Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nepal Monument–Part 2

The second step for the monument was to put the spire on.  I decided that the one I had originally drawn was not the right size so re-drew it and started picking fabrics.   Again, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I added some Metallic silver paint to change the texture of it a bit.  IMG_2256

I was happy with the design, but didn’t feel as if the perspective was right, so I went to an expert, my Daughter-In-Law Amber, for help.    Her first suggestion was that I cut the three pieces apart and play with those some…..

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Amber is an Elementary school art teacher and a very accomplished artist and she jumped right in to help me…..

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Her suggestion was that the spire was too upright and needed to have some angled movement in it.   IMG_2402

I think that she was right!!!

The next part of the piece was to get the mountains in the background.  I was torn about these because I wanted them to show up but not to overtake the scene.  I found one photo that had a nice view of the mountains and used that for my pattern.

By a serendipitous occurrence, the  size ended up to fit the quilt perfectly.IMG_2252

I started off working from a color photo on my computer…..

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…but then realized that it was much easier to see the shading from a black and white version.

I had way too much fun filling in these mountains, playing with the colors and shading until I had a pleasant design that showed the depth of the scene…..

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I was excited by the fact that, although I used the photo to help with the shading some, I was able to do a lot of it intuitively….a FIRST for me!!!

The next obstacle was to get all of these pieces glued down and get rid of the pins.  I started working with the bottle of glue as I had before but decided that a stiff paintbrush was easier to use….

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I also realized that it would be easier to work from above the pieces so pulled out a stepstool to give me a little height……

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After I glued all of the mountains down, I took it to the machine and outline stitched around each piece.   My plan is to add a lot of quilting and hopefully the outlines wont show much.  I am very happy with the progress so far…..

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Next will be the grass and rocks leading down the path.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nepal Monument - Part 1

Many people asked Michael and I why we wanted to travel to Nepal to trek in the Himalayas.  It all started when we watched Michael Palin’s series about the Himalaya Mountains.  One of the things that captured my imagination in these shows were the pictures of Buddhist temples covered in prayer flags.  We saw those images while in Kathmandu but not so much while we were hiking.  Instead, as we walked, we passed many small prayer monuments.  Our trek leader, Badri, said that he wasn’t religious but I noticed that he would often place a small rock, stick or flower on these monuments as we passed.

So, as we trekked, I kept visualizing the quilt that I wanted to make to commemorate this trip and I knew that it was going to focus around one of these monuments.

I started planning the quilt late last year, searching all of our photos for the perfect picture to use.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find ONE photo that had everything I wanted so I decided to use bits and pieces from several of them.

This one had the look that I wanted and showed the aspect that I desired, but I wanted the monument  to be wider rather than taller……

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I used this as my pattern but extended the front so that the shape was different and also added a rectangle opening.   It came out looking like this…..

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I enlarged the design, traced it onto a very fine interfacing and started adding the fabrics, using a Wonder Under backing…..

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But, I didn’t like how it looked!!!  The grouting was the wrong color and the rocks looked too stiff.   At this point, life got busy and this project got packed away and put into the closet.

Now, fast forward…..  While we were in India, I found a blog by Susan Carlson  ( Susan Carlson Quilts ).  You may have seen her twenty foot Crocodile quilt or one of her other “Specimen” quilts.   As I read her blog, I found that she free-cut her fabrics, gluing the edges down before she quilted.   I also discovered that she had written two books so I ordered both of them and this one arrived first….

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In this book she made use of paper patterns for the pieces, cut them out of fabric and glued them to a piece of muslin.

In her second book…..

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….she dispenses with the paper pattern and instead draws the design on the muslin and cuts the fabrics to fill the spaces.

Since I felt more comfortable using a pattern, I chose the first method and started cutting and placing my fabrics on my interfacing backing…..

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I was immediately happier with the more organic look.

After I had placed all of the fabrics and got ready to glue them all down, I realized that I couldn’t glue onto the thin interfacing because it would just seep thru the interfacing and onto my design wall.  Instead, I traced the pattern out on a piece of muslin and started the slow process of moving each piece off of the wall and onto the base…..

