Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bone dry

I am such a flake this time around. It was my turn to suggest a topic, and I haven't really thought about it since. As a pathetic excuse, I was taking 8 days of classes with Kerr Gabrowsli and she was staying at my house, and my daughter is getting married May 10th and I just started working on a chuppah this week! I'm hopelessly behind, but determined to catch up. I did screenprint a few pieces of possible fabric with a water theme, and tonight I'm going to brainstorm with myself to at least come up with some ideas.I'm hoping the ideas flow freely, because I think I will have to execute this on the fly.

Did I mention that I'm going to Mendocino the week after the wedding with my brothers, sisters in law and Mom to chill out and drink some wine? I know waa,waa,waa, poor me.

To answer Terry, yes I am thinking amd now have several designs... choice?! This doesn't usually happen to me!

Today I was working in a newly refurbished hotel and in their whitewalled lounge I was able to sit on their white leather sofas and look at the sparsely placed art books they had placed on their white shelves. This book was one and it fell open to a photo of flooded rice paddies not disimilar to ( but perhaps better than) this one. Oooh quilty idea!

(The rebel in me really likes the idea of a water quilt that is not at all blue!)

Watery fabric

I am trying to jumpstart some ideas for the water piece, so I made this piece of watery fabric.

More about the process on my blog. The rest of you are all so quiet! Anyone having any great ideas? Any brilliant inspiration?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Water on the brain

Sounds serious if not fatal, doesn't it? I think, if anything, this theme of water is too big—too many ways to go. When you live in Oregon rain is the first thing that comes to mind and the last week has provided lots of rain inspiration (actually more like "exasperation").

One of my ideas was to depict the "Bensen bubblers" that are installed all around downtown Portland. These charming water fountains were provided to the city by one of its founding fathers, Simon Benson, early in the history of the city. His reason was to give the workers building the streets and buildings a good cold drinking alternative to beer! He felt he was strengthening the morals of the city by keeping the men out of the taverns. No one knows if it worked in that way, but to this day we have these lovely reminders of his philanthropy. ( We also, reputedly, have the largest number of microbreweries of any city in the US, so they may not have killed the local interest in beer entirely!)

One of the things I most love about the new house that we are moving to is that a creek runs through the property. Since we bought the place last fall I have enjoyed watching it rise and fall with the rains. I think the sound of the water will be lovely to live with. Now I am wondering if I can come up with something that has to do with our creek.

Water water everywhere

I was all set to post about how fabulous this 12 x 12 inch format is, and how I had two ideas and that I'd probably explore both since we're working so small. Yippee!

And then reality jumped up and bit me. I spent the better part of this last week online looking at housing in Hawaii and comparing schools and not really working on anything art related (does anyone find it interesting that I've found out that I'll be living in the middle of a lot of water at the same time we've got a water theme here?). I want to explore several ideas, but I don't think I've got time on my side. I do have one idea that's particularly interesting to me now and I'll focus just on that one. Luckily, due to our small format, I should be able to squeeze in a weekend of work on it before the movers come.

This is the direction I won't be pursuing:

Friday, April 25, 2008


I've been playing with my droplets picture. I printed several versions of it on different fabrics and papers. The one to left is organza. I've put a green fabric under it for the photo. The other one is plain cotton fabric.
More pictures on my blog later today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pure Water?

A large chunk of my legal professional life was taken up with restructuring the government ownership of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme - one of the most complex integrated water and hydro-electric power schemes in the world involving sixteen major dams, seven power stations (two underground), a pumping station, 145kms of inter-connected trans-mountain tunnels and 80kms of aqueducts. Along the way, I learned a great deal about water and electrical engineering. Not surprisingly then, infrastructure images have dominated my planning so far for this theme challenge. First it was pipes, penstocks and turbines. Then it was more simple imagery such as water tanks and taps. But something was bothering me. I was concentrating so much on the infrastructure, I was forgetting about the water. So now it is back to the drawing board: pure water all the way?

Monday, April 21, 2008


Knowing that I am going through a time of transition right now, Terry was kind enough to do this theme's quilt for me ;-)

Thank you all for contributing to the big secret project!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Swimming pools

Like Gerrie, I have been thinking about swimming. But not in Hawaii. Well, I have since I read her piece, but I have not actually been doing it in Hawaii. In my case it was more about having a gym subscription I don't use enough, so I hauled myself down to the pool to turn over a new leaf. (Several days ago. Life has happened and I haven't been since. Sigh. I really must downgrade that gold membership to silver and spend the balance on fabric!)

