Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Texture, Line and Repetition

I love abstract art.  It's what I collect as well as create.  And nothing makes me happier than taking a photo of an everyday object and turning it into an abstract composition.

I have been looking through my digital pictures, pulling out those that interest me.  And, looking them over, they have several common elements.  Repetition, use of line, texture.

Here are a few of the photos I've been pondering:
Reef off of the North shore of Roatan, 2014.

Cave on Cayman Brac, 2013

Low Tide at First Encounter Beach, 2014

Cave on Cayman Brac, 2013

Kyoto Train Station, 2014

Garden in Kyoto, 2014

Stack of reeds in Oulu, Finland, 2015

Tokyo railroad bridge, 2014

Light pattern on the wall of our hotel room, Oulu, Finland, 2015
Time to get in the studio.  There are a few good ideas here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Off to a Good Start

Last week I asked for help in choosing my next project.  I was trying to decide whether to start a mineral quilt depicting a microscopic view of the mineral chloritoid, or a tuning fork quilt based on a photo of Helsinki Harbor that I took last June.  After reading all of the suggestions, and staring at both inspiration pictures, I decided to start Tuning Fork #31: Helsinki Harbor.

Here's the inspiration photo.  B and I were standing on the north shore of the Katajanokka peninsula near the Helsinki Market Square.  We had just walked around the Uspenski Cathedral.  A storm was rolling in from the North, and we took shelter in a coffee shop.
I decided to use tuning forks to construct this piece.  I've thought a lot about this recently.  Why do I keep making these little units? Frankly, their construction is pretty tedious.  Originally, each tuning fork was pieced using only two fabrics.  The "tuning fork" shape was obvious. 
Recently, however, I've been using multiple fabrics to construct them.  And the result is much more blendy.  

So why do I keep using them?  Like I said, I've been pondering this recently.  And I guess it is because they are my basic building blocks.  The thought of throwing chunks of fabric on the wall to construct my "picture" and then piecing them together just does not appeal to me.  But having a building block to place on the wall and move around does.  Just the way my brain works, I guess.

So, to get back to my Harbor piece, the first thing I did was make pieces for the trees on the shoreline:
I then added the boats in the foreground:
 And some buildings along the wharf.  I decided to add the turquoise buildings.  Artistic license.
 Then I added water.  The water was dark and murky.
I haven't started on the sky yet, but I decided to piece together the bit I'd laid out so far.  So as of 5 pm Wednesday this is where I am:
With the right end pieced together:
So far so good.  I'm enjoying this piece.

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

Monday, February 8, 2016


My friend Mary shared an item on Facebook today that caught my attention.  She posted about the Japanese Festival of Hari-Kuyo, the festival of broken needles.  I'd never heard of it, and given my interest both in all things Japanese and with sewing, I felt I needed to know more.

I started my research with Wikipedia, where I found the following:

"Hari-Kuyō is the Japanese Buddhist and Shinto Festival of Broken Needles, celebrated on February 8 in the Kanto region, but on December 8 in the Kyoto and Kansai regions. It is celebrated by women in Japan as a memorial to all the needles broken in their service during the past year, and as an opportunity to pray for improved skills. It is also called the Needle Mass and Pin Festival."Hari" means "needle" and the suffix "-kuyou" means "memorial"."

On February 8th, housekeepers and professional needle workers (such as kimono makers) carry their bent and broken needles to shrines and temples, and stick them into a slab of tofu or konnyaku (a rather tasteless soft jelly cake).  The tofu is a soft resting place for the items, offering them appropriate respect and a proper farewell.  At the same time, the festival goers pray for better sewing skills in the coming year.

There is another aspect of this tradition that really appealed to me.  Burying the needles in the tofu also buries the troubles that occurred while using them.  It is a way to find consolation, to let go of the pain of the past year.

I don't know about you, but when I look at a quilt, I can remember what was going on in my life while making it.  The good and the bad.  So using the spent needles to release the pain makes perfect sense to me.

I found a lovely on-line pamphlet on Hari-Kuyo by Audrey Lang.  If you wish to learn more, you can read it here.

I decided to retire my broken/bent pins and needles for the year.  To show respect for the work they have enabled me to do, and to offer them a wonderful retirement.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Random Thoughts.....

It's been rather an odd week.  I've worked very hard and I've spent several days doing absolutely nothing.  It's given me a lot of time to think.

Random Thought #1

I finished quilting Metaperidotite #1.  I needed to finish for a entry deadline, and I did.  Despite the fact that it is difficult to quilt with a persistent cough.  And hard to sew the facing on.  But it turned out well.  
Metaperidotite #1, 53" x 53"
Metaperidotite #1, detail
Sorry for the slightly skewed photo of the full quilt.   I found that it's also hard to photograph with a persistent cough. Even if you use a tripod. Which brings me to....

Random Thought #2

I went to a quilting retreat during the last week of January.  Sewing and chatting and laughing and drinking wine -- you know the sort of thing.  But on Tuesday, halfway through the retreat,  I started to cough.  And I haven't stopped coughing since.  I HATE to be sick, and I'm a very bad patient. It's been pretty miserable.  Chills, fever, coughing, aching joints, persistent headache.  I've spent most of this week sitting on the couch binge watching "Midsomer Murders."

Random Thought #3

I love British mysteries.  Both to read and to watch.  Midsomer is my favorite (fictional) county in England, although I wouldn't want to live there.  The death rate is entirely too high.

Random Thought #4

While sitting on the couch, I've not entirely wasted my time.  I've been pondering my next quilt.  Which, by the way, I hope to start after lunch.  I think I can piece with a cough, or at the very least pick out fabrics.  And I'm feeling much less fuzzy headed today. Anyway, I could use some help making a decision. I have two pieces I want to make.  The first is the next mineral thin section piece.  The mineral is chloritoid, a fairly uncommon metamorphic mineral.  The mineral sketch shows a phyllite with radiating rosettes of chloritoid, and has a palette of blue and fuchsia and yellow and black.  Very bright.  The second is a quilt based on a photograph I took of the harbor in Helsinki last summer.  A very dramatic photo, masted ships in the harbor, colorful houses on the waterfront and a very big storm rolling in.  The palette would be pale pastels, gray blue water, gray and white sky, very moody. Which piece do you think I should start?

Random Thought #5

It's too darn warm here for February!  We haven't had a hard freeze yet this year in North Texas.  The temperatures have been very moderate, 60s and 70s during the day and upper 30s and lower 40s at night.  It's beautiful, but problematic.  The grass is still green (we still have to mow our St. Augustine lawn, which turns brown at the first frost.  The stuff is still growing!), the daffodils are not only up but in full bloom (very very early and my husband is very worried about a killing freeze), and I was bitten by a mosquito as large as a housefly on Groundhog Day.  There is something very wrong about that.

Well, it's lunch time.  No more random thinking.  It's time for action!

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

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