Friday, January 30, 2015

New Work

I spent most of this week at the Trinity Valley Quilt Guild annual retreat in Pottsboro, Texas.  I always enjoy the retreat, and, amazingly, I always get a lot done.  Despite the distraction of working in a room with sixty-two other people, I manage to create and sew.  And this year was no exception.

I went to the retreat with a plan:  create two small tuning fork quilts.  It took me nearly three whole days to create this one:
Tuning Fork #26, approximately 17" x 24"
It was three days of intensive sewing.  And concentrating.  And afterwards, I decided to "play," and to do some free-form, improvisational, seat of my pants kind of sewing.  I created 2 small pieces:

Subdivisions #12, 24" x 30"

Subdivisions #13, 20" x 20"
At home, I am an obsessive sewer, working alone in my studio day after day without seeing anyone other than my husband (before and after work) and Boomer the cat.  But my once-a-year foray into a group sewing session does make me very happy.  I enjoy seeing what everyone is working on, and alternating periods of nose-to-the-grindstone sewing with socializing.
Show and Tell 
Maybe I'm not a complete hermit after all...........

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Richard and Tanya's Quilts Link a Finish FridayFriday Fabric FrenzyConfessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Soft Linearity Opened Last Friday!

My solo show, "Soft Linearity," opened last weekend at Elm Street Gallery in Keller, Texas. It was a wonderful evening!  I spent two hours, sipping wine and chatting with people about my art.  How could that be anything but fun?

Gallery owner Shelly Hye and me
The show will be open through mid-March, so if you get a chance, go see it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

North Texas SAQA Circle

The North Texas Circle had a fabulous meeting on Saturday, January 17! We had an informative discussion of series work/finding your voice/following your passion and several members showed pieces predominately made from recycled materials. As always, I came away recharged and ready to get back in the studio.  
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as the SAQA rep for North Texas. The group meetings have been very inspiring and the annual "working the booth" at International Quilt Festival has enabled me to meet quilt artists from all over the world.  It has been a wonderful experience!
As of February 1, Deborah Bright will be the new North Texas rep. And I'm looking forward to attending meetings as a "civilian!"

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Japan (Part 3)

We took one more day trip from Tokyo during our stay in Japan.  On Saturday, we boarded the shinkansen and headed to Kyoto.

We had two activities planned in Kyoto:  Brian and Bruce wanted to see the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum (they, along with their father, are huge train buffs.  Is it genetic or environmental?) and we wanted to tour a Buddhist temple or two.  So first, the museum, which featured over a dozen steam engines, one of which you could actually ride.
Steam engine at Umekoji
It was a great museum.  You could climb into many of the engines and "drive."
Full steam ahead!
It had a lovely courtyard garden.  Much of it was brown (it was December, after all), but the camellias were blooming.
We left the train museum and walked through Umekoji Park.  We spotted a traditional garden, and found that we could tour it  for 200 yen.   It was out of season, but it was still very beautiful.  And well worth the 200 yen.  We never found out what the name of the garden was. 
When you visit a garden in a freezing drizzle, you have it all to yourself

Some of the Japanese maples were still colorful
 We walked through the park and into a more urban part of Kyoto.  It was full of narrow residential streets and alleys.  We wandered around, admiring the traditional homes, until we spotted a temple a few blocks away. It was Nishi Honganji, the "Western Temple of the Original Vow."
The temple complex occupies an entire city block.  We wandered in.  It was a beautiful place.

Dragon fountain 
The largest ginkgo tree I have ever seen.  It's giant limbs were propped up with large poles.
It included a research center, a visitors center, two large worship buildings (they had altars) and a beautiful entrance gate (the "Karamon").
 We removed our shoes and entered both of the main buildings.  It was fascinating.  Several of the monks were holding a class and although we couldn't understand what they were saying, we stayed and watched a while.
The elevated walkway between the two worship centers.  We
 couldn't figure out what the creature on the corner of the roof was.
Across the street from Nishi Honganji, we found an entire street dedicated to the sale of religious paraphenalia.  The street was lined with shops selling statues of Buddha, altar pieces, bells, boxes....
Altar piece
This was in a niche outside one of the stores.  A cistern?
Kyoto Station was quite beautiful.  I especially liked the ceiling.

We got off the shinkansen at Shin-Yokohama instead of heading back to Tokyo.  And went to one of the most bizarre amusement parks/museums/restaurants I've ever seen.  The Ramen Museum, which describes itself as the world's first food themed amusement park.  In fact, the English pamphlet says it is a "Ramusement Park."  There is a small museum dedicated to, what else, ramen at the street level, and the lower levels are a historical theme park, a recreation of a working-class Tokyo neighborhood from 1958, the year ramen was first introduced to Japan, crowded with tiny shops, houses and restaurants.  It's bustling, a bit worn and predates the industrialization of Japan.  Very nostalgic.  The bottom level teemed with entertainers, sake bars and small shops selling pastries.  And the best part, there were eight ramen shops.  They were all satellites of famous ramen shops from different parts of Japan, and all served distinctive versions of ramen.
Looking down from the 1st lower level.
Very retro.
As I said, it was bizarre.  But the ramen was amazing!  Nothing like the stuff I ate in college.

The next day we headed back to the US.  Christmas in Japan was a fabulous experience.  I hope to go back some day.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Japan (Part 2)

After our very serene stay at the Ryokan, we headed back to the bustle of Tokyo. The Japanese form orderly crowds.  Here several hundred people are waiting at an intersection to cross the road.  No cars, but no one jaywalks.  They all wait for the light to change.  Amazing!
Waiting for the light in Sunshine City
 On Christmas day, we headed to Nippori fabric town.  It is an entire district devoted to fabric and fabric-related businesses.  I had been told that I had to go to "Tomato," so I dragged the boys there.  The 4th floor of the main store (there are 4 "Tomato" stores) is devoted to cottons, so I happily dug through the bolts of Japanese prints, picked several and actually managed to order meters of fabric cut in Japanese.  Mission accomplished!
The famous "Tomato"
We then strolled through Akihabara.  This area is known as "Electric Town,"  and it certainly has a lot of brightly lit signs and billboards.  Even during the day.
Electric Town
The area used to be the center for home electronics (toasters, washing machines etc.), hence the nickname.  It's now the center for anime and manga.
Whole buildings devoted to ads for anime and manga...
After a day in Tokyo, we headed out to the country again.  This time to Kakunodate, in Akita prefecture.  We boarded the shinkansen and headed north through mountains and snow.  The scenery was gorgeous!
From the train, west of Morioka
Kakunodate is known for several things.  For one, the annual cherry blossom festival.
The ad promised cherry blossoms....
But the only cherry trees we saw were not blooming.
Cherry tree in the snow
In fact, the entire town was covered in several feet of beautiful white fluffy snow.
Buddhist temple 
Another Buddhist Ttmple
We hiked around town, but never made the climb up the hill to see Kakunodate's other attraction -- the samurai district.  Some of the houses are still inhabited by the descendants of the samurai who built them, some now museums.  It was simply too snowy and treacherous to get to them.
A traditional home with a little snow on the roof.
So we wandered around town, enjoying the snow and admiring the houses and narrow streets.  We eventually made our way back to the train station and boarded the shinkansen once again.
Shinkansen in the snow
Back in Tokyo, we opted for a warming bowl of udon for dinner.

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