Monday, November 30, 2009

A Quilting Retreat with Friends......Again!!

I have the extreme pleasure of being a member of a group of art quilters who have been getting together for a “retreat” at least twice a year for almost 15 years now. We find a hall that has a suitably large room for all of us to set up our machines and design walls, with rooms to stay for two or three nights. We have done pot luck arrangements where we did our own cooking, and that worked well, but lately we have been meeting at Tamagawa University in Cedar on Vancouver Island, tp:// where all those needs are met as well as the most spectacular meals provided. We have a full course breakfast, coffee break snacks delivered to the hall where we are sewing, a full course lunch, appetizers delivered for happy hour, and a major meal for dinner. All of which are so irresistible that we usually go back for seconds. There are minimum six pounds to be gained at one of these three day sessions!

And along with the spectacular food, is the camaraderie with long-term friends, hearing how their life has been since last time we met, and putting our minds together on projects we are working on. We have a “Show and Tell” where we show and explain the things we’ve worked on since last time we met which is always inspiring. This time the works produced by this group of women were so stunning as to bring tears to your eyes. What a talented group. It was, in fact, so emotionally uplifting to see all this beautiful work that we decided next gathering we will split show and tell into two nights so that we can actually give each participant more time to hold up their work and the rest of us to take photos. Honestly, it has that much affect on you to watch one friend after another hold up two, three or even 6 projects….all of which are breathtaking.

This time I used the time to complete projects that have been hanging around waiting for me to quilt them. I had finished the tops, sandwiched them and pinned them ready for machine quilting. But that’s where the productivity at home stopped. These were folded up and stored in a corner while I happily went on to more artistic pursuits in my textile art! So… three days of stitching, eating, drinking, talking and laughing so much that my tummy hurt, here is what I finished! These are quilted and trimmed and I’m now doing the hand stitching of the binding while I watch TV. Christmas presents ready ahead of time….what a concept!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beaded Tower Book

If  by any stretch of impossibility, you are a fibre artist and haven’t connected with Maggie Grey in the UK, you need to do so. She has a number of books in print and they are all unusual techniques and fabulous inspiration. or on her blog,

With the purchase of her book “Textile Translations”, published by D4Daisy there are on-line lessons offered for an extra project. 

I started this one last spring and had a lot of fun with it. The faces and “head dresses” draped around them are wet paper, applied to Timtex, and then painted over with gesso. From there I inked, painted and dyed until I was satisfied with the shading. I was unable to make the technique offered by Maggie Grey work….probably because our inks are not the same as those produced in the UK. But with a little bit of experimentation and a great amount of serendipity, the project came to life.

The best part was the beading. I sat with my husband watching TV and started beading. It went well. I beaded evening after evening, going from one piece to another. I would do something to one piece and then decide the other needed more and then….well, you get the picture.

I had originally planned to have fabric pages with the verses applied with Steam A Seam Lite, a fusible stabilizer which works with fabric or paper, but the fabric didn’t work as intended so I switched to decorative papers. These worked well. They are stitched together, and then “bound” to the cover so that they ruffle nicely when the book is standing. I’m quite happy with the way it turned out.

As always, the next one will be the best one, but I sure had fun playing with this one!

Yoga - Another Form of Well Being

I have taken yoga classes in the past, but this fall I have been going to a class once per week with a very good friend of mine. It’s called “Gentle Yoga” and is exactly that. A lot of stretches and concentrating on breathing, but not a lot of the traditional “asanas” or strength building exercises. We have discovered ligaments we didn’t know existed, and joints that don’t bend the way they used to, but it’s fun and each time we stretch a little further, we feel a sense of accomplishment.  Refer to this website for poses and benefits of doing really does help:

But what I wanted to share with you is my granddaughters’ reaction to my participation in this class. The two of them, age 11 and 6 had been visiting their father in Winnipeg for the past two weeks. Dad was escorting them home on their flight back to their mother, and my husband was going to pick them up. I couldn’t come along as the vehicle won’t hold five people and a lot of luggage, so I went to my yoga class instead.

This one I can do!!  And the following web site is a good one for practicing at home.

