Friday, June 28, 2013

Food, glorious food

I have always had a love hate relationship with food.

I didn't realise it until about four years ago when I suffered with quite severe depression. Those who have suffered or are sufferers will know what I mean, I found it hard to think about preparing food let alone eating it, and I stopped eating. That's quite an admission when I see it written, but breakfast would be half a slice of bread and butter, no lunch, ( and to this day, I still find it hard to eat lunch and if I do, I don't eat in the evening save for a few crackers and a bit of cheese). The evening meal was awful and I would struggle to get the food down. Breakfast now consists of a whole slice of bread and maybe a boiled egg if I can be bothered, and I might have a cookie or two for elevenses, so things have improved.

My relationship with food has shifted to a "better place" over the past year, although I am very careful about my food intake. But, something has changed slightly. When our Israeli guests left, I purchased a Cook book by Joan Nathan, "The Foods of Israel today". Now I don't know about you, but I love cookery books, I have a cupboard in the kitchen absolutely full from top to bottom. So what? Well, the cupboard is six feet tall and has five shelves. When we were in the UK, we used to do Boot Fairs, (yard sales), at the weekends, and my most prized find was a copy of Elizabeth David's "Mediterranean and French Country Foods" in it's original dust jacket. Not a first edition, but still a prize which cost me 20p. I love to read cook books like this although some of it is written in French so totally  not understandable to me.

So, now you all know.

Anyway, back to my current cook book. I love it!!

It was sort of recommended to me and I thought I would get it and have a look. Well, I think the husband is very long suffering, for tonight, I made Falafel. I love Falafel, the crispness and the flavour of them is second to none, and I managed four of them with a small Pita bread and some tomato. So I think I overdid it but I really enjoyed it. The book also contains some very interesting history and facts on Israel and also lists Restaurants and other places that serve excellent Middle Eastern food. I have made salads from this book and I am thoroughly enjoying the exploration and the journey of cooking. I think my food intake must have gone up a little too as it is not mentioned by the husband.

I also think the brunch we attended at the Jewish Community Centre back in January was an eye opener, and then the food we had at the closing brunch was just wonderful, and I think it triggered something.

My other favourite books are by Darina Allen, an Irish cook. My good friend Heather in Northern Ireland introduced me to some great cook books by Jenny Bristow, and then Darina. For the longest time they were the only books I used, and then along came Jamie Oliver. Another eye opener.

I know I will be going to Israel at some point,and I will be armed with a list of places that I would love to visit, the best place to buy Baklava, the only place to buy Falafel, etc, etc,. I just hope that my hosts won't mind my strange eating habits and driving me all over the country to try new foods!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Going back to my roots..

Well, I have finally finished the quilt!! It will be interesting to see how it hangs once I get the pocket on it, as there isn't a straight side to it. I seem to be wanting to get away from neat and tidy and want more wonky edges. I am glad it's done!

It will not be given away!! It was going to be a gift for our Deacon's ordination and I was showing some friends, and they asked which Show I would be entering it into. I hadn't actually thought about it, but, maybe it should be seen although I don't think it's up to the standard I would normally have, it has been nipped and tucked in places, but maybe that adds to the charm of it. May be I'll take it to the UK in August and enter it into the Festival of Quilts in 2014, it will be cheaper to mail it if it's in the country already. I mailed one from here for the Horizon's challenge of the Contemporary Quilt group, and it cost me a whopping $92.00. Most of that was handling charges!

I have something else for the Deacon!

I left the roots hanging, but did stitch them over so they wouldn't look too untidy. I also left bits hanging off the side, again, I want to get away from neat and tidy.

Not sure the photos do it justice but I took them anyway. I have to get the husband primed to photograph it, he does all my quilts and makes a very good job of it.

So, the question is, what to do next? Well, have started another one. I seem to have a thing with trees, but that seems to be "my" thing. They are not terribly realistic, but they do look like trees.

So, here it is. I am using another piece of ice dyed silk as the background, and dupioni silks for the tree. I think it will just be the one and I will build from there, I started adding a little cheesecloth at the base of the tree which, I think, works quite well, and gives it some depth. I love the colours in this, and find these backgrounds speak volumes, by telling me how much decoration I need to put on them, so I will take this slowly.

I did some more ice dyeing yesterday, and the results are just lovely! I will post them at a later date!

I have also been working on Quilt Festival, and I'm having a lot of fun choosing the workshops for next year. I think we will have a lot to choose from and some fun classes and other surprises! I will be going back to my roots and travelling to the UK in August to do some promotional work at the FOQ in Birmingham, so I am trying to get a slideshow together, which will, hopefully, give a sense of what the Ailsa Craig Festival is like. I'm sure they love me at my One to One sessions at the Apple store, as I take it all in there and get it done! But, they are the experts and I am learning a lot while I'm doing it, and it's nice to have some help from someone more technical than I.

