Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Bed Quilt Club 2

We had our second meeting yesterday and only four hardy souls braved the freezing winter day to attend. Cabin fever is beginning to set in with the crazy weather swings, so it is appropriate that two of us are making log cabins!
Pat is beginning a Kentucky Log Cabin quilt.

Doris is making a Log Cabin with Stars quilt.

Marg is making a blue scrap Friendship Star quilt.

I have finished the 9 Woven Blocks and have cut out the pieces for the Square and Star blocks for my "Oh, My Tangled Stars!" pattern from Sherri Hisey's Border Creek Station Pattern Company.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lower French River

It is so cold this morning. I can hardly wait for spring. I miss canoeing on our lakes and rivers. This is a photo of our canoes on the north end of the Bass Lake portage on the main channel of the Lower French River, only a few hours from where I live. We spent several glorious days tripping there with dear friends.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Leaf Magic Little Quilts

The Leaf Magic Little Quilts are my latest pattern which use real leaves. I discovered how to preserve leaves for use in my art journals a number of years ago. The leaves are not indestructible, however they remain pliable enough ( even after years) to attach to stable surfaces. Just lately I've begun to use them in my quilted work. This is a photo of my first prototypes. This pattern will be ready for sale this spring at the Embellishment Village booth at Quilt Festival in Chicago as well as International Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon.

I am using Blank Textiles Rock Candy, Guilded Greenery, Bali Rain, Floret and Lava fabrics. I am also using the gorgeous Glitter, Metallics and Rainbows threads from Superior Threads . Embellishment Village is creating little kits of leaf beads to sell with this pattern. I'll post more about it when I get the final pattern published!

Friday, February 22, 2008


"The first colour is red. Red was invented by a Spaniard who was a chemist and as a hobby did bull fighting. He used it on his cape and got bulls madder than anyone else. The second colour is blue - blue was found lying around on the ground by Mr. da Vinci when he was searching for purple. Another colour is yellow. No one knows who really discovered yellow. Red - yellow - blue. I think that is about it except for black and white."

William Accorsi

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Love of Reading

I worked long hours in my landscape design business, and reading became a luxury. You have to think something is wrong in your life when you don't have time to read. We've lived in northern communities where many people were illiterate, and I came to appreciate just how lucky I am to have this basic ability.

I read every night now. I made this pencil drawing of my daughter when she was 10 years old. She's had her nose in a book since she was 6.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Campanula rotundifolia

I took this photo on the shore of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron near the Killarney lighthouse. This pretty little plant with its delicate dancing bells grows out of a tiny crack in the solid bedrock.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Black and White

One of my favorite ideas is to take photos of landscape subjects as black and white images. These are images of Clintonia borealis, also called Blue Bead Lily. In real life, this forest carpet was a tapestry of brilliant greens. But colour can distract, whereas black and white allows focus on the qualities of the subject itself.

This distance shot emphasizes pattern, texture and value (contrast).

This close-up shows texture and is also a good illustration of form and rythym.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Deep Freeze '08

The 8th annual Deep Freeze winter camping expedition began this morning in Sudbury. Every February, people from all over Ontario and some from New York State spend 8 days camping on a remote northern lake. They load their gear which is tied to sleds and toboggans onto a special train called the Budd Car and get off at some predetermined point along the railway tracks. Then they trek a few kilometres to a lake and set up a sprawling campsite with many tents and the occasional igloo. Most of the tents have wood stoves, but some do not.

The sleds begin to line up

My husband is one of these crazy people. There are several families, some married couples, and all age groups from 11 years old to the 70's. They come from all walks of life, united by their love of having a good time in our northern wilderness. Some like to ice fish, many snowshoe or cross-country ski, some are musicians who bring their guitars for the evening festivities (Hawaiian night is a big party with grass skirts, loud shirts and one coconut bra), and many bring their cameras.
Husband is on the left. Already having too much fun.

Tony, Nicole and Tina from New York State

Sam the Malamute waiting for the train

I am happy to stay at home.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lilies Smell Good

I'm having a project published in American Quilter magazine for their July issue, and had to provide them with a professional photo. The talented Sudbury photographer Rachelle Bergeron (1-705-673-4560) took this, as well as my new blog and website photos.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Bed Quilt Club 1

The inaugural meeting of The Bed Quilt Club was held yesterday afternoon at my local quilt store, The Country Quilter in Sudbury. A group of us have decided to meet bi-weekly and work on individual bed quilt projects.

My choice is a pattern called "Oh, My Tangled Stars!" designed by Sherri Hisey of Border Creek Station Pattern Company. This design is published in QUILT Magazine, their latest Feb/Mar 2008 issue. This is the first quilt in 30 years of quiltmaking that I am reproducing, fabric and all. The fabric is Moda's Shangri La collection by the 3 Sisters designers.

In fact 4 of us are doing patterns by Sherri: 3 of "Oh, My Tangled Stars!" and 1 of "I Wish I May". The rest are doing scrap quilts or Log Cabins.

The photo is of the Woven Block. I am making 9 of these, then I will begin the Square and Star Block. Sherri's patterns are beautifully written and illustrated. She teaches quilt shop classes, and her professionalism shows in the quality of her patterns.

I'll be showing photos of my progress after each meeting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Survivor, Northern Ontario

This is what our shed looks like, and this is what my husband found hiding on the wall inside - Lady Beetles! They certainly are survivors. It is -31 C this morning.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fibonacci Sequence

I often use the Fibonacci sequence when designing quilts and landscapes (I retired my landscape design business in 2007). The formula was devised by a 13th century mathematician called Leonardo of Pisa. Also called Fibonacci, he first introduced the sequence in his Liber Abaci in 1202. Begin with 0, add 1, and the sum is the previous 2 numbers. It goes like so:

13+21=34 and so on.

