April 29, 2008

Good morning sunshine....

Things are heating up around here as the departure date for our big trip gets ever closer. I think I was in denial. Now I'm just in trouble.

Two weeks from yesterday, we'll be in Rome. I've been drinking lots of espresso coffee to get in training: yessir, my plan for Rome this time around involves strolling, coffee, gelato, and a select few etruscan and ancient sights.

Two days in Rome, and then we're off up the length of the boot, to arrive in Treviso, just outside of Venice, two weeks later. I plan to go silly on looking at art galleries and villas.

At our house this week, colds and coughs are de rigeur, it's cold and sunny outside, and a few projects have been finishing themselves off quietly while I wait for the latest dose of decongestant to take effect:

First, that baby quilt. All quilted, and some embellishments as well.

(No, the dog is not an embellishment.)

(Definitely not.)

Then, some fun stitching to make fabric postcards:

Recognise the model?

No, it's not ME!

Have a great week.....

April 19, 2008


Today's been a good day: rattling round town in our big ol' station wagon, I ended up not just at the library but also at our favourite secondhand bookshop, where you can trade and buy. Oh, how we trade and buy! Our house is fit to burst with books.

I picked up an interesting beauty: it's a catalogue of an exhibition held in the mid '90s, with essays about how craft can be used to tell a story.

Here's a bit from the introduction by John Perreault:

"As long as there are stories to be told and people who want to see as well as hear them, then painting, photographs, sculptures and even pots, chairs, and tapestries -- all the kinds of artwork we call craft -- will be used as vehicles for narrative. No surface is safe; no three-dimensional form is sacred."

When an image or an artwork delights me, often it's because there is a story, personal or archetypal, being told to me as I look at it.

I adore the historical quilts with chunky applique Adam and Eve, discussing the various merits of the apple, while the snake looks on like a large green slug - and I love humorous self-portraits, crazy embroidery, modern mythologies, cartoons and words on quilts.

As much as I adore the pure design of many modern quilts, the others just plain make me chuckle. And humour is so important to me. It's a reaction that you can't force, you don't make it happen; an image just is fun or amusing, or it isn't. That's personal.

"Why do artists -- in this specific case, craft makers -- want to tell stories?" write Perreault; "Certainly there is a market for such artworks, and this should not be too lightly dismissed either in craft or painting and sculpture. Narrative imagery can provide moral instruction and even history lessons for the literate as well as the unlettered. Reinforcement or preaching to the already converted should not be overlooked. Commemoration or memorialization is another motivation. Some craft makers understand that their work cannot be separated from political considerations, and much the same can be said for religious imagery in craft."

Storytelling delights, it has been used to teach and to tell common myths, like the Adam and Eve religious appliques or the many political narrative quilts from pioneer America and modern days, and it is also popular - storytelling images including people, animals and other respresentational images reach straight through in a moment when we're not responding, for whatever reason, to abstract designs, no matter how accomplished they are.

We drop our guard and take a story to heart -- craft can be unpretentious -- some would say it is, just by calling it craft. Creativity is to be celebrated.

Thinking of story telling, here is a short list of things I've seen recently that I want to draw or applique into a story quilt:
  • A short, white fluffy dog with a red ball in its mouth, almost too large for it to hold.
  • Today I saw a couple on a purple and green two-seater bicycle, pedalling in synch. She's got a grey dress and a yellow backpack; he's got a green shirt, and they both have bright blue helmets. They are laughing.
  • A wooden grinning green man.
  • Street signs: green and white.
  • An old, cracked yellow-orange door.
  • A garage sale sign, hand-lettered, with a blue and a yellow balloon attached to it.

April 12, 2008

Lazy Dawg

You'll have to excuse me if I sound bemused as I write today. I'm sitting next to my dog, Toby - or perhaps I should say he's snoozing next to my computer - and every once in a while he gives out a contented little sleepy grunt. Sort of like the noise I imagine hibernating bears would occasionally make, deep, warm and comfortable in their winter beds and enjoying good dreams. I hope he's having excellent little-bear dreams.

