Monday, December 06, 2010

Stitched Christmas Cards

Saturday was a good day.  I was teaching a class at Serge N Sew in Nanaimo.

The technique was the stitched tree in my book, "Embellishing with Anything." It's the same technique used in the tree on the cover.  On Saturday we were translating it to Christmas cards. 
The most delightful group of 6 ladies were registered and what a great group.  Three left with beautiful cards, one made TWO trees and decided to do a wall hanging with one.  Two had trouble with their machines but coaxed them into working..... with the help of Linda from the store who saved the day. 

It encouraging to see the students I had catch on to what they were doing and then talk about different ideas for the same technique.  To the left we have Tina who has been in one of my classes before.  She's a delight and a creative "power sewer"!  Lots of ideas and unstoppable energy.  She's produced many many postcards since that class and has a travelling kit to do more!  

To the right is Mary, an elegant woman who mastered her machine and the technique.  Her card was completed except for embellishments when she headed home.  Her husband picked her up and he was the best man for being interested in what she had accomplished!

And this is Irene, who also took a class with me previously.  On Saturday she brought her binder of finished projects, all of which she worked through following the instructions in my book after the one class.  She had an amazing variety and quality to her collection.  I was really pleased to think that someone had spent the time she that she did with my book and produced such wonderful treasures, both the patterns and ideas in the book and more of her own design.  Beautiful work Irene!

To the right is Maryanne.  She had a terrible time getting her machine to cooperate, but once it got adjusted, (thanks to Linda, at Serge & Sew)....she was on a roll....look closely at the lovely tree she is working on. 

And here is Judy, the maverick in the class.  She worked quietly and intently and asked great questions.  She is the one who made a wall hanging, and then started on a card and had great ideas to use the technique in other ways.

I love it when that happens.  Such great ideas when they all started with the same project. 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Liquitex Inks from C&T Publishing – Another tutorial of sorts!

On the weekend of November 11, I had the privilege of meeting with a group of quilting friends for our bi-annual retreat.  While there, we work on whatever we want to, and appreciate the input of friends of almost 20 years when pondering our work.  It’s a great time together, lots of fun, food and laughter, wine too!  And believe it or not a LOT gets done!!!

This time one of the projects I took along was the Liquitex Inks provided to me, as one of the “author ambassadors”  by my publisher, C&T.

One of the talented people there has a machine at home, which makes silk screens out of good contrast photographs.  I had sent her a photo of my favorite tree, a Garry Oak,  earlier in the month.  She prepared two silkscreens for me and brought them to the retreat for me.  I set out the inks and medium that had been provided free of charge and promptly 16 very creative and talented minds went to work trying them out on various silk screens.

The ink itself is a little too runny for silk screens and flows too freely, smudging the design.  However, when mixed with the medium, it is perfect.  We tried several different silk screens and this is the one I produced.  Making something of it will be a challenge as it’s so beautiful just as it is! 

Here’s some photos of the project “happening”.  Note the elegant container that the “medium” and ink are mixed in? (I DID say we were at a retreat!) 

Here are the steps we followed:

1. Use a slightly padded surface.
2. Smooth out target fabric, right side up on padded surface.
3. Place silk screen wherever you want the design (this one was done   three times).

4. Lay out a line of the medium/ink “goop” at the top of the silkscreen.

5. Pull it down across the design with a credit card, paint scraper, anything with an smooth edge that will not tear the silk.

6.  Second screening.  No extra ink needed.

7.  Load again for third screening. Scrape as before.

6.  Lift carefully.

7.  If not re-using, wash the silkscreen in cool water immediately and lay on a tea towel to dry.  Be sure to handle it very carefully so that it’s good for the predicted 1,000 copies! 

