A Diamond in the Rough

Have you ever stumbled across something–a place, an object—something you weren’t expecting to find, that just wowed you–a hidden gem of sorts?  My sweetie and I found one of these gems a few days after we were wed.

We only had a few short days for a mini-honeymoon (we are hoping to make a big trip later this year!) so we drove north, to Red Wing, MN.  The day after we arrived, it was cold and damp (we actually saw snowflakes–in MAY!).  We decided to visit Tower View, an estate built in the early 1900s that now serves as an Artist Residency Program, an alternative high school, an art center, and local meeting space rental. 

The original buildings are amazing… and the sculptures in the garden are wonderful.  The horse above was my favorite; we didn’t walk the entire sculpture garden, as it was just too cold.   Loved this bench, The Courting Bench by Marcia McEachron:

But the true gem?  They have a permanent art collection, which we would not have even seen, if one of the resident artists hadn’t seen us wandering the halls gawking at the photography exhibit that was hanging, and asked “would you like to see our permanent collection, I can go unlock it for you?”  Umm… “yes, please!”  I had no idea…

There were prints by Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Willem de Kooning….

Andy Warhol

Man Ray….

and Henri Matisse… just to name a few.

And these are just the pieces I could get a half-way presentable photograph of.  Mostly prints and etching, some sculpture, Calder mobiles… very important works from the 20th century art world.  I have a Master’s Degree in Art History and Museum Studies, so naturally, I was thrilled with this discovery.  My sweetie doesn’t share the same knowledge of these artists, but he was equally blown away that these were just there for the viewing in the basement of this art center in semi-rural Minnesota.  Let this be a lesson to all who scoff at the Midwest and make fun of Minnesota and Iowa (and places like our’s)…you should never judge a book by its cover, or a place by it’s geographic location.   

I leave you with two of my favorite finds of the day, Marc Chagall’s Psalm I

and his beautiful Green Bird

I felt very inspired to go home and create after this discovery…

Motorbikes and Meadowsweet

I thought I’d show you a snippet of what I’m working on this week… A draft for a new art quilt, that I’m actually helping a friend create of her husband’s bike from the 1970s…I have the drawing ability, she claims not to, even though she is an amazing long arm quilter. If she can create lovely custom quilt designs (and she can!), I’m sure she can draw! We are trying to create it in the style of this one….from a 2009 Love of Quilting issue:
Unfortunately, all I have to go by are these fuzzy (small) photos from 1971-2, which don’t include a true straight-on profile shot:This is what I finished Wednesday evening, and sent home with her to the hubby who once owned the bike to edit/approve:Then last night, I got busy choosing fabrics for a new quilt:
Love the new Meadowsweet collection by one of my fave designers, Sandi Henderson…
Can’t wait to cut into this one!

Spring 2009 Virtual Quilt Festival

Amy is hosting a virtual Quilt Show this week. Here is my entry…sure to win Best of Show. (Just kidding, I’m really not that cocky! But since it’s a virtual world…a girl can dream, right?!) I chose this quilt as my entry into Amy’s “Festival” because it was my first true “art quilt” and I truly love how it turned out. The batiks blend together beautifully, I used alot of thread painting and quilting techniques I had not tried before and the overall product is, in my humble opinion, stunning. Here is it’s story:

My sweetie is a major fan of Django Reinhardt, a gypsy jazz musician from Belgium, who died in 1953. In addition to idolizing Django, he plays the guitar (a Martin that he refers to as “The Grail”) and the mandolin. I made him this art quilt for Christmas 2005. The name of the quilt is “Gypsy Django”.
The guitar in the quilt is created from the jazz guitar that Sweetie owned at the time, prior to purchasing The Grail and selling all other “inferior” guitars in his possession. The two mandolins are also his, the inlay one was his grandfather’s, and the “triangular” one he made himself.
This is the mandolin his grandfather owned and played, it’s beautiful, with a mother-of-pearl inlaid butterfly, and m-of-p inlay around the edges and on the neck. It’s a true work of art and is proudly displayed on the mantel.
We aren’t sure how old the mandolin is, or where it came from, but he has this photo of his grandfather (on the left) playing this very mandolin in the very early 20th Century:
The mandolin he made himself hangs on the bedroom wall when not in use.
I used a batik on the back and binding as well. This was my first foray into “creative” quilt labels. Now, go see Amy and enjoy the rest of the “show”! Oh! One more thing…go check out this birthday giveaway:
http://www.pigtalesandquilts.com/2009/04/give-away-time.html

Jolly Holidays…and a free gift!

