Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Power of Art -

Many years ago, my husband and I went on a trip to Europe for vacation. Paris, France was one of the stops on the tour. While in Paris, we visited the Tuilleries which are situated in the back part of the gardens of the Louvre Museum. One of the buildings is called the "Jeu de Paume" and, at that time, it housed many of the Impressionists works. Those works are now housed in the Musee d'Orsay. There were many large famous beautiful canvases in the Jeu d'Paume,but the piece that held me and called to me, was this piece called "Little Dancer". She left me mesmerized - I remember being awestruck by the beautiful expression of hope on her face. I later discovered that Degas had created more of these fantastic dancer sculptures with fabric/ tulle dresses and real hair. Some of them even wore ballet shoes.

This weekend in our fair city a new Art gallery has opened. Its name is the Art Gallery of Alberta. The building is the creation of Randall Stout. It was the vision of some community people, who believed in the importance of the arts in a community. The gallery has taken 5 years to complete and millions of dollars to build. It is a truly amazing building to see. The swirling curves are meant to represent the "Aurora Borealis" or northern lights.

Can you guess who is waiting for me to come and visit her?
None other than "La Petite Danser."
For the opening show, the art gallery has brought in a collection of Degas ballerinas, bathers and people at the Opera (54 pieces in all). The piece d'resistance for me, is the ballerina sculpture! She arrived with her own police escort. The new building has all the necessary requirements to keep her safe during her stay. I know that I am going to love seeing her again. It has been a long time...
I learned some interesting things this morning, while I read about her and her sister sculptures. During Degas life, the little dancers were made of wax and wire and fabric - They only became bronzes after his death.

One of the dancers was first shown in 1881, at a Parisian Art Exposition and her initial viewing was less that stellar- She was, in fact, panned- Degas' work was considered too avant garde. Yet recently,one of these beautiful dancers sold for 13.9 million. I doubt that Degas could imagine such a price would ever be paid for his work.

So what is art and what is it worth?

The Sunday paper (Edmonton Journal Sunday February 1, 2010) had a piece that reflected on the value of art to The Haitian people- Art is an integral part of our community culture.
"Haitian art is what makes the international eye see us". Every Haitian is an artist. Art, it is us, what we are. Even our children are artists." Joseph Gaspard from College Saint Pierre Museum.

It is quite a dichotomy to be trying to save lives and feel the need to save the art too. Still, by saving the art, one touches the essence of what is bright and beautiful and hopeful in life. It also reflects the range of life's experiences and provides commentary about the world around us.

I don't have a clear answer to this question of the importance of art and the pursuit of artistic endeavors, but I do know the pleasure and the emotional connection that I have with Degas little dancer. She has begun to fuel my inspiration and desire to create again.

I have seen other art pieces that haved also evoke a powerful emotional response. One such work is "Forest BC" by Emily Carr. Her totems and her forests are amazing - a recording of perpetuity of British Columbia forests and First Nations people on the Western Coast of Canada.

In a couple of weeks, Vancouver will be the host city of the Winter Olympics. The Olympics will celebrate the athlete and the hope of the global community. Where do art and sport converge? That is a post for another day...

You may be wondering if I am going to write anything about quilting, or why I am being so reflective about art today. Certainly, I am looking forward to visiting the Art Gallery of Alberta to see the show of the Degas pieces,some Goya prints and Yousef Karsh photos. Today. they had timed visits and expected over 5000 people - too crowded for me but soon...

So where did I take my need to feed my creative soul? Well, right here in Blogland. There are so many wonderful quilters and other artisans using fabric, paper, beads, yarn and other textiles to express themselves and their ideas.
This past week I have been visiting some of the close to 1000 blogs that are participating in the One World One Heart blogging festival. You can find it here Lisa Swifka is the host and this is the fourth year of this event.
Go on over and have a look- there are many fantastic blogs to view, and lovely giveaway prizes to be won.

In the meantime, I am still reflecting on possible quilt patterns for a new quilt. This coin quilt pattern has risen to the top of the possibilities.

I have a number of sea and nautical fabrics that might make a lovely version of this quilt. This particular quilt is one that uses batiks- some of my favorite fabrics. It belongs to a friend and was given to him, as a retirement gift. My husband has the mate to it. It is a large twin sized quilt.

The art gallery show has given me some inspiration. I did actually quilt this week. I made some more wonky tile blocks- I now have enough for quite a large quilt- over 80 blocks. Should I make two couch quilts or one large quilt??? Hmmmmmm...

I also looked for a half apron pattern- sort of like a crafter's apron with pockets. My first home economics project in Grade 7, was an half apron - I think it is still around, but I haven't found it, so I was looking for a paper pattern for the measurements. There were a couple of patterns on the internet, but not exactly what I had in mind...

This week I will attend a professional learning workshop where the topic will be on engaging students in writing by using picture books. Soon, I will be writing about my students again- it will be report card time.

