Thursday, 31 May 2012

Fine Living

Spring Dreamers II
Roads to Imagination

 Lately I have been pondering the parallel universe that may aaccompany my senior years , and  I do hope that I will still know alot of you and many other creative types to share it with. With some luck on side, good health  and good memory will  come along for the journey, perhaps to become a period of great imagination. Accompanied by the profit of many life experiences as a lens in which to view it all through,  I am optimistic it will  prove to be an interesting and exciting time to share. 

 Some of my elderly clients are great role models, light-hearted, light-footed, independent types, eyeing the day like a pearl !!  This couple was just out for a stroll in the park and seemed to find a nice pace to their step, still happy to be together ! Here's to a wonderful future for all of us, and with some luck, the finest of days. 


This topic gave me much food for thought.  'Fine living' - what it means to me, what it may mean to other people, the 'one man's meat, another man's poison' situation, the question of 'choice,' living in the now and not waiting for something to be over and then 'fine living' will be begin and so much more.  At one stage during this period I was waiting in a very long line at the border, waiting to cross over into the US to see my darling daughter and thought , 'THIS is fine living, this I am doing by choice, I am not being forced into a train carriage to travel to an unknown destination to meet an unknown destiny.'  During this period I have had weeks of very little sleep doing a variety of tasks/duties/projects.  Everything that deprived me of my sleep and other regular activities had a strong choice element as well as a pleasure factor involved.  When getting into bed at whatever time, I always had a comfortable bed waiting in room perfectly set to the right temperature, an alarm clock to wake me up and a happy , younger daughter always anticipating a new day when woken by me. 
And so many more similar examples to those already cited.
It dawned on me after a while that 'fine living' is the way many of us in the western world look at life.  Many of us have the advantage of exercising 'choice' in almost everything we do - sometimes more obviously other times less obviously.  Life IS fine 'living.'And so I got to work.
While participating in a dyeing workshop of Dianne Robinson's a few years ago, I became acutely aware of the pure pleasure of this experience.  I remember feeling grateful that my personal situation 'allowed' me to participate in activities of this nature and so I chose this piece of fabric, dyed during the workshop,  as the starting point for this project.  I stamped the fabric with a lovely wooden stamp made in India, a country which holds a special place in my heart - where I dream of living, one day,  for a few fine years.  In the letters I have transferred tiny images of people and places and objects that constitute many of the things in my life that make for 'fine living.'  The variety of stitches symbolize the love that I have for being able to sit for hours on end sewing away.  The rhythm of the lines being symbolic of the ups and downs - this too, for me, makes for 'fine living,' for without the 'downs,' the 'ups' would not nearly be so 'fine.'  The lace bordering this piece comes from a box of lace that I inherited from a late aunt who  I believed' lived so finely.'  
Thank you for this theme Colleen, for me it was more than a piece of art 12 " square.

Bowl of Mangos: Fine Living

When the topic was first announced, I knew immediately what I wanted to do. All winter long, I look forward to late February or early March when the first boxes of yellow Alphonso mangoes arrive at our local Asian foods store. For me, fine living is a bowl of ripe mangoes, made even more delicious by the anticipation of their arrival. The background is dupioni silk, printed with a block I bought on one of our Text'art outings to Montreal's archeology museum. The bowl is one of my hand-dyed fabrics, and the mangoes are painted silk.

Next up

Linda F. is the lucky winner of the draw to choose the August 31 theme.

Namaste- Fine Living

As I was brainstorming various ideas for this topic my daughter came home from Bikram (hot yoga). This form of exercise takes her stressed nature to better place while also making the lives of others around her a little finer :).  I took photos of her doing a several poses and settled on the simplicity of this one.

The day the boats came in

I struggled to start with and nothing seem to fit or inspire, then I remembered the day Rosie, Dianne and I watched the fishing boats return to Guilvinec (Brittany, France) and we bought live langoustines that had just been landed.  The poissonnerie where we bought them had a steamer and you could have them cooked on the spot!  What a feast that was back at the Manoir Hilguy with a bottle of wine - fine living indeed.

