Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Feather Edged Star




For many years every spare moment I had was spent quilting, especially when my 3 older children were small. Their playground was under the quilts... which were stitched into a frame and perched on 4 chairs ... one under each corner... it looked like stained glass windows when they looked up from under it... with the light pouring through... it was magical...

The ends of my fingers looked like pincushions ... tough and calloused ... Several times I even sewed my finger to the underneath of the quilt because I never felt the needle... during that time period I made many, many quilts... after I unattached my finger, of course...

The name Feather Edged Star comes from the small triangles that surround the star... This is a traditional pieced quilt where all the pieces are cut out with the grain and individually stitched together to form the top...then a layer of batting is sandwiched in the middle with a plain sheet of broadcloth attached to the back... I liked the strong contrast of the red and cream/white colors together...

This quilt is for a queen sized bed... usually I would have put much more quilting and piecework into the star section but this time I decided to do it differently...

Each large Star block is 24" sq......  I ran the background quilting diagonally about 1/2" apart.... tiny stitches holding all 3 layers together, about 8-10 per inch...

I love the way quilts feel ... the rise and fall of puffed portions against the quilted down areas... if I was blind I could still know the beauty of one...






I quilted a Feather Rope Design along the outside border that goes around the quilt.... one of my favourite borders ...

Transferring the pattern was the tricky part... I used to awkwardly hold it against a window pane so I could see... to trace it onto the fabric .. and it worked pretty well... a handy vertical "light table"... one I don't need to put away... this was done before the layers were assembled...





This particular quilt has a story of survival... It is really a wonder it even exists at all... the pieced top came through the fire that destroyed our house in the early 1990's (which we had built ourselves and worked on for 15 years) ... as far as we could figure out, burning coals somehow escaped by way of the door or draft  of the wood furnace...

... it smoldered for days..... then the fire was eventually over... the brick chimney, stark, solitary and upright,  stood alone in the middle of the burnt-out foundation ... didn't help that we had 8 cord of our winter firewood in the basement....

...we scraped through the charred rubble to see if anything could be salvaged...

Low and behold out of the bottom of an old burnt cabinet... that was only partly saved because part of a wall had fallen on it .... the bottom drawer where the quilt top had been stored... miraculously... had not burned to a cinder...

The Quilt Top had been packed so tightly with some other fabrics ... that they acted like insulation and protected it ... I couldn't believe it! ... a raging fire had destroyed our entire house and all its contents (and our sweet little dog, Teddy, a Keeshond and our beautiful cat, Chantzee) but this fragile piece of fabric survived...

The smell of the fire was very strong within the fabric... I thought there was no hope of extracting the stench... but after much soaking, rinsing, washing... and more soaking, washing, rinsing... and airing.... repeatedly... it freshened ... mostly...

...and with that it gave me hope that things would be better... I quilted it two years later...

and sleep under it most every night...





Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Little Door to the Little Room


When we built the first part of our house which we lived in for a couple years while building the main portion... it was pretty tight quarters... so we had to use every bit of space to our best benefit...

On the second floor we devised a way to make enough room so we and our son could each have our own rooms... but in order to do this we had to have a very narrow doorway between the two.......... This door leads into his old room... the ceiling was tall enough for us to make a sleeping loft... the beams of the floor can be seen through the doorway... it doubled his space which had only been 8' x 8'... he climbed up a ladder to sleep and used the small main floor for playing...



We went out to the barn to look through our old door collection that we had been scavenging for years... a thick double boarded door with a beautiful paint patina, seemed like it might work... since we could easily cut it to the necessary size... full thickness tongue and groove boards running up and down on one side ... across on the other....

This door came from an old house on Bull Moose Hill , Kings Co., New Brunswick, yes that is its actual name... that was half fallen into the ground.... but still standing in areas supported by the doors...
This was its cellar door in the winter kitchen..... a porcupine had chewed quite a large portion off the lower corner.... so he could have easy access to his new abode... to go up and down and in and out...


