Monday, June 30, 2014

Festival Crafts and Culture

I am in China, at the Folklife Festival, and of course I'm drawn to the textiles section of the Crafts area. So many crafts here this year, from painting to woodcarving, to batiks and quilts and more.

In this tent I observed men and women making batik fabric with molten wax, and these natural dyes. I am not sure what the mordants were but these pans had lumps of flowers, wood shavings, etc in them.

There were fabrics dyed with the natural dyes that had color so intense it was like flags flying on the racks.

I was unable to communicate with the dyers as there were no interpreters but here is a picture of cotton dyed with yellow gardenias. I've never seen a yellow gardenia!

Next to it is one of the batiks.
Remember you can click on pics to enlarge them.
I enjoyed watching all the fiber related crafts being made but when I discovered a quilter... why I had to chat with her somehow.

She had many beautiful quilts on display, and was wearing a lovely sheer long vest made with a Korean technique of piecing sheers. There were
three-D flowers of silk, improvisational quilting with tiny scraps and quilted with gold threads.

Through sign language I told her I also quilted. She beamed a smile, and reached for my hand to hold.
Across borders, quilters can communicate with the love of fabric and stitch.

 She and I began trying to talk, when a lovely young man began to interpret for us. I learned about her process and can share some of it with you.
Her work is done by hand while traveling. She enjoys little bits pieced together, and quilted with gold thread by hand using something like an outline stitch. It did not feel like it had batting to me but it's likely warm there, and her quilts were for the wall. She showed me a picture of a quilt in her book, that she made for her family on their wedding. Every part of it was symbolic to her, little squares representing the mother, the father, the children to come, the number of larger squares representing a lucky number and the value of listening to each other, and taking time out when angry, working through problems, respecting the grandparents.
 Oh it was so special the moments we shared, the three of us. Two women who share a love of symbolism and stitching, and a polite kind young man who took his time to help us connect on this day.
It was a gift. She asked me to sign her book with my website as well. She gifted me with her book and we both wanted pictures to remember the moment shared.

Yikes! Why didn't my husband say take off that hat?! And why didn't I put some make-up on that poor migrained face?! Ah, well, we connected  heart to heart, and that's what matters.

Here is another fiber craft, embroidery on screen with delicate silk threads.

Beautiful embroidery, color next to color, lovely line creating a picture of nature made by the hands of a craftsperson who knows that it's not how fast a piece of art is to make, it's the making of it that matters.
More crafts from Kenya next post.

We went to China and Kenya...

We went to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival concert on Wednesday night. What a glorious evening to visit the lovely Mall, all set up for the event celebrating Kenya and China this year. This is one of our favorite events and I'll tell you about our visits over the next few days. First of all, isn't the castle lovely all freshly renovated? The Festival brings in people from the chosen countries, with culture, craft, info on their lives, stage performances, food and drink. It is like an immersion lesson! With beer!
The first concerts were held in both countries, and I took a few pics in China...
There were pretty costumes, lots of high pitched singing, folk songs about love and other human emotions. 
AND an Appalachian banjo player. 
One that majored in Chinese studies in University and loved all things Chinese! She sang some mountain songs and then duets with some of the Chinese performers. Only at the Folklife Festival.

Cole loves visiting DC, all the people and new smells and squirrels. He is so at home and as you can see, got so into the whole thing, that he put on his Fourth of July bandana!
You didn't expect us to go for a concert at dinner time and not visit one of the concessions did you? Interesting that the Kenyan food seemed very like India's food. We got something like a beignet, or little donut-like puff made with coconut milk. It wasn't quite as tasty as the actual beignet's from Cafe DuMonde in New Orleans, that dh brought back from a business trip recently. We shared a Chinese beer while we watched the show. Cole didn't feel like curry, so he had a biscuit from home, and some of the donut sugar.
on the way back to the car, I had to stroll through the specimen garden next to the Smithsonian castle. More pictures tomorrow, but here's a little taste
Cole imagined playing in the big water bowl.
It was a balmy evening but still warm for a person wearing a black fur coat.

