Thursday, December 22, 2011

sketchy lead into Christmas

fading roses next to the amaryllis still going strong 

Red piano roses, my favorite holiday treat from Keith. 

Mom's new Christmas Cactus 

flowers and card on the book case next to my desk

beige roses and red amaryllis 
There we have an armload of flowers sketched over the last couple weeks. Lots of red roses and amaryllis and a few white and beige roses. I was doing great then all of a sudden last Friday night asleep in bed this weird thing happened to my mouth. I got some sort of sore lump in the cheek. It was naturally a weekend infection and I didn't want to go wait in line at the ER so I waited for a walk-in appointment at the clinic Dentist Monday morning. By then I had a fat face and a lot of pain that Tylenol and Aleve were not helping and I was beginning to feel sick as if the infection in my mouth was making me sick all over. Fever came later and the swelling continued for another 36 hours after I started antibiotics and pain killers. Then like magic after a plate of home made chocolate chip black walnut cookies I had a nap and woke up with no pain... From that moment forward the swelling receded and the fever began to lower. I didn't do any sketches for a couple of days because the pressure on my head just made it too difficult to get to work on a sketch. Well that is over the swelling is almost completely gone and the pains over. I did continue to do some casual embroidery on my newest crazy quilt panel which is coming along nicely. Now I am collecting my things to go out and spend the holiday with Mom and my brother in Manassas. Sketching will happen. Flowers are ready to go and cookies are being consumed all along the way. More waiting in Manassas I hope!
Merry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

busy discovering

Freer Museum: Japanese black lacquer tea box with inset mother of pearl and brass wires

This past week has been busy discovering new people and places and enjoying the many projects I have under way. My partner Keith Stanley has made great efforts to stick to his plan to keep making a new Ikebana arrangement each day and photographing and posting these for the world to see. That is a huge commitment of effort and time and daring to promise one's self that you will do this for 365 days consecutively with no holidays! I want to salute him for his efforts and success with this creative Ikebana blogging project as well as completing his teacher training certificate to be certified a full Sogetsu Ikebana teacher . If you haven't seen it, you ought to take a few minutes to review some of the 150 arrangements that have been done since he began. 

As a result of his work and displays on the Internet he has made friends around the world with similar interests in Ikebana flower arrangements. One in particular who also just completed his training to be a Sogetsu Ikebana teacher is Lennart Persson who also blogs about his work in Norway The Nordic Lotus Ikebana Blog. The fun part of this friendship for me came this week when Lennart and his husband Svein arrived in Washington DC and contacted Keith to say they would like to meet us. We spent a couple days visiting and touring together while they also visited a 19 year old niece who is here studying journalism for a year in Northern Virginia. We shared a visit to the Sackler and Freer Asian Art Museums with a tour through the lovely Peacock room decorated by Whistler and currently installed with a huge collection of Asian ceramics. Then last night we took them on a special nighttime tour of some of the big monuments and the Christmas tree at the Capitol. They were great fun to visit with and we found we had lots in common, not just ikebana flower arrangements.
Keith, Lennart and Svein at the Moon gate garden between Sacker and Freer art museums 

Keith passing by one of the displays of Japanese ceramics 

Chinese brush painting of plum blossoms and pine

Japanese 12th century temple guardian figure 
Demon suppressed by the guardians 
another demon underfoot all wooden sculpture with polychrome decorations 
Svein and Lennart at the MLK memorial camera ready 

Svein and Lennart at the MLK memorial

The new MLK memorial is very dramatic at night 
four of us at dinner taken by the waitress at Svein's request! 

Svein's photo of us at Jefferson Memorial 
We finished up our evening tour at the huge and colorful Christmas tree on the lawn of the US Capitol grounds. I didn't get photos of it but it is spectacular and Keith mentioned how he had missed seeing it for a number of years. There it was getting cold and we were hungry so we drove over to an old favorite spot of ours to eat dinners late. The neighborhood bar and restaurant Mr. Henry's was the perfect way to finish up our tour. Both Lennart and Svein are ministers in the Norwegian Anglican Church and they were very excited and delighted to find the offices windows of Caldwell Real estate Brokerage full of delightful Christmas decorations. Apparently this is much more elaborate decorating than anything they have in Norway during this holiday season. Svein took lots of photos and promised to share them with us when he gets a chance to download his cool Olympus camera, a digital that was modeled to look much like a vintage camera.
In between visits with the Nordic fellows I have been working on bookbinding, crazy quilt patch working and my daily sketches.
8.5 x 5.5 inches my new sketchbook covered with paper stained to look like old leather.

