Tuesday, April 30, 2013


This past weekend saw some friends from the Ailsa Craig Community Quilt Festival committee and spouses attending a tour of the Or Shalom Synagogue in London. I don't know how many people ever think about another's religion, regardless of whether you are religious yourself. I don't know how many people know there are actually three synagogues in London. Beth Tefilah which is the Orthodox Synagogue, Or Shalom, more conservative and Temple Israel which is liberal.

The idea of a tour came about when we were having a meeting with members of the Jewish community in London, making preparations for the Quilts of Israel show, would it be possible? The Rabbi, Catherine Clark, was at the meeting and said yes, without hesitation, and so it was arranged.

The tour was given by Fred Ball, who has been instrumental in helping us with the Festival this year, he has contacted people with a view to sponsoring a quilter to come over from Israel, holding meetings at his home and generally making sure we have the help we need. We turned up at the synagogue on a wet Sunday afternoon, and Fred took us into the Sanctuary, I had three children with me, who, without prompting, asked some very interesting questions. The first one was, do you take Communion? An excellent question, and Fred was able to explain the difference between the Jewish faith and the Christian faith. They certainly don't deny that Jesus existed, just that they don't believe he is the Messiah.

Fred then took us to the Ark. This is the area where the Torah, the Jewish scriptures are kept. The children were asked to very carefully open the iron doors, which were about 12 feet tall and push them back against the wall. Then, they very carefully slid the doors open to reveal the Torah's. It was a stunning sight, the synagogue actually has 13 of them. They are rolled as scrolls and have two finials at the top which have beautiful silver decorations. We took the Torah to the lectern, and we stood the silver finials on the two posts which stand next to the lectern. The Torah was very carefully opened, and Fred explained that they were handwritten in Hebrew and probably take six months to write, they are written on parchment and cannot be touched as the oils in our skin can damage them, so, if they need to follow what they are reading, then there is a little pointer called a Yad which is used.

After returning the Torah to its spot in the Ark, Fred then showed us a Prayer shawl and the Tefillin. Now this is something I have seen, but thought that it was only used by Orthodox Jews. It is something that you may have seen in photos of Orthodox jews at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and is the little square headpiece which is worn during prayer. Fred explained that there are actually two Tefillin, one is worn on the arm and has to be placed close to the heart and then the strap is wound round the arm a specific number of times, and then around the hand and fingers in a specific way, then they place the other tefillin on the head. The Tefillin actually contains a piece of the Torah.

We also looked at the Pentateuch, their equivalent of our Bible, and prayed together. There are also 614 Commandments compared to our 10! And they try to live their lives in accordance with these commandments.

It struck me while we were listening, that we really don't know much about other religions and that if we made more of an effort to find out, we might have a better understanding of each other. I have hundreds of questions that there was no time to ask, we were there for two hours and could have sat there for at least another two it was so interesting!

So, when you come to Festival to see the Quilts, give some thought to the faith of our quilters, the meaning behind some of the quilts, and think about what it means to be Jewish. As Fred said, they've been around for 3,500 years!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting better

The cold hasn't got much better, it's the rattle in my chest which drives me mad, but hopefully it won't go on much longer.

A busy day tomorrow, have to go shopping for Quilt Festival things, and then I will be seeing the children again at the London Hebrew Community Day School, something I am really looking forward to, as I loved working with them, they were so bright and lively, I thought they would like to see the end results of the quilts they made. I am so proud of them and would love to work with them, who knows what will happen in the future?

Not much time in the studio today, but, I did have a good time going though boxes of fabric and making up scrap bags for the local guild Garage sale. They have their show at the end of next month, and have a garage sale, so, I have been collecting things together for a while that I know I wouldn't be using and it will go!! There was so much fabric that it has been quite cathartic getting rid of it.

I must try and get it all put away before the weekend though, my friends daughter asked if she could come for a sleepover on Saturday, ( I love it when my 11 year old friend wants to come and hang out with me!), she has been doing Art at school and they have been doing Impressionism and Pointillism, so she wants to have a go, but I have no canvases, so I said I would get some and then she can come and play with paint! If she sees I've got rid of around 20 bags of fabric, she will not be happy!!!!! She will want to take it home and it will just languish in a corner.

Well, must go now and get myself ready for tomorrow. I can't wait to see their reaction, and then I can put the labels on the back of the quilts!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Resolving a dilemma

Well, thought all was going well until I came down with a dreadful cold! I thought things would go well this week but I feel terrible. Oh well, never mind, I do actually get to spend time in my studio.