One detail that we noticed is that the silkscreen, after being thoroughly washed, still has a bit of iridescent flake here and there.  Next use will tell whether that blocks the screen or is just visual!
This design was done with white ink in iridescent medium.  I was thrilled with the results.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  Now to stitch on it!! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Liquitex Inks, Silk Carrier Rods - Another Experiment

An article in Britain’s Embroidery Guild magazine, “Stitch”,
It used silk rods and Liquitex Inks and enticed me to try this project.  Since being designated an author ambassador by my publisher, C & T Publishing, and receiving some of these inks to experiment with, I had everything I needed on hand so thought it would be a great little project to try these inks out on.
Happily on this sunny morning I got out all my supplies and proceeded to arrange everything for this project.  I soaked the silk rods in a bowl of warm water.  The article said 20 minutes to an hour, but I found after about half an hour they separated easily.  The goal is to not lose the gummy stuff that makes them stick together!  They are multi layered so this was also an experiment in how thin to use them.  Here is what they looked like when I started.
When separating these “carrier rods”, it isn’t unusual to find bits and pieces of stuff other than silk.  I found two little brown bits, that made the silk in that area a color just a shade earthier than the surrounding silk, and I think there was one piece that was a silk worm!  However, they are hard and dried and just fall out as you separate the layers.  I tried to capitalize on those spots, but two of them got lost in the inking! 
There are two good sources for these silk by-products.  One is Treenway Silks on Saltspring Island, BC .
Another supplier is Stef Francis in the U.K.  I have purchased from both and find both of them to give excellent service, mailing the order quickly and providing a high quality product. 
Here is a photo of the soaked and separated layers.  They are still wet here. 
From here I laid them out on wax paper on top of paper towel, laying the strips horizontally and overlapping so that the gummy residue could glue them back together.  Another layer of wax paper was placed on top of the wet layers and more paper towel, and then it was pressed with a dry iron. 
And here is a picture of the project after laying out the strips, pressing it dry, peeling it off the wax paper, and painting  water diluted Liquitex  ink onto the surface with a paintbrush.  See the inks here: The ink worked very well but I was not too happy with this sample, although it did stick together the best of the two:
But this one I painted while it was wet, and then pressed it almost dry in the same layered arrangement as the first one.  I think this one has potential for embellishment and mounting on a quilted background. You can see that some layers didn't bond, but I think hand stitching with embroidery floss will fix that problem and add another design element.   I can’t wait to get to that. 
I hadn't worked with Silk Carrier Rods in any capacity other than an already colored item that made an excellent embellishment.   I have a number of items that I’ve done with Liquitex inks now, and they all worked well.  I recommend the product highly.  Now I need to get busy and put them together into pieces of art!  What a lovely way to spend the day. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Draperies, Grommets & Rotary Cutters

Since moving into our new house, we have done a lot of upgrades, one of which was replacing all the windows throughout the house.  Since they were installed and finished, I’ve been working on window coverings.  Some are for heat retention, some for privacy. 

Having quite a good “stash” of fabrics, and after looking around at all the local suppliers for ready-made window coverings, I have decided I can create what I want more satisfactorily and for less cost.  Have I mentioned that I don’t like making draperies?  Or that my skills at measuring are ok but I seldom use them, preferring to rush through and get it done rather than achieve perfection! Terrible to admit, but that’s the way it is. 

This time however, I’ve been quite diligent in measuring and cutting, in the sincere hope that I will never have to do this again and these will last until I personally don’t care anymore. 

To this end, last Friday evening, my 7 year old granddaughter and I were happily ensconced in my sewing room.  She was playing games on my lap top at the end of my sewing table and I was measuring and cutting circular holes for grommets in the draperies I had just finished cutting and hemming.  The last step before hanging them up and believe me.... I was pleased to be at that point. 

I have a delightful little Olfa Rotary cutter designed for cutting perfect circles of just about any size.  It was doing well, but needed a new blade.  So I proceeded to insert that new blade.  All was going well until the unit slipped out of my hand……and my instinctual reaction was to catch it.  And catch it I did…..with two fingers and a thumb and quite firmly.  This is like catching a round razor blade; instantly blood was flowing.  My granddaughter looked up at my exclamation and said “Grandma!  You’re getting blood everywhere!”  (Thankfully none of it was on the drapery….a miracle in itself.) 

We dashed off to the washroom to get tissue and Band-Aids, but the forefinger just would not stop bleeding.  I was sorry to have to decide that we needed to go to the emergency ward as I was pretty sure I needed stitches. 