And a very hot bandana.

This bird taunted him by jumping in!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A little bit more yellow

Here's a few more yellow blocks for the-- super scrappy rainbow challenge--  June and the color yellow

I love to piece tiny scraps. That's what I did, and now I want to make something from them. I thought about arranging them in a banner of sorts , then making a window topper for the studio. Sunny and happy!

then I wondered what they would look like more quilt like

I think I want the banner, with some setting pieces along the top to make them easier to hang.

Some people are afraid of yellow. I love it.
Lee Anna

Thursday, June 26, 2014

face study

I love faces. I really look at people and their faces. I am aware of my drawing limitations but have decided to embrace my style.
There is always more to learn but right now I will just allow myself to draw, paint, and play to encourage that part of me. The very fact that these are flawed is why I am sharing them with you instead of hiding them away in a file, or the circular file. I am exhibiting courage in showing what I made!

These are the materials I used today. Paintsticks, pencils, embossing sheets and some muslin precut squares left over from some long forgotten project.
Don't know exactly what I thought I'd make today, but on my walk I thought, what if instead of gray, my hair came in purple! How cool!
So I thought I would sketch a woman with purple hair.

That turned out to be the bottom one, and she looks downright scarey. Whatever. As these things go, the whole project grew into a bunch of attempts . First the ones I like best...
She looks like me in my youth. Sweet. Full of promise. I love this one and it was the quickest to make. It was also the last one I made, which might say a person needs to warm up. Another lesson here is if the first item comes out all wrong like my scarey woman, keep going.
I like her a lot. She kind of looks like I feel nowadays. I don't have purple hair but I might. I love the thoughtful way she is. She is open too, and content. I like her a lot.
Next I like the wild abandon she shows! That's kind of like me too! Her hair is blowing freely in the wind, she's laughing, she's looking ahead!
I wanted to try a blue face but she looks haggard. Her eyes aren't shaped right, but she was the second one I sketched. I don't mind some aspects of it, like her ear showing. I might even like that haircut and blue isn't a bad hair color. I like the dark eyes with the white highlight. Paintsticks with no points are a challenge to use on fabric. They grab hold of the fiber and don't mix or move or blend easily. I rubbed some blue on my finger and smeared it on her face to shadow her a bit. There are three shades of blue on her.
I am not even showing the scarey one again.
Lessons learned:
1. Just do it, don't wait til you are good enough or take a class or have confidence
2. Accept your limitations and call it a style
3. Keep going, the last one will probably be your favorite, as mine was
4. Share your process with others like me, so they will know they aren't the only non-perfect artists
5. There is beauty in non- perfection

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

oh no my dog is hungry

My 12 year old poodle has discovered he is a dog. He grew up riding in the back bench seat of our van, and now that we sometimes ride in my husband's SUV Cole has discovered the joy of a lowered window with the wind rushing through his curls. He is still careful, only a nose goes out. He's like that.

He rests whenever possible.
He has old joints but he still needs mental stimulation, and we won't allow him to play on the computer or have parties when we are gone.
So we try to take him with us when we can.
Last Saturday we had places to go that would not be dog-friendly  so he had to stay home.

 I found a few items at Home Goods. Here are two towels that have quilt patterns woven in...

Aren't they wonderful?? The only problem is they just might be the kind of weave that smears the water around instead of absorbing it. Still, they make me happy just looking at them!

Also, since we are always on the lookout to make our boy Cole happy we found another fox, some treats, and a new food bowl for him.

I have wanted this bowl since we saw it in a boutique in Alexandria about 6 months ago, see the post here
(click here to see that post)
Well, we came home to a bad surprise. In our absence, Cole had gone into the dining room, found the dance bag that holds our contra gear, and had one of my shoes, the right shoe,  for a snack...
 First of all, we take him more places than most dogs get to go. He is an only dog, and gets lots of attention. He is fed very expensive dog food.
He has never touched this dance bag in over 12 years.
The thing is, I had mentioned in passing that morning that we should go to the dance later that evening...

