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...")

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The 70273 Project

I first met Jeanne Hewell-Chambers over the Internet -- on Facebook, I think.  For those of you who don't know her there, she has a relative (sister-in-law?) named Nancy who is someone who, despite her serious physiological challenges, draws interesting shapes -- and Jeanne emulates those shapes in stitch.

That's how we met.  I sent her some supplies to help her with a project on which she and Nancy were working.  I think that project is ongoing.  However, Jeanne is currently working on another project -- a very collaborative one -- to honour and remember the thousands of physically and mentally disabled people killed by the Nazis -- before what we now call The Holocaust had even begun.  

Now, this hits me on several levels.

First, my mother was widowed 7 months before I was born.  When I was almost 5, she remarried.  My step-father, divorced, had 2 children -- the youngest was my Sweet Sis; the eldest was my brother, Phillip, who was disabled with muscular dystrophy, and who died at age 33 (young, yes, but far older than expected) in 1981.

Second, my late husband was -- and his family is -- Jewish. And Howard was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 7 (some time in 1959-1960).  Now...insulin was discovered by Banting and Best  and colleagues in the 1920s...but having to take a daily (or more frequent) dose would have rendered him "imperfect" -- along with my step-brother --  in the eyes of the Nazis.

Third, both my father and my step-father fought in WWII -- in the Black Watch.

Fourth, my sweet daughter, Gina, has spent more than a decade as a teacher, advocate, and encourager of those who would have been killed by the Nazis...and is currently involved in educating and coaching those who work children with serious disabilities, and their families, through the GRIT Program...all of whom might have been tortured and/or killed a generation ago, simply for caring... should come as no surprise that Jeanne's 70,273 Project speaks deeply to my heart.  I decided I needed to take a moment here to show you the three blocks (one in each size) I'll be sending to Jeanne tomorrow (via Canada Post).

I am doing this -- I confess -- with mixed motives.  You have witnessed the first motive -- how I am inspired to contribute...but

The second motive?  I alluded to it briefly above when I mentioned Howard's Type 1 Diabetes.  It's a terminal illness for which there is no cure.  Because the person with T1D has imperfect metabolism, over time their blood vessels become clogged, cutting off nutrients to the nervous system. In turn, this causes decrease circulation to the extremities and anywhere there are teeny-tiny blood vessels (eyes, feet, hands...).  

So in a round-about way, by contributing to Jeanne's "70273 Project" I am not only honouring the heritage of my late DH...but also introducing others to the Mark on the Body made by Type 1 Diabetes...which, in Nazi Germany, notwithstanding his Jewish heritage, would have led him to the same virtue of his imperfection.

The contributions are very simple: blocks that contain red "X" marks...used to identify the "imperfect" in the eyes of the Nazis.  There are 3 sizes of blocks; I've chosen to make one in each size:

You don't even have to be able to sew to create a block.  Just check out the web information, and go from there...

To contribute to Jeanne's 70273 Project, click HERE.

To participate in Mark on the Body II or III, click HERE and/or HERE.

Either way, please keep us all in your prayers.

Thank you.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Taking Stock

It's often said that "timing is everything".  This is certainly true for me these days as I juggle Show Prep with waking up my yard and garden after the winter.

Yesterday was relatively calm, cloudy and not too hot, so I spent most of the day raking my front lawn, applying a "Turf Builder" to fertilize and -- I can only hope -- dissuade the dew worms and dandelions this year.  According to the instructions on the bag, this process had to be done before weed germination.  This is nigh on impossible around here; in my experience, we seem to go from snow-cover to dandelions in less than 24 hours.  Not seeing any of their cute but pesky faces as of yesterday, I began.

And there they were.  Well, not full-blown dandelions but a few sprouts -- three or four -- but I dug 'em out and kept going.  The lawn is now raked, the "Turf Builder" broadcast over it, and all finished by watering (something I've never "officially" done in the 7 1/2 years I've lived here).

Today?  There's the timing!  Overnight a terrific north wind blew up and continues even as I write.  The sun rolls in and out of greying cumulus clouds, and it's brisk out there.  Not ideal for yard work, but perfect for Show Prep.

Blue Bench: Winter Walk (2016)

Having finished all the minis I've time for before the show -- which begins Friday -- I've now updated my Inventory and created a special spreadsheet just for this show.

I'm pausing in the process of checking the packaging and prices for each piece to write this post.  I've completed that for the minis, for a series of postcards, and a few other small pieces; after this post, I'll move on to the larger pieces.

Run for It! (C) 2016

And still...I have a facing to stitch and a sleeve to attach...and business cards to organize, a couple of dowels to finish with eye-hooks...and counting S-hooks to be sure I have enough...

