Friday, July 29, 2011

 Farmer's markets proliferate this time of year in most of the U.S. I spotted this display of onions in Missoula, Montana and couldn't resist taking a few photos.

Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.
Carl Sandberg

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Piece is Growing

I am finally back to creating in fiber. After so many weeks of travel, re-organization, and miscellaneous non-fiber activities, I am turning one of my sketches into an art quilt.

Here is an early version of the sketch:

I had Staples blow up some more developed versions. What I found interesting in this process was that I found I gravitated to the larger size for the piece. I have had a number of people encouraging me to 'go larger' in some of my work. And, I could feel resistance on my part. I've concluded that the move to larger size pieces will come as my comfort level grows with handling the larger sizes.

Having decided upon a size for the finished piece, I started playing with fabrics. I knew I wanted to use gradations in the piece. Here were some of my preliminary gatherings.

And, I began playing with delineating my sketch into an actual piecing diagram.

Looks mysterious, doesn't it? More to come later!

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Storage Space

My new storage space is installed and I have begun to fill it up! The actual space was designed to be a sauna but the previous owners never installed one and I have used it as an off shoot to my office where file cabinets, mailing supplies, fax and copier have lived. Now that the 'NY office' of the business I have worked with for the past 25 years is officially closing, I realized I could convert the space into storage for my art. The project is really only half done. I am not showing you what the other half of the space looks like - :).  But one side of the space is now totally dedicated to my fabric, etc.

I absolutely love it. I can SEE what I own. I won't describe how I have been storing it up to now in our utility room but, believe me, this is so much better. As you can see, I have not filled all the cubbies. The shelves are adjustable for the most part. And, I had the shelving hung so I could fit my extra machine on the floor.

I can't help but feel that my productivity will soar in 2012 with the new found time and the ease of browsing my stash for inspiration.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Breath of Summer

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.  ~Albert Camus

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.  ~Sam Keen

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Special Exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci

While visiting my daughter earlier this month in Spokane, WA, I had the chance to stop in at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. I admit I have a special bias towards this museum as it was the site of our daughter's rehearsal dinner prior to her wedding. I always check out what is being featured at the museum when I am in town.

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
This time the museum is featuring an exhibit on the mastery of Leonardo da Vinci. Entitled "Man - Inventor - Genius", there are 60 models of inventions that Leonardo wrote about. These are displayed along with replicas of some of his famous masterpieces that he was painting at the same time. One begins to really grasp the amazing breadth of work of Leonardo.

In my travels I have been fortunate to see some of Leonardo's art works in person - the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris and The Last Supper in Milan, Italy. But, I never tire of being reminded of the genius of da Vinci. One piece of information from the many displays that caught my eye this time related to the base he used for his paints. He was the first to experiment an oil base and it explained why people marveled at the depth of color he was able to create.

My favorite displays had to do with his thoughts on flight for man.

Here is an overview of the main display area at the museum with a backdrop of The Last Supper. All of these models were made to scale and produced by the Italian artisan family who has been building the inventions to da Vinci specifications for two centuries. The models cover flight, civil machines, hydraulics & engineering and military machines.

 The exhibit is at the museum until September 5. Hope that you can see it, or watch for where it might be going next. It is inspiring to view.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I was delighted to receive notice that my art quilt, Winter Greens, has been juried into the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum's 2011 International Juried & Judged Quilt Festival. The festival takes place at the end of September in La Conner, WA.

Winter Greens is one of my favorite of my recent works. I adapted the piece from photos I took at some Paris open markets last January. The quilt is a combination of piecing and applique with beading and decorative stitching for embellishment.
The acceptance comes at just the right moment as I begin work on my next art quilt after a long hiatus due to my traveling. I still feel like a relative newbie to this world of art quilts and this 'acceptance' is a great encouragement to continue my exploration.

How well do you differentiate color?

Time for a quick challenge? One of the email groups that I follow offered this link for testing how well you see color hue. Not surprisingly, I scored well. I found it a fun exercise. If you would like to try, click here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Inspirational Stories

 Watching a morning news program on ABC last month, I was struck by a report by Richard Bessler, ABC Senior Health and Medical Editor. I searched a bit on the web and found a blog entry by Dr. Bessler that I could share. It is about the meningitis vaccine and what can be accomplished when one person sets their mind on a goal.

Dr. Marc LeForce had a quixotic dream back in 2004 to make a vaccine for the type A strain of meningitis to sell for less than 50 cents a dose. The meningitis vaccine in use in the U.S. at the time cost more than $100 per dose. There was a long history of the Type A meningococcal meningitis sweeping through parts of Africa on a regular basis during the dry season, killing tens of thousands of people and leaving even more damaged - loss of hearing is common in survivors. It is one of the more lethal of the meningitis strains that plagues Africa.

