Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pinch Me!

The past week has been (insert favourite excitement laden adjective here).  I confess I am at a bit of a loss as to how to describe it.  Exciting?  Surprising?  Glorious?  Remarkable?  Fantastic?  Encouraging?  Thrilling?  Joyous?

Perhaps I should just roll all those descriptors into one:


Let's start with last Wednesday, shall we?

That day I had lunch with Maureen MacKenzie of the City of Lacombe, and two of her colleagues on the Art Collection Committee...and ended up with a venue booking for Mark on the Body -- which will hang at the Lacombe Memorial Centre Gallery from October 20 through November 17...including an Opening Reception set for October 26 (time to be determined)...and press...and etc.
Stay tuned to the MOB blog for details!

Through Facebook I made a connection with the local Fundraising and Development Coordinator for the Central Alberta chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)...and we'll be chatting next week about the Project.  Meanwhile, I've done up some kits for stitching MOB II squares, and have permission to give them out at the meet-and-greet in Stratford, to anyone who might be interested...


I'm not particularly adept at shameless self-promotion...but I'm learning, and willing to keep trying, as this project means a great deal not only to me, but (I hope) to everyone touched by Type 1 Diabetes.  There is a good deal of misunderstanding about this type of diabetes, which is distinctly different from the much-more-prevalent Type 2...and it is my hope this project will help not only with much needed funding for research into a cure, but also with educating the general public.

On Sunday I travelled to Edmonton to see my kids, and to attend a shower for sweet Chereena, my son's fiancee.  I got the Grand Tour of their new rental -- a condo apartment that is absolutely lovely!  -- met my newest grand-cat, Yami, and then drove off to the shower with my daughter, Gina.

There was a buffet of amazing food -- and the obligatory shower game.  For this one, the guest were divided into teams of four to create the perfect wedding gown and slippers for Chereena's big day -- out of newsprint!

Then came the gift opening -- during which our lovely bride-to-be received a multitude of fabulous kitchen and bath items, and gift cards to add to those items on a shopping trip or two with her DH-to-be.   I had two gifts for her: one for her up-coming graduation from U of Alberta, and one for the shower.

The first, the shawl, was definitely a success:

"MoMarg, I think I'm going to cry!"

As were the chickens!

The looks on her face were enough to fill my heart for a good long time.  

On the way home, I delivered my Fort McMurray quilt tops to Tara at Trinity Quilts in southwest Edmonton.  She gave me a tour of her studio; I was very impressed by her fine quilting -- both over-all and customized designs.  What a blessing that Beaver Creek Mercantile of Caroline, AB, donated a bolt of batting to help Tara get all the donated tops quilted so they can be sent where they're needed!

The rest of this week has been spent Getting Things Done so that I can leave tomorrow for Stratford* with a clear conscience: everything from laundry to mowing the lawn to cleaning the cat box, to doing the dishes, to actually quilting...!

My 15 x 15 Group piece is finished -- except for the accompanying Artist's Statement -- as the "Reveal" for the "Circles" theme is only ten days away.  Here's a hint... ;-)

The collection of my work at Gracie D's Antiques, Collectibles and Giftware has been changed over to minis with a 'summer' feel, just in time for the Victoria Day weekend activities.  Gracie will be open extra hours, so I hope something will sell!

Now about Stratford (Ontario): the twin exhibits for SAQA's "My Corner of the World" -- the International and the All-Canadian -- open there this weekend at the Stratford Perth Museum.  I am so excited about joining many of the other artists and the SAQA President, Lisa Ellis, as well as Micaela Fitzsimmons and Bethany Garner, the curators, for the Opening Reception and SAQA "Meet-and-Greet" to follow, that I could probably fly there without much help from Air Canada!

It's Still About the Sky
(C) 2016

Before I go, I'm linking this up to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...hoping you pop over there to see what other Canadian stitchers are up to...and wishing you a wonderful Victoria Day weekend!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I've been living in Fort McMurray this past week and a half -- figuratively, anyway.  The wildfire there -- the largest of 8 or 9 up there right now -- has captured my attention for a variety of reasons.