Weird right?
I was able to cope because he had eaten the older right shoe, so I could still dance.

Then two days later, he again went into the hidden dance bag, the one he's ignored for 12 years! He dug to the bottom, removing dad's shoes on top, finding my NEW shoes and yep! Eating the toe off the right shoe of that pair.
I can't even cobble together a pair from what's left!!
I have bad feet, these are the only type shoe that works, they must be ordered, and it takes months to break them in before I can dance on them.

My friend Pat said Cole might have anxiety now that he's older and suggested a  thunder shirt might help when we leave the house. Anyone have experience with this?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

yellow sugar cone block

 This is one of my yellow blocks for the super scrappy  scrap happy yellow challenge,  visit the other people playing along with yellow this month.
My block is a paper pieced Sew Precise block called sugar cone. I changed up the block a bit to suit me. It finishes at 6 inches, so each little square finishes at 3 inches. I start by sewing little strips together, then using that whole lump as the center cone and piecing it as a unit to the paper, with the background color. In this case black. I could sew little strips to the paper but it's annoying to pull off teensy bits after it's done.
Here are some of the other months of color, blue, teal, purple, pink, green and now yellow. I am totally using my scrap bins so there is lots of variation in shade. I just know I am going to want more of each color block cause it's so stinkin' cute!
ps my dh replaced one of my studio lights today with a non full spectrum bulb, so you can see the color isn't as vibrant tonight. Back to the store, that doesn't make 50 watt anymore, now I have to settle for 35. grrrr

Use up our fabric, take two

We talked about resolves to stop purchasing so much fabric.

That is just crazy talk!! I was visiting some blog friends linked to the rainbow challenge, and realized, really realized, that we will not use up our fabric stash ever. We will have a good time trying...but we will always have a pile of fabric, with it's care and feeding requirements. That's the way it is.
We are collectors.

Some people collect old cars, some collect beanie babies. We like fabric.
The question becomes, will you allow yourself to use it? At what point do you have so much that it's hard to locate the one you want? What role does organization play in your collection? Do you find you are constantly having to reorganize and spend more time folding and refolding than using it? If that clean sweep tv show ever showed up at the front door, would you let them in or slam the door?? (I would NEVER let him near my sewing space!!)

We will never use it all up. When we go looking for a certain tone, or pattern, it will be there waiting for us. It may be playing hide and seek but it's there. When a friend says they are looking for a certain fabric from ten years ago, we know we have it and share. In the middle of a project we drag out the blue drawer/box/bin and have a lot of choice for a border. We now shop in our own sewing rooms!

We may run across certain fabric lines that sing to us, a siren song of longing, so enticing we must have a piece of each in that line, so the manufacturers pander to us with layer cakes and jelly rolls.Sweet stuff.

Imagine, we decide to make a black and white quilt, start the collection of fat quarters, use a small piece of each in a bed quilt, and viola! Instant leftovers to store!

We will never use it all up... Thank Goodness!
linked also to sunday Stash

Friday, June 20, 2014

pieced circle tute--part two

This is a continuation of the pieced circles tutorial.  See part one:   just click here! 

 after turning back the fabric over the FP, then run a small amount of glue stick over the fabric and
hold it over your focus circle, already cut in the previous step.

Make sure it's perfect as this will be how it looks after sewing!
After looking at the back and making sure the focus circle covers your clipped edge opening, give this a quick press with an iron to set.
At this point, I get a number of them ready for sewing by the machine. It's a fast process from here!
Next thing we'll do is stitch. 

 Lay the block face up, gently pull back the background to look at the FP. Place needle right next to the FP, which will be through the two layers of fabric only.