The picture is a composite of a photo of the manoir, which was given the pencil crayon on Burlap filter treatment in Photoshop, and images of a bowl, red table cloth, langoustines and the wine bottles and glass.  Having created the image I then realised that I didn't have an fabric printing sheets.  Panic - quick online order (after asking what brand friends preferred).  Order takes until Tuesday this week to arrive and I found them late afternoon when I returned from stewarding duty at our Dorset Arts Week.  First print-outs were a disaster as for some reason the printer/computer were determined to enlarge the image no matter that it was a 12" image and the printer was supposed to be printing actual size. I went to bed frustrated and irritated.  Yesterday morning I determined to beat the technology and created my own cropped sections of the image which would allow me the opportunity to choose where to fussy cut the joins.  Bingo!  Then I discovered I didn't have any fusible - mad dash to local Hobbycraft.  I am now more than a little stressed and panicky as I am out all afternoon at another job.  First I manage to stick the fusible to the right side of one section - quick reprint - then I cut another section wrong (no overlap) - another reprint.  Last night I eventually get the' jigsaw' together and fused to the felt batting and I actually make a start on the stitching.  This morning I have managed to complete it and it is just about lunch time.  Hurray, I haven't let you down!


PS  The fabric sheets are by Jacquard and I am really pleased with them - the fabric is quite fine and the paper peels off easily.  Tip learnt from Michael James - up the saturation level in the printer properties by at least 20% - this compensates for the amount of ink that is absorbed by the fabric.

Fine Living: Window Seat

When I was little, one of my favourite spots was the musty old sunporch at my grandmother's cottage. I would snuggle up on the old sofa bed, surrounded by pillows, and spend hours lost in a book. When the thunderstorms roared across the lake, I watched in fascination from the safety of my cosy corner.

In my own home now, I have a window seat overlooking a different lake. Sitting there with a good book is my idea of "fine living".

I took the image from a photo, reduced it to a line drawing, and traced it onto heat-away stabilizer. Once the basic shapes had been fused into place on muslin, I pinned the stabilizer to the project and stitched the line using heavy black thread. This was a good opportunity to try a slight variation on a technique that I have used a lot in the last few months, and which I have been asked to teach.

(Thanks to Dianne, whose cottage's "cozy corner" was an inspiration for a drawing last summer.)

Fine Summer's Day

When the topic came up 3 months ago this is exactly what I thought of.   Perhaps a bit generic but this is our lake, our cottage and these are chairs that my husband built.  Life has been very good to us and this isn't exactly a culmination as there is so very much more to do but it does represent a nice place that we are at, physically and metaphorically.  And it really is lovely to sit out there and enjoy.  The lake is called Lake Memphremagog  which means "great expanse of water" and is south east of Montreal.  We're very near the border with the USA and can row or cross-country ski up to it (but not across!)  We bought the cottage when we moved back to this area and did a lot of renovations to winterize it and update its 70 year old wiring and plumbing.   Because we are so far south and so near the border there is very little boat traffic, but in the winter it is like a street scene with cars, ATVs and skidoos racing up and down, and fishermen sitting perched on the upturned buckets for the whole day.  oh, and we are supposed to have a creature out there called Memphre!

Fine Living - Ndebele Identity

I am going to quote from the foreword of a book about 'Ndebele Women designing Identity' by Steve Bales (Group Art Consultant, First Rand) as he puts it in a nutshell..... a relatively small group of Southern Ndebele women preserved and proclaimed their people's identity in the face of complete social disruption after the loss of their ancestral land ... (and) ....did so by creating an authentic visual language in the design, construction and decoration of their homes.  Ndebele design has become a global icon of South African identity.

The women wear beaded adornments which signal the different stages of their lives.  Married women wear a beaded amaphoto (aprons) and the older styles were made mostly with white clay beads. Young initiates wear square aprons and these are beaded in a range of blue, green, mauve and brown glass beads.

