Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quilting History/Herstory

My online quilting group has had several interesting discussions recently.  One referred to the convict ships which took hundreds of thousands of women (against their will) from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland to Australia and other countries in the 1800s.   It reminded me of a song written by Cathy Miller (quilter, musician, songwriter) called The Rajah Quilt.  It tells of the women sent out to Australia on a convict ship called the Rajah in 1841 who were given a small bundle of sewing supplies by Elizabeth Fry (who had fought for better treatment of women prisoners).   For some, their crime was petty theft or prostitution, but their main crime was poverty.  She wanted to give them the means to make a living in their new land.  The women sewed many quilts in that long journey then sold them in order to survive.  According to Cathy, they used the technique of Broderie Perse which was a style of applique using printed chintz and appliquing it onto another fabric.   One of these quilts - The Rajah Quilt - was found in an attic in Scotland in the 1980s and donated to the National Gallery of Australia.  I have added a link to this quilt in my list of favourite links.  The Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild apparently made a replica of the quilt and donated it to the Elizabeth Fry Society in 1996.

What a rich history quilting has and Cathy Miller writes about it in her songs.  She writes extraordinary songs about quilting - combining history, humour and emotion.  The CD I have is called One Stitch at a Time.  It brings me to tears (and laughter) every time I listen to it.  If  you are interested check out her website.  I found it by just typing in her name.    Some of her songs have titles like 100 Ways to Hide your Stash and It Ain't Finished Yet.....a great CD for quilters.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Olympic Fever/Quilting/Deer

I haven't blogged for awhile because I have been sidetracked with the Olympics.  I've even started thinking about a sports-related's all about the quilting!

I had a class in surface design last Saturday and played with Shiva Paintsticks, foils, Tsukineko inks, artist pencils, Fabrico markers and these great Caran D'Ache wax pastels.  I'd better start selling my quilts soon so I can invest in some of these great products.

I am working away at my three projects  - my orange lily, my goddess quilt, and our quilter's challenge.   The last one is coming along nicely with an underwater scene in blue, blue-violet and blue-green.   I plan to use lots of embellishments for this one.  My goddess is starting to take shape but I am so hesitant to take the next steps - fusing the pieces to the background.   This week I will attempt to move forward with it.   My lily is almost finished being stitched, just the pistils and stamens to add and then the frame.

We finally got some real winter weather two days ago but it only lasted one evening with a wild snowstorm (which I had to drive in to get home from work) then started to melt overnight.....what a strange winter we are having in Ontario this year.  We have snow on the ground but nothing like we usually have.

Out for a walk in the woods, I photographed the antics of the local deer - far too brave for their own good. One is snitching food from the bird feeder, another licking a birch tree (yum), one stood up on its hind legs to reach some tasty tree branches, and another is eating some food people had left for them (!!).  It had a choice between dry bread and veggies and guess what it chose.  One was a young male and you can see the spots where he lost his antlers and new ones will soon start to grow.  Click on the photos to see close ups.  Enjoy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Prize-Winning Photos

I just found out today that my bald eagle photo won for best fauna in the Hike the Highlands photo contest for 2009.   I also came second and third in the scenery category.   Here are the winning photos.   I feel a quilt coming on.....

Hike the Highlands is a most wonderful 10 day group hiking experience which occurs every September  in Cape Breton Island.  The bald eagle was along the Coastal Trail, the fishing boats in beautiful White Point, and the third photo is from Fishing Cove.

Quilt Shops, Quilting Challenges and Challenging Quilts

Last Friday some quilting friends and I went on a road trip to a great quilt shop on the Akwasasne reserve.  I was able to find some background material for my 'Kuan Yin' quilt (which had been at a standstill while I tried a zillion fabrics for background).   I found other great fabric too - all on sale.   We also purchased some fabric for our quilting challenge.   All the way there, my friend and I sat in the back seat looking at photos, trying to come up with one on which to base our challenge.   We narrowed it down to 9 photos and later on that evening, as we waited for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics to begin on TV, we managed to choose one.   It is an underwater scene with stones, shells, minnows, seaweeds etc.   Should be interesting to see what we come up with.   She is working with black and white and I am using blue-green, blue, and blue violet (I think I have the easier task).   Our friend Iris has decided to join us as well.  She will design a monochromatic quilt.   I'll post the results when we are finished.

When I tried my new background on Kuan Yin, I found that her figure dressed in the palest hues, looked washed out - "too pale" was my son's comment.   So now I need to strengthen her colours.....back to the drawing board.....more cutting and piecing.   I was so worried when I started cutting the piece for the background.  I needed to cut out the figure in the middle because the fabric for her dress was so flimsy and thin that any darker colour behind it would show through and I didn't want to back the dress with another layer of fabric because I have to hand sew through the layers....I also painted the moon that surrounds her with liquid acrylics in a pale gold but the fabric ended up bumpy and no amount of ironing seems to help.   This project is becoming more complicated than I would like it to be.......and my next class is Saturday with not much progress made....Yikes!!   Guess how I'll be spending my week.  Ah well, unlike you folks in the USA and east coast, we have little snow here in Ontario.  Skiing and snow shoeing is difficult -- so I might as well stay in and sew.   I walked out in the woods today but it's getting very slippery.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining.   I saw the pictures on CNN.  Here in Ontario, we have had a holiday from winter extremes this far.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Teaching a Landscape Class and Having Fun

It's February already.  A whole month into 2010!   Blogging really makes me think about what I am accomplishing - and am I having any fun yet?   This week I finished my lessons and artwork for my online landscape quilting course and sent it off to Quilting Weekly.   I'll have more to say about it soon but right now I am just resting on my laurels.  It was such a learning process for me because I needed to record every step of my progress.  I think exercises like these can help us develop our skills and think about why we do things the way we do.  A very interesting procedure.   Now on to my next project(s).

Last week I spent the evening (till the wee hours) at an annual party hosted by some musician friends.   It was a treat to be around so many talented musicians getting together and performing all over the house.  I managed to play along on my drum for several hours.   I never miss her party and remember one year I brought a friend, and as we moved from one musical group to the next my friend remarked "this must be what heaven is like!"  I agree.

Yesterday I walked in the woods and got some great photos of deer who are far too brave for their own good!  We have had less than our usual amount of snow this winter while all around us storms are swirling.  It means less cross country skiing and snow shoeing but more walking in the woods on packed down trails.  I'll post a photo of my deer soon as I download them from my camera.