Thursday, February 18, 2016

Just Started

Indian embroidered rug. Photo from Tiggy Rawling's blog, I think.
I'm in-between projects right now, hence the lack of recent postings. I did start a biggish (36"x54") hooked rug, based on the image above. I've used this photo as the wallpaper on my computer for several months now so I think I can stand looking at the design for as long as it will take me to finish. It's an embroidered rug  from Tiggy Rawling's blog, I'd Rather Be in India. (Thanks to Mo Crow, for helping me find the original post.)
I thought I had done a fairly good job with the colours, but they look cooler in this photo. Then again, it's been so rainy lately I think moss would start growing on anything that was still for more than a minute, so it's no wonder the camera had trouble getting the right colour balance. My big issue with what I've got so far is the narrow bands between the wider panels. In the original they look to have meandering curlicues of chain stitch, which would be maddening to try to do with hooking. So I tried just hooking straight lines of colour, which is okay, but doesn't please me in the way it should.
However, I was looking at the current issue of Rug Hooking magazine, and saw a rug crocheted with wool strips onto a latchhook type backing material. Maybe I could crochet the strips through primitive burlap?


But this failure gave me another idea. What if I laid down strips of thick blanket wool and chain stitched through it. My small sample is promising. I am a bit worried that the wool yarn I used to stitch with will wear out sooner than the hooked loops, but heck, it's not like it's going to get heavy use on the floor.

I am also working on the layout of my next Codex piece. It keeps changing so I'm holding off on pictures at this point. But it does have lots of fearsome sea creatures so should be great fun to stitch, once I nail down the design.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

With Open Arms

Part of the welcoming group. Photo by Michelle Young
I was part of a group that welcomed our newest Gabriolan family, the Merbeds, to the island as they drove off the ferry. I think it was one of my proudest moments as a Canadian. Yesterday they were in Lebanon, today they arrived on the other side of the world. It will be a huge culture shock, I am sure, but I know Gabriolans will do their best to help them feel welcome and get settled in.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Atlas Affair

Me and my Mom. The photographer had us hold up an atlas. Photo:Bill Pope
My friend Jean-Pierre reminded me that I hadn't reported on how the Arts Council Fundraiser went. Well, my map sold for $800, which was great. I haven't heard yet how well the Arts Council did, but the rumours are that it was more than last year - which was over $12,000. All the money raised goes to support arts programming on Gabriola, including the wonderful Healing Power of Art.
Me and my friend Carol. All the pictures from that night can be seen on Bill Pope's Flickr Photostream. Photo:Bill Pope
People are very generous here on the island, especially the artists. The event stirred up some feelings for me which are perhaps a little ungracious, but have you ever known me to bite my tongue? Artists are always the ones who are called upon to donate their work for fundraisers. It is often the only way we can help, because most of us are on the low end of the income scale. But it is gut-wrenching to see work go at auction for a fraction of its value, (which happened to quite a few artists that night). It is actually undercutting ourselves. The bar, the 50/50 draw, and tickets probably made up more than half the funds raised at the event, (which is not untypical). The art, which it was supposed to be all about, was almost a sideshow.

Maybe I am suffering from donation fatigue. The next fundraiser coming up for which I will donate a piece is for the Syrian refuge family that Gabriola is sponsoring. (They arrive tomorrow! Very exciting!) And of course I feel especially ungracious carping about always being hit up for donations when all I have to do is be grateful I have not had to go through such horrors as the Syrians. I get to live on a peaceful, enchanted island in the Pacific Northwest - being able to create my work and donate the odd piece to raise money for those needier than me is a blessing.

I would just like to see a little more imagination on the part of event organizers when they are looking for items to auction or for prizes. Last fall I heard about a fundraiser on Lasqueti where the item that earned by far the biggest bid was for the gruff, burly barge captain to shave off his beard. Things like that are fun, and different and generate more excitement.

Of course, it would help if there was more equitable distribution of wealth. But that's a topic for another day.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Persian Cookie Recipe

I got all gourmet pastry chef last night and made up a Middle Eastern twist on Linzer cookies for today's opening at Twin Beaches Gallery. I thought I should share the recipe since I really owe a treat to my dear readers.

1 1/4 cups whole almonds
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp  cinnamon
Generous grind of black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp grated orange zest
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
1 cup pomegranate and raspberry jam

Blanch the almonds and remove the skins. Briefly dry in a 300 degree oven, but do not toast. Grind the nuts finely in a blender or food processor.

Beat butter and sugar together until  light and creamy in texture.

Add eggs and and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine nuts, flour, baking powder, spices and orange zest.

Add the flour to the butter mixture and thoroughly combine.

Form a ball with the dough, wrap in wax paper and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the dough into halves, and roll out one half on a generously floured board. Roll to approximately 1/8 inch thick.

Using a 2" round cookie cutter or a linzer cutter without the insert, cut out the cookies - there will be about 36. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for about 8 minutes. Watch closely. Cookies should have just the slightest tinge of gold around the edges. These will be the bottom half of the cookie.

For the tops, roll out the other half of the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut out another 36 rounds, using either the linzer cutter with an insert, or the 2" cutter. If using the latter, go over the rounds a second time, using a much smaller cutter to create the opening. Again, place on parchment covered baking sheets and bake about 8 minutes as you did the first batch. (Any cut out and scraps can either be re-rolled or baked as is.)

When the cookies have cooled completely, arrange the tops neatly touching on waxed paper. Sift a dusting of confectioner's sugar over the tops.

Spread approximately 1 teaspoon of jam on each of the cookie bottoms. One by one, carefully lift and place the tops onto the bottoms. Give them a gentle press, but not so hard the jam squishes out the sides.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Sometimes I Just See Things

Last night, I noticed this surrealistic little scene happening on my bedside table.