I had long wanted to take a workshop with Patricia Balyea from Okan Arts from the Northwest, signed up for a class in late March 2020 in HOuston—that was cancelled, thought about a class that August in northern Wisconsin that was also cancelled, and thought about a class in May 2021 but thought back surgery might make it difficult—but was pleased to sign up for a class via Zoom this July.
Our first class was to draw three curved lines and construct a block. I chose a design, made it and then made another switching the colors around a bit, and then made another block in a smaller size, repeated it and sewed them all together. I cut out the borders…..there is just enough for the borders and a binding.
I am now working on the second assignment curves plus straight lines. I thought I would begin with an embroidered square from a dish towel my mother embroidered along with some feed sacks my grandmother used as tablecloths and to cover the plate of slice bread and butter dish between meals.
In today’s news I read about a leaking tanker truck at the Dow Chemical Plant in LaPorte Texas resulting in evacuations of an elementary school and a neighborhood. It seems the tanker truck had a leaky valve and the company’s HazMat team was on the scene busily assessing and dealing with the problem. Of course there are people who are always upset that the company did not disclose the full details—as it was trying to figure everything out—and delayed and distracted by all the phone calls by news media and others wanting up-to-date information. Having been one of the responders, it is frustrating and I fully understand putting out a statement the news media called ‘vague’ until they could determine the extent of the problem.
However, that is neither here nor there—as I was in LaPorte last weekend for a SEW DAY!!!!!
It had been so long since I had attended an in person workshop, I really didn’t know quite what to do.
My sewing machine had lived in its travel case in the front hallway during the pandemic.
But I managed to pack up a few projects–I always take more than I know I can complete—but you just never know how you will feel about a particular project when you pull out your sewing machine–and see if it remembers how to stitch—and did I remember how to be a participant in a workshop type environment.
And Sew It Began is a wonderful place with a lovely quilt shop next door, an old house with sleeping quarters in four bedrooms, and a sewing space that has nice tables and chairs and design walls.
My project involved some strip piecing—and I now have a huge stack ready to trim up for a project that is still jelling in my mind.
The other wonderful thing about this place is the wonderful flowers all around the outside of the buildings. My camera fogged up and so I don’t have many but these roses around the side and front the old house had a wonderful fragrance—and then there were the zinnias on the back fence—reminding me of home–where everyone planted zinnias and marigolds each spring.
Earlier this month, I spent several wonderful days with several friends in a remote beautiful house near Athens Texas. My GPS stopped working just as I made my way through the center of Palestine—and then I was on my own.
Calling my husband when I admitted I was lost—our connection was bad, he could hear me sometimes and so I was shouting at the phone over the noise of my diesel engine—what a trip—but then I was there and warmly greeted.
I worked very diligently on the projects I had brought with me–sewing and setting up the applique blocks for a quilt we had planned many years earlier. I worked on a notebook cover and a sketchbook cover—I like having them decorated so I know which is the right side to open.
We worked on a wool coat, started painting on some icons–the two I was assigned are still in initial stages.
And of course we ate—and we ate well. Here is one meal—
And then this is what the outside looked like on the cheeriest day—a good impetus to stay inside and warm ourselves by the heat of our sewing machine engines/motors.
Painting an icon was never on my bucket list of things to do–but like many things turned out to be something I really did want to do.
Spending a week on just one small image about the size of a piece of typing paper was both intense and relaxing. Egg yolk was prepared, pigments mixed, lakes of pigment applied to areas, drying time ensued, lines and highlights were applied, veils of forgiveness placed–covering up some of the mistakes of the previous day or at least making them not so obvious.
Gold leaf application is not easy, making small lines with a brush that initially seems quite delicate but when applying small areas seems like a brush made to paint the side of a barn….and then retreating to the kitchen where five wonderful ladies prepared tempting snacks and lunches….
Checking on the progress of the pipe organ being installed by a French Canadian company–each pipe is shipped in its own shipping container…they lined the hallways–until one day three containers were GONE—down the hallways to the sanctuary to be installed.
On Friday our icons were all placed together on the floor—all blessed and then carried home. Finishing layers of egg remain to be completed in about six to 8 weeks.
I don’t have a photo of my icon–there is a partial glimpse of it in one photo-…maybe after I finish sealing it–and perhaps after I complete the next art piece I have in mind.
Freezing temperatures were predicted for that Saturday night which meant slick roads and hoarfrost.
I had loaded up my truck with all the fruits of my labor of the past week and all I needed now were the few things I had in the cabin. I had to wait for the my windscreen to defrost before I could leave–and that took a good half hour of running that diesel engine and patiently scraping away at the ice. The sun helped some and while I was waiting I managed to get a few photos of the hoarfrost on the vegetation.
Slowly I drove past the Art Studio, careful not to come to a full stop at the stop sign at the bottom of hill lest I slide into the Cuchara River. I made it through town without incident and had planned to take a photo of the mountains on the road to Walsenberg. But the turnoff was slick and after sliding a bit, decided the image would have to remain in my memory and not as a digital image.