First, when I was a Registered Financial Planner working with CWM in Calgary (long gone, but the memories linger), I was part of the team that worked with Executives at Syncrude, the consortium that is a major player in oil sands development.  I've been up there several times -- albeit years ago now -- and knew many of the people.  I toured the site, saw the land reclaimed after the oil was extracted, saw the bison returned to the land...

Second, one of the people I worked with at CWM currently works up there for a different company, on a rotational basis -- so many weeks up, so many back down in Calgary.  She's been up in the area since before the fires started, evacuated to different camps more than once, caring most recently for the firefighters and RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) working up there -- and she's only now been permitted to go home for a break.

Third...a very long time ago (January 1968) I lost several school-mates when they and their father died one wintry night after the furnace in their rural Quebec home exploded.  The mother, babe in arms and one son who'd been staying over with a friend, survived. Gone were the father -- who went back in for the other four children -- and the family dog.  I'll never forget the impact of that on my 15-year-old self...the realities brought home, the horror of it....

I've had a very cautious relationship with fire ever since.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I've paused in my artwork to do something else -- to assemble some quilt tops and to make some kennel quilts that will eventually find homes with those who need them.

BOM "Zen"
from Freckles Quilt Shoppe, 2005

BOM "Cinnamon"
from Freckles Quilt Shoppe, 2006

BOM "Four by Four"
from Freckles Quilt Shoppe, 2003

I'm taking these to Edmonton with me this weekend -- plus two (much) larger Bonnie Hunter mystery tops (Orca Bay and Easy Street) finished a few years ago and not yet quilted -- and will deliver them to Tara at Trinity Quilts on my way home Monday.  I'm throwing in some fabric for the backing for each of the large ones.  She's donating some batting and her time and will quilt them for me. Then she'll get them bound and they'll be delivered where and when they need to be.

Meanwhile...Klassic Kennels in Red Deer has been a haven for pets rescued from the fires, as many people didn't have an opportunity to return to their homes to get them.  WestJet airlines transported loads of pets to safety, and Klassic Kennels was one of the places that took them in.  They needed 'kennel quilts'.  I found a pattern online  and put a good dent in my 'charm' squares, making 10 of these.  My friend G, a Knit Night regular at The Shop, works in Red Deer, so she delivered them for me.

Placemats? Nope.  Kennel quilts.
Pattern: "Instant Charm" - Barbara Chojnacki

Years ago, a parish church I attended in Calgary had a banner on one wall that read, "Bloom where you're planted."  And then there is the Nike motto.  These phrases go together well:

Bloom where you're planted.
Just DO it.

It's what I'm trying to do.

Linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Which Came First?


Tea towel #2...

or the

No further comments on the above (grin) because it's a detail shot from my current WIP  for the 15 x 15 Group.  Our theme is "Circles"...and the full reveal will be at month end.  (To date, the applique is all finished, and I'm preparing to sandwich and quilt.)

Also going on inside the sewdio (because it's 27 C in the strong late afternoon sun and too hot in the Outdoor Studio) is some sashing and quilt assembly.  I have in mind to assemble 3 tops -- from those 3 sets (12 blocks each) of "Blocks of the Month" I couldn't use for the Syrian refugee quiltlets -- in case a collection gets started for the now-homeless from Fort McMurray's fires.  

This is an event of historic proportions for Canada...largest evacuation ever -- 88,000 people as of 11 a.m. today.  Temps up there hit 32.5 C today, with a nominal dew point (amount of moisture in the air) and the winds have been picking up.  Temps may cool off overnight but there's no rain in the forecast for at least a week.

Photo credit: Holly Ayearst on Twitter
copied from The Weather Network.

The pretty much incomprehensible right now.  So...I'm quilting, with prayers in every stitch.  I want to be ready with a little bit of comfort when the time comes...

And linking in to The Needle and Thread Network for WIP Wednesday.  Maybe some of y'all are quilting for Fort "Mac" too?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens

This tune's been running through my brain this week because in the sewdio, it's been wedding prep almost all week.

