Saturday, August 27, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation

I had a mini reunion with some friends the other day; it was wonderful to see them again and do some major catching up. The whole time I'm thinking this reminds me of that movie - "Six Degrees of Separation" where someone knows someone who knows someone else. I'm standing on the right, next to me is my friend - Cindy from very long ago. She was my very first quilting teaching in Florida! She was a wonderful teacher who has been teaching nationally a long time. She had a great influence on my love of quilting and of course she knows my friend Mary from the teaching world (lower left). My friend Vita from my Marietta days (sitting in front of me) and whom I've know for around 15 years+ moved to Maryville WHERE she met Cindy (who also lives in Maryville). Are you still with me confused yet? Well we all wound up together for a reunion and it was great seeing them again and the beautiful work they're doing.
Mary is our resident beader  and deserves to be so. She often works on hand dyed wool which she dyes herself - all the edges are her own design.

I love this new piece with hand dyed felt and gauze. The gauze is doubled and fused to itself for strength and then scalloped, held in place with a bead!
Cindy does beautiful hand piecing. This project is for a retreat that Cindy offers every year. Students will piece a block and also learn all the embroidery for the second block

She is also a fabulous knitter - a skill I've never mastered. Making a scarf with knit and purl is the hardest thing I've done. This beautiful shawl featured lots of different kinds of stitches.
Vita is also an accomplished knitter; this is a project she is working on.
Vita is known for her wonderful "Barn Doors". She has traveled many "off the beaten track" roads, camera in hand, photographing barns and their surroundings. She then paints canvas and stitches to recreate a "piece of Americana" in fiber. They are absolutely wonderful in person. It's hard to grasp that these are fabric, they look so much like the real thing.
Her attention to detail is amazing these are all thread - Incredible, wouldn't you say!

When people ask how she starts a piece, she shows them her label on the back. It's a blank piece of canvas - that is her starting point.
Vita is also doing smaller pieces using windows as a main theme and all machine embroidered.

What a great day, so much beautiful work to see, good catch-up talk - getting together with old friends is the best.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are You Smarter than a Third Grader?

I had the great fun of visiting my daughter last week who lives in Atlanta and teaches in Decatur - third grade. For the past many years, she has taught second grade, so this was a new and very enlightening experience for her. When my kids were young, I used to substitute in their elementary school, third grade was always my favorite and I realize it still is! The kids are old enough to be independent and young enough to still think their teacher and school is cool! School has changed drastically since I was a student and also since I was a teacher. Classrooms are a thing of beauty.
with learning centers....
curtains on the windows (I made those years ago and they're still going strong).
Soft lighting in every corner of the room.
Water bottles on every desk, tennis balls on chair legs to keep the noise level down and floors unscratched.
And an active board - not a blackboard like in my day nor a greenboard like in my daughter's day or even a dry erase board. This active board is just amazing - it's huge, you can write on it, change things, erase things.
and all generated through an Apple computer. Wow.
The first week of school, my daughter read them a story about "It's okay to be....." and so they made a paper quilt with self portraits about themselves and one important fact about what it was okay to be - everything from talented to small to being an artist.
The students had to figure out how to put it together which they did in a clever way using yard and a hole punch.
It was amazing and fun to see the many changes that schools have undergone.  Just about everything EXCEPT ...School lunches - well......some things never change!
And in answer to my question - Are you smarter than a third grader? - in my case, Not even close!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Challenge Piece

My challenge piece is done and it was really a lot of fun. This was the challenge my PTA group is involved with. We haven't chosen a name for it yet, we're thinking "Inspired By". We're to do a piece inspired by an artist (2 dimensional and non-quilt) that inspires us. I chose Martin Johnson Heade. I was not too familiar with him, but in looking for an artist, I came upon some of his works and recognized them as pieces I've admired in the past. He's an American artist, does lots of florals, salt marshes and usually includes hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are near and dear to my heart. My mother in law - Hilda would sit in my studio and watch them out the window for hours. I loved her connection with them, and mine. Here is one of Heade's paintings.
And here is my finished piece. I haven't named it yet - that's always the hard part.
Our PTA group has been invited by the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival to do an exhibit at their conference in February, 2012. The exhibit will feature our artist inspired piece along with another piece of ours - can be old or new. This conference which takes place near Williamsburg is run by Mancuso Bros and a wonderful event. I've taught there many times and will be teaching there again this February, so hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kayaking and Darning Needles