Later this weekend, I will be rewarded with one of my favourite tasks: re-organizing my fabric.  I'm not being sarcastic here -- I rather enjoy this.  :-)

In between these annual shows, I lose track of exactly what I have available for my landscapes.  The base of my fabric storage unit is what I use for my booth display; this means that I have to remove the fabric-laden baskets in order to get to the base.  As I remove the baskets, I'll take time to tidy their contents, sort and fold and replace them, mainly according to colour (sky, fields, trees, soil, buildings, accents).  This is a lovely, meditative process...a treat after all the other "admin" involved in Show Prep.

If you're in the area, I do hope you'll drop by the Lacombe Memorial Centre (5214 - 50 Avenue, Lacombe, Alberta) sometime on Friday, April 15 (1 p.m. - 5 p.m. for the show/sale, and/or 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. for the Gala) or Saturday, April 16 (11 a.m. - 5 p.m.)...There'll be lots to see, and I'll be delighted to see you!

Meanwhile, I'm linking up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and getting back to work...

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


And perhaps also Dopey and Sleepy.

Today is my first full day home since Friday.  The days in between have been full and rich with work, friends, travel and good food...but short on quiet time, exercise, and -- to some extent -- sleep.   In other words, I've been operating outside my routine and though I have a long list of 'to do's' for today, I can already tell that very few of them will be crossed off that list by this evening.

For example, I wanted to rake the front lawn today so I could apply "Turf Builder" -- with a view to restoring some of the damage done by last year's dew worms.  However, it's far too windy, so that will have to wait.

I have a mini and some fabric post cards to finish for the Lacombe Show, though, and those will probably get done:

That one you see on the bottom?  I finished it on Saturday morning...

Blue Moon (C) 2016

And realized that while at the Central Alberta Quilters' Guild show that afternoon, I'd need to track down at least one more piece of dark blue fabric that would take deColorant well, if I were going to make any more "moon" pieces.  I did find it, as well as a couple meters of wonderful batik for landscapes (Hamel's Fabrics, a long-time favourite), and some fat quarters (yarn-dyed from A Threaded Needle) and single meter cuts ('regular' cotton, in the Japanese taupes from Quilter's Dream, Vancouver) for the Japanese Taupe Quilt (aka the JTQ or the Wedding Quilt).  The Superior Threads distributor (Cotton Mill Threadworks) was there, too, so I bought another spool of King Tut (in whites) and several packs of needles -- 90/14 for 'regular' use and 60/8 for tiny, fine work.

My friend C and I had a great time at the show, especially enjoying demos (she went to one on rulers for Dresden designs, while I went to one on working with kimono silks), and the wonderful work of my friend, Annette Johnstone of Red Deer who was the Featured Artist for this 25th Anniversary edition of the show.  I didn't take photos of her collection this year -- you'll have to take my word that each piece is fabulous! -- but here she is with one of her needle-turned, hand-quilted beauties, when it won Best Of Show in 2014.  (I think it's title is "Friends of Baltimore", but don't quote me on that!)

So...while I go off and work on the last of my minis and cards, how about you pour a cuppa and enjoy a few of the photos I did take...mainly SAQA members (there are 4 of us in Central Alberta and 3 of us had pieces in this show), and a few others that really caught my eye.

First, a collection from Patti Morris, SAQA JAM (Juried Artist Member) and former SAQA Western Canada Co-Rep (Alberta):

Blue Heron for Mom

Alberta Turbines

Alberta Dinosaurs Rock!

Lazy M Sweat Lodge

As you can probably tell, Patti is known for her large, colourful pieces -- but not all are pictorial.  She enjoys creating abstract too:

City from the Air

Red, White, Black and Dots

And these from Wendy Greber, a SAQA Artist Member:

Galaxy - juried into the
National Juried Show,
Quilt Canada, 2015

Love of Fall

"Z" is for Zebra - Pattern by Susan Filer

Wendy and me, side-by-side
(L) Edging into Spring (mine)
(R) Alberta Trees #2 (Wendy)

Then there are a few special ones I had to photograph...the first being from a multi-talented needle-woman and crafter, Mary Vanson of Red Deer, to whom I was recently introduced.  She does delightful figurative work, as well as piecing:

Once Upon a Summer

Goodie and Peter: 1910

And these pieces, incorporating vintage fabric and/or linens...

Stitches of My Heritage
Shirley Cullum
includes hand-embroidered dresser scarves
from her mother and grandmother,
as well as vintage fabric from her mother-in-law

Then and Now
Candace Cullum

Vintage Love
Terry Rowland
A Battenburg table-topper
used at her daughter's wedding and
lovingly preserved in a quilt

Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...and hope you enjoy the rest of your week!