I have been busy working on the piece I have mentioned more than once and actually came up with an idea as to how I was going to resolve the problem of having this tree and an odd piece of fabric and all the other things that are wrong with the quilt. I had ice dyed two pieces of silk organza, and, decided that by randomly cutting up strips, they would look like leaves and that might work.

It turns out it was nothing short of a brilliant idea, and I am pleased with the result!

The first picture shows the piece with the leaves added and it really has got around the problem I was having with it. It has given so much more depth to it, and I will quilt around the outline of the tree so that it will pop a little more.

The closer view.

The problems I have had with this piece have been many and I still have a way to go yet. I will put in tree outlines in the background and also outline some of those already there, but I can at least see the wood for the trees now!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Saturday, Saturday.......

Having had a lovely evening, we woke refreshed and ready for the next day. I was taking a Mixed Media Collage class with Heather Thomas. Not someone I knew, but I thought it might be interesting. There were only 6 of us in this workshop so a nice small number and very intimate.

We were introduced to the subject by Heather, and given instructions as to what she wanted us to do. We had to play by her rules which was interesting because, how many time have we taken a workshop and there will ALWAYS  be one person who wants to do it their way? I've even taught workshops where I've come across that, which always makes me think ,why are you taking my workshop if you don't want to learn what I'm teaching? Maybe I've been guilty of it too. As I sit here thinking about it, have I shown total disregard to my teachers? I can't remember, but I may well have done something slightly different.

Now I am home, I have looked at the piece that I did in Heathers workshop, and I will change it slightly. The end discussion and suggestions just seemed too "loud" for me, not my personality at all, so I will change it to suit me. I am not "loud", my work tends to be quite spare at times, and suits ME.

The ideas were interesting, but not something that I would necessarily want to do too often. I do do Mixed Media, but it tends to be my way.

My mixed media piece with the embellishments I have decided to use

The piece prior to having embellishments added. The area with holes is Lutrador, heated with a heat gun to expose the silk underneath. The photos show it to be very Pink which it is not and I will try and take better pictures once it is finished.

We had a lovely meal across the Ohio River in Kentucky and then it was an early night as Laura and her party were flying home the next day, and I had the long drive back to Ontario.

I never mind driving in fact, I really enjoy it, but it would have been nice to have had company. On the journey home, I had time to reflect on the classes. I think next time I should try and take something a little out of my box, and that may mean a more traditional class.

I did have a chance to have a look at the quilts, and was, as always, awed by the standard and the quality of the work. Sadly, I will have no entry this year, I just haven't had time to make anything.  I think this will change next year. 

I have decided that next year will be my last year as Workshop Convener for the Ailsa Craig Community Quilt Festival. I am so tired and I don't think that people realize how much work is involved in putting on a Quilt Festival such as the one we do. It struck me that there is a core of people who work 12 months to put this show together. I am already working on 2014 and we haven't had this show yet! I also think that people think we are employed. I hate to burst anyones bubble, but, we are all volunteers, not one of us gets paid for the work we do for the Festival and quite often its a 24/7 job. I haven't been in my studio for quite some time, and I really miss it, I don't get time to create art which I really want to do, enter shows as I don't have the work to show and just sit in my studio breathing in the creativity that could come from there. I spend way too much time answering emails and sorting things out, so I think the time has come to say enough is enough. I want to take Workshops, I never get the chance as I'm busy at the Festival, minor things such as getting lunches together to be delivered or walking the show floor, answering queries, helping at the front desk, ferrying my teachers from the Recreation centre to the workshop venue, talking to visitors, which I love doing, and just being as visible as possible. 

I have also decided that I will change my title to Director of Education. The workshop I did on Saturday with Heather also included the Director of Education for the International Quilt Festival! A lovely lady. I just think it might make the position easier to sell to anyone who might be interested in taking over. So, do feel free to contact me if you would be interested in taking on this position...........it really is a lot of fun.

The joy of Creating

I decided to take two classes at the Quilt Festival. The first one I took on the Friday, was an all day clas with Cindy Walter, a Fabric painting Masterclass.

Arrived early for my class and most of the students were already there, as was the teacher. Cindy is from Hawaii, and a really lovely teacher. She explained what we were going to be doing and showed us the paints, provided us with brushes, silk scarves, paints, if we wanted to buy them etc, etc,. How do they travel all that distance with all this stuff? I don't know but they seem to manage it pretty well.

I had a wonderful day painting fabric and creating Art. To often, we don't get the opportunity.

