Sunday, December 4, 2016

Santa Claus is Coming To Town...

...and apparently, at our house at least, he's arriving by train!
Janet gave us this wonderful advent calendar.  So, even if I haven't started decorating yet,  Santa is in the house!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Moby Dick at the Winspear Opera House

Most of you don't know this, and why would you(?), but I adore opera.  I didn't always, it's true, but about 20 years ago Brian and I attended a production of Verdi's Macbeth by the Houston Grand Opera and I fell in love.  I was mesmerized by the luscious music, the stunning sets and the dramatic story.  It was an amazing experience, and I have loved going to the opera ever since.  I was hooked.  We became season ticket holders and saw pretty much every production the HGO put on for the 9 years we lived in Houston.

Then we moved to Fort Worth.  It's been several years since I've seen live opera.  And then about a month ago, a friend invited me to attend a production of Moby-Dick at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas.  Of course I said yes.

Moby-Dick is a contemporary opera.  It debuted in Dallas in 2010 to critical raves.  I was excited to see it.
And it didn't disappoint.  The Winspear itself is visually exciting.  We sat high in the Mezzanine, looking down on the orchestra pit.  I was rather worried at first, because there was a gigantic chandelier obstructing our view of the stage.
But I needn't have worried.  As the lights went down, the chandelier went up.
The music was beautiful and the sets, which incorporated a lot of digital imagery, were visually exciting.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So much so, in fact, that I've already got a ticket for Madame Butterfly in March.  I can't wait!

Friday, December 2, 2016

31 Day Blog Writing Challenge

OK, call me crazy.  Cheryl Sleboda is spearheading the "31 Day Blog Writing Challenge" again this year, and I have decided to participate.  I did it last year, and I CAN do it again.  And, honestly, I enjoyed it last December.
Officially, the challenge started yesterday, December 1, but I had already written a blog post.  That counts, doesn't it?

So here we go.  I formally commit to write at least a short blog post during every day in December.  Despite the time crunch presented by parties, houseguests and the holidays.  So here goes!

Join me!  Sign up at

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Off to Colorado We Go!

My perception of the passing of time is way off.  It seems like just yesterday we were in Colorado for Thanksgiving 2015.  But last week -- what do you know? -- it was Thanksgiving again.  So we headed to Evergreen for our yearly celebration of food and friends.

Last year it was bitterly cold and snowy.  Driving was hazardous and the annual Christmas tree hunt was very difficult.  I might even say it was extremely unpleasant.  But this year the temperatures were warm, the sky was blue and the weather was perfect.  So perfect that we were able to take several hikes.
Elena on a rock at Three Sisters
Mount Evans from Mount Falcon
We also managed to squeeze in a couple of museums.  The Denver Museum of Nature and Science was very interesting.  The Prehistoric Journey exhibit was fun, but my favorite was the Extreme Mammals.  This Macrauchenia caught my eye, with his camelish body, giraffe-ish neck and elephantine nose.  And he was very tall -- about 10 feet from nose to tail.  Quite the looker!
We also visited the Morrison National History Museum.  And saw several very impressive dinosaur fossils.  This one liked Elena:
 But Brian managed to keep this T rex in check.
Stay! Good Dinosaur.
The Christmas tree hunt in Lincoln National Forest was fabulous!  It was a beautiful day.  Brian and I found a smallish spruce to take home.
We decided that the 20' tree our friends wanted would indeed fit in their living room.
So we cut it down and wrestled it into submission.
Five geologists vs the tree.  The tree nearly won.
Begs the question, how many geologists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

The tree nearly engulfed the truck.
In fact, after we secured it (quite a feat!) we gathered behind the truck to look at it.  It looked like a tree on wheels.
But is it big enough?  
Somehow we got it into the house and into the stand.  Lets just say it was a challenge getting the thing upright.  But it did fit, if you don't mind the top being bent a little bit at the ceiling.
It fits!
We decided it was perfect just the way it was.  

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Three New Thin Section Pieces

 For several days before I left for Houston for International Quilt Festival, I was pretty restless.  I've been working on a large piece involving banded quartz and hematite.  But I didn't feel that I could give it the attention it deserved, so I decided to "play" a bit and work on several small pieces.

