Friday, February 26, 2010

Kimono Cloth

My friend Jean-Pierre sent me these pictures of some vintage kimonos he picked up on his latest trip to Nara and Kyoto. He says it's getting harder to find wool ones, and the silks are very expensive. He also said he saw some pieces of boro cloth, but suspected they were faked because the stitching threads looked too white and new. Since boro is now commanding such high prices I'm not surprised there would be fakes.

Jean-Pierre is sending these kimono my way, in exchange for some work from me. I'll have to do something pretty fabulous to earn this cloth!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shhh, Quilt in Progress

The quilt is more than half done! Considering the amount of handstitching, I am amazed.

Each 10" hexagon is joined by tiny whip stitches. I'm quite proud of my small, even stitches. Practice does indeed make perfect.

If things continue to go this well, I might even attempt a yo yo coverlet one day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Divine Intervention

It's funny how things happen sometimes. Today I received a comment on my blog from Rosa, who I don't think I has visited me before. Rosa is a ceramic artist who makes some really cool things, and she also seems to be very thoughtful and honest, and an excellent writer - it was a great pleasure to scroll through her posts.

One of the things she mentioned was a book called "What It Is" by the Goddess Known as Lynda Barry, my all time favourite graphic artist. I have been a little out of the loop lately, and so had never heard of this book, but after reading Rosa's comments on it, I added it to my "Must Read" list.

Being on a little island with no bookstore or even library, it actually went on my "Must Find When I Go To The City" list. I am cultivating patience.

Two hours later, on my way to a MASSAGE (oh, bliss)I stopped in at the Free Store. Can you believe, right on top of a stack of donated books, was a fresh, unmarked copy of "What It Is". A gift from God to be sure! I hugged it to my chest and made a solemn vow to heed the words within as if they were a message from the great oracle. (And I'm sure they are!)

Now if only I could manifest world peace by just putting it on a list!

P.S. Now that I've has a chance to browse through the book I can confirm that it is very inspiring and a total visual treat. Although superficially a guide to writing, the ideas can be applied to any creative pursuit.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sunshine and Quilt Tops and Puppydogs and...

...Everything that's wonderful is what I feel when we're together,
Brighter than a lucky penny,
When you're near the rain cloud disappears, dear,
And I feel so fine just to know that you are mine.

Ah, yes, the ever optimistic Lesley Gore.

But the little bead box on my windowsill does look radiant with the sun streaming through it.

I have been busy making a quilt that will be a 20th birthday present for my client's daughter. In keeping with her fascination with Japan, and thinking of traditional kimono colour schemes for a young woman, I have chosen bright floral Japanese fabrics. The blocks are quilt-as-you-go hexagons, which form the tortoiseshell pattern symbolizing long life. The reverse side is solid blocks.

I have never done a quilt-as-you-go before and am enjoying it very much. Because of my weak back I get quite exhausted maneuvering a large quilt through the machine, but with QAYG the heavy material can rest in my lap. The handstitching doesn't take too much time at all - I put together 10 blocks in 2 hours. Only 80 to go!

I caught Gracie looking coy. Moments before she was sleeping sprawled on her pillow in the completely relaxed way only puppies can manage.

This week, my nephew Andrew escaped the Olympic hubbub to come visit my brother and me and to build a theramin for his Grade 12 physics project. Here Rob and Andrew try out the new instrument.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Movin' Right Along... the theme for today. I have loads to do, a list as long as my arm. Whatever romantic fantasies I may have once held about farm life have been swamped by the to-do list.

Fences to build - I long for rustic wattle, but may have to make do with chicken wire for now.

Seeds to sow - I'm thrilled that Dan Jason from Salt Spring Seeds is coming to the island for our seed swap. This year I'm going to try Snack Jack pumpkins for their hull-less seeds, along with everything else. Funny how the garden seems so roomy at this time of year, and five months from now there won't be space to turn around.

Trees to prune - they are already starting to open their buds, I may be too late.