Inside the new sketchbook is the Williamsburg marble paper we bought  in late October

New sketch book has Tortoise shell colored glass beads

Virginia's red cedar branch I did back in 1999 is added in now

foxglove or digitalis embroidery adding in to the new block

New crazy quilt block before the line embroidery is added 
Several new blocks laid out together almost ready to attach and embellish 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Inching forward

Crazy Quilt details 

I have been working on quilt projects most of this year little by little. I was lucky to have time and space to spread out and focus on my first real piecework quilt at the red house by the Chesapeake bay a few times this fall and completed it in record time. It came between the long term project that I began when I was twelve a yo-yo quilt which I finished in July. Then I had a crazy quilt I began in 1999 that I had to set into deep storage due to some physical disabilities which made embroidery and complex abstract piecework very painful. After my trip to Williamsburg and completing the Fairhaven Summer Quilt I decided it was time to try a new design of my own which is based on the fencing design I liked there. I also pulled out the crazy quilt pieces to take with me for a long weekend at the bay. Lucky I did because the sewing machine got jammed up and I didn't finish as much as I had hoped to do on the Williamsburg project. So I began working a little hand work again on the crazy quilt blocks. It is always fun but I know I have to go inch by inch not great leaps and bounds to prevent injury to my neck now. How ever it is a delight to work on it little goals come with great pride and reward each time I finish a line of embroidery it feels like a home run or a field goal! I also delight in the images I can make of the close work to share on flickr. and facebook. So I thought it would be fun to show some of them today. I recently bought some dark red velvet to do the edges and hopefully will be able to buy enough to use it as the backing for this elegant creation.

Lavender lacy medallions with yellow-green circular blanket stitches (center)

Added orange blanket stitch triangles on purple square and the lace medallions with lavender circular blanket stitch in the blue green check (center)

Yellow on the purple is a new stitch called Basque stitch

yellow green herringbone on purple plaid plus red french knots  was fun to do (lower left) 

All the crazy quilt blocks spread out on a double bed in Manassas last time I began work  looked pretty close to ready to assemble 

Wide view of the room where I worked on the crazy quilt in 2009-10 

Friday, December 2, 2011

November wrap up

Sketch of my bed at the bay under the Fairhaven Summer Quilt now completed 

A house with a great view at the Chesapeake Bay

I was so stretched in November that I didn't get time to post news about some of the good stuff I wanted to do so I am taking a little time now to do it here in early December.
There was a trip to the Fairhaven Cliffs and a few days alone in the Red house with a few dozen lady bugs and my completed quilt. I took new materials and worked on the Williamsburg project. I also dug out my Crazy Quilt from the past eleven years and did a little more work on that huge project. I realized I didn't have enough time to do them both so when the machine jammed up I turned to hand embroidery to finish my time at the bay. Then there was a week of volunteer work at the Pyramid Atlantic Arts studio making boxes with my friend Kelly O'Brien for the Moving Parts project. With Gretchen and a couple of volunteers who dropped in we worked for five days almost all day finishing up as much as we could. It's not completely done but we took a big leap forward with 17 fully completed clam shell boxes! Only 26 more to go and since Kelly lives in Germany now we will wait till next summer when she comes back to do some more intensive work towards the goal of 50 completed box sets. In the middle of the week Keith and I went out with a fully cooked organic turkey and some delicious pumpkin pie and feasted with Mom and my brother David and spent the night. Next day we went shopping and I got some more quilting fabrics for the two projects I am working on now and some for a future project. The sale was great at Joann's Fabrics 20% off everything including sale prices! So I splurged and got some red velvet for the Crazy Quilt. I need more so that will be a good wish list item for my Holiday gift list. Then I went back to finish up boxes and in the mean time I have been trying to finish up some binding work of my own journals and sketches.
arrived at the bay in the rain
got to work on the green and white strips 

Gray skies didn't discourage and the low tide was amazingly low! 

A very handsome house at the top of the hill on the road overlooking the bay 

view of the bay from the high ground by neighbor Foust's house 

Red house view from the beach with no green leaves or kudzu

clay cliffs
17 clam shell boxes under weights drying 

17 clam shell boxes ready to wrap and store at Pyramid Atlantic

Some of the work I finished on the Williamsburg Quilt project 
something that belongs in every work of art, sparkle
In the next post I will show the sketches I did the last week riding metro to go volunteer at Pyramid Atlantic Arts Studios....