Dr. LeForce succeeded in getting the global community to come together to address the need for a Type A vaccine: more than a dozen organizations, including WHO, PATH, the FDA, and the Serum Institute of India agreed that this was the right thing to do.  Their effort took ten years and as Dr. Bessler wrote, "resulted in a miracle".

This spring Dr. Bessler traveled to Burkina Faso, a country in northern Africa whose population has been decimated by the disease. He visited a hospital children's ward reserved for the treatment of meningitis victims that was empty. The MeningAfrique vaccine had been launched in December and over a 12-day period, the entire at-risk population in Burkina Faso was offered vaccine - I found figures that 12 million at-risk children in Burkina Faso were vaccinated. The hospital that Dr. Bessler visited had only seen one case this year - in a young woman who had not been vaccinated.

What an awesome story!  One strain of a disease wiped out through one person's dream and much dedication by the global community. There is still more to be done - I found another story that a new strain, Type X, had surfaced in April but this massive effort lights a path for continued success in wiping out this cruel disease.

If you would like to know more, you read Dr. Bessler's report.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Different Sort of Accomplishment

My extended travels have finally drawn to a close and I am looking forward to a relatively quiet remainder to the summer. This last trip finished off with a personal achievement on Sunday that I am extremely pleased with. I traveled to Missoula, Montana to participate in their marathon along with my son-in-law and daughter. He competed in the full marathon with me and she did the half (she is still recovering from her Ironman).

The weather in Missoula was perfect for a 26.2 mile run. It was in the mid-40's at the start before dawn in Frenchtown and in the 70's as we completed the run. I had a wonderful time, even though everything that could fail electronically for me did – my run/walk timer alarm system failed at the start and about mile 15 my Garmin watch which tells me my pace and how long and far I have run went blank. I just kept running and at the end finished with a time of 4:38 - close to my personal best since I returned to running marathons five years ago and enough to come in second in my age group. I couldn't have been happier!
Celebrating with my daughter, Jaye, shortly after completing the course.
Of course, I did have to also check out some fabric while I was in Missoula. There is a great store right in downtown called Selvedge Studio that carries a host of varied materials. It was great fun to check out and I picked up some black wool fabric from Italy that has the most amazing soft hand. I have been collecting various black tones to use with some sketches of Antarctic penguins that I have been playing with and I am sure that it will work perfectly.
Selvedge Studio, Missoula, MT
All-in-all, these past few months have been a whirlwind of activity. While I still have more exciting travels on my plate come fall, I am really looking forward to just being home with my husband in beautiful upstate New York for the rest of the summer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Visiting the Sun People

Another place that I visited in Spokane, WA was a very special eco-friendly store called Sun People Dry Goods Co.
The vision of the store that is found on their website is 'helping you transition to a sustainable and resilient lifestyle.' And, the store is filled with all sorts of products, many local, that fit this bill. It is a small store, housed in a warehouse built in 1918, but it offers a full range of classes on eco-important topics as well as a really diverse selection of products from hardware to household goods to beautiful letterpress stationery.

My daughter had marked the store as 'one you will absolutely love, Mom', and she was right. Actually, it isn't just the goods in the store but the staff that make it special. I listened while Angie Dierdorff, the associate manager, answered questions for customers and potential vendors. Her warmth and delight in sharing her knowledge just made you feel welcome and truly reflected the greeting as you enter the store: Turn Your Face to the Sun and Let the Shadows Fall Behind You.
If you live in the Spokane area, it is a great place to shop. Guarantee that you will leave with a smile on your face as well as some great finds in your shopping bag!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Perfect Gift at Argentum Aurum

I am in Spokane for a few days before traveling over to Missoula for a marathon on next Sunday. Today I was able to visit a few of my favorite shops including Argentum Aurum - a jewelry store in downtown Spokane which I wrote about last October.
Argentum Aurum is located at 524 West Main in downtown Spokane.
 The store features the work of master metalsmith Debra Brehren.
Debra Brehren
I really have a deep appreciation of Debra's work and this time I found the perfect gift for my daughter, Jaye, who completed her first Ironman Triathalon two weeks ago - an image of cyclist. Cycling was the sport that Jaye called 'her unknown frontier' as it was the sport in which she had the least experience a year ago when she signed up for the Coeur d'alene Ironman a full year ago.

The cyclist that I found was the latest piece in Debra's work. She also had a runner and shared that she is currently working on a swimmer - perfect gifts for any triathlete that you know!

Here is a photo of Jaye's modeling the necklace and a close up of Debra's work.

