Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blue Hungarian Fabric Quilt Finish

In 2013 the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the national mall hosted a big beautiful display of Hungarian crafts and folk arts for two weeks. Keith and I went and enjoyed it about four days out of the ten that they were there performing for our education and entertainment. My younger sister is married to a great guy who's parents both immigrated from Hungry during the Soviet era to the midwest. Elizabeth his mom was so excited that this cultural event was coming and wanted to go so badly but her poor health at the time made the trip here to Washington DC in the heat of July impossible. That's why I went and dug into the events so fully to collect pictures and memories to send to her and to learn more for myself. I remember it as being an excellent cultural experience. One full of so many different crafts and songs and dances unlike most countries we see at the festival in DC there is a very strong youth cultural education model in Hungry. They have folk dancing clubs and all this great fun stuff for teens to do that American teens don't have.  Earlier this year Elizabeth sent me a surprise package in the mail. Inside were a couple yards of  beautiful hand made blue Hungarian fabric, printed with a tiny dot design of white flowers and strings of dots. 
Elizabeth's blue and white Hungarian fabric gift.

It is handmade in Hungry and I had seen the same type of fabric being made at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. It is a resist process where the crafts people, after making a hand made wire block, dip the block in a resist type waxy substance and hand print it onto white fabric. Then the whole length of fabric is dyed blue and the resist holds out the dye everywhere it was printed on the white fabric. Voila, a blue field covered with delicate white designs. The woman presenting the process said it takes her husband about three months to make a new block from wood and copper wires, seen in the first photo below. They use a waxy resist which is turquoise colored in this picture below and you can see the print of turquoise wax mixture on the white fabric as well as the results after the fabric is dyed blue. 

The color of blue is a delicious rich blue and was seen around the festival in a few different places. This handsome young folk dancer was wearing a big shirt and wide legged trousers with a heavy wool coat of a shepherd and later a woolen suit jacket when he danced for us... he sweat up a storm in the heat of Washington DC July afternoon. I was very inspired by all the young performers who were the best in Hungry after winning a "Hungry's most talented folk performers" TV show contest of 2012. They were amazing. Getting some of this beautiful fabric was a dream come true so I set to work making a new quilt soon as I figured out a block I wanted to try.  

 I finished making it from the fabric sent by Elizabeth Poti in a modern jumbled pinwheel design. It's 46 inches square now after washing. I called it Blue Hungarian as I expect Elizabeth is a little blue being so far from her home culture, living in Iowa. I will be displaying my quilts for sale at the Middleburg Arts Project gallery December 5th-30th, 2014 Reception is Friday Dec. 12th 5-8 PM and the following day  "meet the artists" event Saturday Dec. 13th from 2-5 PM. The gallery will also have work by two other very different quilting artists I am looking forward to meeting.

Blue Hungarian is 46x46 inches all cotton hand quilted white and blue #8 pearl cotton. 
back of the quilt showing the diamond quilting and the huge pinwheel in blue and white.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fort Stanton walk

Sunday with all the wind and the burst of cold from the northwest we ventured out with our Brookland neighbor and landscape architect to meet up with other native plant society members to do a walk in Fort Stanton park. Mary Pat Rowen from the Maryland native plant society was our guide. The park is in Anacostia with the community museum perched right in the middle of it making a great place to warm up and see a little art. The point of our walk was to see the native plants and trees of our forests and help each other learn about them. I took photos and I can't describe everything but I wanted to share a little of the experience with you and tell some of what I learned. The first image is of Mary Pat Rowen who was our leader on the walk. She also gave Keith, Meron and myself a ride down to the park and home making it even more fun because we got to see the city from a new point of view. Here she describes the difference between two types of Hickory tree side by side with bright yellow leaves and the Anacostia Community Museum in the background.
We had a total of eight naturalist beginners to expert on the hike. 
Along the two hour walk we were in the woods protected from most of the wind which was blowing hard up above in the tree tops some 75 feet or more above. This civil war era fortress was constructed on a hill overlooking Washington DC from the east side of the Anacostia River. At the apex of the fortress hill there was a commanding view of the city and everything around it. We could see all the major landmarks from Brookland's Basilica, National Cathedral, Capitol dome in scaffolding this year, the whole of Roslyn Va. the Pentagon and Air Force memorial sculpture, looking around to National Airport and the rivers that wrap around them all as well as closer in view the Navy Yard and a stadium... It was astonishing to see this all from one vantage point. The point of this trip wasn't sight seeing but that was a nice bonus thanks to Mary Pat stopping to show us the commanding views before we trekked off into the woods. Once inside the woods we got tips on how to tell one type of oak from the next and many other tree's by the shapes of their leaves and the bark on the mature tree. Some we scratched to get a sniff of the scent in the plant like Sassafras and Spice bush. 

First view of the trail shows that someone decided to dump some tires and we could see how the invasive plants seem to grow mostly at the edges of the woods. She explained that the soil isn't rich in the right ways to support them in the depths of the woods where the natives still rule. 
Right off I was looking for plants I knew to point out. The green Brier a vine that has sharp long thorns was the first after poison ivy and English ivy that came to view. This plant had rich blue berries hanging on the mostly bare stems. They form low thickets that are refuge for birds and small animals. But I didnt' know there were two types of green brier plant until the other type was pointed out. It is smaller and has a longer oval type leaf and is light color on the underside. The thorns on the vine are much smaller but there are dozens of them compared to the smooth green brier. Very distinctive the two plants are so different but similar in a few ways. 

Next think I noticed was a fallen tree covered with my favorite fungus I called lichen. I now realize I was wrong, it is a type of fungus classified with mushrooms. That caused some debate we also discovered another type of mushroom also growing on the same logs. 

I really like the ruffled shape of the fungi commonly known as turkey tail or Trametes versicolor  and the mushrooms were kind of like rounded buttons. Looks like all those fungi that grow on wood in this shape are related and are generally called polypores or bracket fungi Wiki has a discussion of this that was enlightening for a novice. 
The colors of the trees were everything from brown to red and yellow and a little pinkish orange. 
Tulip poplar leaves were so high in the tree tops that I had to use my zoom lens to distinguish them. Then a new tree for me was the lovely orange pink black gum tree below. These leaves were more down to earth in the understory of the tall oaks and poplars.

Red maple leaves were there and best seen on the ground among the fallen oak leaves they stood out. 

One plant I hadn't ever seen or known about is the maple-leaf viburnum ,Viburnum acerifolium which turns a sort of red or pink in fall making it stand out but the plants.

rich pink of Maple-leaf Viburnum 

My last photos are of the view down into the woods where a gully runs and some of the huge trees had fallen making an opening in the forest canopy. The one plant I didn't expect to see was mountain laurel Kalmia latifolia and there was a lot of it all along the trails and off in the woods on the forest floor. The link on mountain laurel will take you to the wiki page that has some great photos of the beautiful spring flowers. This would be fun to see next spring right here in Washington DC. I am so glad we ventured out with Mary Pat Rowen taking Meron, our Ethiopian friend, who is very brave to go out for a long forest walk in the cold but I think she had a great experience just like Keith and I did. 
Mary Pat Rowen and Meron 

Dan, Keith, Meron, with Mary Pat who gets us started.

Dave, ______, Dwight, Dan, Keith, Meron, Mary Pat as we began the sky was gray and the wind was cold and everyone was adjusting to the weather... later it warmed up and we enjoyed a visit to the museum where they had a great beading and quilt display.