Getting away for a few days with friends to enjoy a new location always seems to inspire my creative juices. From the decor of the quilt shop and the retreat center to the great food prepared (my assignment was to buy a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of Pace Picante and then to open that bag and put it into a bowl), all the projects put up on the wall, consultations regarding sashing and design, shopping in the quilt store (I bought a wonderful piece featuring Kellogg Cereals) , fabric treats from France, and wandering about several really fun antique/junque emporiums.
The retreat house had lines of crocheted vintage doll clothes hung in each room by tiny clothespins.
Jeanelle brought her word prompt pieces to show us.
I worked on a Modern Quilt guild donation quilt for a Women’s Shelter in Katy.
I found a few fun things on our junk wanderings;
an junkart garden
wooden boxes of Dr. Nut (there were at least a hundred–holding up shelves and holding objects
a plastic cowboy
a bullet shuttle Franklin treadle sewing machine with cabinet in perfect condition but lacking one drawer that I dearly wanted to take home with me but resisted.
a vintage motor scooter–again hard to resist but I was strong:
thermometers with nifty sayings:
several square yards of these:
and who wouldn’t want a handful of barb wire samples?
and then there were the flower garden beds all around with flowers in bloom. I fancied this miniature rose.
It’s amazing how much time it takes to pack up to leave and then to unpack when you get home—and then where did my scissors go? And how about my ruler? And what are these fabric squares for?
One of the pleasures of spending time at a retreat is spotting wildlife. Our group has now been together for over ten years; last year we celebrated with a quilting cruise. We have spent time together in a variety of places–some far, some near–one was ideal for all of us but has since closed and is being sold.
This retreat is at the end of the road–quite literally. Deer wander about and we stop sewing to watch. There were also more than a few feral hogs–creatures that seem to multiply like rabbits or mosquitoes.
Once again I had forgotten to take straight pins with me–but found a great substitute in safety pins. I finished binding this quilt top as a donation for the Houston Modern Quilt Guild.
Of course we also ate—and celebrated a birthday with make your own individual cake in a cup–topped with whipped cream and sprinkles.
I had to leave for work–regretfully cutting my time short. Bills never seem to take a vacation.
As a member of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild I volunteered to swap a pillow case–a pillow covering with someone in Kansas. Her preferences were blue or rainbow and batiks.
Not having a lot of batiks, I spent some time perusing the offerings on-line–and was pleased to find some nice choices; I also came upon a design that I thought was fun and intriguing–a sort of woven effect.
Here is that finished top—and the back. I had planned to put a zipper in it–but in the end used velcro as the fastener.
I have had the wonderful pleasure of meeting an embroidery artist from France who patiently teaches stitchery techniques in her home on Tuesdays.
Then someone convinced her to give a lecture and display her work at the local quilt guild meeting this month.
Her work is primarily all hand-done with a large variety of ribbons and threads and yarns. She finds a technique each week that may relate to a holiday custom in France or just simply something fun and beautiful.
Her work is very precise and elaborate—fabric story books—a few large quilts–and wonderfully creative sculptural pieces.
Here is a small sampling of her work and from her collection of other French artists:
Our workshop consisted of combining various fragments from her extensive toile collection and assorted embroidery techniques—more than just a stem or outline stitch and French knots—but a wide variety of stitches using fancy threads from France. None of us finished our pieces but we all stayed until the last minute each day working.
Saturday was bitterly cold with a wind that cut through jackets and made me wish for my motorcycle jacket. The morning was to be devoted to local gallery tours; we decided to walk the 900 feet from our hotel to the Briscoe Museum of Western Art.
We all got to claim senior status and therefore a reduced entrance fee–although if we had been service men/women our entrance would have been free.
Two large galleries were full of contemporary Western art —no photos were allowed–although I did get this shot of a rabbit by Tim Cherry. If I had the money or the place to showcase this piece—but I didn’t so I will content myself with this photo.
Of interest was a small painting by W.H. Dunton whose title for a rather small painting was quite striking—a paragraph long title for a rider on a horse galloping across the plain. Interestingly the local Stark Museum of Art in Orange Texas posesses over 200 pieces of his work. He, along with other western artists of that era, also illustrated magazine covers and books.
In the afternoon we settled down to an entertaining critique session with Judith Trager. Creative people that we are, one attendee removed her belt as a splash of color on a monochromatic piece.
An evening banquet followed with a lively auction of the small pieces contributed by the members. There was much rivalry and last minute bidding–all to fund future events.
There was a very long line waiting to get in to see the Alamo; the line looped back through a covered area and was halted by a photographer at the entrance.
