Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It's Been Awhile!

“Time can be a greedy thing-sometimes it steals the details for itself.” 
― Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner

     In order to do all I want to do, I am going to have to live to be at least 132!  But my time the past few weeks has been taken up by a creation done in love.  My church, Westside UU, has a new minister, the Reverend Shari Woodbury and last Sunday, we had her Installation Ceremony.  It was a wonderful service; I think the whole congregation was there as well as many ministers from other UU churches in the area and friends/ministers of Shari's from other cities.
      We, the congregation, spent many hours getting the grounds and building more presentable.  You know how it is when you are having company or something special going on?  It is an opportunity to spruce up all those little things that you meant to do earlier but just hadn't gotten around2it! My small part in the whole affair was to design and make a wall hanging for the occasion. So here is my process:
     As I have probably said before, I design in my head first, then to my design wall.  I rarely sketch out my plan; I just pull fabric and jump  in.  For this project, I wanted to incorporate music, because I knew Shari is very fond of music as well are most of the congregation...to the point that a "Special Choir" had been formed with at least thirty people...much larger than our really great regular choir...with a special director and all!
      First thing I did was create paper pieced letters of one of my very favorite songs "Come Sing A Song with Me". (Paper piecing is a quilting technique that I am not going to take time to explain now but if you are really interested, you can go to this youtube link to hear all about it!) Then I decided to print off on fabric lyrics of many of our favorite songs. (Again another quilting technique with a youtube explanation) I then began placing these items on my design wall.  I knew the banner had to be pretty narrow because the wall it hangs on is curved and won't allow for anything too wide.
First design
Second Design
     With the second design, I also added some paper pieced flowers and had bordered the lyrics with fabric. (Much of the fabric I used had been give to me by Diane Nixon, a long time member of Westside.  She had all these lovely pastels for a Springtime look which was a good thing because most of my fabrics run along bold colors and batiks!)
Third Design
Fourth Design
     By this time I had added borders to the letters and started arranging it all to come up with a total look, adding other blocks, etc. I was realizing that all my blocks and letters were getting to be way too wide for what I needed so....
Fifth Design
     I moved out many of the blocks...

Sixth and final design
     I was able to get almost all the lyrics that I wanted on as well as the lettering for the song title. I also decided that  the whole thing was a little too busy as in design #5, so I put a white border between each panel and the sides, then bordered the whole banner with the same bluebonnet fabric that is around the letter.  I forgot to take a picture of it but the whole back is made up of leftover blocks I didn't have room for on the front! Which is a good thing it is on the back because one of the blocks had the date of the occasion on it and I had put the wrong month!  (When it is taken down, I will fix that error!)
    I didn't mention, that after I finished the design on #5, I actually had sewn it together but just didn't like it!!  So a lot of seam ripping going on!!  I am much happier with the final design but you can see why it took me a while to get back to blogging!!
For the Pulpit
    I also decided to make a pulpit hanging which I didn't think I would have time to do but I had so much fabric left over I started making that hanging on Friday before the ceremony the following Sunday. I had the flowers and leaves left over from another quilt I had made.  This is 22" x 33"; the banner is 20" x 60".

     And here they are together...a little different configuration...the wall the banner is on is not curved but it will hang on a curved wall later.

In the church before the Ceremony

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reviews..books, film, plays

I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” 
― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I have to agree with Mozart...I don't like to read reviews of books or movies until after I have read or seen them...I so frequently disagree with reviewers.  So take my reviews with a grain of salt...what  I may or may not like has nothing to do with what anyone else may like!

Since the last time I wrote a review blog, I have read or listened to several books.

A five star book to me
I had read "The Husband's Secret" by Moriarity and thoroughly enjoyed it..so when "Truly Madly Guilty" came up on Amazon on sale I had to get it on my Kindle....really good...one of those that became hard to put down once into it a ways.

Only two stars!
This was an audio book I downloaded...the premises was intriguing...what appears to be a normal size pond is called an "ocean" by one of the characters who turns out to be a wee bit supernatural! Now, I like Sci-Fi and supernatural stories, but this one just never got of first base...it need a lot more character  and plot build up for my tastes.

Another five star!!!!!
I love Jodi Picoult!  I have read several of her novels and have yet to be disappointed.  A contemporary situation...racial tension, hospital and courtroom settings, an awareness created for me of being a privileged white woman....not that I haven't always been very liberal but this made me look at my status in a whole new way.  We read this for our Villas bookclub, but I missed the March meeting to discuss it because I was out to town....it would have been a lively one to hear about!