I finished the machine quilting on Section 2 of the Japanese Taupe Quilt (JTQ), marked the whole-cloth blocks in it for hand-quilting, and managed to finish that on one of those blocks:

Section 2 Machine Quilted
and Marked for Sashiko-style Hand-quilting

I piece two thirds of the blocks needed for Sections 3 and 4...

I selected and started piecing the 'alternate' blocks for Section 3 (these are different in each section)...

And...I began to work on the embroidered tea towels for the Shower (May 15).  I need to hustle!

Before I go, I'm linking this post to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and leaving you with this jazzy little number...your weekend ear-worm!  Enjoy!  :-)

Presenting...Canada's Own...Emilie Claire Barlow -- and friends!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Braggin' Just a Little

It's Still About the Sky (Detail) - (C) 2016
SAQA has launched a new slide show on it's website...the pieces selected for My Corner of the World: Canada.   

This is in addition to SAQA's practice of producing a slide show for its International (All-SAQA) exhibits, such as the companion exhibit, My Corner of the World.  

For me...I am honoured to have a piece on exhibit with one of my artistic inspirations, Judith (Judy) Martin...and with SAQA Western Canada colleagues Terry Aske, Janet Scruggs, Marie McEachern, Paula Jolly and Jaynie Himsl...Not to mention SAQA 'stars' like Mary Pal, Gunnel Hag and Mardell Rampton...

I hope you'll click the aforementioned links and enjoy...if you can't get to Stratford, Ontario in person between May 21 and the end of August...or just can't wait till the two exhibits get to Your Corner of the World.  :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Esker

Sunday afternoon, amidst the energy and electricity of the opening of  the SAQA (Calgary POD) exhibit, Road Trip, down at Fish Creek Library in Calgary, I met SAQA member and Road Trip participant, Terri Illingworth.  It's always a delight to meet a cyber-acquaintance (I follow her blog) in the flesh!  Moreover, as she'd already recommended the exhibit at the Esker Foundation Gallery on her blog -- and I'd Googled to see how to get there from Fish Creek -- I knew I had to 'get there pronto!' on my way north and homeward.

After the vibrancy of the Road Trip show, I found myself in a large, calm and quiet space, my footsteps echoing on the bare, hard floors.  It was the perfect way to wind down from the afternoon's activities as well as to take in some beautiful, peaceful, understated work by an artist hitherto unknown to me: 

Ms. Heslin was the artist found -- after some searching -- by curator Naomi Potter to pair with a collection of work by the late Jack Bush, owned by the owner of the gallery (or so the docent told me).

It seemed to me that the perfect chord had been struck by exhibiting their work together.  That said, for the most part, her work is quieter and less colourful than his...and I liked it better. (grin)  

Wondering why? addition to an apparent "need" for something quiet after the colour and life I'd seen at Road Trip was the line made by stitch that drew me into Ms. Heslin's work.  Two of her influences: the paintings of Helen Frankenthaler and  the quilts of Gees's Bend.  To quote the program:
Heslin's practice considers these two reference points, but seeks to engage in larger conversation beyond and outside of them, including the influence of photography and sculpture.
Heslin is not a quilter; that is, her pieces weren't two or more layers connected by stitch.  Rather, she creates her work by painting fabrics -- canvas, cotton or linen -- cutting it up and stitching the shapes together.  She dyes her own fabrics in small batches, using dyes and/or India inks, and revels in the textures made by scrunching up the fabric in the dye, then leaving it to dry that way.

I'll say no more...but that her work has me thinking about how to approach mine in a different way.  Suffice to say that experimentation with these influences is now on my radar...

And so I second Terri's recommendation: get thee to the Esker before the show closes on May 8th.  You'll be glad you did!

The work of Colleen Heslin
at The Esker Foundation Gallery, Calgary
"Needles and Pins"
On NOW through May 8

Saturday, April 16, 2016

It's Never Over Till It's Over*

*attributed to both Sir Winston Churchill and Yogi Berra

Whoever said that, he was proven right in my life today.

I'm just back from my fifth foray into the weekend that is the Annual Lacombe Art Show and Sale.  Once again I shared a booth with my lovely and talented photographer daughter, Gina Blank.