Wow, I can't believe me - of all people writing about kayaking. Our neighbors/friends - Dave and Vickie wanted us to go kayaking with them on the French Broad River. They have kayaks for rent at the Biltmore Estate. They take you to the starting point and meet you at the end - a 3 mile run. I've never been in a kayak. I thought to myself, this is going to be a white knuckle experience, this isn't even on my "bucket list", but in the spirit of being a good sport, I agreed with "enthusiasm". So off we went, equipped with bug spray, hats, sunnies and a change of clothes! The change of clothes was my idea and I get an A for the day for that!
The water was beautiful, calm and a mere 2 feet deep in most parts and we were wearing life jackets so a bit of overkill - but safe!
John and I went tandem. As it turned it, he wanted to do most of the paddling, kept telling me to stop whenever I tried - works for me, so mostly I cruised.
The scenery was beautiful ....lots of logs and interesting trees.
I had a dragonfly perch on my sneaker for a free ride, refused to leave. I remember when we were kids, we were terrified of these little guys - called them "Darning Needles" and would run in fear as we thought they stuck their needle tail into you. I often wonder where kids get these wonderful, silly ideas.
The water was incredibly calm, probably equivalent to a bathtub without the whirlpool turned on. A tried and true kayak-er would be laughing at us, but for me, being the first time - it was perfect!
We hit a few ripples and rocks, one of which we got stuck on for a short while. We tipped the kayak a slight bit to get off the rock and we filled with water - around 6" worth. We sat in that for the remainder of the trip, it was hot, so it was kind of refreshing but also a bit of a funny feeling.
Our friends pulling up the rear.
And the beautiful Biltmore hotel in the distance.
It was great fun, so glad we brought extra clothes so we could go to lunch with dry underwear on.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

PTA Meeting Today

We had our PTA meeting today at Mary's and were greeted by this....
along with these wonderful flowers displayed in individual glass tubes set in a bed of rocks inside an interesting wooden tray - just loved it!
Now I'm on a quest to find these little glass tubes. Thanks Mary for inspiring me - now I'll have to add one more thing to my "to do" list!

Gen showed us this new product - it replaces the gelatin plates you make with Knox gelatin. This one is permanent, can be cleaned and used over and over. It's really cool and I'm thinking I may have to invest in one as I love monoprinting!

Linda is always off on a new adventure where her quilting is concerned. She has been reading fairy tales on line - the European ones from France and other places. The images as well as the story have been sometimes wonderful, sometimes spooky the way fairy tales can be BUT they are also public domain, even bettter. So they have become the inspiration for a series she is working on using these stories.
This next one is my favorite and beautiful in person; it's about an evil ogre, a brother and a princess who has lost her crown. You can see the crown in amongst the flowers in the lower right. I think Linda said she cut close to a thousand flowers for the bottom - each individual.

We have all been invited to be part of the Tiffany exhibit being held at the Biltmore House in Asheville. The Deerpark restaurant which has a nice gallery space is holding the quilts. Antler Village is holding the actual Tiffany glass items. This is Dort's quilt for the "stained glass" piece to be used in the quilt part of the exhibit.
Dort is one of the most prolific artists I know - always creating new and wonderful things. This next series is from fabrics her children have given her. She loves birds and this is her Homage to our Feathered Friends - quite wonderful and the wonderful backgrounds. I love this little guy/girl and the way we are looking down on him.
And this one ready to take flight with his wing hanging off the edge.
A great day - great fun - great company and a very yummy dessert provided by Mary.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Sh'rooms and Leaves

To continue my obsession with mushrooms, I found some last week on my morning walk and they were wonderful - such great shapes.
These two were "joined at the hip".
And this morning I found this huge leaf, really huge. I loved the prominent veins on the back. It will work into a really nice screen for deconstructive screenprinting.
I've worked up a few screens, already dry, just have to soda ash some fabric and they'll be ready to go. This one is the mushrooms and some ferns.
And these little guys.
And this is a very tiny screen which I love to use.
Anxious to see how they print, will keep you posted.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fiber Junkies Making Books, Pt 2

Yesterday Fiber Junkies met at my house for Part 2 of making books. Carol does the most wonderful and creative job of making books and left us all once again inspired and excited for more. Carol has a very spontaneous approach to her art which is fun to watch. Very few things make it to the wastebasket, most become potential trims etc for her books - they are wonderful!
All of us had worked on our papers since the last meeting; they were all so interesting to see.
This one was one of my favorites.

This is Patsy's cover, if you know Patsy, she loves leaves and feathers and uses lots of them in her work.
Nancy's cover was great, loved the lace at the top The small frame she created herself, the leaves etc.

This next page was one of Vals. Val makes many beautiful hand made papers; the beige paper has been embossed with a Sizzix machine and lace added on the edge.
On this page, Val used the cover of a thank you note and stitched lace along the sides. What a great way to recycle those beautiful cards you don't want to toss but wind up keeping in a box.

What a great, fun and inspiring day. Next month, we're doing a field trip to one of our favorite fabric outlets, we call it "dumpster diving" for fabric as that's about what it is.