Monday, April 30, 2012

A Week on the Coast of Devon

I have just returned home from a week in Devon, England. I was mostly staying at the Dolphin Hotel, in a little town called Beer, perched on the cliffs, looking out to sea. While my father brought our family to Canada in 1957, his sister Maureen stayed in England. She taught the deaf in Margate, Kent for most of her working life, but then moved to Beer on the Devon coast when she retired, where she lived in one of the fisherman's cottages until her decreasing mobility necessitated a move to a home a few years ago. Sadly she has just died, and that's what took me on this quite unexpected trip. Her
longtime friend, Freda, helped me with all that needed to be done, and then on Friday we said our final goodbyes. It was a little sad to think that now the last of that branch of our family in England is gone. But it was also a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to re-visit a place in which I still feel very much at home, and one of the places in which our roots reside. There are some very fine artists that come from that part of Britain, and I hope that one day I have the opportunity to return, with fabric in hand, do record some of those memories. For now I am happy to be back home.

Friday, April 20, 2012

It Takes a Village - on Quadra Island

I had a great day on Quadra Island yesterday, teaching my It Takes a Village workshop. Some of the class made their villages in African fabrics, while others used batiks, or brightly coloured scraps - it's really possible to use almost any assortment of fabrics. While a few workshop members have a connection of some sort to Africa, others took the workshop because they warm to that concept - that it does take a village, or at least a community, to raise a child. I know how thankful I am for the family and friends that have been involved in my own children's growth and upbringing. Maybe we in the west feel that even more these days, as there is so much about
our society that has the potential to isolate us from one another. Sonia, shown here, managed to get her quilt top together during the class, and most people had their huts constructed (Kate made enough huts for two quilts!), and I look forward to seeing them when they're finished. Barb Round (next pic) was my very able and helpful classroom helper. For Janet (pictured in front of the sample), it was her first workshop. She's newly retired from teaching and thoroughly enjoying the new freedom she now has to do things like take classes. The last photo is of Joan, who actually took all these pictures (thank you, Joan!), and who I was delighted to meet up with
again. All in all, it was a great day. Thank you so much to everyone for making me feel so welcome. Great to see you again!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Lone Tree, and Other Monterey Memories

I have been home for 5 days now, but am still reminiscing about my time at the Empty Spools Seminar (Asilomar) and the Monterey Peninsula. It really was a very special time. Just south of Asimolar, is the 17 Mile Drive - a superb stretch of coastline that we explored with friends, Lyn and Bob. And one of the stops is at the "Lone Pine". This tree has withstood the ravages of weather for more than 200 years, and its image has been copyrighted, if you can believe it, by the company that owns Pebble Beach, among other things. There is a story that a well-known quilter used it in one of her quilts, but then was unable to show it/sell it, due to the copyright issue. Monterey pines and cypress are the main trees growing in this part of the world, and a particularly stunning grouping of several pines stands right outside the main hall and the dining room at Asilomar. There's also a photo of the boardwalk through the sand dunes - all of these may appear in future quilts. Who knows? For now, I'm back to working on a few commitments that were

waiting at home for me - a block for the Hornby Community Quilt, a 12" X 12" piece for a SAQA of Western Canada exhibit, and samples for new kits that will make their appearance at Quilt Canada at the end of May in Halifax. Yes, I will be there as a vendor, with lots of African fabrics, batiks, patterns and kits. I'll give you a peek at some of what I'll be bringing in the days to come. (The last photo, by the way, is the one from which I drafted my design in the Ruth McDowell class. I realized that without it, the diagram I showed you on my last post would mean absolutely nothing!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ruth McDowell Workshop

Our second week has come to an end at Asilomar, and tomorrow we fly home. I so enjoyed being in Ruth McDowell's class. Although it was my third class with her, I learned many things that had previously passed me by, especially as I watched other students around me work out various problems. I only got as far as making the line drawing from my photo - a shot taken in Namibia almost 20 years ago, of three of our children. They are sitting on the bench beside a watering hole in Etosha National Park, watching the elephants come down for a drink. I will keep you posted on how it develops. Meanwhile, here are some
photos of other students and their works in progress. First is my table-mate, Jan, with her brilliant Poppies. I love the fabrics she's chosen to work with, and can't wait to see it finished. Next is Ann's Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. Aren't those stripes marvellous on the rock face? Ann will soon be teaching Ruth's method of designing and piecing, now that Ruth is retiring, should any of you be interested in having her to teach in your area. Next are Gayle's Hydrangeas. Gayle's fabrics - at The Back Porch shop in Pacific Grove - is a treasure house of fabrics, many of which showed up in the quilts being
designed. Next is Carole's Monterey Sea Wall. Actually, I don't think that's the exact name, but it's a wall that's been painted in almost sepia tones - two men bringing in a fishing boat. Great subject matter. And lastly there's my line drawing. Just a little taste for you of the class, and of the style of work I hope to be incorporting into more of my own work in the months to come.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Week Two at Asilomar

Our second week at Asilomar is rapidly coming to an end. It has been fabulous being here, in every way. We've seen some magnificent scenery, met up with old friends and made some new friends, and had superb instruction and enough stimulation of ideas and suggestions of techniques to last for months to come. Donna from Yellowknife and Marnie from Timmins are working on their pieces in Gloria Loughman's workshop in the first photo. In the second, Joan and I are enjoying lunch with old friends, Lyn and Bob, who were Maid of Honour and Best Man at our wedding almost 35 years ago. The next two
give you a glimpse of the magnificent scenery along the Monterey coastline. Thanks to Lyn and Bob, we were able to explore this, as well as the charming town of Carmel, on the days off we had between workshops. And lastly, there's Ruth McDowell, whose workshop on Designing from Nature I was fortunate enough to get into. Especially wonderful, as she is retiring this year, having earned her livelihood from art quilting since the early 80's. What an example, and what courage and determination (and as she would probably add, what a terrific amount of hard work)it has taken. Tomorrow after class, we will be able to tour
around all the classes on offer this session at Asilomar, with the opportunity to see what others have been working on. I am profoundly thankful that I've been able to come here for this time, and would recommend the experience to anyone wanting to study with some of the best quilt teachers in the world.