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Per Susan’s instructions, I used a VERY thin line (dots actually) of “Aleenes Original Tacky Glue” and slowly added the pieces….one row at a time.

I was basically pleased with the outcome…..

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….although I knew that the opening needed some work (it is not yet glued down) and I also felt that there were too many color variations in the rock.  I had the idea to add some paint to blend the colors together more, using a thin translucent grey in two shades.  I used a sponge to add the color and, although I started the process with much feat and trepidation, I was happy with the end result…..

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I moved to the sewing machine and started thread painting around each of the bricks, adding more thread and texture to the grouting.  After I had finished the thread work, I turned it over and gave it a good pressing from the back.  I was thrilled to see that the rocks had actually wrinkled a bit in the process, adding yet another serendipitous dimension to them…..

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I also made the decision to have the opening go all the way thru the monument, although that may change again at some point.

Happily I have now completed the FIRST step in this quilt design.  Next will be to create a spire of some sort to go on the top.  Then I have to figure out how to add snow covered mountains to the background without them taking over the focus.  Finally will be adding the prayer flags flying from the spire and hopefully staying in perspective as they flow out of the picture.

Contemplating the prospect of the project is daunting for me, but just like on the trek, I plan to take it one step at a time!!  Hopefully the end result will be worth the journey, but regardless of the outcome, I am determined to enjoy the process to its fullest!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A finished UFO!!!

 

To start this post, I have to go back to September of 2013!!!  I first posted about this piece HERE, working thru the process that I used to discharge the fabric vase.

Then I started working on the applique of the vase and Sunflowers, enjoying the process greatly…..Sunflower

But, as with most UFO’s, other things cropped up and the project got stuck on top of the fabric shelves.   Amazingly, before I threw it up there, I had finished all of the applique except for ONE flower petal!!!

When I unexpectedly had a few hours in my studio, I really wanted to accomplish something so I pulled out the top, quickly finished the applique and set it up for quilting.

It didn’t take long to have a fun, FINISHED project….

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Now if all of my other UFO’s are as easy to finish, I will be one happy camper!!!!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Art for the walls

Once we got back from our travels, Michael and I both hit the ground running.   We each had lists of tasks that needed to be done and amazingly they all were accomplished fairly quickly.  So, we decided to hit a few of the “long-term” tasks as well!!!

One of the things that we have wanted to do was to purchase some art for our home.   When we moved in 4 years ago, there were large expanses of blank walls and we knew that we wanted to find special things and not just fill it in with framed prints. 

The year after our move, we made a trip to New Mexico and purchased two paintings that got our collection off to a good start…..

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But then we got busy and money got tight and we forgot about adding to our collection, but we have added quite a few things in the past 18 months.

Last year, when we were in Colombia, we purchased a couple of pieces….

  -  this wooden carving that Michael fell in love with…..

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….and this Mola that I fell in love with…..

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A friend of ours (Scott Pope) from Church had a solo show and we bought one of his smaller pieces…..

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…although we both really wanted one of his BIG canvases!!!

When we were in India last year, I also bought two small pieces for $6 each.  When I checked into having them simply framed, the cost rose to over $75 EACH!!!   So, they laid around the laundry room for a year but then amazingly I had an idea that only cost $8 for BOTH.  I  bought a piece of foam core mat board, had it cut to the proper size and used a spray adhesive to attach the artwork.   Perfect!!!…..

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For my birthday this past year, Michael bought a painting that I liked….DSC08944

When we were in Spain back in May, we added this wonderful tile….DSC08951

….and I insisted that we buy these wine drinking Chickens in Vienna…..

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When we were in India in 2015, we were introduced to tribal art from the Gond people.  In particular, we saw a piece by  a woman named Durga Bai, an illiterate but talented artist…..DSC05778

This style of art struck a chord with both of us and this past trip we searched in vain for a gallery where we could buy some of her pieces.   We never found a “brick and mortar” store but we did find a website!!   So, when we got home, we logged on and picked out three pieces that we liked….two painted by Durga Bai….DSC08936

DSC08937…..and one by Shiv Prasad Malviya (sorry for the window reflections)…..