So off we go to the hospital.  My granddaughter took great pleasure in using my cell phone to call her father, two provinces away, to tell him we are on our way to the hospital.  He was so relieved when he found out it wasn’t because she’d been hurt, that he didn’t ask what I’d done till the next day!  She called my oldest son, her uncle and an hour away, to tell him the story.  He wanted to speak to me and she said with intense disdain “Uncle Kris, she can’t talk to you while she’s driving, and besides, she only has one hand.”  He chuckled about that.  She called my youngest son, three hours away, and told him all about it as well.   She was enjoying being the bearer of such exciting news! 

We got to the hospital, me dreading the usual three to four hour wait, especially on a Friday evening.  I was amazed to be in a room being looked after within 20 minutes.   The Dr. and the male nurse were wonderful with my little girl…..the doctor offered to let her sew Grandma up ….since we were in the sewing room together she must know how?  She declined that privilege to my great relief.  After four stitches in one finger and two in the thumb, as well as a tetanus shot, we were on our way.  The nurse said she should look after her Grandma….she said “I will” and managed to look like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders! 

We were on the way home and she wanted to phone her friend who was also spending the weekend with her Grandma.  I said no it was a bit late to call by now.  She said “Oh, I was just wondering if she was having fun with her Grandma or if she had to go to a hospital too!  Maybe it’s just my luck.”  I wasn’t sure if she was saying her evening had been exciting or if she thought her friend might be having a better time!   I enjoyed her comments so much.  She’s seven and amazes me with the observations she will come out with.  She did call her dad and all the uncles again to give them the end of the story! 

And here are the draperies completed, hung up and serving their purpose well.  Don’t those grommets look great?  I should trim that thread that’s hanging there off though!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Quilt Market Houston & Embellishment Village

Now this was a rewarding moment.  A friend of mine went to Quilt Market in Houston.  When she came home she emailed this photograph to me.  The booth is "Embellishment Village" .  My friend Hennie was pleased to get her permission to photograph the booth display because both my book, "Embellishing with Everything" and our friend Pippa Moore's samples were on display in the same booth.  Pippa designs these very colorful quilts and another friend of mine, Joan Darling, does all the embellishing on them. 
My book, "Embellishing with Anything" shown here in this picture, is published through C&T Publishing and has been out for about 1 1/2 years now.  It's been a wonderful experience to do a book like this, C&T are a wonderful publisher to work with,  and I am planning another!   My thanks to Hennie for thinking of recording this International exposure!  It sure made me feel good!  I hope to be there one day myself!  Doesn't every quilter? 

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Beautiful November 7th Walk

Our first day on Pacific Standard Time I woke up earlier than usual!  WHAT is that all about?  However, not to complain, because I woke to an incredibly beautiful, sunny, warm November 7th.  What to do with such a special day?  First of all I played with some silk rods (more on that later0, but couldn’t stay inside.  It was too beautiful.  So the dog and I went for a walk on the beach.  It was stunningly beautiful, lots of people with lots of dogs, all of them friendly and in just as good a mood as I was. 

I had my camera with me and was happy about that because there was an eagle sitting on a piling in the middle of the bay, with possibly 500 seagulls on the gravel bank behind him, and behind that the water, the mountains, the clouds and the sky…..all brilliantly colored.  I took several shots of this scene, thinking I could crop and paste and manipulate and add some text so that I could post a beautiful picture of what November 7th looked like where I live. 
It was not to be.  When I got home I somehow messed up a task I’ve done hundreds of times before and I lost the pictures of my silk rod project and worst of all, the picture of the eagle.  The silk rods I can do again but that scene won’t be duplicated just because I want it to when I go back to the beach!  So here’s a post with a totally unrelated picture!  At least it’s the same dog!!! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Looking UP is something I forget to do. When walking about and especially in a quilt shop, I am so intent on the displays in the window, the people passing by, the litter that may be a piece of art,the fabric and notions on display..... I often forget to look above my eye level.