 Keep the background gently pulled out of the way to the left, and use a slightly shorter stitch length. If you have auto needle down, use it. Sew slowly around next to the FP, being careful not to catch the background.

When you sew completely around the circle, you are free to gently pull the FP out, and it usually comes out intact. Press the block flat and you are done.

Sewing circles without worries tutorial part one

I would like to share a technique with you that I learned a long time ago by Sharon Schamber. It is a way of piecing circles, or any shape without worry of seam allowance. Keeping the correct seam allowance under the foot on curves is the hard part, but we will use freezer paper as a guide and stabilizer.

 just for the purpose of learning the technique I will give you sizes to cut, however you can do this technique with any size or shape block or center.

Cut a 6 inch block of background fabric and of...
Freezer paper.
Cut the same size and shape from freezer paper
as your background. I did this with an archway once.

 fold it in fourths and you will then cut a circle out of the folded corner

I use one of my acrylic circle or drunkard's path templates. You will choose the size of opening you want.It must be small enough to leave a seam allowance on the background but large enough to showcase your focus fabric.

Use that cut out circle, which is exactly the right size, as a template to cut out your focus fabric. This is the one you want showing through the background. I cut it a good half inch away from the F.P.

Iron the FP to back of your background. In this case, fold it in half, roughly cut out the center leaving about a half inch seam allowance, and clip almost to the FP

using a water soluble glue stick, UHU is best, run a small amount of glue along the clipped edge and a bit of the paper

Using your finger, open the clipped fabric and push over the edge of your FP so that it sticks to the paper smoothly. This will be the exact edge of your opening so you want it to look perfect. If you have a glitch, you might need to clip closer

After you have pressed the fabric back onto the paper it will look like this.

Since this is a picture heavy post I will do the next sections later. Please
see part two here click here!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

reading and watching

This book became a real learning tool for me. At first I kind of glanced through the first chapters and thought,'s not going to fit me.
 It was when I started doing some of the writing and drawing exercises that I began to make self discoveries. I decided early on to go through the book my way, with no pressure to actually do any exercises I thought were a waste of time. I chose to do about 12 exercises and am very happy with the outcome. I recommend the book if you are feeling stale, want a new way to approach creativity, or want to learn about you.
Product Details I also finished this last book written by Maeve Binchy. I love her style. She is so homey and her characters are so well rounded and likeable. The characters  tend to show up in  following books as well, like old friends. It all just fits, and is comfortable and full bodied and I am so sad that she has passed on. I have read all of her books. Two thumbs up.

I bought the new Quilters Travel Companion this weekend. I'm so excited because I never bought the previous edition and there have been too many quilt shop closings. 
I bought, shoot me now, old Studios magazines at our guild show. Like I need another magazine!! I didn't have this one...
Also reading about lowering stress with Dr. Brian Weiss, and a book by Brown on spirituality. All porch reading, along with...
Anne Fortier's latest book... yum, her Juliet was wonderfully engaging so I look forward to lovely prose, good story line and being so engrossed I don't notice the heat.

At night in bed I am reading The Alchemist and liking it although it may be too much of a parable to read when I am sleepy.

When not reading I like to check out dvds from the library. We are watching several series now...
Garrow's Law is based on a real lawyer in London in the 18th century and the characters are so well acted I get lost in it.  I love history.
We are well along in our systematic viewing of Midsomer Murders a BBC show. DH and I both love this one, with good acting and story lines but not overly violent.
Currently we can't get enough of Canadian Murdoch Mysteries, set in 1898 Toronto, detective show with terrific acting and plot lines, and the show tongue in cheek describes inventions you will recognize.
I am watching Hot in Cleveland. I never saw it on broadcast tv but it's HILARIOUS.
We are also very into modern day Vexed, BBC detective show that reminds me of Moonlighting. Maggie Smith's son is the lead actor, and really funny. Then there are the stacks of quilting books, bought, not read...
Can you relate?
What are you reading this summer?   LeeAnna