Stretching Art Progress

The Stretching Art challenge was posted long ago:  This year’s theme–Dream Big; Requirements–Size 18 x 36 and try some new technique.

So I started to think on dreams. I’ll admit to censoring out options that I couldn’t imagine a design or technique for or ones that I could imagine but didn’t want to do. I prefer abstract to representational, and that seemed hard, given this theme.

About the time I was exploring ideas, I was also reading of drought and forest fires, so dreaming of water seemed a good thing. Out came the graph paper..

water-early-sketch

Grid = 1 square x inch

I doodled more than two, but kept only these. Early thoughts were flowing rivers and drops containing trees, fish, and something else. Oversized drops to convey abundance. The right sketch got me into shapes going off the edge. And the plan moved on.

water-sketch

The new technique would be inserting those drop shapes rather than appliquéing them. And I did.

water-top

The upper left drop was inserted whole, but I have since trimmed it and will trim a bit more. I had added 2-3 inches on each side so that after quilting I could trim to size. My estimates on how much measurement will be lost to quilting are never accurate.The biggest trim will be at the right and bottom.

I tried sewing the first drop by starting at one side of the point, then starting again in the other direction. It was okay but not great. Better was starting at the side of the shape, holding the clipped background on top and stopping, but not removing the piece from under the needle, to turn. Yes, there was stay stitching first. I tried the first one without pinning, just like I do circles, matching registration points. The second one I pinned very closely around the point. If I ever do this again, I will pin. There will never be a tutorial for this, because there is no way I could interrupt sewing to do photos.

So on to the quilting.

water-detail

You may notice lines near the point. Yes, it was for reinforcement as well as design. I’d sketched a possible design (too lightly to photograph), but this is what has emerged as I worked. The unquilted background is waiting for me to decide how many more “pebbles” and where among the lines. Then on to quilting the drops.

The Stretching Art project is an annual event, unjuried.  You can join the Yahoo Group, if you are interested in considering it for next year.

ETA link to Stretching Art website.

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Not the Weather Quilt but Weather

Portland, OR, isn’t used to snow, so this is noteworthy. Usually snow comes to the higher elevations and the lower get rain.

snow-patio-med

I suppose it is part of Portland’s weirdness that we have five “quadrants”: the usual NE, NW, SE, SW and North, where I live. According to the paper, North got the most snow at 12 inches last night. A few more views–in three directions:

Now back to my weather quilt and other projects in waiting.

ETA: Weather broadcast said that we had not gotten this much snow in one 24 hour period since 1980.

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Gingerbread

Time for my annual jaunt downtown to see the gingerbread creation at the Benson Hotel.

boldt-castle

I forgot to take one photo with people in it for relative perspective. This year’s creation replicated the Boldt Castle in New York. Made with 100 lbs gingerbread, 50 lbs icing, and 20 lbs of marzipan, it took 300 hours.

boldt-candelabra

I was especially intrigued with the tiny candelabra. Behind it an equally tiny “painting”-about 1 1/2 inch by 2.

Some more details:

If you ever visit Portland during December, remember to check this out.

ETA: When I was a child my family took many road trips, one was to New York State. I am sure we saw Boldt Castle because I remember the detail that it was built on Heart Island and stopped when the wife for whom it was being built died. It would have been in the 50s, before it was bought by the state and fixed up, so I am not sure how much of it we saw or even if we could go inside.

 

 

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Good Reading Weather

Etta and Otto and Russell and JamesEtta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My reaction to this novel wavered: sometimes ho-hum, sometimes put off by a stylistic decision, sometimes drawn in and fascinated. I remained puzzled throughout. There are two kinds of puzzlement (at least): 1. puzzled, confused, annoyed and 2. puzzled,intrigued,pondering–willing to reread. My experience was mostly the latter.

This is not a realistic novel, so that opens the door to the question of Why? What reality beyond reality can be conveyed through non-reality? My first answer to that was a feminist one. Etta had so melded with Otto that she needed something dramatic to regain her own identity, so she left, at age 82, on an unrealistic trek across the whole of Canada, on foot. And Otto, understanding, let her go. How else to explain his not pursuing her? Or her dreaming his war dreams? That held up for the first half, then data no longer fit. (view spoiler) I don’t yet have a second answer.

I found it interesting that she always had enough money, that her shoes wore out only once. I began to wonder if the whole novel–in spite of being told from three points of view–was all taking place in one mind. In some ways, the end supports that. (view spoiler)

Early on the pacing was tedious. I kept waiting for a revelation of why Etta left; I kept waiting for the story of a juicy triangle. Neither happened. The triangle was real, but very low key. No more reason was given than we got in the first line of the novel. Normally I like a novel that moves meaningfully between past and present. This one didn’t seem to move meaningfully, but arbitrarily. And the portions were too short. So I found it annoying, at first. I even wondered if in fact there would be no story if it were told chronologically. Gradually, however, the segments of each portion got longer, and I got more attuned to the characters, and I got to caring more about them the more I learned. I pondered who loved Etta more, Otto who let her go or Russell who pursued her.

And is it significant that the talking animal is coyote, and Coyote is a known trickster? And if so, what was the trick?

Yes, I will most likely read the novel again someday.