When the girls got in the vehicle the youngest one asked Grandpa “Where’s Grandma?” He said “At her yoga class.” She looked confused and grandpa asked if she knew what yoga is. The oldest girl suddenly burst out laughing and said “Grandma is at YOGA?????!!!!! That’s hilarious.” Of course everyone in the vehicle, Grandpa, Dad, and both girls had a great laugh over that. Now I ask you, what is so funny about a 62 year old Grandma doing yoga??? Could it be that the two men couldn’t begin to fold themselves into those positions OR stretch themselves in the twists? And the girls obviously need to have their preconceived notions changed…..I believe I’ll be handling a class of young people’s yoga next time they visit… will be their payment before we get to any sewing with grandma!

Most definitely NOT Grandma!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bookmark Exchange Beauties

The on-line group I belong to organizes exchanges quite regularly. Our illustrious leader is Patti Medaris-Culea. Patti is a well known cloth doll artist who travels all over the world teaching classes in her various techniques.

The members of the on-line group are those who have purchased Patti's pattern to make tomes, a fabric book of textile art techniques. I wonder how many of us have finished the book? I certainly haven’t, but am working on at regularly with a friend of mine.  We hope to learn the techniques as well as have it for reference and a brag-book of sorts as well. After all, it’s not every day that any of us actually finish something!

The theme of the bookmark exchange was Art Deco/Art Nouveau. We all seemed to hesitate on this one and took a while to percolate an idea. But in the end, as always, everyone came up with spectacular work. I have posted pictures of my own bookmarks prior to this post, but here are pictures of the bookmarks I got in exchange. I do believe they’ll be on my display wall rather than hidden in books!

The bookmark my exchange group members received from me is shown in an earlier post. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wind, Rain, Floods, Leaks and Quilting!

Today has been one of those days you think you should have stayed in bed for.  It seemed decent enough this morning.....but not so now.  The wind is howling, the rain is going sideways.  Wind speeds are expected to reach 90 kph.  It's outrageously noisy and needless to say, my oriental gong has been removed from the garden!  The power went out at work and all the administrators had to go out into the halls and outside around the school to supervise the kids that were out of their classrooms.  That was when I was really glad to have my little office with the window.  But what I was seeing out there wasn't great. 

And then we came home to a big puddle on the garage floor.  There is a leak somewhere in the sidewall of the house where there is a little bump out.  Darling husband, who stays SO cheerful during these trials, has removed some gyproc, pulled out the soaking fibreglass insulation, and tried to find the source.  He's been outside up the ladder.....yes in this wind and try putting some sealant in the join he thinks is the source of the trouble.  Is this covered by house insurance?  I'll be calling to find out tomorrow!  He is so frustrated. 

I have pictures of the river flooding, but they aren't digital.  However, here's a picture of me wading in the Oyster River last August.  It was hot and I was enjoying the "potholes" and the scenery.  This is my favorite spot on the river.  Bob and I went there for a picnic with the dog - have done many times in the past - but this is the first time with this dog.  However, I wouldn't be sitting there right now.  That river would be over my head twice and running so strongly I'd be gone with it.  It's amazing to see the seasonal differences. 

Check out Angela's blog....she has a picture of a different river in the area, flooding it's banks and putting the city in a state of emergency!
So it seems the only solution to this drastic weather is to hibernate in my studio and work on my quilts.  Three are now quilted and one got a binding stitched on tonight.  Two bindings next evening and then finish quilting one quilt and it will be done.  I've discovered a magical thing about finishing.....four finished quilts leaves a big hole in your storage fills up again quickly, but it's a little tidier every time! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beaded Goddess Postcard Class

It is a wonderful experience when you teach a class in something you love to do and all five students are just the absolute greatest combination of personalities. I had that pleasure last weekend when I taught a class in making fabric postcards. These are one of the projects in my recently released book, “Embellishing with Anything” and I had fun doing them for the book, but showing five other people how to do them and watching them learn to love the idea as much as I do was just the greatest day I’ve spent in a long time. Their choice of fabrics, their different styles and most of all, their conversation made the day so much fun. These postcards are theirs, the work of Sue, Margit, Tina, Paula and Nancy.

They all have a story and they are all a delight. We all had so much fun we decided at the end of the day to do a postcard exchange after Christmas. That means we will each make six cards, one for each person in the group and one for ourselves. The start of a new and delightful collection of textile art for each of us!