February is here... I hope that it brings you something that feeds your creative soul.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Still searching for Inspiration...

After about a month of snow one longs to see the color of spring- Bruce brought this pot of Narcissus to brighten up our winter table. Today it is snowing outside and the weather remains reasonably mild for an Alberta winter.

We went off to see the Edmonton Oilers lose to the Dallas Stars on Friday night.(Unfortunately the Oilers are not the place to find inspiration right now- they are on a lengthy losing streak and currently in the basement of the league). The tickets were a surprise gift to my husband(from a group of friends) and I was the beneficiary of a date with my spouse. It was a nice way to spend the evening even if the boys did lose! We stopped to have dinner at a favorite local Vietnamese restaurant where we enjoyed noodles, vegetables, shrimp and spring rolls. Yummy!!

Bruce and I have been to hundreds of hockey games over the years - both NHL games( the professional league) and to community level where our son played from the time he was 5 until he was 18. Kevin no longer plays in a league but often heads down to the local community rink to skate and play a pickup game.

Here is a shot of my dining room table - covered with quilty things - some current magazines (some interesting projects but nothing that said choose me now. You can see some blocks that I am working on ( more wonky tiles).
I finished about a dozen more of them and will soon have enough to make a couch quilt for a friend. While they are pretty and I am sure the quilt will be lovely - it is not a new project. Still it is a start ...

Margaret of a bit of Kaos sent me this lovely pink piece of Asian fabric along with a wonderful quilt daytimer and Australian magazine - some wonderful patterns to view and interesting articles to read. Thank you for your generous gift Margaret- it was such a lovely giveaway prize.
Kati Cupcake is having a giveaway of these beautiful fat quarters- GO soon and check it out..

I have been doing a bit of organizing of fabric and my bead collection. These two bags hold plastic trays with beads of different sizes. I bought a second bag because my first bag of five trays was overflowing and I couldn't find anything in them. While the new one is pretty full, it is so much easier to find the colors and beads that I am looking for.

The photograph is of my great grandparents on their wedding day around 1900.My aunt gave it to me not long ago and I think I know where I am going to hang it.
A friend gave me a coupon to a local bead store who was having a great sale on most of their beads. I bought some wonderful stone beads( jasper, rose quartz, tiger glass and amethyst) as well as bali copper and silver. Wonderful things to make bracelets and earrings and pendants- I just need to start playing with them...

This poor wrinkled pillowcase is my first log cabin quilt made over twenty years ago. It was almost in total tatters so I decided to rescue it. While its not perfect and will probably not last much longer,I have returned it to a more useful state. Strange isn't it, that I could probably make a new pillowcase in the time it took to repair all the little tears in the seams. It just needs a good pressing and will be loved for awhile longer. Somehow it seemed more important to repair it than just toss it away.

Speaking of old things- Did you know that if you lived in the early 1700's and wore cotton you might have been burned on the street?
Some boy, who was paid a penny,and found you walking on a dark street would have come up to you and started your dress on fire because it was made of cotton rather than wool. This information came from an interesting article that I read this morning in our local newspaper about the Cotton Riots during the 1720's.

Here is a quote from today's article taken from August 13,1720.
A quote from Applebee's orginal Weekly Journal -August 13,1720 in Gloucester England:
"Thomas Singer an officer of the Excise of Bristol was try's for killing a Weaver and was found guilty of Manslaughter only: because he did it in defence of his Wife who was assaulted by a gang of weavers who tore her Callacoe Cloths off and used her very unmercifully ..."
more snippets like this can be found under
snippets of history from 18th century newspaper by going to

Cotton was first available in the early 1500's from India. If you are interested in the history of cotton and designs to check out Barbara Brackman's blog on my blog list.
Perhaps these templates are what I am looking for - to inspire or get my
mojo firing .... HMMMMMMMM

So here I am, it is nearly the end of January with not much quilty to show you. I have spent a good deal of time looking at magazines and patterns. I am still searching for a pattern for a family member. I am not sure what I am looking for and don't know what I am going to make- I see many beautiful fabrics in my stash, and on line, but I am waiting for one to grab me -- so far no such luck.. Some patterns I have been looking at, are Mumbo Jumbo and Bento box... even Storm at Sea... The problem is not enough choices but just the opposite..There are so many gorgeous fabrics and patterns that it makes it hard to choose.. So if you know of a pattern that is suitable for a man who lives by the sea and loves to cook- let me know...

My quilt Mojo seems to be hibernating somewhere- if you see it, will you please send back to me? :O)

In the meantime, Happy Quilting!
Warmest regards,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flower Power.... Could it inspire?

Imagine my surprise, one day not long ago and not far away on my kitchen counter, I found our Christmas cactus blooming... It is a beautiful plant but, I had been so busy with other things, and had not noticed that the Cactus had these lovely red- orange flowers on it. There is something about flowers that make me smile. They always brighten my day- My spouse is wonderful about buying flowers- stargazer lilies currently adorn our dining room table. Lilies are particularly fragrant and make me miss the smell of the Christmas tree a little less...

