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Friday, March 31, 2006

Weights and measures-ending month of March

Thank heavens my trainer decided to weigh and measure me today instead of April Fools day. I just don't think I could have handled a joke, either way it went. OK, so let's review. I've been to Monterey CA for a week, and eating what someone else put in front of me, with only a small amount of walking. Upon returning home, I've been eating out more for dinner. Now, I know what I need to do for the next month:

Go back to planning my meals better
Eat at home more
Eat more fruit
Go to at least two water toning classes on my off-training days

Weight loss for the month: 4 lbs
Total weight loss since Jan 9: 16.5 lbs

1/2" from my hips,
1/2" from my waist
1/2" from my bust
1/2" from my upper arm

Even though I joke around about my weight (with the picture of the scale), I know I've done a good job. And for me, just sticking with it is a BIG job in and of itself. I still have a long way to go, but I have to admit, it IS getting easier!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Wabi Sabi Completed!

I collect words and sentences that catch my fancy, and several years ago, the words Wabi Sabi caught my eye. I don't even remember where I saw it or in what context, I just collected it and the phrase with it's definition in my journal of "Ideas and Dreams". This is a page from my project book, and how I got started on this particular project.

Wabi Sabi = a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.

I've messed around with this piece for a couple of years. I had the sketch drawn out of how I wanted things to go on the piece, but I couldn't get the shape of the woman's body right. I put it aside for a while, and then we went to St. Louis for a weekend getaway. What should be standing in the lobby of the Mayfair Hotel, but this beautiful woman statue waiting for me! So, I took her picture, and then I used it's silhouette for the shape. Click on the pictures to see a bigger version of them. On the picture of the statue, you can see me in the mirror above her, taking the picture! I did tweak it a bit, but it is still the same woman! The way I do that is to put the picture in to Photoshop, make it be a black and white outline sketch, print it, then blow it up to the size I want. On this image, I had to cut her apart like a magician, and bend her torso a bit to make her a bit more pliable in the onion. I also found a picture of a water onion shape that I liked, so it went into my book too.

Don't ask me why I think a beautiful woman blooming out of a humble onion equals Wabi Sabi in my mind, but it does. Maybe it ties into an Awesome Blossom (a deep fried onion), or maybe it is the beauty of the earth and how we are all tied to it?

I thought I would use it for the Kansas Art Quilters traveling exhibit, "Layers" but I missed the date by a lot last year, but I was otherwise occupied with hubby and Mayo Clinic! Then this year, "Words and Images" came due, and I was still piddling with Wabi Sabi's leaves, and I missed that deadline too. So sadly, I don't have anything in the traveling exhibit for last year or this year. Oh well, that's life. Maybe Ms. Wabi Sabi, she didn't want to travel.

It's constructed of layers of prom dress chiffon, wedding dress organza, Waverly drapery weight fabric (on the left side), Chinese brocade under the organza, cotton sateen for the woman, buttons, ribbon, tatting, and green chiffon with burned edges, and embellished green silks for the leaves. The edges are bound by machine with an overcast stitch using white Neon Rayon thread.

The woman's hair is sort of my artsy-fartsy trademark made from collected threads and shreds of fabric; in this case, I also used some Angelina fibers. I use a Sulky Solvy sandwich to get the shape I want, and then stitch heavily back and forth and up and down on the sandwich until I think it is secure enough to dissolve the Solvy. It's really fun to do, and fun to see what it turns out like.

The onion is made of a small piece of silk linen that was in a discard bin at some quilt show I went to. The shapes on it were just perfect, and I thought they "felt" like the onion skin layers. Lots of bling bling beads on the edges kept me busy and out of trouble for a while, too. It was probably my favorite part making this piece. On the edges of the onion roots are wooden and paper beads that are supposed to suggest beads of earth still clinging to the roots.

The bottom is chiffon fabric that was folded over itself, filled with treasures, and then stitched on the squares to make pockets. Inside the pockets are found treasures: parts of a Buddhist prayer flag, beads, a candy wrapper, silk leaves, a little glass fish, and then along the very bottom edge are flat rectangular beads that have some sort of Kanji script written on them. I have no idea what they say, and I can only hope that they aren't obscene words! This part is supposed to be below the soil - hidden treasures that an archaeologist might uncover someday.

There are a few dandelion-like clusters of chicken scratch embroidery (my term) that I stitched to fill in some blank spots. The little circular pieces of white are cut from the edge of an altar cloth that was made by the Sisters of the Poor St. Francis for the chapel at their St. Margaret's Hospital that was closed in the late 1980's. My mother worked there, and brought home several of the hand tatted and crocheted cloths that are now in my workboxes.

I am going to play around with the label tomorrow. I think I am going to use Shrink Art and find some more of the Wabi Sabi references, maybe even some Kanji script to put on it. If it works, I'll post that picture too.

WABI SABI 20" X 29"

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Gwen's Quilts 2006 Asilomar

This is the last blog post about my trip to Asilomar. I have a ton of pictures, and I can't seem to remember which ones Dawn posted, so I'll just post them again. Nothing like a little quilt show to get you stimulated, eh? I so enjoyed my week with Gwen in California at Empty Spools, I decided I could splurge and go to her Beaver Island Quilt Retreat in September too. It's not on Beaver Island anymore, it's in a little town north of Traverse City. There are still openings in the retreat (I'm going Sept 13-16), so if you want to go, sign up now and we could get a condo at White Birch Lodge and share the cost!