View all my reviews

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Toy and Joy

Some deadlines work for me–real ones. I’ve tried making fake deadlines to convince myself to work ahead. It is no use because myself knows better. Somewhere in October I had three of those self-made deadlines. Then I convinced myself that the coupon for a small discount on long arm quilting wasn’t enough to make me say, No, to events I wanted to attend. I convinced myself that the project with a real due date of January 31 had plenty of time. And I didn’t finish the Toy and Joy quilts in time to get them to last month’s meeting just in case the weather was bad this month. Luckily the weather is fine.

The meeting is tonight and the last baby quilt is now quilted. Five hours ahead of time.

Back in August, you saw most of the tops here. And earlier, the story of most of the blocks here.  There was a joke in one of my Indiana quilt guilds that a quilt could be shown at show-n-tell seven times. The history of the “rule” was that one member had actually shown seven stages of one quilt–that was before my time, so I didn’t get to see it. Thus, ~3 posts is showing restraint.

The first three are from the guild’s block of the month last year–I won three times. Only two (red-blue-gold, totally scrappy) made it to Toy and Joy quilts. The third (pink) is awaiting quilting.

The pastel block wasn’t bright enough to go with the other ‘totally scrappy’ blocks, so it became a doll quilt all by itself. (The doll quilt is about 20 x 20, the infant quilts 36 x 36.)

The doll quilt back was made from minkie scraps.

tj-doll-back

Yep, that stuff stretches.

And I had to extend one of the three other backs.

tj-infant-back

Silly me, I’d bought 3 yards of flannel for 3 36-inch tops. Then prewashed the flannel. Lesson learned. At least I had that cream strip to finish the third one off.

I did a big meander on all the quilts–the batting required quilting only every 8 inches.

tj-red-blue-gold-detail

Although plan A is to practice FMQ on charity quilts, sometimes quilts just need to be finished. So I don’t really call meandering practice. However, I am getting better at starting and stopping without a zig zag in the line, and my stitch is getting more even, so it isn’t wasted on the practice front.

The other quilt comes from Lotto blocks that I’ve won in the past. I love that heart block; however, it created an interesting design issue.

tj-heart-horizontal

When I planned it, I had it laid out horizontally. However the heart looks better on point.

tj-heart-on-point

Had I been thinking ahead, I’d have made the tans parallel and the blues parallel for this orientation. Lesson learned. Think of the final orientation when designing.

11 pm, ETA: At guild tonight it was announced that our year’s contribution to Toy and Joy is 1889 doll and infant quilts.

I will be linking with Oh Scrap! and Let’s Make Baby Quilts (buttons in sidebar) and Scrap Happy; welcome visitors.

Shall I read a book or get to one of those other two projects?

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Vision and Vigilance Candlelight Vigil

Around 200 people gathered in Waterfront Park at the Japanese American Historical Plaza/Bill of Rights Plaza to say, “Never Again.” The memory of the Japanese incarceration during World War II is much more vivid here in Portland than anywhere else I have been. The experience is more real–people have family who were sent away; others knew people who were sent away and imprisoned. One of my friend’s neighbors was sent away; her family managed to keep the farm for them to return to–many were not so lucky. The occasion for today’s vigil was to say, No, to President-elect Trump’s attempt to use the Japanese imprisonment as precedent for making a list of Muslims.

stone

In this memorial space, the stone to the left has engraved on it the names of the places where the Japanese families were herded and kept behind barbed wire and guarded. Another significance of the space was mentioned in the invocation: We gather here on land ceded by the Tribes of the Grande Ronde.

The vigil opened with Taiko drumming.

taiko

Speakers represented many religions–Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Native American–as well as city and state government and human rights organizations.Overall the message was of unity and solidarity: if they come for one, we will all be there.
I learned of a resistance to the Holocaust, an Imam in Paris had quickly registered Jews as Muslims to protect them.

The city councilman reminded us of Portland’s non-discrimination policies and assured us that Portland would remain a sanctuary city.

An Asian high school student told how important it was for her to learn of various ways Asians had been active in the Civil Rights movement and other crisis situations.

We closed singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

candle

Edited to add link to Oregonian article and professional photos.

 

 

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Wordstock

Among Portland traditions is the all day event called Wordstock, an event currently presented by Literary Arts and held in several venues near the Portland Art Museum. After last year when the crowds were twice the number expected and disgruntled people stood in line but still didn’t get in to sessions, it was a relief to have the six added venues. Large auditoriums were almost filled, but a few empty seats remained, so I’m guessing that most people got in to sessions of their choice.

Several of my choices were sessions recorded for later presentation on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)’s Thinking Out Loud, starting with Sherman Alexie in dialog. He read his first picture book, Thunder Boy, Jr., interspersing many observations and anecdotes. In addition to enjoying his humor, I appreciated his observation that laughter, in addition to making harsh reality bearable, functions as prayer.

Last year I came home with a list of 12 books, mostly all novels, to add to my to-read list. This year there were fewer books and novels for later. One session was a dud–bad acoustics, bad diction. Who knows, I might have been interested in one of the books had I heard what was said.

I did come away wanting to read two memoirs from teachers: Michael Copperman’s Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta, for a more realistic look at what a teacher can accomplish than the Hollywood myth, and Nicholson Baker’s Substitute: Going to School With One Thousand Kids for some of his observations about meaningful education.

Baker and an afternoon presenter, Sallie Tisdale, made similar observations from their childhoods and recommended their freedom: each had been allowed to read anything they wanted to.

From the session titled “Tales of Two Americas,” I came away with novels (Richard Russo), essays (Karen Russell) and poetry (Kevin Young) to read. Don’t hold your breath, but someday there will be posts reviewing these various readings.

 

 

 

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