The door was too large ... so we cut it down to a narrow 18" width and 6½' tall ... and because we have a knack of finding a way to make things much more difficult than is necessary... we decided it would look really nice arched!!... careful measuring and soon we had it cut to a lovely curve... then sanded and it was nice.................

This was when we looked at each other and thought... at the same time... "why can't we ever do anything the easy way???


...........Building a house is a Huge Learning Curve ... Don't ever let anyone kid you on that one....



... here's one reason... although it is easy to cut a curve on the top of a door.... it is not easy to make and finish a curved opening in a wall ... especially for people who never did it before...

Good thing we work for ourselves because no one would ever, have given us this much time off to work... or was it play on a project...

This took more time than we had planned but eventually after days ... and weeks of procrastination, head scratching, scribbling and researching...... we figured it out..... and it worked...


....and because of its unusual dimensions... it feels really fun to walk through every time...



John creates steel metalwork but this beautiful handle was made by an ironworker in Nova Scotia who had a booth near ours at a past craft fair.... and whose name escapes me at the present ...... We also attached a hammered sheet of copper in the area under the handle to cover the unusable original doorknob hole ............

The old door has served many... the people from back then... the porcupine and his friends... and now us...


..est. age of door... 150 yrs.

Sky Blue Abstract



A detail of a pair of ear rings I made in January... They are part of a series in a method I really enjoy working in... Abstract layering of Sterling Silver and Copper.

It always feels as if... I am giving myself a treat just to be part of the process of bringing an object into being.. in this case, a body adornment...

Heat ... Hammering... Happenstance... Rawness and Delicacy... all in one...



I also love that just a small change in moving the "ingredients" around a bit, can give such a different effect in the end... making each and every one... a One-of-a-Kind unique object ...

I find it hard to stop playing once I get into it... and then I utter my frequent cry....

...................."Oh!...If there were only more hours in the day"...............



basic ear ring approx. 1¼" long... ear wire makes it longer.. similar one of a kind designs ... $50.00 pr available   sold

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Deer Fly




The Deer Fly...Chrysops spp, ... 3/8 - 5/8" long, black with yellowish-green markings on thorax and most of abdomen; wings have distinctive brownish-black pattern; Larva is yellowish-white or greenish with brown rings...

The old "Eve" story raises its ugly head when referring to the Deer Fly..........
...The Female of the species circles their intended victim before settling and immediately biting...
As only the females blade-like, mouth parts are adapted for cutting skin and taking blood from mammals and birds...

Where on the other hand, the sweet Male of the species does not bite... .. they merely drink from pools or flowers...... Ahhhhh!!! How adorable!!!






The habitat of these insects are worldwide in deciduous and mixed forests, meadows, roadsides and suburbs..... near running water and their victims...the mammals and birds of course...






Deer Flies like to pester us during the months of June, July and August... get ready... summers on its way!!!


approx. 2" x 4"....watercolor, ink, brush and pen on 140 lb CP Arches WC paper

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hot Chocolate and a Spoon


Take some Cocoa... add some sweet... blend it with some milk...
Stir in some big marshmallows... Now be careful... it is Hot!

Steaming... Thick... Delicious... ....Velvety on the tongue
Drink it...slowly....... Take your...time....... Enjoy it...till its done...



...Sip it... by yourself.... or with a friend...

...A creamy mustache in the end...


...Warmth enfolds the guilty pleasure...



8" x 10" oil on canvas... details of the original that I had fun painting last year

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Quote From Jung



I made a little book..... a few years back.... and this quote from Carl Gustav Jung... I wrote in it...



"The Artist's life cannot be other than full of conflicts...
For two forces are at war within him...
On the one hand... the common human longing for happiness... satisfaction... and security in life...
and on the other... a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire"



Carl Gustav Jung... 1875-1961... Swiss Psychologist, Therapist, Philosopher, Psychiatrist

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Little Red Fox





Sly... Shy... Cunning...