I've finished up my cut blocks from the class, and now it's time to put them away and get back to what I was doing. I'm just about to get the last round of binding put on a giant king size quilt (Dresden Plate), and I've been working off and on today about Wabi Sabi? Remember that? Hopefully it will be done in the next couple of days and make it's appearance here soon!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gwen Marston Asilomar 2006 Class work

In addition to yesterday's post, showing what I created in this marvelous class, there were lots of other great ideas, too. I think I've gotten all the names with the right quilts, but one never knows! If anyone from class sees that I have something wrong, let me know, so I can correct it. I didn't get pictures of everything (darn it!). You'll just have to believe be when I say that there were some other lovelies like Janet's blended string stars in blue, Kathy's pinwheels and Barbara's red white and blue strips. I love them all, but I think my favorite is Pam's controlled spider web shown last. I'll finish the rest of the pictures from Asilomar tomorrow, along with Gwen's quilts, and a preview of her upcoming quilts from her new collaboration with Freddy Moran. Enjoy!

Vivianne's Strings

Pat's Strings 'n 4 Patch

Barbara's Chevron's

Janice's Wedding Rings

Janet's Magic Blocks

Pam's Strada

MaryEllen's Dead Presidents String Stars

Anne's Strips 'n 4 Patch

Virigina's Sampler

Melissa's String Stars

Mary's SEVEN pointed Stars

Ibby's Rocky Road to Kansas

Dottie's Vintage Shirtings and reclaimed Churn Dash

Corky's Strings and Stars

Pam's Controlled Spider Web

Pam's Controlled Spider Web (more complete)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Home from Asilomar

I've decided that I just have to stop catching up on everyone else's blogworks and get busy and share my fabulous week at Asilomar which is near Pacific Grove, CA.

When my friends and I arrived on Saturday, it had been SNOWING, and the main road that I usually drive south from San Jose had been closed due to icing! I quickly jotted directions going a different way, and my friend Carolyn the navigator directed us south. Turns out that road was not the one we should have driven, either, but it was a beautiful drive, anyway! I kept grumbling that I could have driven HWY 17, because the road we were on had 15 mph switchback curves and we went through a mountain pass getting across to the ocean. About the time that I started seeing frost on the ferns, I realized that it really HAD snowed! Then we saw a 4' snowman still dressed in his fine cap and carrot nose standing at the end of a driveway. A little further on, two cars driving east had little snowmen sitting on the hoods of their cars, leaning against the windshield! What a riot!

The artists in residence in this session were from Oregon, and they are part of the Cover to Cover Book Club quilters. They were featured in Quilters Newsletter March 2005, and their work is just fascinating as well as beautiful! If you ever get a chance to see their work, you need to! Pat Busby also makes handbags, and I just couldn't resist getting one. Everything she does has a little bee on it, and she also signs them, so I figure I have a piece of art now. Here I am at the beach, with my prized possession!

I truly enjoyed my week with Gwen Marston. She is so laid back, and she shares so much of herself, it's pleasant to be around her. And of course, the laughs were great, too!

The first day, we talked about the history of string quilts, had a lot of show and share, and then we were off and running on anything we wanted to do. There were so many different ideas to choose from! If you have Gwen's book: Liberated String Piecing, you can look there for lots of ideas. Since I hadn't really decided what I wanted to do, I spun my wheels for a while, before I got off to a slow start. I decided that I probably would never ever do a spider web string quilt, and it is one of my favorites. I have an old wool one that is quite worn from my farmer grandmother, so I thought it might be fun to try a small version. I sewed a bunch of strada, prepared a template (gasp!) and off I went!

I decided at the last minute not to take my originally planned fabric project box. I got to thinking about all the hand dyed fabrics that were sort of special to me, so I thought it might be better to take fabrics I had already worked with. It just so happened that I already some fabric packed into a different box, originally planned for a Rochester MN trip. That made it easy, so I just took it instead without thinking twice about the fabric choices.

I'll start by sharing the picture of what I made in class. The little spider web is about 22" X 25", just out to the little black border. I had the piece of green fabric, and a wide border was suggested, but I'm not sure where I will go with this. I like it a lot, but it just doesn't have as much pizzazz as I would like to have. Maybe some itsey bitsey letters.......?

Gwen demonstrated a string pinwheel, but then went on to add an additional little twist. It isn't in the book, but I fell in love with it. First you make the strada. Then you cut squares with the strada folded over, right sides facing each other. You can make four 4.5" cuts for 8 squares this way. When you cut two sets of the 4.5" squares on the diagonal you get pinwheels. When you cut all four sets on the diagonal you end up with mirror images of the cuts. Then instead of using just four of them for pinwheels, you use all eight of them and make what Gwen calls Magic Blocks. I think they also might be a version of Hidden Wells, but I'm not sure. At any rate, I really like them a lot. I liked them better on point, so I added some liberated blocks in between - a liberated star and a liberated churn dash. I then set the pinwheels (square in a square) and used them as the in-between blocks too.

Gwen liked the spider webs, too! It's surprising to see that the same fabric was used in both of my projects, and how very different they look!

Even though the weather was raining and quite cool, it did clear enough to get a little beach walking in here and there. This is the three of us (Sharon, Carolyn and Ibby) just outside the Monterey Aquarium.

Blogger is not cooperating with uploading my pictures at the moment, so I'll stop for now. Next post will be other classmates work - every one is so different!