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All three of these pieces were either ink or acrylic on paper and arrived safely (and quickly) and were soon framed and ready to reside in our home!!

But we weren’t quite thru yet!!!

We spent one Saturday at the Oconee County Fall Festival and came across two things that we liked.   The first was a three-dimensional painting by Eugene Swain…..DSC08933

The bridge is actually made from small slats of wood and the water image could not be better!!

Finally, being a life-long Sunflower lover, I found this stained glass piece in another  booth and bought it to cover a laundry room window…..

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I typically don’t leave decorations in the same place year after year and basically re-do the house every few months.   This gives us a chance to enjoy more pieces each year.  The problem of doing this is that you have to have places to store things and over the years I have added several storage cabinets and LOTS of Rubbermade bins.  But those don’t work well for paintings and I was finding that it was really hard to keep them stored where  they were safe and I could get to them easily.  Then when we added all of these other pieces, I was truly in trouble.

A series of events meant that we had to clean out the closet under the stairs and Michael had the idea that it would be the perfect place to store our pictures.  I started looking for a shelf to purchase but couldn’t find one with the right dimensions….unless I wanted to pay BIG bucks.  I finally came up with the idea of building one ourselves (I designed and Michael provided the labor) and ended up with this……

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A perfect solution!!!

I also have a few other oil paintings that were done by my Great Aunt and were hanging in my Mother’s house.  Mom was into big, ornate frames (which I am NOT) so I need to do some re-framing before I can enjoy them to their fullest.

All of this to say that we are glad that we have taken our time in buying art and that we are looking forward to continuing to add to our collection over the years to come!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The comings and goings of whimsy……

 

whimsy  -   ˈwɪmzi/  -  noun
 
playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor.
 
 
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When we were traveling on this past 8-1/2 week trip, we started noticing that, on certain days, we were less tolerant of the differences that we saw.   We started saying that, on these days, we had “lost our whimsy”!!!
 
Let me give an example…..  on a whimsical day, we would see a small child standing in front of her Father while riding on a scooter and say “isn’t that cute”.   But, if we saw the same scenario on a “non-whimsical” day, we would break into a diatribe about how dangerous it was and how the Father shouldn’t allow it to happen.
 
As the trip wore on, we realized how fortunate we are to live in a place where there is a lot of standardization in how things are done.  That was probably the thing that most often caused our whimsy to wander away. 
 
The classic example was the day that I wanted to buy a Coke in the hotel restaurant.   First I went to the restaurant and asked for the drink.  The waitress didn’t know how I was supposed to pay for it so she called a supervisor.   The supervisor wrote up a paper ticket and walked it into the lobby to the front desk.  From there, the desk clerk put it into the computer and printed out an invoice that I finally was able to pay.  I walked away with a slightly bemused expression and a now warm Diet Coke!!!
 
 
 
With that being said, let me review the trip.  Being an Accountant, I am enamored with numbers, so  let’s look at the numbers of the trip……
 
19 airplane flights
 
15 hotels (and new beds)
 
31 Taxi rides in China alone!!
 
An unknown number of car rides (with driver) in India
 
4 boat/canoe rides
 
84+ teaching contact hours between Michael and his students
 
3,746 photographs!!
 
Umpteen banquet or buffet meals!!!   The problem with these is that you just get a small amount of a bunch of different tastes and smells and you come away feeling like you haven’t had a full meal.    We took the opportunity to order ala carte any chance that we could!!!
 
 
All in all, it was a good trip but we were both happy to arrive back in our Georgia home!! 
 
Except for a quick trip for Michael in December, we don’t have any trips planned for the near future.  However there is a possibility that next year we will spend 4 months in India!!!   We will wait to see if the grant is successful……
 
 
And for now, life goes on with work, house cleaning, gardening, catching up with friends and family and, hopefully, a little bit of creative time too!!!!!
 