This past weekend was a perfect example of that. I had the pleasure of travelling to Victoria, BC with my very good friend. The trip was a gift from her sweetie, who sent us away together to shop and find upholstery fabric! I think there may be a message in there somewhere, but that’s not what this is about!
We went to Munro’s books, where a quilt artist described to us by the clerk in a nearby clothing store had quilts on display. They are mounted on the wall space between the top bookshelf and the ceiling.  This building is a heritage one so you can imagine how high they are! I’d never have noticed them if I’d been there without the advice of the sales clerk!  I would have been absorbed in the books on display at eye level!

You can see great photos of the entire display  here at this link. These quilts are described in the lower paragraph and are quite stunning and amazing to see in person. So “look up” if you go to Munro’s! The artist is Carol Sabistan.  The one to the right is one of a series of 4, my personal favorite, but they are all amazing works of art.  And huge! 

After our sojourn into the book store, we decided we needed to eat something. A restaurant named “Mo:Le” was recommended to us. We walk everywhere we go, and often get distracted (I bet you’d never have guessed that!) by something we pass. We had the address of the restaurant in hand, but we walked by this building. I had to stop and take a picture of this piece of impromptu art mounted on the wall, at eye level, of the deserted building. I thought it was beautiful in the fact that an unidentified artist had chosen that spot to display it.


This somewhat derelict building is in the Chinatown area of Victoria,  and this painting is done on the column next to the wall where the mixed media art was mounted.  You can just see the edge of it on the left side of the picture.

And then Ang pointed out the roofline of the building. I looked up to see that the building was actually just the front wall and portions of the side, but the windows were gone and the sky was showing through! No roof, no windows and no back. How intriquing is that? I was quite fascinated.

After our little photo shoot we continued our walk to Mo:Le. We were walking along looking at street numbers on the doors and buildings and unable to find the one we wanted…..554 Pandora. Since I am "directionally challenged", we decided to use the map application on my phone to get a map from where we stood to the address we were looking for. There we are in the street, typing in the address and waiting for the data to download. Aha! We have two dots….start walking and see if they get closer together or further apart……they got closer together.

FIVE steps later they merged!! We stopped in our tracks and looked around not seeing anything that indicated a 554 or a “Mo:Le”. And then we looked around and UP! There, hanging above the street visible to people down the block, was the restaurant sign. Go to this link and check the menu selections: The food was absolutely fabulous….we were eating from the breakfast menu. Everything made right there: salsa, tortillas, hot sauce, the works. It was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten and when I say that it really means something because I don't enjoy cooking, but travel with a food oriented person most of the time! I will certainly be revisiting this one! 

After a most delicious meal, we walked to Chintz & Company, to buy the upholstery fabric.  Ang has a lovely funky old chair that was her Grandma’s, and we are going to recover it with fresh fabric. I’ve done a chair before so have promised to help. That should be another interesting adventure….only we’ll be looking down!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weddings, Windstorms and Melancholy

Today was a day of weddings.  My middle son and his wife are visiting because she is a bridesmaid today.  Wearing the dress I altered!  My youngest son, his partner and I were invited to the wedding of a friend's daughter, whom he grew up next door to and went to school with. 

Last night everyone was here for dinner before the celebrations today.  Five adults, and 2 children and this little house was warmed with children's voices, laughter, sarcasm, teasing, good food and best of all, family love.  But that much fun is exhausting I must say!

Today the bridesmaid and family took off to attend their wedding, and we other three went to our wedding.  It was alarming for me to be at a reception with all these adults, who turned out to be what I remembered as little people, all of whom have stayed in touch since heading out to their adult lives!  It was incredibly heart warming to see the number of people who just accepted my son and his partner with no reservations.  And hilarious to see the number of people who had gone to school with him and approached with funny memories and anecdotes! 

It was a horrendous wind storm last night, and today was terribly rainy so both celebrations had to take place inside.  But with so much happiness in the room, the weather didn't dampen anyone's spirits.  The couple in the wedding I attended actually got married last summer in the groom's homeland, Israel.  This reception was for those friends who couldn't travel that far.  It was very well done, with a slide show playing at the front of the room with pictures of the actual wedding ceremony where it was held.  They were spectacular and I found myself going to my friend, the mother of the bride and asking if I could please come over and look at all these pictures individually.....there was some fabulous quilt inspiration in there.  She seemed to think that was a great idea so I can't wait till she's recovered from the stress of planning and preparing and we can do that.  Two projects are percolating in my mind already. 