I just snapped this photo of the little bear in his comfy travel crate. I wish I could be that cosy, some days.

It's a leisurely slow morning for all of us today. J. has a cold, and he's demanding a dippy egg (soft egg with toast) -- after all, what is love if you can't ask for a dippy egg and toast soldiers when you're 42? Toby-dog didn't want to run and play in the park this morning, preferring to sit and leeeaaan on my leg while sniffing the wonderful smells that must be wafting on the air. Maybe that's what he dreams about? And I was feeling as if I'd over-indulged last night (I've discovered that my weight-loss diet is so 'clean' that when I drink red wine I now keel over like I've made been on a binge of Dionysian proportions, even when I haven't!). So I made pancakes with baked quince and yogourt, and we'll all just doze for a while....

This is what is delighting me online this morning:
- gorgeous quilted postcards from Ailie Snow - and her most recent work, Littoral. Her "ladies" series of quilts reminds me of some of the characters in the poetic novels by Jane Urquhardt - especially her wonderful Canadian classic, Away.
- Japanese fabrics from SuperBuzzy - "SuperBuzzy, we love you!"
- Posters and Advertisements from this Ephemera and Other Printed Matter set on Flicker, compiled by P-E Fronning.

...Which is where I got the cover of this P.G. Wodehouse book - a fantastic design for another author on my top ten list (perfect for flu days, perhaps I should provide J. with a Wodehouse along with that dippy egg I'm going to go and make now....)

April 8, 2008

Design delights

Today I'm enjoying a burst of colour from Samantha Hahn's blog, Maquette, and the incredible pattern images on her website.

I've been digging in my folder of delightful designs today, and I had to share this one: it's a 1930s design, British - I just love the clean lines and storybook style. I don't know where it came from, but I'm going to go looking for more like this.

Here are a couple of details:

April 5, 2008

In at the finish

I notice that I have been posting a lot of new projects lately - it seems I'm on a roll with starting things, so here's an update on a few finishes.

Still working on the baby quilt, last night I managed to get it all sandwiched together and basted. Can I just say, much as I love quilting, I hate basting! It has to be the only part of the process that I don't enjoy, so I put it off. And all the time I'm basting away, I dream of a fairy godmother quilter who will come in, wave her magic wand, and presto, basted quilt, sans wrinkles.

Here are some finished lovelies. I'm enjoying the colour combinations I can make up!

And here is another one, this one's for me and I am going to go to town on the embroidery on top of these shapes:

Have a happy, stitchy weekend!

April 2, 2008

Thrifty delights for a thrifty gal

This weekend, just before I spun myself into a sniffly downward spiral, I spent a Saturday morning at Savers, the Sydney Road superstore-sized thrift shop.

Sydney Road is a fun, eclectic place, and Savers - well, it's a treasure trove of dangerous delights! I have only been for two brief visits before, but this time I managed to sneak off on my own for a couple of carefree hours, to find some new clothes for autumn. The weather's going colder, and it's time to rug up!

There was another delightful reason for my spree: over the last 6 months I've lost almost 10kilos (that's 22lbs in the old style), and none of my clothes fit anymore! This is a pleasant predicament, but it could be expensive, and we are soon to spend every cent on a round the world trip. So I told myself my limit was $50, and off I went to the emporium of delights.

Now, as anyone who can sew will attest, there's a danger in all this. Every garment prompts ideas: 'Oh, I'll just remodel this, take off the sleeves, add a new lining and...' Presto, the unfinished objects pile reaches sky-high.

I'd like to think I contained myself on this particular jaunt. If you could call 5 jackets, one top and a handmade piece of embroidery restraint. It came in nicely under the prerequisite $50, and I am all rugged up in new and lovely jackets for fall.

Now all I need to do is to add some darts, replace the lining, and maybe add some ribbon from my stash to the inside front....