The top image is one of my landscape designs. I used upright evergreens (cedars and Blue Arrow Junipers) and ornamental grasses in groups of 3, 5 and 8 to visually tie together different areas of the garden, and to create a rhythm around the property. I used specimen plants in the lower sequences of 1, 2 and 3 to provide focal points.

I took the photo at right at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas Islands in the Gulf of Mexico. The bays are equidistant, and this is a great illustration of perspective. In landscape design, the Fibonacci sequence can be used to force perspective. For example, if you have a long narrow property and want to create the illusion that it is shorter and more intimate, you can plant something on the long axis, spaced apart from your viewpoint in the sequence: 13', 8', 5', 3'. This will visually compress the property. Conversely, if you have a shallow property and want to make it seem longer, space your plants apart from your viewpoint like so: 3', 5', 8', 13' etc.

For designing quilts, I use this sequence in it's simplest form. For example, on the Healing/Protection Quilt, I sewed buttons on in Fibonacci sequence groups e.g. 3, 5, 8 buttons in a row. Or I may design a quilt that will measure 21" x 34"; a pleasing proportion.

The Fibonacci sequence is commonly used by designers and architects, and is one of my favorite devices for pleasing design.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Protection/Healing Symbols

I've had quite a bit of interest in healing and protection symbols used in this quilt, so I thought I'd explain them. The image at the top is a protection heart, embroidered in gold chain stitch, with a yoni and blue crystal in the center. The heart has life spirals spinning outwards. The word yoni is Sanskrit for "divine passage", "place of birth", or "sacred space".

The image in the centre is a healing hand with a life spiral in the centre. I traced my hand then embroidered it with a chain stitch. The crocheted doily was passed down to me from my family. I wove a blue ribbon through the inner edge and sewed gold beads in the outer edge.

The image at the bottom is a life spiral with a gold star at the centre. I stamped it on the hankerchief using blue acrylic paint and a spiral foam stamp, then embroidered the edges with blue chain stitch. The handkerchief has buttons on the corners from my French grandmother's button box. I also sewed a pink quartz crystal heart to the top of this handkerchief;
quartz crystal is believed to have powerful healing properties.

These symbols are ancient and found in many cultures. I've used them on this quilt, which hangs beside my sister's bed, to watch over and protect her.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dia de Muertos

The wind is so cold today that it hurts to breathe when I go outside. To amuse myself, I've been thinking about the last time I wore sandals, which would be in Monterrey, Mexico last November. Monterrey is a city of 4 million people located at the north end of the Sierra Madre mountains. I flew there after International Quilt Market in Houston to visit 2 Mexican friends who invited me to visit for the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. The photo above is an installation in a little park, and the living person is me!

An altar (altar de muertos) set up in an art gallery lobby. The altars are everywhere: churches, parks, hotel lobbys, and street-side. They display the foods, drinks (lots of tequila and Carta Blanca beer!), and objects that were loved by the deceased person being honoured. My favorite food has to be "Dead Bread", which is a delicious sweet bun that looks like a skull with finger bones on top.

A gorgeous area south of Monterrey.

The view from my friend Marycela's house.

The Day of the Dead celebration on November 2nd combines a party atmosphere with a bittersweet remembrance of family members and friends who have passed on. I think that the Mexicans have a much healthier attitude to death. I found it a very moving experience.

Monterrey is a spectacular city with amazing architecture, outdoor fountains and sculpture, world-class museums, art galleries and natural beauty. But best of all, the people were most welcoming and generous to me. I'd go back in a heart beat. And not just because I could wear sandals.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Blogs and Isolation

My friend Judy Martin's latest post discusses her need for more cultural isolation. I attended a quilt seminar by Jean Ray Laury in 1984, where Jean asked each of us to share where we lived and what our goals were. I lived in a very remote northern community at the time, and Jean advised me to value my isolation. Her point was that cultural noise prevented us as artists from developing our own style.

Committing to a blog has brought me unexpected benefits. I value my work more, because I have to think about how I will share it every day. And the world has gotten much larger for me. I am able to see what regions people are from who read these words. For those who live in Hong Kong, Barcelona, Knoxville, Makati, Hyderabad, Kortrijk and Amsterdam, what do you see when you look out the window? What to-do list does the person in Paris have today? What temperature is it in San Jose? I also value your day and I hope it goes well for you .

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Quilting Barn

I visited The Quilting Barn near New Liskeard, Ontario (Tel: 1-705-647-0081) on Saturday morning. The owners, Ron and Sue Smith, have converted what was a working horse barn less than 2 years ago into an amazing quilt and gift shop.

Ron and Sue Smith

The crackling, cozy fireplace

The loft area with Janet's Botanical Art Quilts patterns (used to hold 500 bales of hay)

Cutting table area in the loft

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Sea Lion, Lake Superior

This landscape quilt is of a beautiful wild spot on the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, near Silver Islet. I took the photograph by hanging onto the tree with one arm and leaning out over the cliff. The Sea Lion is a rock outcrop battered by the tremendous waves of the lake, and it takes a bit of a hike along a narrow path to get to it.

I used upholstery samples sewn to a foundation for the strips. The spruce tree branches are fused, and there are dry brush acrylic paint waves at the base of the Sea Lion.

I gave the quilt to a friend who loved to cross-country ski nearby.