Dusk to dawn goes Hunting...

During the day, sleeps under a root...

If the farmers catch him.... Red might get the Boot!






Fox and Geese quilt patterns ... Fables... Fairy tales.... and Nursery Rhymes all recognize the nature of this little creature... The Fox and the Grapes... the whiskered gentleman that taunted Jemima Puddle-Duck...

Brier Fox... Old Reynard... characters familiar from childhood stories...


The classic image of a fox running away with his large bushy tail outstretched behind him... with a chicken in his mouth is emblazoned in our mind... Only doing what a little fellow who lives in the woods has to do... Go out and search for his supper...

Most of the time though we observe them hunting in the field for mice ... slipping silently along the edge of the trees bordering the field...



Once as we watched out an east window at dusk... two young foxes came out and played in the grass with a charred stick from our firepit... chasing each other round and round... wrestling for it... hiding in the grass... pouncing... stealing it back and forth... guarding it...
....watching them was no different than watching two dogs at play... the instinct was the same... the enjoyment too... for them and us...


The Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes, 35-40" long, including long bushy tail with white tip... small, doglike. Rusty reddish above; white underparts, chin, throat. Prominent pointy ears. Back of ear, lower legs and feet, black... Very adaptable to most habitats and foods... Omnivorous, eats whatever is available...

One of the most widespread of all mammals.


approx. 4" x 4" watercolor on heavy sketchbook paper... inspired by a nursery rhyme illustration

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Daphne... For Earth Day


I salute Earth day by focusing on a beautiful early flowering shrub... Daphne, that has given us and anyone who is within range of it... Joy... every year since we found it...

I relate Daphne to Earth day as it was presented to me by Nature itself... the seed of which was either blown by the wind or deposited by a bird to a lonely gravel roadside... where it had managed... against all odds, to take root... survive... and grow... to the point at which we discovered it.




We found it 15 years ago when we were going for a walk along a quiet country road after supper as the sun was going down...
it was only a single small twig... approx. 12" tall completely covered with deep rose colored blossoms... there was simply no ignoring it... not just because of its brilliance but even more emphatic... was its fragrance.... Intoxicating...

At the time we did not know what it was... just that it was a beautiful gift from nature... We saw it again on our way back... we could not resist it... we hurried home ... came right back ... carefully dug it up and planted it by our door in our new garden... just where the sun shines... when it rises in the morning...

We took care of it and to our most happy surprise it flourished...



When we moved to St.Martins in 2000 we could not leave it behind... it represented Spring itself!

We brought it with us... planted it by our door... again...

It has flourished even more than we had ever hoped... It doesn't look like much yet... when this picture was taken this morning... but in a few days with our warmer temperatures.... it will burst forth...

At this time of year it is just beginning to flower ... these blooms just opened today... when it is in full bloom it is covered top to bottom in blooms...

...when the screen door or window is open nearby the fragrance floats into the house... when you pass by... it hits you like a wake up call... to stop and enjoy the beauty that nature has given us....



Thank you little bird or gentle breezes... You have made my Earth Day!


Daphne, daphne mezereum... spread 2-4'... height 3-4'... hardy... needs little pruning, I never do... can also be propagated by root cuttings

......a single cut branch fills an entire room with its heady scent...

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Wood Pile




A couple days ago the yearly wood pile arrived in the backyard...  5 -6 cords of hardwood... cut and split... We don't use this much but it feels secure to have extra on hand ...  as we heat almost exclusively with wood... Also its good to have some left over in the spring for bonfires in the firepits.

... wet wood just after cutting is called green... after drying in the summer sun and air, it loses 1/2 its weight and it is ready to be stacked in the woodshed... you can easily tell when it is dry ... when you clunk two pieces together, they make a clear ringing sound... sort of like hitting two baseball bats together...





The Woodshed ...we finally finished last spring... for 2 years it was just a roof with supports and plastic wrapped around for protection ...

