and past experience has been that I am a little shy at starting up conversations (Yes, I do speak the language somewhat adequately so that isn't the issue, more my shyness.) In any event, I planned in some social activities that I thought would be fun.

One was a cooking class that I found on Richard Nahem's Eye Prefer Paris Tours website. The 'class' was really more of a cooking demonstration with recipes provided at the end but that was just fine. What I got was a fun five or so hours with some delightful people. We started with a tour of a local market with Richard where we shopped for ingredients for what would be our lunch. Based on that experience, I would highly recommend Richard as a tour guide. His specialty is tours of the Marais but he also does tours of St. Germain, the Latin Quarter, and Montmartre. In the brief time we spent at the market, he offered perspective on what we were seeing and how markets fit in the context of daily living for the French. Now, I had read all this many times before, but seeing it with Richard gave me a new appreciation that I found I took with me when I explored another market a few days later that he suggested I check out - that is the mark of a great guide.
Enjoying a tour of a French market

From the market, we went to Charlotte Puckette's home for the 'lesson.' Charlotte has written a book on Ethnic French Cooking and lived in Paris for many years. She has a catering business that she operates out of the bottom floor of her home and this is where we prepared lunch. As it turns out Charlotte was born in the south of the U.S. as was the other participant in the cooking class. I was entertained by a slew of amusing stories by the two on growing up 'in the south.' We laughed a lot but also learned a good deal. The three recipes were simple and easily reproduced. Charlotte possessed a wealth of cooking tips that simply poured forth as she cooked. The lunch was absolutely delightful and I returned home energized with new ideas.

Besides, I snapped a really great photo of Charlotte holding a celery root (makes a great side dish for fish) that I know will transform into an art quilt one of these days. The lighting was coincidental but just perfect.

So, if you ever have the opportunity to get to Paris - which I highly recommend for any quilt artist - be sure to check out Richard's website for a fun addition to your trip!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Start of a New Series

I have decided to do a series on Paris, focusing upon my impressions from this last trip. The weather was crisp and clear which meant sunshine, blue skies, and fascinating lighting.

Here is one of the photos that I am working from. It is from an old building on Prelle place des Victoires in the second arondissement.

I edited it in Photoshop a bit and then blew up a greyscale immage to use as a guide. From there I went through my stash for an array of fabrics and began trying out ideas.

One of my first challenges was the lantern. I wanted some borders between the panels, each about 1/4 inch but not rigid. Based in part on a suggestion from Pat Pauly's workshop, I cut strips about an inch wide and hemmed to one side of a cut out panel. I then trimmed to about a half inch and hemmed with a 1/4 inch seam to another panel.

Here is the finished lantern.

Will keep you posted as the project progresses.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Paris Fabric/Notion Tour

I had the good fortune on my recent trip to spend part of day with a delightful woman named Barbara who provides a service entitled Barbara dabbles in many fiber arts – from sewing clothes to knitting. She offers to act as a guide for anyone interested in seeing the ‘fiber’ side of Paris. Whether your interest is coutourier fabric, yarn, beads, patchwork or embroidery, Barbara will design a tour for you, based upon your interests.

I already had explored the more well-known larger fabric stores on my own in previous trips and really wanted to find some new places to browse. When I found Barbara’s website, I knew I had found someone who could help me find some smaller stores specializing in notions, beads, fabrics, etc.

We exchanged a few emails about my interests. She came up with a tentative itinerary and we arranged to meet at a Metro stop near where I was staying. We had a great time!

Her website promised ‘no pressure’ to buy and that was absolutely true. From flea market to store after store, Barbara guided me along, helping me to make any purchases I wished, but generally just letting me take everything in. She has lived in Paris for over 30 years and knows it well. Jumping on and off metros, we basically circled the city.

Along the way, I got to search through piles of buttons at the Puces de la Porte de Vanves flea market, admire the most beautiful wool and linen fabrics for clothes you could imagine at Rue Herold, and we finished off at a patchwork store, Inès, which featured not just some very familiar lines of American cottons but an impressive array of Japanese fabrics.

Here is another store that we walked by - it was simply a clothing store but check out the store windows. Those are all antique sewing machines!