Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Unexpected Farm

Adrian's cold from a few weeks ago finally caught up with me so I spent the long holiday weekend feeling miserable and whiny. By Sunday I was starting to feel a bit better so I spent the day finishing up my BJP page for November while curled up on the sofa and enjoying a Harry Potter movie marathon. I finished sewing the backing on the piece by the time Harry had defeated the dementors, rescued Sirius and rode off on his Firebolt.It seems as if my November page took a very long time to complete. Probably because it's sort of an extension of my beading in October or I should say my lack of beading in October. I was in a terrible blue funk for the entire month, depressed and stressed over the cost of groceries, the economy, the impending election and a whole list other things. I started and abandoned three separate pieces of beading. I desperately struggled to bead about the autumn landscape in October, something that usually brings me great joy. It's my favorite month here in Minnesota and I usually spend it camping and hiking and enjoying the gorgeous fall colors. But my heart was just not into beading about it and by the end of the month I decided to put October's beading away for a while and get a fresh start on November. With the election over, I began to think more positively about the future and I was able to shake the gloom and anxiety that I felt in October. For my November BJP page, I wanted to bead about the farmlands of Minnesota. I was thinking about the harvest and Thanksgiving and gratitude for all that the land provides for us. I envisioned beading a stark oak tree with rows of fields behind it. I wanted to convey a sense of closure of the growing season. So I began my beading and guess what? The piece fell totally flat. It was boring and ugly and I hated it. At this point I began to panic and I was worried that I'd never be able bead anything again and that I'd have to hang my picture in the BJP hall of shame. I know, I can be a total drama queen, but it thankfully doesn't last very long. So I took a deep breath and bravely started over. I laid one bead down, and then the next one and the next one. Before I knew it, my piece was coming together in a most unexpected way. It looked absolutely nothing like what I'd imagined and it seemingly had nothing to do with farmlands or harvest or anything that I had originally intended. But I liked it anyway and I kept at it, adding row after row of beads until one day I glanced at the almost completed piece and there before my eyes emerged something totally and completely unexpected:A crazy, funky beady farm! I saw beady rows of crops and beady barns and strange shiny silos and beady rows of trees. I saw bee hives surrounded by clover, a crazy round chicken coop and apple trees heavy with fruit. It was a birds eye view of a busy little farm! Okay, so maybe it's a farm that you'd see after walking through a field of poppies on your way to Oz, but it's my farm and I love it. It's the farm that I will one day live on and it makes me insanely happy. This crazy funky unexpected farm may not represent any farm that you'd see in real life, it's more like a landscape from my imagination. It's a place that builds and nurtures and grows for the future. A place where you can be thankful and smile with gratitude for all of the wonderful unexpected joys that life brings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Journal Quilt Class

Last week I went to my last journal quilt class for the year. It was by far one of the best classes that I've ever signed up for. The class was was taught by Susan Stein, owner of Colorful Quilts and Textiles. Colorful Quilts is my favorite place to shop, take classes and to get creatively inspired. The journal quilt class was held once a month for the past nine months. Each class started with a show and tell, moved into a demo of a fiber arts technique and ended with us playing and experimenting with the particular technique. The idea was to learn a technique and then go home and make a small quilt using that technique. Several class members came up with a theme for their quilts such as castles or stars or leaves. Susan's journal quilts had a wonderful southwest theme that she carried through by using particular colors and fabrics and images. I had no theme and as a result my quilts were all over the place in terms of colors and images and fabrics. Next year I will most definitely attempt to unify my designs. Even if my quilts didn't quite all match, several of them did look pretty good together. The reason for this is my obsession with the color purple and the fact that on any project it's the first color I reach for in my fabric stash. Here are some of the quilts that I made over the past year:I learned how to make silk fusion fabric for this quilt. It involves using silk fiber and textile medium and results in a lovely shimmery fabric like paper. One classmate added feathery seeds from a milkweed pod to her silk fusion. It was fabulous and I must remember to do that sometime.I learned how to print on fabric using texture plates for this quilt. I used iridescent jacquard textile paints for this quilt. I liked the technique so much that I printed up a big stack of fabric and made a long wall hanging that I hung in my dining room.This quilt was made with sun printed fabrics. I used Setacolor paints which are light sensitive. I painted the fabric, laid leaves over it and let the paint dry in the sun. You have to do this on a very sunny day or your images wont be as sharp. The hearts on this quilt are cut out of sheets angelina fiber. Angelina is a shimmery shredded fiber that melts to itself when you iron it. I added a layer of misty fuse fusible web over the hearts and topped it off with a piece of sheer magenta organza. I love the look of organza over fabric. It makes everything muted and ethereal. The misty fuse holds everything in place beautifully. I used the same technique for this quilt:I found a light blue shimmery organza with glittery silver beads in the prom section of the fabric store. I thought it would be perfect for the night sky. I cut out a piece of greenish bluish batik for the aurora borealis and laid it on dark blue batik fabric. I covered the fabric with Misty fuse and the organza and ironed it all together. I cut out the mountains out of the same dark blue batik. All that was left was to quilt the sky and add some snow to the top of the mountains. I love this quilt but I wish that my mountains weren't quite so triangular.We learned a very cool technique in class last week that I haven't worked into a quilt quite yet. This a piece of fabric printed using meat trays and jacquard fabric paint. Yep, you read that correctly. We printed fabric using styrofoam meat trays that hold the ground beef and steaks you buy at the grocery store. You can make all kinds of designs on them using a regular ball point pen or pencil. I decided to use the images and words that were already printed on the trays because I thought it was neat looking and besides, why do work when it's already done for you, right? I scored a few extra lines around the printed stuff so that I didn't look completely lazy and dabbed on some paint. I think it's pretty flippin' cool if I do say so myself. It looks like hieroglyphics or alien writing. I am most definitely going to be playing further with this technique. Dang, I loved taking this class. From the artwork that other classmates shared, to the demos, to the hands on playtime, it never failed to inspire me. I always came home energized and excited to try new things. What a totally fun and worthwhile class this was. I can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