What about those unfinished projects you ask?  I know I know.....I'll try to apply myself to them while I wait for the photos and permission to use them! 

After the reception, I came home to walk the dog and Josh and Gil went to town to visit friends they haven't seen in quite a while.  My walk is normally in the forest but in heavy winds that isn't wise so we went to the beach....always my preference anyway!  It was a perfectly wonderful winter beach day.  Crashing waves, lots of wind and rain (I was soaked when I got home), and birds dipping and floating on the updrafts.  I couldn't help feeling a little melancholy at all these young people growing up and starting new things while I grow old and finish a career, but they are so happy it didn't last long.  And finding some super special rocks and some beach glass fixed my mood instantly! 

Re-Living City Quilter, Scott, Mussels and my Hostel!

4:00 at City Quilter. Met Scott there and some other nice quilters.....all so friendly. Picked up goodies I had on hold from an email conversation with them. And two books....It was fun.

On the way home I stopped at Macy’s looking for housecoat. (besides it’s air conditioned so even if you only cut through, it’s a nice break! )  as for housecoats....only short ones....too expensive and not my style....I’ll have to make my own.

Charles, another student from QBL, who was the teacher of the class at the City Quilter, recommended that I stop at the Ginger Jar (or was it Pot), on my way home. It supposedly makes delicious Chinese and Thai food, spicy and with a little curry. However, besides being able to get Chinese food which is good at home, and the fact that I don’t care for curry, I decided to walk on and see what else there was. I went in Red Lobster but it was going to be a 40 minute wait. Nothing else was appealing, so I once again headed towards restaurant row. I read the menus posted out front to see if anything struck my fancy. Lo and behold, on a corner with tables outside on the sidewalk, was a restaurant tat served mussels and chips. So I sat down, ordered mussels, escargot and a glass of wine. Truly delicious meal. I enjoyed it so much I had to ask the waitress for a spoon so I could finish up the “soup” they were steamed in.....milk, peppers, onions, carrots, and some parsley. Yum Yum.

Another day of lots of walking so it was ok.....I knew I’d already walked it off.....? The scales will be interesting when I get home! Again I went to my room, luxuriated in the air conditioning for a while, sorting out my bits and pieces that I’d purchased at The City Quilter, and stroking my fabrics, dreaming of what I’ll do with it. It’s all their special line of New York Designs so it will be cut big and be my own New York Quilt. I think I have enough to make Angie one too! Now there’s that resolution to spend this coming winter finishing my UFO’s.......trouble is something else always comes along that I want to do first!

Again, I had a quick shower (one doesn’t need moisturizer in New York in August. It is so muggy that you are moist most of the time. And washrooms aren’t as much of an issue as some places because your body is using the fluid in other ways. ) After my shower I again went out and wandered around people-watching in Times Square and then back to the hostel to sit in the common room for a while to check and send emails. The connection there was slow, but free. Other hotels charge up to $15.00 a day for High Speed WiFi. Another part of the hostel that I enjoyed. Spending time in the common room with the students from everywhere. But they were all truly gracious to an old lady in their midst, and I felt comfortable with them....perhaps because they were all so nice or perhaps because I work at a school, but either way, I enjoyed the young people. There were other people my age staying there, but they kept pretty much to themselves. I got a chuckle out of the common room each morning and evening. There were anywhere between 3 to 7 people in the tiny room, sharing little round bar tables, and all of us clicking away on computers or I phones. Nobody turned on the TV. It was all very quiet until someone laughed or read their email out to someone.....usually in German or Japanese. When one young man exclaimed “F**@” I looked up and he shame faced lookd at me and said “Deutsch?” I replied “No, but apparently that word and email are a universal language! His eyes popped and he clapped his hand over his mouth and said “So Sorry!” I laughed and said “Just don’t say it to your mother....” His girlfriend started laughing. She explained to me that they were short of money to pay for their last night at the hostel and had emailed his mother to get it sent to them. They were waiting anxiously to see if it came in time. I told them I’d lend it to them rather than see them doing dishes or something and they laughed. I said I meant it and they could email it to me when they got home....if they didn’t it would be another life lesson. They were amazed. About an hour later they came looking for me and told me with great relief that they had received their money and would be fine but wanted to thank me for being so kind. I was just happy to know they could get home and wished them a safe and enjoyable trip.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Liquitex Playtime sort of a Tutorial!