I had been looking at thin sections of banded iron formations, an important source of iron ore.  According to Wikipedia

"Banded iron formations (also known as banded ironstone formations or BIFs) are distinctive units of sedimentary rock that are almost always of Precambrian age.
A typical BIF consists of repeated, thin layers (a few millimeters to a few centimeters in thickness) of silver to black iron oxides, either magnetite (Fe3O4) or hematite (Fe2O3), alternating with bands of iron-poor shales and cherts, often red in color, of similar thickness, and containing microbands (sub-millimeter) of iron oxides."
We have a piece of BIF in our garden.  I collected it on a geology field trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan many years ago. Here it is:
The thin section I used as my working diagram contained banded quartz, hematite, siderite and riebeckite.  Here was my first try:
QMSR#1, 20" x 26" 
For the second piece, I wanted to show the "rhythm" of the banded minerals:
QMSR#2, 26" x 27"
and I was having so much fun, I decided to make a small piece to donate to the SAQA trunk show that will be circulating for the next three years:
QMSR#3, 7" x 10"
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cross Timbers Studio Tour

Saturday our local SAQA group took a field trip to Denton County, on the north side of the DFW metroplex, for the Cross Timbers Artists' Guild annual studio tour.  
Let me start out by saying that I LOVE to see how other artists work.  It doesn't matter what the artistic discipline is, there is something fascinating about seeing how artists organize their spaces.   And this tour offered a glimpse into the working spaces of potters, painters, jewelry designers, collage artists, furniture makers and, of course, fiber artists.
We started the tour at the studio of fiber artist/art quilter Barbara Oliver Hartman.  Barbara is a friend, a long time SAQA member and one of my quilting "idols."  And her studio, which is spread over several rooms, is wonderful.  
Barbara demonstrated how she creates her "confetti" mosaics.  It's a great technique, but you need to have a steady hand.  And you don't dare sneeze, or you may have to start over.
My favorite part of her "studio complex" is this room.  The warm walls perfectly complement her beautiful quilts.  It looks like the perfect place to do hand sewing or to relax after a hard day of quilting.
After Barbara's studio, we went to the studios of a watercolor and collage artist, a watercolor and pencil artist, a jewelry designer, a weaver and a potter.   I loved peeking into their workspaces.

Eric Orr's studio was wonderful.  He was one of the few who had their studio in an outbuilding.  And it was huge.  He uses it as both a classroom and a workspace.  
We were particularly interested in his Raku process.  And he explained it very clearly.
 I loved the little vignettes in his studio.  You have to love an artist who loves the Cat in the Hat.
 And I may have to print this photo and put it in my studio.  My new mantra....
It was a beautiful fall day spent in the company of some of my favorite people.  Bliss!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Report from Houston International Quilt Festival

I was in Houston last week for the International Quilt Festival.  And it was an amazing, exhilarating, exhausting, wonderful, fabulous trip.  If that sounds like overkill on the adjectives, sorry.  It was indeed every one of them.

I went to the show for three reasons.  First, because I had two quilts in the judged show, one of which had won a prize.  Secondly, to see old friends and to make a few new ones.  And thirdly, to work in the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) booth, where we debuted two new exhibits, "Turmoil" and "Tranquility."

We set up the SAQA booth on Tuesday afternoon.  The exhibit quilts were hung by IQF staff, but we had catalogs and small quilts to sell, as well as information about SAQA to disburse.  

Then the fun began.  International Quilt Association (IQA) always informs winners ahead of time, but is very cagy about the level of the award.  Several of my friends had gotten the "you are a winner!" e-mail, and we were all very edgy while we waited for the ceremony to begin.
Waiting to enter the ballroom for the Awards Ceremony
The ceremony itself is very dramatic.  Each category (and there are 21 of them) begins by awarding the honorable mention and works its way up to the first place winner.  Each award winner walks up to the stage and receives a check and a handshake from the sponsor of the category.  When the first place winner is announced, the winning quilt is revealed by raising a curtain.  It's all very exciting, and very nerve-wracking for those of us waiting to see what we have won.

My category was last, which meant that by the time they came to "Art: Abstract - Large" I was a bundle of nerves.  And when they announced that I had won first place, I pretty much shrieked.  And bounced up the stairs to the stage.  It was AMAZING!
The Salt Marsh quilt and me -- I can't get the big grin off my face 
Suzan Engler, a good friend from Houston, also won a first prize in "Digital."
Susan Engler and GMO
And Deborah Boschert, from Lewisville, won a first in "Art: Miniature."
Deborah Boschert's piece, Green Bowl Gathering
My other quilt in the show was String Theory.  It looked great hanging in Art: Abstract - Small.
String Theory
A few random pictures from the actual show.  Kathy York of Austin is the poster girl for Mistyfuse, a fusible web.  Honestly, she is.  Her picture is on the package.
Kathy York and Mistyfuse
Connie Griner bought my quilt, Eastham Salt Marsh, in the IQA silent auction.  Thank you, Connie!
Connie and my IQA piece
I went to several dinners.  This photo is from the "Dinner @ 8" artists' dinner at Pass & Provision, a very cool restaurant.
Dinner @ 8 Dinner
I saw old friends from graduate school, Kathy and John.  They live in Houston and we met for dinner.
Kathy and John
And I have fans!  
And finally, here is the SAQA booth take-down crew.  Tired but happy.
Me, Amalia, Suzan, Maria, Annie and Kim. Photo by Lisa Ellis.
I took pictures of quite a few quilts that caught my eye.  I'll post a few of them another day. 

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