There were never such devoted sisters....

My sister Sandra emailed me today wondering why I hadn't put anything new on my blog lately. She wondered if I had bloggers block. The answer to that is no not really....maybe....I'm not sure....kind of....or maybe I'm just feeling lazy. How about all of the above? Or none of the above. I guess I'm really not sure why I haven't put stuff up on my blog for the past few weeks. I intended to slack off for a week during the elections and then get right back to blogging, but then that turned into two weeks and now we're heading into the third week. I am thinking that blogging is like keeping an up an exercise routine. If you skip a few days it's very easy to totally slack off. Come to think of it, I've been slacking with my exercise too. Baaaad Pam!!!!! Time to get back on the computer and back on the treadmill!Anyway, it was great to get an email from Sandra. She lives in a small Yupik village in Alaska where it's dark all winter long and you can't drink to drown your sorrows because it's a dry village. A couple of years ago Sandra had someone in the village make me an ulu which is a traditional Yupik knife. I love it and I use it all the time to skin ptarmigan and cut up eels for stir fry. Nah, I mainly use it to cut veggies and herbs like the parsnips in the photo.
Yesterday I received a fabulous package from my other sister, Brenda. She lives overseas so her packages always have a lovely exotic flair to them. Okay, so she lives in Wales, not Marrakesh, but it's still exciting to see the foreign postage on the odd silver plastic packaging. In this latest love offering from the UK there was a big box of tea. Years ago Brenda introduced me to strong British tea and now I am hopelessly addicted. Like any good opportunistic pusher of addictive substances, Brenda knows that I am hooked and will do anything for the goods. This is why I am often running errands for her and mailing packages of things she can't get in rural Wales. She gets her Vogue patterns and seam rippers, and I get my tea. When I opened the package, out wafted the most wonderful smell ever. The scent came from the best smelling little candle tarts in the world. You melt them in an oil burner and they leave the house smelling heavenly. The tarts come from this company called Dame Candles that no longer exists which is tragic. The owner, Wendy, came up with the most amazing candle scents you can possibly imagine. She was seriously olfactory gifted. I am completely in love with one of the scents called Pan. It's a blend of amber, cedar, sandalwood, white lilies, lavender, cloves, patchouli, vanilla and musk and it's to die for. Brenda shared some of her little candle tarts with me which is as generous as you can get. I plan on hoarding these until Dame Wendy comes to her senses and starts making candles again. Hahaha. Get it? A scented candle maker coming to her senses! I crack myself up. Along with the tea, candle tarts and some divine chocolates was a bag of oddball yarn. I love knitting small projects so Brenda sends me her bits and bobs of leftover yarn. Sometimes she throws in some fun hand spun stuff. As I was pawing through the bag looking at the fibery treasures, I came across something bizarre that left me speechless. Why Brenda why? The only logical reason I could come up with was that maybe she suffers from a rare infliction where in the middle of the night she is compelled to knit teeny tiny undergarments in her sleep with no recollection of doing so the next morning. To be fair though, I'll confess to making crocheted bikinis for my growing hair Velvet doll so perhaps knitters in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. So if my sister wants to knit teeny tiny underwear that's fine by me. Plus I've been knitting some teeny tiny things myself this past week. I'll share them tomorrow. I really am going to get back to blogging on a regular basis.