My publisher, C&T Pulishing, has designeated me, amongst many others, to be an "Author Ambassador".  That means I'm willing to accept gifts of new products and provide them with samples done with the products. 

About two weeks ago I came home from work and as I came down my road, noticed a Purolator delivery truck cruising the neighborhood.  I pulled into my driveway and got out of the vehicle to open the gate.  By then the Purolator truck had turned at the dead end and was on the way back.  As he pulled up behind my vehicle he said "You live here?"  I said "Yes."  he said "Got a parcel for you."  I wondered what it could be as I couldn't remember ordering anything (but that doesn't always mean anything!!).  I signed for the package and came in the house to open it and discover a package of 12 Liquitex Inks and one bottle of medium to use with them.  Woo Hoo....such fun! 

So, for a couple of weeks, things have been percolating.  This is particularly important because since moving I've done nothing but unpack, organize, renovate, paint, purge, sort some more.....going from a big house to one half the size isn't easy!  The price paid is that I didn't have a creative bone left in my body, unless it had to do with finishing the outside of the house!  Here's what we accomplished this summer.....doesn't look like as much work as it was!

But after some thought and some puttering around I've tried two techniques with the Liquitex inks.  They work beautifully.  And I am grateful for the creativity spurt they brought on.  

The first technique I tried was stamping on fabric.  I painted the rubber stamp with straight ink and stamped on fabric.  The results weren't thrilling because the ink dried too fast.  Then I tried mixing the ink with the medium, painting the rubber stamp, and I got these results.  I was happy with this for a start.

Then I decided to try a paintbrush with the inks and a teeny bit of water, and painted in the design of the stamp.  It worked!

Once the stamped portion of the ink dried, any new ink added didn't make it bleed or spread.  I did try wetting a portion of one stamp when it was fresh and it did bleed, but a couple of days later it is dry and did not spread or bleed with the addition of new wet ink or ink and water.  Nice!  Here is the second step. 

Then I decided to try monoprinting.  I got out a big ceramic tile kept for such experiments, and spread a smooth coating of the medium over the entire surface of the tile.  Next I placed drops of Liquitex Ink in rows down the tile.  I used White, Blue, Yellow, Blue, and Red.  Then I added a bit of iridescents in between.  Like the picture to the right. 

You have to work quickly with just ink, but with the addition of the medium, it gave some plotting time!  I used several different brushes to spread these inks and mix them.  I forgot to take a picture of the tile with the inks spread on it, but when I was happy with the mix, I placed a piece of dry fabric over it all and used a brayer to press it into the ink. 

The fabric was lifted off the inks immediately and here are the results.  This will be a fun piece to work with.  It may get rotated to the right and it may get cut up a bit!

But there was still ink left on the tile.  I couldn't resist poking my finger into it and making a squiggle.  It was still moist, thanks to the medium, so I decided to lay another piece of fabric over it and brayer that too.  The results were lighter, and I had brushes that still had ink and medium loaded in them.  So I put that second piece of fabric on a surface to dry, and then decided to scrunch it up to see if it would make ridges in the color the way fabric paint does.  So it's now sitting drying in this position: 

More tomorrow.....I've had fun and am beginning to think of millions of ways to use these inks. 

Friday, September 03, 2010

Imagine, Create, Discover....all those things.

