Sunday, September 23, 2012

Visiting Friends, Part 4

After visiting Tennesse last April, I headed West with a swing by Kentucky to visit my blogging friend, June, of A Creative Dreamer. After a wonderful lunch and a     l-o-n-g chat we parted ways and I headed West to Oregon.
As it worked out, I went to Salem, Oregon on my birthday where I first had coffee with blogger Janaé who works and teaches at Greenbaum's Quilted Forest. She makes wonderful handbags, as well as quilts, and also dishes out good sewing advice. Well worth a visit.
           Then I met up with Bonnie. Let me demonstrate how small the world really is. Bonnie is Nifty’s (of Nifty Quilts) sister-in-law. Nifty attended my high school in Salem, but was a couple of years behind me and my brother remembers her. Bonnie’s husband is a retired professor from Willamette University and knew my father who also taught there. To top it all off, Bonnie knew my mother and a number of people I knew from Willamette. Yes, blogland is an amazing place ! 

So Bonnie invited me to see her house, studio and quilts. 

As she and her husband are both artists, their home is an art gallery--except better.

Her lovely garden would make a good setting for my pots. Wish I could've brought some along. 

The neighbors agreed not to put up a fence, which gives the impression of a luxury of space. 

Bonnie's art studio is nestled back in a corner of the garden and there she creates lovely prints, drawings and paintings. 

However, I like her sewing/quilt room best.
            Notice the red/pink corduroy quilt she did for Nifty's challenge last year. 
                Here are just a few of her beautiful quilts.

An unusual red and white design, among my favorites. Who doesn't like red and white quilts?


         Also among my favorites, Bonnie's leaf quilt on which she was working.

And on her design wall, colorful log cabin blocks.

                          Need I say? It was a wonderful birthday. 
And so, thank you, June, Janaé, and Bonnie for welcoming me into your lives.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Yet a Rockier Road

Let’s begin with Good News. A friend just opened an Etsy Shop called Egyptian Quilts. He features the appliqué work of the Tentmakers of Cairo. He’s offering a sale for his Grand Opening so pay him a visit at :  

I’d like to thank all who have sent concerned emails for the recent news.
The event : The appearance of a Youtube video about a movie slanderous to the Prophet Mohamed caused massive protests throughout the Arab world. Consequently, Tunisia drew attention in the international news after the extreme right organized protests that ended in an attack on the US Embassy. 
Protesters climbed the Embassy walls, burned cars in the parking lot and ransacked the accessible recreation area (commissary, tennis courts, swimming pool). Then they went to the American school across the street, which they looted and burned parts of (including the library). Pictures surfacing on Facebook show looters walking off with computers, TVs, and even garden hoses.
           You may wonder about police presence. Well, they appeared, but were overwhelmed and ran out of tear gas. Later in the evening, two police stations were attacked and torched in different cities.

The results : Tunisians, understandably upset, are questioning the inept management of the whole mess by the government, which is run by a religious party.  Furthermore, they wonder at the government’s lenient policies toward extreme right groups whose members have frequently broken the law in violent public confrontations only to be acquitted in court.
           The US government has withdrawn non-essential personnel from the Embassy and they discourage all visits to Tunisia. Great. We're still trying to figure out the meaning of all this. 
Feeling frustration, I turned to the piece I'm working on for Jude Hill's Spirit Diaries. Yes, I broke down and took another online class, however, this one is not project oriented, but a discussion on technique and process with an active forum. I thought that this could be my anesthesia, a way to listen to something else besides conversations and rumors of impending doom. However, it is apparently not meant to be. 
        Jude chose 'Wings' as her "filter" or theme for the next few months, which I happily adopted to my project, a worn, double-sided bed quilt that I'm using as a canvas. I chose the purple side to experiment upon and to leave the green side for later. 
              And so, I began appliquéing abstracted wings of two triangles (or a bowtie) onto one corner block. A basic structure that I modified with reverse appliqué.
I could have happily continued exploring ideas connected to wings, however, I find that I'm now being pulled toward Icarus. You probably know his story. Daedalus, his father and a brilliant craftsman, warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun or to the sea when they made their escape from the island of Crete using wings made of wax and feathers. Being young and exuberant, Icarus of course went as high as possible, only to find that the feathers fell off as the wax melted from the sun's heat, and he plunged to his death in the sea. 

The story of Icarus thus contains a warning, yet it is not about extending oneself or trying to reach greater heights. It speaks of extremes that we should avoid because they are harmful to us.  The warning reminds us to keep our balance and to remember the virtues of moderation.
            Thus, in these troubled times of extremism, I find the story of Icarus compelling. Moderation and Balance. 

                                  To go from disorder and confusion
                                  to some kind of order and understanding.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

On Wild Boars and Revolution

My husband decided to file a complaint with the AA (Animal Assembly, see here for the first news bulletin and here for the second) of the tranquil Province of MulticoloredPieces. He feels things have gotten out of hand and has suffered prejudice at the hands of the animal constituency. Here's what happened.