If you would like to see my current personal favorite in Debra's work, check out this page on her website with her Vibrant Water collection. I love the stream with the mountain in the background.  Hope you can visit her store sometime, or at least, browse through the gallery on her website. It will be an uplifting moment in your day.

A New Art Quilt Show by Pat Pauly

I made a major effort yesterday to go see a new solo exhibition,  “Sum of the Parts: Art Quilts of Pat Pauly,” at the Nazareth College Arts Center Gallery in Rochester, New York. Pat is an active member of our local quilt guilt, the Genesee Valley Quilt Club, and I always enjoy viewing her work.  The exhibit is supposed to be open from 1-8 pm until August 14. , 2011. Unfortunately, I tried to see the exhibit on 4th of July weekend, since I was in town, and when I got to the gallery there was a note posted that the gallery wouldn't open till 2 pm on that day. I went off to run some errands and returned at 2 pm but it was still closed and no one had shown by 2:15 pm, so I had to depart. (Checking the gallery web cam later in the afternoon, it was finally open.)

I will go back later in the month and hope that many of you can visit also. Pat's work is just fascinating to take in. She works predominantly in large format, but the detail in the individual sections is just exquisite. I am really limited in what I can share, due to photographing through the glass walls, but you can get a sense of the pieces from these few photos. It should whet your taste to go see in person.  One thing that I loved, even from the outside, is that the gallery walls are a variety of pastels and the art quilts were hung to really take advantage of the varying hues of backdrop.

And, in case you want to check out that webcam, or call ahead to make sure someone is there, here is some contact information:

phone: 585 389 5073
address: Nazareth College, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, New York

Hope you can make it. Pat's work is really worth seeing!

Monday, July 4, 2011

An Olympic Pennant!

One of my favorite bloggers - Linda Robertus - posted in June about a pennant she made for the London Olympics. The idea immediately appealed to me and I researched the project that she contributed through -- Quilts 4 London. Their goal is to present each Olympian at the 2012 Olympics with a pennant. That is a huge undertaking with a goal of upwards of 14,000 pennants. How could I not participate?

So, I began sketching some ideas.  Of course, June was a hectic month and I often bemoaned being away from my Bernina for too long. However, I realized Friday that I could use this brief time back home for the 4th of July holiday to create a pennant. It would be a manageable undertaking and therapeutic for me.

I decided to go for the light-hearted and create a pennant for a marathon runner. That seemed appropriate since I will be doing the Missoula Marathon on July 10 - that is coming up quickly, isn't it!

Here is how my pennant project grew:

a running start

goal in sight

Enjoying the experience


Saturday, July 2, 2011

An Impressive Lady

 A while back, I came across an article online in Runners World about Serena Burla. She had run the New York City Marathon in November 2010 along with 55,000 other runners including myself. What caught my eye was that Serena ran the marathon after having surgery for a rare cancer in her leg which resulted in her losing a major muscle that makes up a good part of the hamstring.

Click here for the link to the article.

The article points out that Serena had never run a marathon before but that she wasn't nervous. They quote her as saying, "I was just so happy to be there, and felt so blessed, that the outcome didn't matter to me." (She finished in 2:37 which is pretty darn impressive.)

I loved that quote about just being happy and feeling blessed. You hear that often from people who have had a brush with mortality in some form. It definitely helps one to wake up and appreciate the present moment.

I did a search for Serena on the web before I started this article. I am happy to report that she is still running. And, she hasn't lost her joy for life. Here is a blog post on the Mizuno site by Serena from earlier this month. She writes about some joyful experiences running in the rain. A great reminder that we always have a choice on how we view situations through our filters. Whether it be a serious illness or a rainy day, we can see the hindrances or look for that silver lining.

Back to quilting that marine biology quilt! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

In the Midst of Travels

I am back home for a long weekend before flying out west again. This last trip was to watch our daughter complete an Ironman competition. This meant that she swam 2 miles, got out of the water and rode her bide 112 miles, and then for good measure, ran 26.2 miles. Actually she walked a good deal of the last 13 miles and was fairly nauseous - not surprising considering what she was doing. I am still trying to get my mind around the mindset that allows one to continue walk/running when you are ill, but I gather that it is not that unusual for Ironman competitors. I can tell you that they all look really happy when they get done.  Since I am on my way back out west to run a marathon at the end of next week, I do understand the joy of accomplishing a goal you have set. I am just amazed at the goals we set and the lengths we will go to accomplish those feats.

Here are a few photos of Jaye in various phases of her Ironman.

Before her swim

During the bike portion
Yes, she wore a flying pig hat for the whole marathon.
The next day with her medal and her Dad.
Needless to say, I haven't had much time for my art. I am sketching and dreaming of the day when I can get back to my sewing machine. It will come - but first I had better focus on that marathon!