Four stars
Another audio book...this author is known as " Denmark's premier crime writer".  I really enjoyed listening to this book on a couple of levels....it is a fascinating plot and the reader was really good with the Danish accents!  "The Keeper of Lost Causes" is Adler-Olsen's first in an ongoing series about Department Q,  a newly developed investigative team...cold cases...in the police force of Copenhagen.  I am really taken with several Scandinavian authors...Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo),  Jo Nesbo (the Harry Hole detective series),  Henning Mankell (of Wallander fame), and Camilla Lackberg (who also writes in a series of murders in a small Swedish town).

And a couple of plays I have seen in the past few weeks presented by Stage West, Fort Worth, are:
"Stupid F*&#*ing Bird" was on a couple of months ago...it is a modern day adaptation of Chekov's "The Seagull"....If I had ever read Chekov's play, I didn't recall it, so I downloaded it to my Kindle and have now read it.  This adaptation was very close to the original play....without the "blue" language! 

.....and just this afternoon....
Another really dark play with strong language!!
"Deer" had me laughing heartily!!  It is dark...it had a lot of "strong language" but it was full of unexpected twists and turns! It is one of these plays one will either love or hate!  This was the "World Premiere" the play...the writer was going to be available after the play for a discussion but we decided to head on home.

And my last review...a movie!  I haven't been to the movie theater in probably two years, but when my daughter and I were visiting Kathleen in Warrensburg, MO, where she is in college, we decided to go see "Lalaland".  I had seen Stone and Gosling interviewed on Charlie Rose not too long ago and with a couple of clips from the movie, I thought I was in store for a good ol' fashioned musical in the style of "Cabaret", "Westside Story", etc.  But it was not to be...I think my expectations were too high, because I found it to be disappointing....not nearly as much music as I expected..the story line was disjointed and unfulfilling...if I were rating it with "stars" as I do books, I would have to give it no more than two stars! 

Now, keep in mind my first  statement...this is just MY opinion!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Border Cantos

“No separation of distance; no separation of time; no separation of any kind need lessen compassion.” 
― Zechariah Barrett

Border Cantos by Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo
All of the signs were in English and Spanish


Border Cantos presents a unique collaboration between photographer Richard Misrach and composer Guillermo Galindo. Misrach has been photographing the two-thousand-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico since 2004, with increased focus starting in 2009—resulting in a distinct melding of the artist as documentarian and interpreter. The latest installation in Misrach’s ongoing Desert Cantos series, this project includes eight suites of photographs—some made with a large-format camera and others that have been captured with an iPhone. Misrach and Galindo have worked together to create pieces that both report on and transform the artifacts of migration: water bottles, clothing, backpacks, Border Patrol “drag tires,” spent shotgun shells, ladders, and sections of the Border Wall itself, which Galindo then fashions into instruments to be performed as unique sound-generating devices; video clips of those performances can be seen on this site. He also imagines graphic musical scores, many of which use Misrach’s photographs as points of departure.
This is the explanation for the art work on display at Crystal Bridges now. It will be there until April 24 so if you are in the Bentonville, Arkansas area, it is very worth your time to visit.  We were there last week when visiting my grandson at U of Arkansas.  It is a thoughtful display of art surrounded by eerie music. To see more of the collection and to hear the music, click on the video clips link above which explains in detail what you are seeing and hearing.

Here are just a few of the pictures we saw there. Partial walls all along the two thousand mile border. The photographs were behind glass so sometimes there is a bit of a glare or reflection.

And there were pictures of articles and effigies found along the border.

Spanish version of Dr. Zhivago along the wall (zoom in for a better look)
Guillermo Galindo, a composer, made musical instruments from some of the found objects which you can see and hear from the above link. Here is the Exterminating Angel which he made into a gong.
Sign explaining the Exterminating Angel
The Exterminating Angel

Saturday, March 18, 2017

And Then We Came Home

“In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.” ― Paulo CoelhoAleph

After our classes as Asilomar were over, Andrea and I had planned to stay around for a few more days.  She had lived in San Francisco for a few years and we had visited her a few times so we had "done the big stuff".  We did a little tramping around Monterey....Cannery Row, hung out at the Aquarium for a bit, and visited the Salvador Dali Museum.
Cannery Row Statue
Watching a mother otter and her baby playing in Monterey Bay right outside of the  Aquarium
The Salvador Dali Art Gallery in Monterey
We had wanted to go south to Big Sur for a day or two but because of the floods, Hiway 1 was closed down due to damage to one of the  big bridges in the area.
Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on Highway 1 CA

The damage on the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge
We were able to go a little south to Point Lobos State Preserve which is a beautiful park right on the ocean.  A friend of Andrea's had told us about it. One of its unique features is that a special cypress tree grows there and it is the only place in the world for this specific  variety except for Pebble Beach, CA also in the same area.
Point Lobos State Reserve

The Cypress Trees-very interesting shapes.
Ancient sentinels

The Cypress Trees
Then we traveled North to San Rafael, Marin County. And had to go across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco to get there.