...for the previous 5 years the firewood just laid on the ground with tarps covering it... not too convenient when we had to hack through a few feet of snow and ice in freezing weather to get to it...

When we closed in the woodshed, we spaced the boards about 3/4" apart so the air can move through and the wood has plenty of ventilation to keep it dry ....
In late fall, after about 6 months of air drying, we stack the firewood in the woodshed.




 The most plentiful hardwoods to use for heating around this area are ........White Birch ...




........Maple.....



... and Yellow Birch





Oh and these are our helpers... Tabitha, Pirate, and Toby... well, more like supervisors and investigators... pretty intense in their self-appointed tasks of informing us of any surprise visitors who have taken up lodging in the same woodpile... busy noses!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

After Leonardo



A simple pencil sketch and a bit of wash... I could never do him justice but he makes one want to try... so I did ... on a 5" x 7" 300 lb CP Arches WC paper...


Leonardo da Vinci.... 1452-1519


High Renaissance scientist... writer... painter... draftsman...inventor... architect... musician... sculptor............

Although Leonardo lacked the knowledge of Latin...it was probably an advantage since this work is based on his own observations rather than the teachings of others.....

An original thinker and creator...






Leonardo was one of the greatest painters and most versatile geniuses in history...

A report states... of his participation in a debate at court, between representatives of the arts and sciences that..... " he silenced the learned and he confounded the liveliest intellect"

A teacher for all....

I would highly recommend the book "Leonardo da Vinci" Sketches and Drawings by Frank Zöllner and published by Taschen


... also this fabulous online source of Leonardo's Drawings...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Where Are We Going




A torch brings a flame to the metal...

Molten silver melts... flows...

Into... onto... around...


Textures... lines... curves...

Shapes... layers... markings...


A puzzle for a moment... the mind creates a story... solves a riddle... tells another...





Hammered... antiqued..... partially reticulated...

A sculpture for your body...



..........it just occurred to me that it somehow seems ironic to create an object, that is held precious... with molten heat and hammer blows... the fury of fire and steel...

Is this the same as man going to war to create peace.....................................



Sterling Silver and Copper Pin ..... approx. 2" x 2" ......... I loved making this...

$150.00 Sold

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Song to the Evening Star


Not an accomplished player by any means… I merely play for my own inner enjoyment… a solitary pleasure…

I prefer playing slowly... feeling every note and reverberation…

The last while I have been playing …
...............“The Song to the Evening Star” by Richard Wagner (1813-1883)




… somewhat melancholy… somewhat uplifting…. it gets inside …





….yellowed pages from a 1940’s music book… found at a flea market




......1917 Amherst Piano handed down from my grandmother.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Treasures


High tide wrack lines...

Treasures from the Sea...

Bleached by the sun...

Gathered from the shore...

Sitting in a shell...

Beauty on my windowsill...




Atlantic Rock Crabs... Cancer irroratus... marine arthropod... crustacean class... grow up to 13 cm. or 5¼" across the carapace, the crabs thick defensive shield...
A body enclosed in an armor casing of tough protein called Chitin... This exoskeleton must be periodically shed to permit growth...
Found in intertidal and subtidal waters... on rocky and sandy seashores... among kelp beds
Carapace varies in color from red to purple.... underside is pale white/gray to yellowish

Monday, April 14, 2008

Vincent Van Gogh

......... Vincent van Gogh...... Born 1853.......

.....Post Impressionist/Pre- Expressionist...

He never began painting till his late twenties after totally failing to become a preacher... very sensitive... an introvert...

His contribution to Art was not recognized in his lifetime ... As with many artists...

Van Gogh was strongly influenced by Paul Gauguin and wanted to form an art colony with him... but that plan fell apart due to Van Gogh's fanatical outbursts.... actually most of his relationships ended due to his erratic behaviour...

