Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Verona Walls

Art critic, novelist, painter and poet, John Berger, says "The process of seeing is less spontaneous and natural then we tend to believe. A large part of seeing depends upon habit and convention."
(quote taken from his BBC series Ways of Seeing.)

Start seeing as you walk along that same street. The street you walk along every day.

I see this wall every day as I walk in Verona, Italy, and I love it. I love the colours. I love the curve in the road where the wall is. I love the view of the Adige River near that wall.

I have enjoyed transferring my photographs onto different types of fabric in the past.

I plan to transfer these onto silk and use them as a background for an art piece.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hand Embroidery

In the late 1960's households in Italy started purchasing washing machines.

With that, they also needed to buy laundry soap. That became a competitive market.

Some companies put "prizes" in their boxes to encourage shoppers to select their product.

The oval shaped boxes were made of cardboard. A company put hand-embroidered linen towels in their boxes. My friend's mom collected all 4 designs.

The difference was in the border colours; some were yellow, some blue, some pink, some light green. The flowers were exactly the same.

The  embroidery is hand done. The appliqué is super tiny and looks hand done but I think it maybe machine appliqué. Made in China.

The other embroidery sample I have for you is this one.

It was made about 100 years ago by a friend's friend.

It was originally the front of a parasol cover and had a kind of felted back but by the time my friend got it the back was ruined so she recycled it into a bag.

All hand done.

The back was gorgeous and so neat! (forgot to take a picture)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Baby Steps

That is my secret. Baby steps.

My friend Piera's patchwork. She lives in Verona.
Notice there are two quilts; the one on the right has the stars in a white fabric,
the one on the left has coloured stars.
The pattern is the same though. Also to note: the pieces cut out
for the stars and tumbling blocks are
all the same shape and size.

I do everything one step at a time.

Piera started this in May...maybe June. Yap 3-4 months ago.

I don't think of how overwhelming the job or project is.

Piera is the accountant for a store
 that she and her husband own.
She has many responsibilities there and
with her family yet finds
a few minutes each day to sit outside her shop
and sew two pieces together
while she admires the view of
the Basilica San Zeno from her chair.

I just start it and put one foot in front of the other and keep going (never looking ahead to discourage myself) and all of a sudden I can say, I did it!

I sometimes join her in the late afternoon.

I just don't understand people who say to me, "I don't have time to make a quilt". Neither do I really.
But if you sew 2 pieces of fabric together and the next time you have a second you sew two more, and two more...It might take you a while but eventually you'll have accomplished it.
(Where to find those minutes? That is for another post!)

When I am in Canada she sends me pictures of that view!

Maybe what they mean to say is "I have no interest in making a quilt."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Every second day I check my lists for my Umbria trip which is fast approaching.  I am very prepared but I just feel better checking that everything is in place.

If you want to see how many more days before the trip, click here.

Yesterday, I decided to add a sketch in my journal from summer 2014. It is the journal I worked on during the summer that I had the idea to do the journaling trip to Umbria. I used it as a sample to show potential travellers what kind of exercises we'd be doing.

I wanted to time my sketch. I want to tell the travellers that a sketch is not a drawing. It should be something done very quickly. (I remember taking a sketching class a few years ago at the Toronto School of Art and the teacher made us sketch the actors in a movie. Do you know how fast they move and change position?? It was impossible.)

So I found a page in the journal that was empty and set off outside. 

I got so into sketching that I forgot to time myself!

I 'snapped out of it' when I got home, after I had added some colour with my water paints.

Oh well. It was nice getting lost in the moment.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Typical Day

What is my typical day when I am in the south of Italy on holidays?

Well, I walk down to meet the fish guy early in the morning. He drives around to the smaller paese to sell fresh fish.

He often says hello to me through his van loud-speaker which always makes me laugh!

Then I walk down to the beach and as I do, enjoy the views.

I swim for a few hours. I actually think of nothing when I swim!

I meet up with friends. The older folk always like to tell stories of their interesting past. I am glad to listen and laugh with them.

I come back home and on the way I knock at Signora Rosa's house and ask if she has anything from her garden she wants to sell. I use that fresh produce for lunch.

She sometimes gives me a recipe suggestion- like today: grated Tropea onion with grated zucchini in a pan with some oil. Let it cook and reduce. Add zucchini flowers and cook till creamy texture. Add cooked pasta and mix well. Add a handful of grated cheese.

After lunch, I sew or sketch or record stories I heard at the beach. My balcony has an amazing view of the sea and a breeze which is much appreciated on hot afternoons. I sometimes go back to the beach.

In the early evening some locals gather near the only store in town. We sit outside and chat...think Dolce Gabbana ads... and I sometimes knit. We wave to friends in the passing cars. There is lots of laughter.

It's summer and I have no clock to run my day. It's un-thinking time. It's just ...being.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

You Might Like It...Eventually

I love the look of hand quilting.

My baby quilt has a few folds from being in my suitcase!

I have done very little of it myself.  My work is usually machine pieced and machine quilted, free hand. I have tried to like doing the hand quilting myself but it never clicked with me. I never had much success and it wasn't something I found pleasurable. It was definitely NOT relaxing.

Having the baby blanket up close as I quilt,  I enjoy looking
at all the scraps I used to make it.
I really do love scrap quilts,

I know how to do theory, that is. If anyone asks me, I can tell them how to do it, how to hold the needle, that a shorter needle is better to use because you can "rock" it while you make the stitches, that the spaces should be the same size as the stitch length, to use hand-quilting thread that is usually a little thicker than regular thread. I can advise on what pattern would work well with their quilt design. But again, I have not made very many hand-quilted quilts myself.

I have a friend who has a shop near where I stay in Verona. In the afternoon, she sometimes sits outside if there are no customers and does hand work- knit, embroider, quilt or piece.

The other day I went out and asked her for advise on how to quilt by hand. She laughed because she could not possibly teach ME anything. But I sat beside her and we chatted and I just quilted and ...guess what? I actually DO like quilting by hand....after 25 years of trying to like it!

So I have brought my baby quilt here to the south of Italy where I am now holidaying. After four hours at the beach I come up for lunch and then do some hand quilting on the balcony.

It is very enjoyable....finally!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Triangle Shadows

I notice shadows. I have always noticed them, even as a young child walking around on hot summer days in Montreal.

I remember them on the floor at my grandmother's house.

Shadows are dark. Sometimes light. They look blue on the snow.

They move. They grow.

A later addition: Click here to see an installation by Peabody Essex. Now that's a shadow! It's a different kind of shadow- a static one - but nice!