My watercolour piece

Cindy showing some of her hand painted Miniature quilts

My hand painted Art piece. Laura saw it in the evening, and said she would be very happy to receive it in a card! So guess where this is going! I only used the three primary colours to  paint this.

Cindy showing one of her beautiful hand painted quilts

We painted fabric and salted it, this is the result of my piece, which I really like.

I dye fabric and I also paint it, so what made this different? Just learning a new technique and enjoying the process, frankly, I don't think it matters if you repeat some processes, it gels in your head and makes sense. I learnt the difference between using fluid paints and those which are stiffer, that they can be watered down, or used straight from the pot.

We had a two hour lunch break, which allowed me to look around the Vendors mall. I have to say that I didn't buy much fabric!! I bought some white cotton sateen, and Aurifil threads, which I love. Trouble is, I can never remember what colours I need, I think I will have to just buy one of everything, which will double up on a lot but it will look yummy!!

The afternoon was taken up with more painting and then looking at the work we had produced.

It was back to the Hotel and then out for Dinner. We had to go to an Apple Store as Laura's husband wanted an iPad, and it is cheaper to buy here, than in the Netherlands. The Mall wasn't too far from Downtown, and the stores would have been great to wander if we had had time!! However, we had booked a table at the Cheesecake Factory, one of my favourite places to eat, sadly no room for cheesecake!


What a busy time!! I decided that I would take some time off from the Quilt Festival, and go to the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati.

I went last year with husband in tow, who was terrified by the number of women in one place!! He thought there couldn't be a woman left in the world as they were all at the Festival!! This year, I went alone,  but was meeting up with Laura Strating- Janssens who had come over in 2011, as a teacher with the Quilts of the Netherlands. We have kept in touch and so it was that I became her roommate for the duration of the Festival.

We arrived on the Thursday afternoon, Laura from Columbus, and me, after a rotten journey, from Ontario. I checked in and then went to the show, not that I had much time but had a quick preview.

Laura was leading a small group from the Netherlands on a quilting tour for the week, so we met up in the evening for dinner and it was lovely!! We went to a Brazilian restaurant, where the meat just kept coming, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Ribs, Chicken, it was all there and the waiters just kept bringing it up until you said stop!! After that, it was back to the Hotel and a quick meeting to make arrangements for the following day, most of us were taking classes at the Festival, so it was an early wake up call and Breakfast at 7!

The next morning, we met in the Dining Room of the Hilton Netherlands Plaza. It is a really beautiful spot, if you love Art Deco, then this is the place for you. We used to collect Art Deco ceramics so it was like being in heaven for me

I lay on the floor to take this shot. Luckily, the main restaurant was empty, and the Maitre'D just laughed. But, the paintings were beautiful.

My apologies if this isn't your thing, but I loved it. I also apologize for the sideways shot of some lovely metal work. Who nows why it would do that when I had rotated it? Anyway, I had a wonderful time swanning around pretending I was a flapper!!

Breakfast was delicious and we were well fed before going to the Festival and our respective classes!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Less haste......

So, I have had a few days, you'd think I would have been very productive. Not a bit of it!! I really have tried to spend time in the studio, and then I look at the housework, which I have to say I have neglected badly, and my guilt complex kicks in, so, this morning, I vacuumed and washed floors. I must say that they do look all the better for it, so maybe it was a good thing.

I did spend a bit of time working on a piece which I have decided will be the Deacon's gift. I dyed a piece of silk which came out in the most gorgeous colours and I was so excited to see the end result, I couldn't wait to start working on it, a design popped into my head, and I was off, using silk organza and Dupioni silks. The base design was working well when impatience kicked in, which was not a good idea. Oh dear, it taught me a huge lesson, do NOT go gung ho into a piece without thinking carefully and making sure that you have laid down a base of stabilizer which covers the entire back of the piece rather than leaving a huge gap in the middle!!

I took off most of the backing and redid it with fresh stabilizer. I had problems with the organza getting stuck under the walking foot in places and then also thought the piece wasn't big enough so added extra fabric, which doesn't match particularly, and it has now been put onto backing and batting and put on the design wall with the hope that inspiration will hit and I will find a way to resolve it into a  finished piece.

I think it will work out, and I'm sure it will be much appreciated, but for the moment, it can sit on the wall and I can see it looking accusingly at me every time I walk in the room. Oh well, I have a lovely piece of dyed silk organza which might work........

I will post a photo as soon as I can pluck up the courage.