Another job I have to do while I'm in the UK, is to take a photo of Big Ben. This has been requested by my 8 year old neighbour, it would appear it's the only thing he wants, but I have absolutely no idea why! So, after Birmingham, I will be going back to London for the following week, I  am sure I will have a lot to do, but I have promised myself some time in London and have actually booked a ticket for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I used to be a friend of the RA and still subscribe to the Magazine which I love, so I was thrilled to see that the Summer exhibition was still on and I am looking forward to taking myself off to see it. 

I will probably miss the David Bowie exhibit at the V&A. It closes while I'm in Birmingham, so the only day I would see it, would be the day after I land in the UK. Not sure how that will work but we will see! I want to see as many shows as I can while I'm there. I might also take myself off to Sotheby's and Christie's Auction houses. That was something I enjoyed a lot. I  did buy and sell china for  little while, and would always enjoy going up to town for a viewing. It's like going to  Selfridge's or Harrod's, you had the opportunity to look at Designer clothing, handle it, try it on even, and then hand it back. And it was the same going into the Auction houses, it gave you the chance to handle items you couldn't afford but it was fun to look. I did however, have the odd success so I can't complain.

Well, I had better get back to work, still lots to do before August!!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just when you thought it was safe.........

So, Quilt Festival finished three weeks ago now, and I have had a bit of time to myself. I have to ay I have enjoyed it. I've got back into my studio and have had a little fun just playing with fabric, the results of which I have posted. I am looking forward to using these pieces, and have already used some of it in my postcards.

Yemima Lavan, Eti David, Shoshi Rimer, Bella Kaplan, Tamar Drucker and Festival Committee Chair, Cathy Mitchell at the Gala for the Festival.

I make fabric postcards and so far, have a grand total of eight! Not bad in a couple of weeks, I now have to buckle down and make more as I know these won't last long at the Art Emporium. I want to try and build up a stash so that I can keep them topped up rather than rushing to get a batch done in one go, it takes an hour or more to create one, so I have my work cut out for me, but, as they say, theres 24 hours in a day.

So in between doing that, I am already working on Workshops for next years Festival. I have been passed details of various teachers, and I am in the process of going through their proposals with help from two people who's input and opinion I value highly. So, watch this space as they say.......

The husband has been very long suffering lately. I bought a new cook book, The Foods of Israel by Joan Nathan, and have been using him as my guinea pig. So far, he seems to have enjoyed the dishes I have served up. Our Israeli visitors really inspired me, and I have had a lot of fun reading this book as there is a lot of information and a history lesson to boot really. He's pretty adventurous, but not much into rice and stuff, being more a meat and potatoes guy, at the moment he's not sure what is going to be dished up as I like to keep him on his toes.

I have also booked my flight to the UK for August!! I am going to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham and will be meeting up with the Quilters Guild of the British Isles to answer any questions and sort some stuff out. I think I am going to have my work cut out for me while I am there as I am hoping to promote next years Festival, Quilts of Great Britain, and, scout out countries for future years. I hope to get a little shopping in at the show, there are one or two suppliers I love to see as I have to internet order otherwise, so will save my shipping. So, as I say, just when you thought it was safe... it all starts again.!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What fun I'm having!!

I have had a lovely week playing in my studio!

It is always a joy to be creative and this week has proved no exception. I have resolved one piece of work and will start quilting it tomorrow. I have been able to shut the doors on the world. I spend a lot of time in my studio just breathing deeply, not because it smells good, it's where my creative muse is and she just exudes a fragrance all of her own.  We were a little wary of each other last week, but I'm glad to say that we seem happy to keep each company and rub along together pretty well.

As I said, I will be quilting one piece tomorrow, which I am really happy with now. I did a lot of appliqué on it and have the batting and backing on it. I cut the batting slightly smaller than the top, and turned the backing fabric inwards so there will be no border. I love the uneven edges and dangly bits, I sometimes feel that by binding, my work feels hemmed in and I want it to be free!

It almost hangs straight too, which I am happy about.

I had done some acid dyeing at the weekend, as I explained in the previous post, and decided to work on a piece today. I posted it on Facebook as my "aah" moment.

I was working on it one way and found it worked so much better upside down!! I am much happier with it and will quilt it tomorrow. 

It's amazing what looking at a piece of work upside down will do for you! It is lovely though.

I have three whole days in my studio before I start with meetings again next week. One on Monday afternoon and a Board meeting on Tuesday evening, so no rest for the wicked!!

I do hope the muse will keep the studio tidy for me when I am not there, and I hope she keeps throwing out ideas,it vibrates with creativity every time I walk through the door, and I intend to spend as much time as I can in it between now and September although there is the small trip to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham coming up in August. 

Hopefully the dust won't pile up too much in the rest of the house!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dyeing to do this!

The weather has been strange. Very windy, but that might be just because I live on a hill, but also very warm, so yesterday I thought it might be worth trying out my acid dyes.