The show opened yesterday afternoon at 1 p.m. and ran through to 8 p.m. with a funky Gala evening.  I sold 1 quilted card that afternoon; Gina sold a couple of photo cards and a photo-on-stretched canvas -- her coffee cups in black and white, which is a perennial favourite.  Neither of us sold a thing during the gala; one of the organizers admitted that the turn-out for that part of the show was rather disappointing.

Today was a new day; doors opened at 11 a.m.  The weather was sunny and pleasant (not too cool; not too hot; no rain or snow!)...and so people came out to the show -- parents and kids, including many high-schoolers eager to see their work and that of their friends hanging in the annual special Student Exhibit.

A lot of looking, a lot of interest, but all in all a bit quiet as to sales.

That said, by mid-afternoon, when the refreshments -- assorted "appies", wine and micro-brew beers -- were on offer, the atmosphere was light and I'd sold 3 minis and 2 more post-cards.

My sweet parish priest came by to support and admire, as did my buddy Anna from The Shop -- we overlap part-time work on Thursdays -- and Gwendy, one of our regular Knit Night customers.

A bonus and a sweet surprise: Anna is friends with a woman who's an artist in a painters' guild -- the Parlby Brushketeers -- and Anna had told her about my Mark on the Body project.  Late in the afternoon, there I was, putting in today's stitches on MOB I.  Anna brought her friend over...and now I have another encourager as I go forward with that work...for which I am tremendously grateful.

One of my purchasers today was a gal whose sister takes Tai Chi at our church with the wife of one of the musicians in the trio of which I'm a part, that plays for services once or twice a month.  The "wife" mentioned to the Tai Chi "sister" that I had a booth in the show; the "sister" thought that the "purchaser" would like my work...and in the end both bought minis!

Doncha just love small world connections? ;-)

Gina and I both made our expenses and a bit more -- given we were sharing the booth.  But...that was it.

And then...

5 p.m.  "Good afternoon everyone!  Thank you for coming to the 17th Annual Lacombe Art Show and Sale. The show is now over..."

But not quite.

At least, not for the gal who was furiously trying to take in our booth's wares even as we were preparing to pack up.

I went over to her...she asked me about the work and the fabric in each of two pieces.  She hemmed and hawed. Could she still buy?  I said "yes".  Would I take a cheque?  "Yes."  (There was an ATM in the lobby but the show's credit card service had been wound up.) 5:05 p.m....


Edging into Spring (C) 2015

The largest piece I've sold to date...completely by surprise!

And there was icing on this cake!  

My "neighbour" for the show was Marg, a painter and art show regular (all 17 years I think), now in her mid-to-late seventies, who took up painting when she retired over twenty years ago.

She had a very busy weekend because this was very likely her last show.  Her equally aging (and going deaf) dear hubby was moving more slowly, and she lived in terror that he'd fall off a ladder trying to help her put up her booth.  Both of them were very tired after Day 1...and found Day 2 a bit daunting.  

She'd visited my booth on Day 1...and intended to make it back as there were pieces in which she was very interested.  

I went to say 'good-bye' and 'best wishes' to her as I finished packing...and she expressed regret.  She really wanted a piece.  She tried to remember exactly what it was.  Ah yes! was in my car.  Could I fetch it for her?  NO -- she wouldn't let me but...I had my minis...and she chose one and paid for it, cash.  I was delighted; she was delighted.  She seemed to see me as a young (!) artist with promise...and again, I told her I hoped she'd keep painting...and hoped we'd meet again.  

Connections.  That's really what this art world really is about.  

Decades ago, an uncle of mine had said, "It's not what you know; it's who you know."  Of course, he was referring to obtaining employment after university...

Little did he know that what I've come to understand about that time-worn, somewhat mercenary phrase is that it's that what really counts in one's work, is the relationships one builds through the years, along whatever path one travels.   And one's attitude and one's spirit are what brings people together.

Artists -- whatever their medium -- connect with viewers/listeners/"experiencers" because the art they create comes from their hearts and their expression of what's in their hearts -- their attitudes, perspectives, experiences and spirits.

One never really knows how successful one's "show" has been...because it's never over till it's over.

(Linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and wishing you wonderful connections...till we meet again...")