Not a great picture (I'm not a good photographer).  And on top of this, I managed to change my camera to a different setting than usual, and couldn't get it changed back again. How?  I'll never know.... I'm actually lucky that I got pictures at all!  But all that aside, I liked what this said and asked permission to take a picture of it so that I could remember it!  This was in the entrance at the King Tut Exhibition in New York City. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

King Tut & Garage Sales

The King Tut items were on display at “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” in the Discovery Times Square Exposition.  Having always been enthralled with the mystique of the Egyptian tombs — I HAD to go.  After seeing a partial and wonderful display at the provincial museum in Victoria, I went prepared to spend time soaking it all in.  It was fabulous.  (New York is its last stop before the artifacts return to Egypt in January.)  I felt blessed to be able to see more!  The average time to go through the display is estimated at 90 minutes.  I took three hours.  Of course there I was making notes and sketches for future projects, taking down details and just generally studying everything.  And then, going through the souvenir shop, I bought the book!

A girl who was travelling at the same speed as me started speaking with me (altho the general mood is one of silent awe) and she told me she'd been to Egypt and seen the actual pyramids, and many other details, adding exponentially to what we were looking at.  She made me giggle amid the silence when she said "they thought the scarab, a dung beetle, was the beginning of life.  I don't really want to believe that I descended from a dung beetle, but they do look artistic don't they?"  Several pieces of jewelery on display were absolutely stunning when you consider how primitive their tools supposedly were!

I particularly enjoyed this exhibit.  A "funny story".  Several years ago, my sister-in-law and I held a garage sale.  We cleaned out my sewing room, our kitchens, our book shelves, our garages and our crawl spaces.  We advertised.  We set everything up in the garage and advertised in the local paper.  The morning of the sale arrived and we were out there bright and early.  The garage door went up and there were at least five cars parked in the street already!  Things moved so fast after that we hardly had a chance to catch our breath. 

We had agreed that we would put all our profits together and take our partners with us to Victoria to see the Egyptian display at the BC Museum.  Between her awesome collection of pocketbooks, and her knowledge of who wrote them and which series they were part of, and my quilting and needlework supplies, we did very well.  So, a couple of weeks later, off we went to Victoria.  We wandered around downtown, had a great dinner, stayed in a motel where we visited together, and the next day had breakfast at the Empress Hotel, all on the funds we had earned at the garage sale! 

After breakfast we went to the Museum, where we waited in line for quite some time, winding back and forth and down the hall before we got into the actual display.  Needless to say, our husbands were less than enthusiastic by this point, mine in particular.  He had HIS dog in the car and didn't like him being alone this long, let alone the time it would take to see the display.  When we got in, it was dark, quiet, and we had the headphones to listen to the details about the displays.  Needless to say, I lost him within five minutes.  I suspected he had sped through the displays and went back to his dog.  At first I felt I should worry about him and look for him, but I decided no, I was going to enjoy this as it was likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  (I had no clue I would be lucky enough to see more in New York City!)  So I did the same thing every plaque, listened to each description, sometimes more than once, made some sketches, and generally took my time to absorb it all. 

When I came out, hubby was indeed outside walking the dog.  I accused him of roaring through to get back to his dog and...... he denied it.  I asked a couple of questions about what he saw and what were his favorite things.  He gave answers that showed he'd seen something but not much detail.  It was a long quiet ride home!  So he and his dog still enjoy themselves together while I travel with girlfriends or alone, and thus I truly enjoyed this opportunity in New York to see such splendorous objects with NO pressure to hurry! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harlem Gospel Tour and Lots of Walking

Sunday was the Harlem Gospel Tour – great history of Harlem....good out and walked around taking pictures, went to church service, fantastic music, no sermon. There are two tours, one with a "soul food" lunch and one without.  I chose without ...thinking I would have that time to wander around, but no, we were whisked back onto the bus and back to the beginning.  Next time I would do Harlem Tour but with lunch.  Would have liked to get off tour and just take pictures of people. Very interesting.  Would do it again, and get permission to take pictures of interesting people like the tiny elderly lady in a black dress black and white scarf, black heels, black stockings and the wildest black and white hat you've ever seen was dancing like hippies used to do in front of the stage when they were stoned. Only she was about 90 by the look of her., and stoned on Faith....Adorable. And she was so busy that I couldn't get more than a blur of her as a picture because we weren't allowed to use our flash.

