Thursday, January 30, 2014

Magic Carpets, 2

This craft show in Tunis with its numerous rug dealers created an enjoyable break in daily routine, a feast for the eyes. A bed cover caught my eye with its strong design. Made from natural dyes, the original owner from ElJem wove it for her dowry.

A Klim rug from SidiBouzid wowed me--whoa what color! I love looking at it and trying to figure out the wonkiness (the design is slightly off). 

But I'm not sure I could live with it. Over the top!

Much calmer, this Klim rug comes from Kasserine; sedate with a nice border.

Can't resist the blue rugs as they are less frequent.

This Mergoum rug from Gafsa contains a wonderful series of colors that blend from one to the other in part because of the designs within each wide stripe.
An unusual black and white structured mergoum rug beckoned to me. Black and white is always dramatic and with those wild solid colors...drat I should've taken this one home!
A close up to give an idea of the detail in the work.
Meet Ali Allani, a rug dealer from Kairoun who had a number of interesting old rugs. 
This lovely old mergoum is slightly faded, however, one can only gaze in wonder at the exquisite handwork. I had bedside rugs similar in design and color, however, they wore out with use and have become pillows. 
I am told the weavers no longer do this type of work.

And (of course) saving the craziest ones for last! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Preparing Lesson Plans

Well, I'm supposed to be prepping for classes. Instead, I'm playing hooky. 

It's that time of year when businesses give out calendars and day planners to customers. I liked a bank calendar.

It stands up and is rather sturdy. I have wanted to play with one of these for awhile. I really DID start preparing lesson plans, however, the cover on the calendar was such a lovely shade of turquoise blue.

Several rules for this stand up play book: fast (no hand stitching), small, and only tiny scraps from the scrap bag. 

Out came the handy glue stick. Besides cottons, I found a few bits of brocades. I like the letters, so I left a few showing.

Then a meandering green line came out of the scrap bag, and a burgundy circle.                          

It strikes me that my mosaic designs influence this kind of play. The tile effect. 

OK, I had my fun, now back to the lesson plans...

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday".

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Moooo-stash: A True Story

During Grandma's Summer Bootcamp, birthdays were celebrated and one of the favorite presents that GD2 (second granddaughter) and her sister received was body paint in the form of washable markers. 

Squeals of joy and peals of laughter rang out while the kids painted the faces of all those present. Best gift ever...
      Then GD2 returned to the States and began First Grade. As she could already read a newspaper, and as she is caring about her friends and classmates, she likes to help. Her idea of helping: When the teacher says in her southern accent "Now Ry-aan, hoooow do yeeooou spe-ell 'chaaaaaa-ir'"? (multiple vowels are added to every word, making conversations long and drawn out in that part of the US), GD2 hops out of her chair, runs over to Ryan and whispers in his ear "c-h-a-i-r", then skips back to her chair. Very helpful. The teacher confessed--with some frustration--to GD2's mother that this child reads and spells better than she does. 
     One day, recently, the teacher told the class that they could do anything they wanted to with their markers for fifteen minutes. The key word here is anything (do you see where this is going?). The teacher circulated among the desks and suddenly screeched out, "Wha-at ha-ave yee-ooou do-one!??" Well, GD2 had persuaded her friend that they should draw a large, colorful mustache on each other, right where a mustache belongs. "We did a moooo-stash" (GD2 likes the French pronunciation). OUTRAGE and HORROR on the teacher's face...
     So off to the principal's office they were sent, two little girls with big moooo-stashes. The other little girl started crying, but GD2 kept repeating to herself "I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry" (lesson learned from Grandma who refuses to cry). But, she later confessed that her heart was pounding. 
       The principal, who knows GD2 well because GD2 gives big hugs to just about everybody, confessed that this was the most difficult moment of her professional career, to keep a straight face when she saw these two little girls coming into her office with their mustaches. She admonished them, "Now, I'm not angry with you, but, I AM disappointed" (severe expression). Overwhelmed, the other little girl pointed to GD2 and wept hysterically, "It's all her fault, it was her idea!" The principal, being wise, said "You shouldn't do something that someone tells you to do if you think it is wrong."
      At this point, GD2 turned to her friend and said in self-righteous anger, "Yeah, you shouldn't do what I say if you think it's wrong!" (You can see why the principal was nearly in stitches...). And back they went to class.
      The story does not end here. Once GD2 sat down at her desk, the teacher handed her (with a stern look) a note to give to her mother. GD2 read it, hopped out of her chair, went over to the teacher's desk, handed the note back, and said matter-of-factly, "You made a spelling mistake." 


GD2 had one joke that she liked to tell at summer bootcamp: 
What does a cow do on the weekend? 
Answer: She goes to the mooooooooo-vies.

Here's a new joke:
What does a cow have under her nose?
Answer: She has a mooooooooo-stash.
Of course!

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Friday, January 10, 2014

Magic Carpets, 1

Recently, a friend and I attended a large craft fair in which half the artisans sold rugs--beautiful hand made rugs. Tunisia has a long tradition in hand-woven rugs, ranging from simple designs from the South and isolated regions to sophisticated and elegant designs from the cities, especially Kairouan. 
At the top of my list, are the silk pile rugs--
breath-taking (and breath-taking prices as well).

What designs! Who would dare to walk on such beauty? 

The premier choix wool rugs contain exquisite designs as well.

I could have stared for hours and I'm thinking that I might start drawing some of these rugs in my sketchbook.

Then there are the flat-weave rugs, the Mergoums. These are rather standard designs. In my mind, the Mergoums are amazing because they stand up to wear for decades. They're easy to move and to clean as compared to pile rugs. 

But the work is back-breaking.

This one caught my eye with its exquisite work, small designs and interesting colors.
Among the rugs, one can occasionally find a traditional wedding veil: woven in a finer wool, the weaver can create more intricate designs. My friend took this beauty home for a Christmas present.

And then there was one booth with the traditional "chechia" hats. 
They begin as a knit circle and are felted and brushed into shape. Men still wear them in Tunisia and now there are different colors for women as well.

Ahh, but that's not the end...the best, or rather the most unusual, is yet to come!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Yes, flying into the New Year and finishing up the old with panache!
Wishing you a Happy New Year. May it be creative, productive, and peaceful.

On the other hand, if it looks like it's going to be a rough year (looks that way from where I'm standing), wishing you the courage and strength to get through it with serenity......

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."