Nonetheless, he expressed his deepest emotions in brilliant color......
...painting simple objects, landscapes and many self-portraits with swirls, patches, lines and strokes while living in great poverty of his own wanting... clinging to reality as best he could...

We have evidence of his creative life through correspondence with his art dealer brother, Theo, who funded his artistic life... He achieved his greatest works during the last two years of his life... Imprisoned by psychological trauma until his suicide by gun shot in July 1890... ...tragic genius.... tortured soul... This video of Vincent Van Gogh's Self Portraits was created by Philip Scott Johnson ... please see this Art Resource information and the Vincent gallery about Vincent Van Gogh .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Watercolor Mittens


Norwegian mittens in watercolor and india ink... Even though the classic colors of this design is high contrast such as black and white, I chose not to go that dark for this little sketch...

It is pretty simple... I didn't go for extreme detail of any kind, just tried to loosely describe them...



At least it didn't take as long as knitting them... but paper's not as warm...


The real ones that were the inspiration...


approx. 3½" x 5" watercolor, ink, brush, pen on CP Arches WC paper

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Norwegian Star Mittens


These Mitts are ones I knit years ago... I am putting them away for the season ... I surely hope I will not need them again this spring...

They are warm and made of wool.... The black is from the Briggs and Little Woolen Mill in Harvey Station, New Brunswick.... The white I handspun from the fleece of my Border Leicester sheep.... At that time I had 2 sheep and 3 Angora goats that provided lots of fleece... I sheared them myself with a pair of hand shears which looked like big primitive scissors... slow job... the sheep once a year... the goats twice a year...

This Norwegian knitting pattern originated in the Selbu, a small northerly district where Norway's oldest knitting tradition is two-stranded knitting... which creates a warmer and thicker mitt due to the two layers of wool trapping the heat....

The sjenn-rosa or the eight petaled rose, is a favorite pattern... known as the "Norwegian Star"... classically knit in high contrast colors such as white on black....

I love the design and the black and white against the snow...

...but just before I put them away I better mend a couple of holes as they have become a little thread bare on the palms... I also might try a little watercolor of them and maybe post it tomorrow...

Friday, April 11, 2008

St. Martins at Low Tide


This morning was so beautiful I could not resist indulging myself a bit.... My son, Max and I went down to the beach.... I mean the "ocean floor"... The tide was out almost as far as it could go... exposing a vast expanse of horizontal wonder...


just 5-6 hours earlier the ocean would have been 45-50 feet above our heads...




Twice a day this occurs... 100 billion tons of salty sea water move in and out the bay...



we explored... took some pictures and marveled that we had the whole 3 miles of beach to ourselves...


As is evident at the harbor, the fishing boats were sitting on the bottom... when the tides come in again they will be floating and off they will go into the bay... it is not a 50 foot rise here due to the lay of the land which makes a snug harbor...
...some high tides actually touch the bottom of the two covered bridges.

I would suggest browsing Terri's Bay of Fundy Blog to have a more in depth look at the incredible Bay and the things it does... My son Max posted some great pictures of his exploring too.. on his April 11th entry

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Black Fly



Diptera Simuliidae known to us as...... the dreaded "Black Fly"... although not always black... for variety they also come in dark brown, reddish-brown, grey or yellowish-orange... which makes them fun to paint but not to be around... as the females require a blood meal before they can lay their eggs.... and the unfortunate victim is usually the nearest warm blooded mammal... namely cats, dogs, birds and us!

Black Flies are found near flowing water where they lay their eggs... the larvae hold fast to stones, twigs, plants and debris above and under water.... by means of hooks or a sucker device at the end of their abdomens... you sometimes see their casings under rocks along streams...



They do not transmit disease to man in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.... but their bites produce toxic and allergic reactions...

Not a wanted little insect... mostly a general nuisance... when summer finally arrives and it feels just right to be out with your bare skin exposed.................. they come


approx. 2" x 3" pen, ink, watercolor on CP Arches WC paper