After the tour, I changed, and then went on subway for first time to go find The Ink Pad.  I took the train too far and ended up in Brooklyn! Got out, crossed platform and got back onto the train.  There was a young man, about 7 feet tall with dreadlocks that were to his waist.  I asked him if I was in the right place to get back to where I had intended.  He was helpful and informative.  We carried on a conversation in the subway, on the train and right till I got out onto the street.  I don't know where the reputation that New York people are rude comes from.  Absolutely everyone I talked to was overly helpful!  When we parted he said "Good luck Mum."  I loved it! 

I got off at Canal Street this time, which  was an overcompensation for going to far south the first time!  And, of course turned the wrong way and wandered in huge loops to get there. I wandered through Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and into Chelsea....finally I had to put my I-phone on roam so that I could get a map with directions. That worked, but still lots of walking.  I found the shop, got stamps for Angie and I and was pleased with my mission being accomplished. 

Little Italy....Sidewalk cafes, streets blocked off for walking, delicious aromas!

That being done, I decided I would find The City Quilter, so that I could arrive on Monday at 4 for the class (which I was invited to) looking fresh and clean. I again had to resort to the I-phone directions. It was at this point that I discovered it makes a great difference if you put it on walk instead of drive when dealing with one way can walk them in any direction but cars have to go extra walking was my own fault!

Surprisingly, the store was open on Sunday! It is closed on Mondays.  I didn’t go in. I needed a shower, and was exhausted so I headed back to the my walk was a very convoluted route from Canal Street to W 45th Avenue. I thought of doing the subway again, but couldn’t find an entrance so just kept plodding along. Luckily I hadn’t been doing a lot of shopping so only had a little bag of rubber stamps to carry!

I arrived at the hostel wiped out, tired and was incredibly grateful for my air conditioned room. Took a shower, relaxed for a while, and then went out to wander around in Times Square some more!

But, points I learned are:

• Below Greenwich Village is the oldest part of Manhattan

• The stone everywhere is called “Manhattan Schist

• 8.5 million people live in 5 burroughs

• 1.5 million people live in Manhattan (and then there’s the tourists!)

• Avenues go North to South and are either Uptown or Downtown

• Apartments in Uptown Manhattan rent for $6300 per month on average

• Streets run East & West.....even running East and Odd #’s running west

• This is called Randalls Grid and was created so that immigrants who can’t read can find their way to work.

• “Manhattan” means rocky hilly place

• Wall street got it’s name because when the Dutch Settlers were living there they built a wall to keep the indigenous people out. The indigenous people used it for firewood in winter.

• In 1658 Harlem was set aside for the aristocracy

The Dakota
• Harlem used to start at 106th but because of Central Park being built, now starts at 110th.

• The Dakota (John Lennon) was built in 1884 by Mr. Clark, who also invented Singer Sewing Machines. (picture #1678)

• The Church of St. John the Divine looks over Morningside Park, where camp fires and picnics are allowed and clean up happens each morning. Becoming a problem because people from other sections of NYC come there to experience this and it’s getting out of control.

• Next to the Church of St. John the Divine is St. Luke’s Hospital. St. John was a preacher and Luke was a Dr. One building was built to take care of man’s spiritual side and the other his physical side and the combination is meant to represent Jesus as God and Man.

• A lot of development was by Frederick Douglas who was a slave who arrived in NY via the Underground Railway 

• One area of Harlem, the oldest was built before real estate got so valuable and because of that, each home has a stoop and a back yard. The trees in those yards now “kiss” each other over the fences. They have “stoop sales” instead of garage sales.

• The Harlem Globetrotters are not from Harlem but were named that so that people would know they were all black.
City College of New York

• The corner of Broadway and Duane is an African Burial Ground.

• There are 400 churches in Harlem alone.

• City College of NY was created to allow people of little means to get an education. Even today the tuition is between 5 and 8K, depending on the program.

• The problem for those students is the cost of accommodation so many commute from the outer burroughs and also have a job.

• People in Harlem consider it not just a black Neighborhood, but THE black neighbourhood.

• The Harlem Bridge crosses the Harlem River to go to Yankee Stadium.