The husband came with propane tank and gas ring so that I could work outside my studio. I had prepared my fabrics the day before and had just left them in soak, so, following instructions I put them into a pan and put them on the gas ring.

I do get very impatient and want things to happen quickly -not a very good combination. So I took one of my dyes and mixed it with a little water, and then added it to the pan. So far so good you may think. Well, maybe not really as the one thing I lacked was a thermometer so had absolutely no clue as to what temperature the water was, plus the wind kept blowing the steam so it is possible that the temperature was cool on the outside of the pot. Well, it was steaming well so in went the citric acid, and then I dropped the bag on the floor. Having retrieved what was left, husband and I stood and peered into the pot waiting for something to happen and then the propane ran out. Oh well, I thought, it is just an experiment. So we left everything and I then decided to do some ice dyeing.

Now I have to say, that I LOVE ice dyeing, but as I also said, I get very impatient wanting instant results. I put my fabrics in the soda ash solution and went back to check on the acid dye. Much to my surprise, the water was clear, and the pieces I dyed looked coloured, so it was with a happy heart that I got them out of the cool water and rinsed them.

This piece was I think, Habotai silk. I seem to have amassed silk from somewhere and have no clue how it got here, but I am pleased with the result of this scrunched up piece

This was a piece of silk Organza, and I can see a stormy see in this. I will be working on this theme today, was hoping for a calm water piece, but it didn't happen!

This is Project Runway. I did this at the very last minute, just accordion pleating and securing with elastic bands. I was tickled with the look of this piece as I thought the dyeing on the right looked like three models in long frocks (dresses for those who don't know!).

All in all I was happy with my rather slapdash attempts but will be going to buy a thermometer to take the water temperature!

By the time I had rinsed these pieces, the fabric was ready for the ice dye. It never fails to amaze me to see the wealth of colour and variations with different dyes in the same dye bath. I dyed silk, scrim and cottons, all of which take the dyes so differently and leave me either thrilled with the results or perplexed as to why it didn't come out as I saw it in my head. I had a couple of those yesterday and I then spend hours wondering what I will do with the fabric.

This is my silk piece. The colours just went pow! I was thrilled with it, and then I started looking closely at the dye patterns, I have included photos of two close ups. It makes me drool and think I don't want to put anything on top to hide the patterns, so maybe I will just quilt certain areas and let the colours shine.

This piece was almost disappointing, but then I started looking closely at it and there are some great patterns suggesting a forest canopy so all is not lost.

I loved the colours in this piece although they were more muted, but I did say I was impatient. I moved my dye bins into the sun to melt the ice quicker. Again I looked into the fabric once it was dry and I was ironing it this morning, and serendipity happens. The close up shows what happens when the dye settles in creases, it gives added texture and I have spent many an hour thinking that the fabric is creased until looking closely to see that this is meant to be there.

I bought some Cotton Sateen in Cincinnati, and used a piece for this, again a lovely finish and I like the feel of the fabric.

I saved the best till last, or rather, what on earth do I do with this? The colours came out in no way imaginable, and I always get a little disheartened by this colour way, it's not not the first time I've had this! So, I think today's exercise will be to re soak it, and over dye and see if I can't salvage it. I love reds but this combination has me scratching my head and I see no redeeming factors in it at all!!

Oh well, time to get back to work, I have so much I want to do today and I am looking forward to starting something new. I have to make a gift for someone, the one I was going to give away  is not going to be as I was advised that it should be entered for quilt shows, so there goes that one!!!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Aaah! time to breathe........

Life runs away doesn't it? I try hard to keep up with this, but then "life" takes over. I have just finished the latest Ailsa Craig Community  Quilt Festival which featured the Quilts of Israel this year. The show was wonderful, our quilters amazing and threw themselves into the week with gusto, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

But, now its over, and I have to get back to normal. I have had a gentle week sorting out my studio and trying to get a bit of work done for the Art Emporium in Port Stanley. I have the distinction of being one of the featured artists for the month of June. Sadly, I haven't had much of a chance to get any work done, so had to take what little I had. I posted photo of the piece way back in January, but it was met with lots of oohs, so that is good!!

After I got home from Port Stanley today, I dropped the work in, I thought I would start dyeing some fabric. I bought some acid dyes the other day, and I haven't acid dyed before, so thought I should give it a go. I LOVE ice dyeing, and will do some more tomorrow, but I'm rapidly running out of fabric, so must order a new bolt of PFD. I do have lots of silk organza though, so thought it might be fun to try  another method. By the time I thought about getting started , it was too late,  and the husband was wanting supper,so have decided to start tomorrow and will post photos of the results.

I am looking forward to the summer and having time to myself, although I will be going to England in August to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. We will be showing the Quilts of Great Britain next May, so the process will, very soon, start all over again...........and there will be no time to breathe.