 
Thanks for traveling with us!!!
 
 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A few days in Shanghai

On Sunday, September 11th, we made our return to Shanghai for the last stop on this journey.  We had thought to ourselves that, because they are so close, flying from India to China would be easy and fast…..not so much!!!

Unfortunately, our flight from Trivandrum to New Delhi was early in the morning but our flight from New Delhi to Shanghai didn’t leave until 2:30AM so we had a 17 hour layover in the New Delhi airport!!!

We found that there was a lounge that you pay to sit in so we shelled out the money so that we could at least sit in comfort for the first 15 hours!!DSC08904

The good thing was that the chairs were comfortable and internet was very good so we both managed to get some work done and then we spent time watching some DVD’s that we had brought with us. 

The bad thing was that there wasn’t much food available in this part of the airport so we bought a few snacks and picked at this and that.  By the time we were able to check in and move into the main terminal, we were starving!!

Fortunately the flight was basically on time and we were able to sleep some so we weren’t completely trashed when we arrived in Shanghai at 10:30AM.  We were met at the airport by two young women who were both PhD students at the university.   They didn’t want to tell us their Chinese names, but told us to call them Tina and Becky, although “Tina” kept forgetting what her English name was!!!   DSC08908

They dropped us at our hotel and then walked us across to one of the canteens for lunch.  They took us at our word that we liked spicy food and ordered one of the best meals that we have had while in China.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and trying to get our minds back into the mode of being in China again!!

On Tuesday, Michael had the day off so we headed to one of our favorite spots….the Bund!!! 

We didn’t have a major plan for the day except that we had a dinner reservation at an Italian restaurant that we had enjoyed back in 2012.  We walked to the building where the restaurant was housed, just to make sure that we knew where it was.  While in the building, we saw a fun restaurant with a balcony overlooking the river, so we decided to stop and have a small lunch first.  The views were magnificent…..

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….and I especially like the dots of red from all of the flags!!

After lunch, our time was spent walking along the Bund itself and enjoying the buildings on the other side of the river……

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This is a magnificent skyline and one that is easily recognizable!!

The area known as “The Bund” is a wide, long walkway along the river and we enjoyed strolling back and forth……IMG_9527

I especially liked the “flower” topped building the the center of this photo.

And, this building changed shapes as we walked past it.  It was interesting to see that it was actually curved and leaning slightly….

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There was some interesting metal work on one side of the walkway…..

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….and I was truly enamored with the way that it dipped and moved……

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Wouldn’t it be fun to design a quilt with some of these shapes.

As the afternoon wore on, the area became much more crowded with SOO many cameras and photos being taken….

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It actually became hard to walk because you were always in some “selfie-taker’s” way!!!

There were a couple of professional photo shoots going on…..IMG_9558

They were a handsome couple and it was a pretty place!!!

We enjoyed our dinner at “Mercado” and were planning to walk along the Bund after dark but unfortunately it had started to rain, so we just caught a taxi back to the hotel.   Even with the rain, it was a fun day!!!

The rest of the week was fairly quiet as Michael worked during the days and I (since I wasn’t feeling well) spent some time relaxing  at the hotel. 

On Friday night we were taken back downtown for one last banquetDSC08916

…enjoying some really good food with some very nice people!!!

As we were walking back into the room for the last time, I finally remembered to take a photo of the carpet……

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It wasn’t super exciting, but I did like the carpet in one of the sitting areas……DSC08921

I think that it would make a fun piecing design….

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On Saturday, the 17th, we climbed on to the 18th plane of our trip and enjoyed a good flight to Detroit, although we were delayed by 2 hours leaving the Shanghai airport.  This is a fairly common occurrence as the Chinese Military controls all of the airspace and they are very particular about how many planes they will allow at one time.

Even though we arrived late to Detroit, we still had time to eat a Big Mac before our final flight to Atlanta.

It felt SO good to be back home and to sleep in our own bed that night.

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