Quilt to make - hooray, a commission has come down the pike. I get to play with beautiful Japanese cloth.

Dog to train - little Gracie came with some manners, but she's not quite living up to her name yet. But she's smart, and amenable to suggestion. I love it that she's small enough to scoop up in my arms now, but she won't be for long.

Yoga to practise - give my aching bod some TLC. Angus is my instructor. Here he demonstrates Sunbeamasana.

And I thought I'd finish by giving a plug to our dear old Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, funded by the ever benevolent taxpayer, and accessible to the whole world by going here. Some of my favourite shows are "The Current" for insightful journalism, "Tonic" for great jazz in the evening, and "Wiretap" for quirky stories. And my brother Dave's Valentine story will be read this weekend on the ever popular "Vinyl Cafe" show (kind of a Garrison Keillor.) The CBC's website is easily navigated and offers complete programs to download or stream. Lots of music and interesting talk.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Small Festival of Fine Hearts.

I read my little fairy tale (see previous post) at the Small Festival of Fine Hearts, held at our community art centre. It was billed as an art show and poetry reading, and once I was reassured that it wasn't all hearts and flowers, I thought I would take my "Verbatim" piece for its first public appearance.

Our little art centre is very cozy, having a capacity of about 50 people. It was full to bursting on Tuesday night. There was a potluck spread of goodies, including local cider, candied hibiscus blossoms, vegan energy balls and chocolate. The walls were hung with paintings and drawings and my work, the only textile piece.

I was amazed by the variety and quality of the performances. There were poems, and songs, and spoken word. There were stories about Ethiopia, of passionate love, of rats, of long legs. It was an evening to rival any I have have experienced, anywhere. It reminded me, during these days of the star-studded "Cultural Olympiad" across the water in Vancouver, that the real work of culture happens at the local level.

I read my tale aware that some of those in the audience knew more of the details, knew that it wasn't just a story. I felt my words were a little simplistic and banal in the midst of so many eloquent offerings, but realised I had deliberately cloaked the jagged edges of what really happened in a familiar, soothing style.

It felt good to get it out, to hear it in the world. And I also realised that is why my blog is important to me - having one's experiences witnessed and acknowledged by others is a vital step in the creative process.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Chapter Ends

(This is a continuation of the story previously posted here and here.)

Time passed, as it does. The love between the girl and the knight was abiding and withstood the first few storms of winter.

But what the girl did not know was that, long ago, the knight's soul had been pierced by a poisoned arrow. She did not recognize the signs of his inner pain until it was too late. She loved him so much that she even joined him in his feverish belief the poison wasn't there, and that any symptoms he showed were her own doing. The girl ignored the warnings in her heart and tried to make life as comfortable as possible for the anguished knight.

The day came when the strange sickness caused by the poison of long ago erupted like a dragon from within him. He was no longer able to speak any true words, and the arms which once held the girl so lovingly flailed out in terror. His love for the girl drained out of him, and he was consumed by the dragon's fury.

The girl laid her knight to rest on the shores of the magical island. She wept and wept, but slowly, gently, the creatures of the woodlands came to console her, and the birds flew over her, lifting her heart with their song. A jasmine bloomed in the depth of winter and offered her its sweet perfume. The boughs of the trees brushed away her tears, and the waves of the ocean carried away her sorrow.

Her heart remained full, tender, and undiminished.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Welcome Gracie

Yesterday I brought home a new baby.

Her name is Gracie, she is 5 months old, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (Yeah, I had never heard of that breed either), and she is a rescue dog.

She was taken off a northern First Nations reserve along with 19 other dogs. She is a total sweetheart, a bit timid, but that is no surprise considering that she didn't have much interaction with humans during her first months.

A friend who saw me carrying her off the ferry said "Oh, my God, you look like you've just given birth." I'm hoping it was my beatific smile that tipped her off.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Groundhog Day

An unseasonable warmth,
misting with rain,
no shadow falls.