A large herd of pronghorn was on the hillside and again I wanted a photo but with that ice and now a vehicle following me, it too had to remain in my memory. People here are much more polite driving than in many parts of Texas—slick roads for me meant slick roads for the vehicles following me and we slowly drove at about 35 miles an hour into Walsenberg. No-one was tail-gating, no-one roared past me at the stop light in town.
Once on Interstate 25, I spied a large semi lying on its side just outside Walsenberg and was not pleased to see a flurry of snowy fog/ice mist ahead of me.
Once through the pass, the sun shone and roads were clear and I was on my way home.
After getting stuck in the snow, requiring a pull-out by a neighbor, I managed to drive VERY slowly down the road and unload my baskets of fabric, sewing machine, and accoutrements. Two fellow students were already there–sewing away. The other students were all staying at the Inn next door and I almost wished I had done the same as it was a two minute walk from their door to the Studio.
Two Fox Cabins was very cozy and it allowed a nice walk to and from and not too far away from Alys’ restaurant where we had our evening meal.
Everyone worked really hard, two on Rhapsody variations–I was jealous of their work, and two worked on individual pieces they had designed in large part prior to arrival.
I had planned on doing a series of dawn images but changed to using some images from my father’s tools and bits and bobs. Initially I put them all on the same background but decided I liked them better separated.
One of the daily events was spying the mule deer that wandered about town like regular citizens. And everyday a trip to Charlies was needed to pick up a fresh cinnamon roll or other breakfast treat. Charlie’s is a general store with notices regarding lost dogs, upcoming events, sales of various sorts and any sort of announcement that is needed to make things work in a small town.
This is a long awaited week. I’ve had a hard year and this was to be my present to myself for surviving it although my pocketbook is considerably slimmer.
I like to sight-see as I go places–whether work, pleasure, or family. Road construction always makes things a bit more iffy and so I plan extra time. This trip I had allotted two days for travel, a day and a half to sight-see and get accustomed to the altitude.
Yesterday I wrote about the cotton—
I arrived mid Saturday afternoon and was immediately warned about the impending bad weather. There were still small piles of snow heaped around trees and in ditches from the last snow.
I have been ensconced in a cute little cabin in LaVeta watching the snow fall. It is still falling; I do have hiking boots but they are in my truck a hundred yards away. I’ve spent the day pruning my email lists and folders. While all of that is good–I would have preferred a trip to the Sand Dunes but I was not going to chance not getting back with all that snow.
I am hoping I do have a workshop that starts tomorrow night–but travel for the host with all of this snow is a bit iffy—–and so—perhaps I’ll tackle pruning and organizing my smugmug photos.
this is my cabin–note the coffee pot and coffee cup along with the extra blankets.
On the first Thursday of every month, the Calcasieu Cut-ups, a quilt guild meets in Sulphur Louisiana. It is a small group, but composed of wonderfully warm, caring, and fun people. Quilts of Valor, quilts for the homeless, quilts for those in need in other states, and prayers offered for each other and their families.
This Thursday, a huge silent auction was held to raise funds for the guild. One person had a table full of goodies with a sign indicating she was raising money for her fabric shopping at Quilt Festival next week. Another person had a table full of assorted trinkets. A bidding war between the two at the end—one offered everything for a quarter, the other everything was free. The other tables were full of fabric, half-done projects, a quilt stand, quilt tops–all for sale.
The majority of the tables were cleared at the end of the meeting. And yes, I did buy two things—a quilt already cut into pieces for a friend who wants to make patchwork balls but could not bring herself to cut up an old quilt, and a zip lock bag full of ruffles—-two grand-daughters and their dolls need cute dresses.
Making my way through town toward I-10 I decided to stop at a bakery. Here I spied some eerie footsteps–it was the day after Halloween====there was no yellow paint anywhere–just these footprints.
Of course, I was so frightened I had to get a pineapple stuffed cupcake to soothe my nerves.
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?
Blogging is a natural progression for someone who enjoys the written word and beautiful imagery. My photographs are hosted at sylviaweir.smugmug.com. I am slowly transitioning all my photographs to this site and will hopefully edit them to a manageable number. In the meantime, I have organized my blog photos by year and so you may wish to merely sample the blog photos
Feel free to contact me for any questions. My website here has not been fully populated but as I work on my smugmug site, I will update these pages.
My work begins with a word, a thought, an idea, or a bit of a poem. I search through my library of images mostly on Smugmug or sometimes I go out and photograph new images. A pieced quilt pattern is sometimes chosen, sometimes I use a piece of fabric I have altered in the past. The imagery is added on using hand applique and then thread is used to add details.
Each piece is meant to draw the viewer inward providing them with ample opportunities to add their own story to the piece. If the piece evokes the emotion or thought I wished conveyed, then I consider the piece successful.
Sometimes I play 'what if' with fabric and paint and imagery. These might be considered equivalent to scale work in music--something I always enjoyed.