Thursday, May 31, 2012

From Barcelona to Maine

We got back from Barcelona late Monday afternoon and by Wednesday noon we were up in Maine--laundry done and groceries bought.  (Skipped the cleaning, that can wait!!!)  Took care of a few things at the studio and packed up what I needed to be able to do my work here while enjoying the views and sounds of the lake.  Aaaah...

We had a wonderful trip.  The weather was fine, the Mediterranean smooth, good entertainment on the ship, and good times with our son.  Barcelona was definitely our favorite city of those we visited.  Beauty everywhere, such a nice ambiance,  and outstanding food. Inspiration everywhere. Here are just a few pictures.
View of the Pyrenees as we came into Spain.

One of the Gaudi-designed houses in Barcelona, love those curvy lines

I loved this statue over the water faucets (my son Peter  on the left there)

Entrance to Gaudi-designed Parc Guell - more curvy lines and colorful mosaics

View of Barcelona from the undulating benches in Parc Guell
And about this...All along the street near our hotel were these glass cases 2 or 3 each for a number of fashion designers who had won some awards.  It went on for several blocks.  There were at least a dozen of these--with the display and an artist statement.  One of the artist statements stayed with me.  She said "I don't dress this way to attract attention.  I attract attention because I dress this way."  This way of turning things around makes me think.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wabi Sabi for Barcelona

Tomorrow I'm off to Barcelona for a week-long cruise on the Mediterranean with stops for Rome, Naples, Florence, Marseilles and Cannes.  Can't beat that!  It has been a busy week finishing up things here at the studio so that Sonja can manage while I'm away.

Today I finally had a chance to do a little for myself.  Whenever I'm traveling one of my main concerns is making sure that I have books to read and a stitching project.  For me, true luxury is time to sit and read or stitch.  Tonight I will load up my e-reader with some new books.  This afternoon I prepared a new stitching project.

I don't know if I've mentioned it here, but Sonja and I are working on a joint exhibit for February 2013 at the public library in Topsfield, Massachusetts.  The theme for the exhibit is Wabi Sabi.  One of the things that this theme says to me is timeworn elegance.  We are incorporating a variety of well-aged textiles into our art.

I started looking through a fabric bin a bit ago looking for a fabric to use as a base for what I thought would be a piece incorporating some of the sari ribbon we got recently.  This is what I found instead:

It's an old table-runner (?) that we bought at a flea market years ago.  It's a thin, very soft cotton (?) with some holes and stains.  When we bought it I figured that we'd cut it up and use the good parts in something.  When I saw it today, it immediately cried out Wabi Sabi to me.  The fabric is certainly timeworn, but I think the design is very elegant.  So, I've basted it to a length of flannel and I'm going to pick out some new threads and so I'm ready to stitch tomorrow.  We'll see where it goes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Drama in B&W

I have often said that my artworks/jackets are inspired by my fabric stash.  This time it was a pile of black and white cottons collected over the years - when I was making more traditional quilts.  As usual, I had many small pieces of a wide variety of patterns.  I realized recently that they would be fun to use in pieced insets for jackets.  It would be a good way to use up a bunch of really disparate fabrics.

Cutting them in strips and sewing them together randomly was a good project for the busy days last week when I was feeling fragmented  due to the variety of other tasks I had besides sewing.  I could work on this in short spurts without losing my train of thought and still feel like I was moving my art ahead.

Here's the results of that first step.  At this stage the various patterns have started to blend together, but some are still jumping out at you.  They worked together well enough that I could tell that when they were cut into strips again, the results wouldn't be so jarring.

This is step two (and three).  I had a nice large piece of heavy black cotton with a woven pattern leftover from a previous jacket.  This large rectangle will comprise the body of the jacket.  The back of the jacket is at the bottom of the photo.  

I inset strips of the pieced black & whites in radiating lines.  Then, thinking it needed something a little more, I went through my stash of ribbons and yarns to see what I might add.  I found a thin black & white ribbon with a very interesting texture  that worked well with the insets so I laid those down with a zigzag stitch.

For the lining and collar I've got a dramatic black and white batik.  You'll have to wait to see that.

For a little entertainment while you're waiting, might I suggest listening to the podcast of my appearance on Liz Smith's Makers in Business.  I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Debut Night for Makers in Business

I am having trouble settling down today.  Yesterday afternoon I got the e-mail from Liz Smith that her new television program, Makers in Business, will be airing for the first time tonight.  It will be on Comcast channel 8 here in Lowell on Tuesday nights at 6:30 and Thursday nights at 8:30.  It can also be viewed online both "live" and on demand at  You can read Liz's official press release on her Mill Girl blog.

If you read my last blog, you know that I am the featured guest on this first program - which accounts for my jitters today.  We taped the program a couple of weeks ago, so my part has been finished for a while now.  I'm just excited and nervous to see myself in this way.

Truly, mine was the easy part.  Liz has done all the hard work conceptualizing it and working out all the details.  She just stopped by to let me know that she has come up on a last minute glitch which might mean that tonight's program won't be the totally final version - SO - you might want to plan to watch it again on Thursday!  Seriously though, this particular program will run for the next few weeks until Liz can complete a second one, so if you miss it tonight you'll have more chances.

While following all the behind the scenes on the program, I've been working away on another jacket.  I finished up Silver Spring yesterday afternoon.
This one has couching to accent various motifs in the weave of the fabrics.  The lining, collar and cuffs are a crinkled satin.

Here's a detail of the handmade glass button I used for the closure.  My photography's not the greatest, but you can sort of see how the sparkle and "texture" of the button pick up the color and texture of the fabric.  The loop closure is made from the same yarn I used for the couching, but I braided together several strands to make it thicker and studier.  Then I hand couched the loop in place.

This back view shows the diagonal pattern of the piecing.