Inside, people chattered and pointed–and if you stood in one place, you heard the same comments repeated but by different people and in different languages. They marveled at the number of places the defenders claimed as home—Ireland, Wales, Scotland, North Carolina, Kentucky–and more. Flags of each state and country were displayed around the periphery of the building and we all took turns peering into the rooms cordoned off.
Outside were lovely old live oak trees, a small rivulet with giant carp all hoping for a tidbit of bread, benches, and blooming prickly pear.
Outside on the plaza were stands with soft drinks and ice cream. The Menger and the Crockett Hotels were nearby as well as the Wax Museum.
No matter the details of those final hours in whatever version people care to claim as factual, it is an awe=inspiring place—so lush and green–and the entire complex quite large–not the dusty single building in a vast plain with nary a tree to be seen.
I had thought I might catch a sunrise behind the Alamo but I admit to being distracted and then there was the building that somehow blocked my way–I had to turn on my GPS on my phone to find my way back to the hotel.
In the meantime–what do you think about this?
I suppose the delivery driver had other stops and no time to wait for someone to receive all of this–Not perhaps the photo tourism image one might have of San Antonio
Conference morning activities followed breakfast punctuated by greetings–putting faces to names of people I had read about, ‘talked’ to via internet and handing out of business cards.
My afternoon and evening were free as I had not signed up for breakout sessions, thinking I would like to settle myself somewhere on the Riverwalk and just enjoy the day. However, I am not a cold weather sitter on metal benches–and so I opted to walk.
What time in San Antonio would be incomplete without a visit to the Alamo. The streets were filled with newly graduated AirMen–(and a few women) in their crisp light blue shirts and dark pants–all with parents or sisters or girlfriends all roaming about–all smiles, nervous, proud. I caught up with one nice young man and his two sisters–both shivering in their light jackets–they were from Pennsylvania and had dressed expecting much warmer weather.
I wandered by the Cathedral–the first mass celebrated on the day appointed to Saint Anthony–thus giving the city its name, the Bexar County courthouse which was humongous and imposing in red brick and skepp topped domes, an immense archive building, the hemisphere tower, and then the Alamo. I took a lot of photos, and then bought post cards to replenish my stash for future postings. Three living history sites were set up with men dressed as Alamo defenders displaying and discussing cannons and riflery.
Directly in front of the courthouse is the Liberty fountain. Nearby are beds of roses both red and yellow. These beds are not near this fountain but the petals from the red roses were placed in the fountain’s layers–an interesting custom as it seemed deliberate but I could not find anyone around to ask.
Last weekend was the annual conference hosted by Studio Art Quilt Associates in San Antonio Texas.
For those who have not been in San Antonio recently, the city will be celebrating a 300 year history. Not that you would even guess with all the ‘300’s in shrub plantings, street signage, and mentioned at least twice in any conversation with a local resident.
This conference moves about the country; I’ve been to ones in Ohio, Philadelphia, and Denver with each one progressively more polished and informative.
For me, driving to San Antonio meant a lovely day driving in the Hill country outskirts and stopping for the requisite spring time photo of bluebonnets. I didn’t find the large masses but at a truck stop in Luling I managed to get a nice photo or two. And of course, there are more wildflowers than just the bluebonnets.
San Antonio is not my favorite city to drive around in but I timed my arrival to early afternoon on a week day. Traffic was minimal but parking spaces were at a premium. The hotel offered valet parking only and the attendant claimed he was expert in standards but I only allow a very small number of people the privilege of driving my truck.
It is easy to hear me coming with that diesel reverberating in all that concrete but I managed to find a nice spot, hauled my belongings to the hotel lobby and checked in. I admired the lobby–a bank in earlier years—with art deco motifs on the elevator doors, the cornices, and a fabulous stained glass window featuring the Alamo.
A RiverWalk cruise was the adventure of the evening–I took a few photos but then decided I would just enjoy the view.
What is it about nice large orange five gallon buckets that is so inspirational?
I have more than a few of them–but I use three of them to accomplish dyeing.
Holus Bolus decided to make Swing Coats from some Bamboo fleece fabric. Bamboo is incredibly soft—and incredibly heavy when wet. We employed my mixed dye with play sand technique. The dye particles tend to cling to the sand until it is released by the washing soda on the fabric. I have several drop sheets that have seen many episodes of dye/screen printing/shibori/painting–in general art messiness.
We decided to make the coats first so we could tell where the dye would go–including the hats and then dipped into washing soda, spread them out on the dropcloths and sprinkled dye. They had to set for about two hours or so–then they were rinsed, the sand shaken off, and into the washing machine.
The results were quite colorful–I don’t have photos of the end product but we will be wearing them at Houston Quilt festival this November.
and just so you know–I did spend quite a bit of time sewing while there—sewed up all these double 9 patches while I was there and that swing coat and then maybe one or two other projects as well. This was my work station.