I made grand plans to make LOTS of handmade gifts this year. So far, I have finished at least eight handmade gifts, and I have about seven more gifts and four stockings left to make. After all, Christmas is about the giving, not the buying, the shopping, and the getting! So, I’m giving of myself as much as I can this year! I started a batik Christmas table runner Saturday afternoon, and I actually finished binding it on Sunday evening! It is so rare for me to start and finish something within a short span of time, I even surprised myself! So here it is, made up sans pattern…I just started cutting and piecing…and voila!I love these Hoffman batiks, all Christmas patterns, poinsettias, holly leaves, berries, and such yummy deep colors! Would you like a runner like this for yourself? Or like to make one for a gift? Well, today is your lucky day!
No, I’m not giving this one away, it’s already earmarked as a gift for someone on my list, but…I wrote up a pattern for this runner and I am giving IT away as my holiday thank you to all the wonderful crafters I have met in the blogosphere who inspire me and motivate me every time I log in!
So, without further adieu, I will send anyone who asks in the comments, or emails me for the pattern, a PDF pattern to make my Jolly Holly Table Runner. **Please be sure you leave me an email to reach you!

Enjoy!………and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!

P.S. I’d love it if you posted about my free gift pattern on your blog and directed more quilters my way, the more I can give away, the merrier!!!!!

Parrots, swords and skulls–oh my!

That’s right, it’s getting close to Halloween and creepy characters start to rear their *not-so-pretty* heads. It’s also the month of my little pal Brennan’s birthday, he turned 4 last week. He has a very vivid imagination, and is currently obsessed with all things Pirate. His party is this coming Saturday, and it is, of course, a pirate themed party. He has had a collection of gold and silver coins, or treasure, for quite some time. They get buried and dug up from the sandbox several times each month. I played “pirate ship” with him early in the summer and we had to carry our treasure in a Glad-ware container. Not very pirate-y. So, I thought, he needed a treasure chest. I bought this unfinished one at Michael’s and I got to work:
The sketches on it are mine, it was pretty much a blank slate. Here is the finished product I gifted to him last night, along with a pirate hat, flannel eye patch, some new pirate coins, a few tattoos, and a 3×5 pirate flag that my sweetie found at Menard’s, that Brennan’s parents will be proudly flying this weekend!Near the clasp is his initials with a skull and crossbones insignia. On one end is his very own pirate, and on the other, silver and gold crossed swords. Yes, I free-handed the drawings/paintings on it, that B.F.A. degree comes in handy once in a while! It’s lined with pirate flag fabric, applied with Mod Podge.
His reaction was worth all the effort, time and expense (although, that was quite minimal). He had to find a special place to “hide” (store) his “very special treasure chest”, his words, :-> !! The “real” pirate flag was a huge hit, too! It’s easy to impress someone who is four, no matter how worldly and brilliant he is!

A touch of autumn from my window sill:
Mum’s I trimmed to bring inside for some color…don’t you just love the reflections from those glass jars?
and from my brother-in-law’s garden:
Oh, and one more lovely Autumn sight:That’s right, folks, gas dipped below $3.00/gallon on Sunday. Oh happy day! Another reason for you to come here, for this….!

Happy Autumn…Happy October….and Happy Halloween!!!!!

Ahoy, Matey’s!

AARGGG! You’ve wandered into pirate territory, matey! Prepare to walk the plank!

I’ve been helping my best friend prepare invitations and decoartions for her little guys upcoming 4th birthday. Guess what theme he chose?

These are the invites we made last weekend, crumpled and distressed with love to make them look like old treasure maps…
He and his little sister were watching us make these, and he asked us, after about five minutes, why we were crumpling them up in a ball like trash. We explained what we were doing and showed him how cool the finished product was, and he was not impressed. He said, “it hurts my feelings when you make my invitations bumpy.” Serious. Bumpy invites=hurt feelings. He conceded after he saw the final product being removed from the envelope and unfolded that it was kinda cool. No more hurt feelings.

I’ve been working on some gifts for him that will be delivered early so he can use them as decoration and costume on the big day.

Here is the treasure chest I started the other night, with a parrot I sketched and his initials under the lock…
The inside is bare wood, but will be covered with the fabric it is sitting on in the photos when finished. And, of course, filled with Pirate Booty! (You know, treasure…)
More piratey goodness to come…

The vintage linens, hankies, fabric and patterns are almost all posted for sale in the store…check it out here. The rest will be posted very soon…