Monday, April 23, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig!

Back home from Toronto, and I've hit the ground running.

For regular readers of this blog, you know I was in Toronto with my daughter on a mission: the perfect prom dress.  Well, we went to every vintage store in Toronto.  We found a possible candidate at the very first store on Day 1;  it was the perfect style, the desired cream colour, and looked fabulous, but too large and we would have to wait for the seamstress to make it in her size ... and then I saw the price tag, which made me choke: $600. Also, it had no lace and was merely a copy of a vintage style.  So we kept shopping till dinner time.  No luck, though my daughter did pick up all kinds of wonderful vintage accessories: a box purse, a wallet, shoes, etc.  But no dress.  We went to the theatre that night and saw War Horse - spectacular!  If you go, take Kleenex.

Next morning, cool and rainy, as we waited for the streetcar on Queen Street, I saw a penny on the ground.  I reminded my daughter, "Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck." She scoffed until I reminded her we were on an important quest. Penny got picked up in no short order.  First shop we entered, I found a dress buried in the racks that seemed to fit the bill: ivory, sleeveless, lacy, and very inexpensive ... when she tried it on, and I went to zip it up, worried it might be too small, it was like it was made for her.  Success!  I am not permitted to post a photo of THE dress yet, and there may be some slight alteration - shortening and/or creating a low back - but I promise to post a photo on prom night.  A month away.

First on my agenda is to make a piece for the Viewpoints 9 challenge.  Here is what I am trying to respond to:   Or you can "Like" our Facebook page and follow our adventures that way.  This Thursday is the Big Reveal!  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brief Touchdown and Off Again!

Just time to unpack, do laundry, and I'm off again in the morning on the train to Toronto. The plan is to shop with my daughter for a vintage prom dress - the hope is that we find the perfect one in the first shop we visit tomorrow and then spend the rest of the weekend at choice destinations like the Textile Museum, the David Kaye Gallery, Mokuba and the fabric stores on Queen St W. What do you think my chances are? ;) The other highlight will be seeing the stage production of War Horse tomorrow evening.

Came home last night to some very exciting news: Memories of Gombe, the piece that received an award at Art Quilt Elements, has sold! To sell one's work is the ultimate reassurance to any artist - a vindication of the hours and dollars spent pursuing our passion.

Downloaded my photos today, and thought I'd post a few, in case you're wondering about what I saw in Japan that I found inspirational.

Delighted to report I have finished "Inuit Lament," one of my pieces that will be travelling to Taiwan for the Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition but won't be doing the reveal on this blog until the exhibition is open to the public in August. As soon as I get back from Toronto, I will work on a cheesecloth landscape piece I will be teaching there, and that one I will show online - I hope it may entice some keeners to register for the conference and maybe sign up for my workshop!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 16, 2012

Best of Intentions

Who knew Tokyo would have so few opportunities for internet access? Even the luxurious Hotel Royal Rhiga had only cable connection (no good for iPad) and outrageously priced at that. I really had hoped to be able to blog much more frequently. We all know how the road to hell is paved ....

So here I sit in a lovely cafe in Nikko, sipping hot sake, on my last day here, reflecting on the great visit to Tokyo. On the first morning, I had the good fortune of being greeted by two pre-eminent Tokyo quilters, Miwako and Sachiko, whom I was encouraged to get in touch with by SuSan Rydiel of the La Conner Quilt Museum's Quilt Festival. They graciously took me to the Edo Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum, and when I get home I will post photos that are currently on my DSLR camera.

They gave me directions so that on my solo tour the next day, I was able to navigate the Metro and make my way to more fibre art locales: the antiques market where I picked up some really interesting and colourful silk remnants, the Blue & White Store, where I picked up some sashiko threads and interesting white fabric upon which to embroider, and the Modern Art Museum.

Then we boarded the train to Nikko, a town I would say is very much like Banff, Alberta. As luck would have it, we arrived during a huge cherry blossom festival.

So we have been exploring shrines, sipping sake in wi-fi cafes, and enjoying our stay in a traditional ryokan. This has meant sleeping on futons on the floor, soaking in the hot springs pool "au natural", removing shoes and wearing yukata robes.

Will some of these sights and experiences make their way into upcoming pieces? I think that would be fun.

As soon as I return to Canada, though, I have many pieces to make in short order: a second workshop piece for Taiwan, a response to the Viewpoints 9 Vivaldi challenge, a paintstiks workshop piece for an Ottawa class, and another portrait for Martha Sielman's next book. So my impressions of Japan will have to percolate awhile.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Nikko, Japan

Monday, April 9, 2012

Catching Up Between Trips

Some blogger I am! For all everyone knows, I could still be in Taiwan!  Well, if someone had told me I could stay in that Royal Suite for a couple of weeks, I guess I still would be.

Photo: Doreen Meyer
But no.  Came home, unpacked, did laundry and repacked for Philadelphia, where I attended the SAQA conference.  It was a chance to reconnect with the most amazing artist friends and to meet incredible new ones. [Update: just read a superb description on Jeanne Marklin's blog - another super artist I met at an earlier conference.]  I can't think of a better word than gobsmacked when I was at the opening of the Art Quilt Elements exhibition and they read out my name as an award winner.  The rest of the night is a blur of posing for photos, accepting congratulations, and - a first for me - signing autographs in the exhibition catalog.

Photo: Candice Phelan
I was humbled to be warmly greeted by Paula Chung whose gorgeous Japanese Anemone and other floral works I have so long admired.  Every conference I attend, I make the most wonderful friends and learn so much. This one was no exception, and my head is buzzing with knowledge gleaned from the speakers I heard and filled with inspiration from the stunning artwork we saw at the AQE show and at the galleries we visited during Fiber Philadelphia. I had a lovely dinner with the SAQA reps at the home of Cindy Friedman where I had a chance to see several of her gorgeous pieces up close and personal.  So imagine my surprise when I returned home to my most recent issue of Quilting Arts and lo and behold, Cindy's work is featured in the Spotlight section, and I got to know this lovely lady even better.

And as if all this excitement wasn't enough, I was waiting for my flight home when I received a Google Alert that my name was mentioned in an article in the Grand Junction Sentinel in Colorado.  I almost fell off my chair.

My Inbox was overflowing when I returned home, but two students emailed me that they had completed their cheesecloth portraits from a workshop I taught, and I was just thrilled.  Here are their results, based on a photograph by Chalmers Butterfield, and with their permission:

by Elizabeth Ostiguy
by Alice McKey

Now I am home, all unpacked, doing more laundry, and starting to pack again, this time for a trip to Tokyo, where I have already lined up visits with two premier Japanese quilters.  I will try to be a better blogger and keep everyone informed of my adventures. Sayonara, everyone!