The Golden Gate Bridge
Marin Lodge in San Rafael
We spent the night in the cutest little cottage inn.  It was surprisingly one of the least expensive places we stayed!  California is not the cheapest of places to travel...or live!  Then we headed back to San Jose to catch our plane home.  On the way, we ate breakfast at a interesting restaurant on Mirmar Beach which had been a brothel at one time. 

Previous  Brothel turned Restaurant
Mirmar Beach....right outside the restaurant!
We spent the night at a motel in San Jose and got our flight home the next morning.  When we landed ten days ago, I was deaf for about three days!  I had mentioned this in my class and one of the ladies came up to me later and told me about "Earplanes".  They are earplugs which are to be worn before departure, then removed once in the air, and replaced in the ears about an hour before arrival.  I got some and boy!!  Did they ever work!!!  I'll never fly without them!

Goodbye to San Jose!
We had such a great time, I think we are going to plan to go back next year....with different classes.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What I Did at Asilomar

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” 
― Maya Angelou

When Andrea and I went to Asilomar in Pacific Grove, CA, we attended a Fiber Arts Seminar called "Empty Spools". Empty Spools has been around for thirty-four years and Asilomar for longer than that.  I have given you links to both websites if you want more information.

My teacher was Melinda Bula, a fabulous fiber artist who has won many awards for her art.  She was very knowledgeable and fun!  Her specialty is landscape quilts and BIG flowers...the same technique used in both.  I was interested in the landscapes as I have a jillion pictures from various trips that I would love to recreate in fabric. So here we go!

The first thing I had to do was to select my picture. Then I had to take it to Kinkos to get it enlarged. I decided to enlarge mine to a 30" x 32" size. And this enlargement along with a whole suitcase filled with fabric and other needed supplies boarded the plane with me.

My picture .... From the  Silverton to Durango train along the Animas River in Colorado
My enlargement in black and white

Step one: determine horizons and areas of color/value
Step two: pin backing fabric (muslin) on foam board and begin to "audition" fabrics for large areas.
Step three: begin to add fusible fabrics to areas (another student is working right next to me).
We were to bring a big variety of fabric in all values because that is how to get the depth and perspective in the landscapes.  We also were to bring 25 yards of Steam a Seam which is a fusible one irons onto the back of the fabric, then can cut to any shape needed.  There is a paper back on the fusible; once it is peeled off you can stick it to your background and move it when needed.  It is not permanently stuck until  you iron it on. I thought surely 25 yards was a mistake so I emailed Melinda to see if she really meant 5 instead!  But, no...and she was right! I have already used a bit less than four yards and am far from done!!

This is my workspace...there were three of us at the same station. Mine is over by my board.
We each had our own table and boards to work on.  We shared the ironing areas to adhere the fusible, etc. There were 14 of us...most from California, but a couple others from other states...one from Hawaii who comes every year and stays for two sessions...a different teacher/class for the second week.
Continuing to add fabric...now starting to create rocks!
I didn't like where my water background was going so I peeled it off, put on another base of fabric and started to add foamy water.  I could line my rocks up along the edge of my work to place whenever I wanted at a later time.
When ever I needed to back off from looking at the big picture, I would just make more rocks from the fabric I had, combining values and textures to get the right look.  I have a LOT of rocks to make.
A close up of the beginning of water and ripples.
I chose to start in this corner of the picture because one of the things that Melinda is really good at is water!  I wanted her to guide me in how to create that foamy look and ripples.  I figured I could do the trees on my own when I got back home!
A closeup of my rocks and starting of water.
And another closeup with a subtle difference.
And that is about as far as I have gotten with this "Masterpiece"!  Today, I am going to Office Max to get a foam board.  I didn't want to fold my work so far up so I found a mailing tube and rolled it up to mail home.  I haven't even unwrapped it yet because I haven't been home long enough to work on it!

I know this probably doesn't look like much yet but hopefully in time it will develop into what I want it of look like.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

I wanted to add one more picture....at the end of the day, after dinner and our walk, we would go to the Main Building Assembly Hall and listen to all the various teachers give a little talk about what they do.  And there would be a little show and tell of people who had attended in years past as well as any announcements for all. There were some there who have been coming every year for a long time.  One woman was the charter member...had not missed one year in 34 years!

General Assembly Hall at Asilomar...an architectural beauty of its own!