I have made a fabric interpretation of a young initiates amaphoto. The top binding has tails on either side for 'tying' and are plain.  Although happy with the main body it still screams 'beads' to me.  I probably will add beads to the ends of the 'ties' which will help with weight and better 'hanging' plus I will probably add a fringe of white beads at the bottom. Lots of probables at the moment.
My Garden

Fine Living: My first thoughts centred around our daughter's wedding, but at that point everything did.  But that wasn't really living, just a happy event.  My other main activity since returning to the UK has involved the garden.  I've been digging and planting, and recently we bought some new outside furniture in the hopes of good weather arriving.  The week after Teri's wedding we had a mini heat wave, and I spent virtually every hour I could outside, reveling in having a proper garden for the first ever time.  So last Sunday, when I was running out of time for this challenge, I finally decided what Fine Living currently means to me.  I designed the piece on Monday, selected fabrics and assembled them on Tuesday and quilted on Wednesday.  Binding was finished at 11 pm last night - deadlines are very useful things!

The Winelands of the Western Cape situated inland from Cape Town enjoys a Mediterranean climate with winter rainfall, which is the reason this is an ideal situation for the vineyards and the many winefarms situated in this area.  The winelands are surrounded by majestic mountain ranges and many of the wine farms are historic homesteads built in the Cape Dutch style unique to this part of our country.  These buildings many of which are over 300 years old and have been perfectly restored and maintained.  These beautiful farms are situated, among many other areas, Paarl, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Wellington and Somerset West and which have become world famous for their white and reds wines, brandy etc.  This is a unique corner of our country and I have tried to capture the essence of this beautiful area.  If you are interested please google images of Cape Dutch architecture etc. which you will, I am sure, find quite interesting.  These picturesque and unique buildings epitomise Fine Living.

One man's fine living .....

It might be perverse but whenever I thought about this challenge I thought about excess - people owning or consuming more than they need and the cost of that excess to others. From there it was a short step to thinking about the human cost of everyday objects. The list seems endless but this is where a touch of synchronicity came in. As part of a study of everyday objects for the Creative Sketchbooks course that I've been doing I'd captured some images of china ware and research that I did around tin mining for the CQ@10 challenge led me to pneumoconiosis . And yes, until relatively recently, pneumoconiosis was a common cause of premature death for the men and women who worked grinding the china clay.

The cup, bowl and plate are stencilled,  the quilted text tells of the effects of pneumoconiosis and the border is a hand dyed fabric overprinted with the light micrograph that I posted as a teaser earlier.

I enjoyed this challenge Colleen - I hope your progress has been such that you're able to join us!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Yesterday's news - Tomorrow's promises

This was the title for a challenge issued by our local 'arts & crafts' group.  Hilary will recognise the technique, something we saw at a UK show a number of years back.  Although we played around with a piece soon after, I felt we were a bit like a bull in a china shop and it was just okay.  I have always wanted to 'redo' a piece and this challenge fitted perfectly.

Starting with the back I have a layer of lutradur, printed organza (my pic of Hilary's flowers), white felt and another layer of lutradur which was first stitched cross hatched and then cut outs done with a soldering iron, finished with a printed piece of silk appliqued on top and finally the whole lot is held together with beads and micro tacks.  I had a problem as the printed organza and silk are shorter than A4. To remedy I had to paint the exposed pieces of lutradur backing .The finished size - A4. I have done nothing to the edges.  I might at a later stage 'frame' it with something even if just mounting it on board.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


This "quilt" was in the Renwick museum in Washington, DC and I thought it was a good follow-up to the wooden quilt link.  It's by John Garrett.  The Renwick is a lovely craft museum and has quilts by Nancy Crow and Michael James.  There are many forms of art - pottery, woodwork, sculpture, glass.  I really enjoyed my visit there.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Wooden quilt

I have just been sent this link and it definitely needs sharing:

Phil and Patricia, have you come across her?



Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Fine living - a tease

So, what has this light micrograph of the effect of pneumoconiosis to do with Fine living? More at the end of the month, obviously!

Linda B,

12 by 12

It was fun to have a look at the Big Reveal for the art quilt group 12 by 12 today. Their latest challenge was "Maps", and I was reminded of the intriguing mini-quilts that Linda Forey made as farewell gifts for our text'art group last summer.

You can connect to their site by clicking on their icon below, in the right-hand column.