A very nice honor was bestowed on my husband this week. He was given the president's award in recognition of his contributions to the local branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Bruce has been an active member of this group for over 20 years and served on a large number of portfolios on the council. Bruce is a dedicated amateur astronomer who loves to share his passion and knowledge about the stars at the local observatory. In the last few years, he has often been asked to speak at local libraries, schools and park sites. Kids and adults alike, are keen to see the meteorites and hear about things that one sees in the sky. Bruce loves to share his passion for the earth and the sky. He was quite surprised and honored to be the recipient of the award. As for me, I have always known he is a star...

My favorite flowers are sunflowers- Vincent Van Gogh's sunflowers was the inspiration for this snippet piece( goggle Cindy Walters if you would like more information about making snippets) It belongs to my brother in law. We had the good fortune many years ago to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Van Gogh's work was totally awe inspiring- his colors in his later work were vivid and the paint was so thick- photographs just can't capture that texture.I was given a set of cups with Vincent van Gogh's prints on them for Christmas.
A few summers ago I took a course that focused on Ricky Timms techniques- One of the patterns we used was from his " Caveman" quilts - This is my version of the "Chantelle Flower". It was a free form design. This is an earlier photograph of Chantelle. She is complete and was used as a table runner under a Christmas basket of silk poinsettias that my sister made for us.

January often brings the doldrums in my house. The men of my house have had winter colds( I feel the sniffles but am trying hard to avoid getting the full blown version) We took the Christmas tree down this weekend and I got out to do some errands on my own.

I visited the library and took out a couple of Terri Thayer's books- "Ocean Waves"- a Quilting Mystery and "Old Maid's Puzzle". The first one is called "Wild Goose Chase" and all three are an enjoyable read. I also have "Lover's Knot" by Claire O'Donahue which also has a quilting background.

I received a few books for Christmas that included " Knit Two" by Kate Jacobs and the "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"(very interesting book too). I finished "Knit Two" and liked it as well as "The Friday Night Knitting Club" by the same author. Over the break, I read a book called" The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. It is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. "The Help" is a powerful story about some black women and their lives working for white families in the 60's. It is well worth the read. What is on your reading table these days?

It is always fun to see what is in the mail these days. Today my templates from Sue of Alderwood Quilts arrived. Over the holiday she had them available on her website for a very reasonable price so I decided to buy both of the basic sets. They are to be used with Louisa L.Smith's Strip and Curves books. I had admired quilts that Wanda from " Exuberant Color" had created using this book. Sue has a lovely blog and if you sign up for her newsletter she has a monthly giveaway that you might want to check out. She sent me the most beautiful fat quarter of sunflower fabric.

Last week some fabric came from Connecting Threads- They had some great deals and I saw some winter fabric that I thought might work with a star pattern from the November/December 2009 Fons and Porter magazine..There is still another box of fabric to come from them- sometimes the mail is not speedy- especially when one is waiting for inspiration...LOL

Did I say that January sometimes brings the doldrums??? -LOL

I have been trying to settle on a new quilt to make for my brother in law, E. who had a special birthday last week - Should I try and finish some old projects first??? I did spend some time over Christmas break looking at patterns and patting my fabric in my stash- but it is hard to find a pattern when you are not sure what you are looking for- My brother in law loves to cook and I have looked at patterns named Paprika ( new Fons and Porter) and Mumbo Gumbo- both of them might work but might is just not good enough.. It really is hard to choose fabrics when you don't know what the pattern is?

I am not short of possiblities - just not finding something that strikes my fancy or bowls me over with a burning desire to make that quilt...
Sometimes getting started is the biggest hurdle for me- What about you, how do you quick start yourself to get quilting?
Bobbi of Craftyvegasmom is having a giveaway to celebrate her 99th post. You may wanted to go and visit - She has made a lovely bag and pin cushion for her giveaway.

Deb of Cold Feet Quilter let me know that I have won her giveaway prize. She does the most beautiful art quilts. Deb lives in Alaska and I have known about her blog for quite a long time. Do go an visit her blog - you will love her beautiful pieces. I am one lucky gal, Deb- thank you so much ...

my dear blogging friend Michele of with heart and hands blog took a bad spill last week and has broken her arm and wrist quite badly. Michele recently had travelled to Alaska to help out her elderly parents - Michele is one of the most generous thoughtful quilters I know- I am often inspired by her works of caring and generosity for others. She has many free pattern links and tutorials on her blog. Michele is actively involved in Ami Simms Alzheimer's Initiative. Do stop and visit her and send her some positive healing wishes.

So I am going to head off to my pillow and perhaps I will dream of quilts and find new Inspiration just around the corner...

Its a new year - with some new goals and new beginnings- I am still hopeing to find my quilt mojo...

Warmest regards,