TRUE STORY: My husband had been complaining about the broken fences around the citrus orchard last spring. Late one afternoon he was working in the orchard. He looked up and found a large (as in mature and heavy-weight) wild boar staring at him twenty feet away. He could clearly see the menacing tusks, and being a city boy who had heard stories about the meanness and unpredictability of wild boars, he panicked and ran for his life back to the garden gate--which was locked. He pulled the key out of his pocket, but, he could't steady his hand to get the key in the keyhole. He imagined the animal crashing up behind him at any minute--and then he got the key in the lock and opened the gate, slamming it behind him, and nearly fainting. In the meantime, the boar had taken off in the other direction, apparently frightened also, or at least surprised. 
---How fortunate for my husband.

The problem: Since the Revolution, tourism has dropped to an all-time low and European hunters who find boar hunting delectable now avoid Tunisia. In addition, the hotels that buy wild boar meat to offer in their restaurants to European clients have lost their clientele and the market for wild boar meat has dried up. Consequently, the wild boar population has increased putting pressure on food resources, which would explain the presence of a wild boar in our orchard. 
---How unfortunate for us.
Further problems have developed in the tranquil Province of MulticoloredPieces. The wild boars, who have been happily multiplying in Tunisia's backwoods, have been making their presence felt. In fact they have formed their own party in an attempt to take over the Animal Assembly. In order to have a majority, they have negotiated alliances by bullying other parties into submission. The Cow Party is cowed, the Chicken Party is chicken, the Feral Dog Party is running away. You get the idea. They even have a militia of young boars that appears at demonstrations and political rallies to badger protesters. As might be expected, the Province of MulticoloredPieces has become a boar's haven as garbage and filth accumulate everywhere. 
       The boorish Minister of Wildlife Affairs shrugged at complaints and grunted:
                                                  "We're here to stay." 
"Revolutionary Boorish Boars," Aug. 2012, 20"x 43.5" /50.5cm x 110cm
                                Or should I say, "The wolves are at the door"?
Reverse side of wild boars before being stitched to background.

                                How unfortunate for Tunisia and the Revolution.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Extreme Needleturn, Part 1

Extreme sports draw attention, however, it is unlikely you will ever find me bunjee jumping off a bridge, jumping out of an airplane at high altitude with a small pack strapped to my back (that thing is supposed to save my life?), or climbing the Himalayas. Rather, extreme needleturn appliqué gives me all the thrills I require.
My artwork is generally idea-driven. From somewhere, something appears, grips me by the throat, and demands expression. Therefore, I consider possible colors, materials, and technics. Yet, one exception comes to mind. Dare I admit ? Extreme needleturn appliqué dominates my life--I’m hooked for life on that process. It’s magical. Fabric, after all, goes in all directions if allowed to. Consider all the rulers and gadgets that have been invented to keep fabric square and under control. Ha! I threw control out the window! Let the fabric go where it wants to. Illumination: fabric on the bias is a wonder of nature.
It all began about twenty-five years ago with this humble piece that I still pick up and stitch upon from time to time.

I layered four 5 inch wide stips of fabric (including a shiny satin and patchwork leftover from a garment) and began doing reverse appliqué.
Maybe someday it will work itself into a piece.

In 1991, Death of a Forest (17 ½ x 23/ 44cm x 58cm) opened up wide vistas of possibility.

Those red lines seemed so simple yet so elegant in movement. 

     I also used leftover patchwork scraps to appliqué onto a patchwork background.
Coral, (37½x54”/95 cm x 1m37, April 1997) part of my beach series, is hand appliquéd and machine pieced and quilted. The border fabrics are hand painted. 
         I confess to one magical trick to produce thin appliqué pieces. It's all in the needle. At my local village mercerie (notions shop) I found a long, slender needle that I could grip easily. I immediately bought a whole package and discovered that my needles were milliner's needles--number 7 being my predilection. You've certainly heard that question: if you were stuck on a desert island, what would you have packed? I couldn't live without those needles...
        Of course given my nature, my appliqués have become more complex. However, I still have an uncomplicated piece or two going (commonly referred to as the "early extreme style"). A current WIP (work in progress) that I will eventually cut apart:
The method is simple. Cut out a piece of fabric in any shape, or use a large scrap that already has an interesting shape. Needleturn appliqué down one side and then cut into the shape as you go to create holes, lines, gaps, waves, etc. In this piece, I've added some stitching lines as well.
Another WIP. This garment looked so worn at the edges that I began adding a border while glued to the AC this summer. At first, I considered following the leaf design of the fabric, however, that seemed rather expected and monotonous.
The rules for this appliqué: each piece must be rather small and have a different design. I find the confusion of designs pleasing as the leaf design begins to recede. 
Ahh, those purple and plum colors. It must be the figs from my garden that influence my choices. This year I ventured into drying fruit. The fig harvest was so bountiful and the weather so hot and dry that I now have 10 k. (22 lbs) of delectable dried figs. 
                               Can one beat nature for its colors and bounty?