Anyway. Swimming is boring.
Up down, up down.
Good for arthritis. But boring.
Up, down.

Ok, so it was more like up, rest at the top, down, nip to the steam room, up, down. Still boring.

Until I stopped looking at the poolside ( I am not a face in the water girl!) and started looking at the water. How it shimmers and reflects and refracts. The lines of the windows, doors and palm planter were repeated but distorted and contrasted with the mosaic pool floor. The branches of the bare trees lining the carpark were reflected through the grid of the glass wall in sketchy little lines floating on the water that looked like, well, stitches.

Up, down, plan.
Up down, look again.
Up, down try to remember.
Up, down, wonder how to piece it.
Up, down, remember it doesn't have to be a literal interpretation....
....who says quilting does not count as excercise?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Water Balloon Slo-mo

This video is awesome- watching a water balloon break in slow motion. Got water on the brain, I guess.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Watery Dilemma

I am having some difficult foot pain from Plantar Fasciitis. My doctor told me to quit walking so much and get in the water. Water, bathing suits, chlorine - yuk. We are still having wintery weather so the thought of putting on a bathing suit and getting in water is just not working for me.

My other watery dilemma is that we are leaving for Israel on May 9th and we won't be back until May 22. So given that I will have one week and a long holiday week-end with serious jet lag, I am thinking that I can not wait until the last minute, as is my usual behavior, to get the next challenge done.

So, my solution is to hop a plane to Hawaii for a few days which is the only place I have ever enjoyed getting in the water. I could get some water exercise, heal my foot and probably be inspired to do a really great water challenge.

Does anyone want to join me there? Too bad that we don't have one of the twelve living there, I could invite myself to hang out and I wouldn't even need to bring my sewing machine.

Ah, dreams of paradise.

I sort of have an idea for my piece. If you have checked my blog lately, you have seen that I am on the hunt for ceramic tiles for our bathroom renovation. I have finally selected the colors that will be fashioned into a linear mosaic. My idea is to have these in an off-set linear column in the shower with white tiles. The colors I have chosen are very watery and had me thinking about rain and rainbows. Imagine that, living in Portland and thinking about rain.

I hope to start work on this tomorrow. I'll keep you posted as to my progress.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Like Kirsten, I have lots of pictures of water, but they are not organized in a flickr account, sorry.
I picked two of them... one of the sea (from the sailboat), and one of droplets (in my garden).
And, like Kristin, I wrote down some words.
Sea, ocean, sailing, silence, peace, meditation, calligraphy, kanji
Colours, blue, grey, green, emerald
Stream, flow, energy, life, cycle
Wave, vortex, spiral
Drops, droplets
Water, steam, ice
Sea water, fresh water, running water, watercolours
Too many tracks! But I like the idea of the droplet at the moment, or maybe sailing, or...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Extended community

Hey, have you checked out the "community" quilts that our friend, Joanne, at Wednesday's Child made? She is listed as a "Friend of Twelve by Twelve" in our sidebar and is, I think, the only one who revealed a community piece as we revealed ours. She actually shows two, both very nice and she has written a lot about her pieces and thoughts on community. Very nicely done.

Water Words

Look, another picture of my boring sketchbook in my lap. I wanted to take some water pictures, but the light isn't cooperating and i'm too lazy to make much of an effort.

Anyways, the water theme seems immense to me. What I usually do when I have absolutely no idea where to start is to just write down words, stream-of-conscious-like and see where it takes me. So far, a lot of my associations seem to be in the direction of water's power: it's destructive power, it's restorative power, it's power over life, it's potential to make literal power, the power those who control it have. That's still a huge range of possibilities!

On a more personal level, there's the Still vs Bubbly water issue that plagues Americans in Europe. In America, bottled mineral water, bubbly or not, is the realm of the affluent and affected. "Normal" people drink tap water, or Culligan. In Europe, everyone drinks mineral water, and it's usually bubbly. Instead of a Big Gulp, or something Venti, or the ubiquitous sport bottle, people here carry a bottle of mineral water to their job each day. And why not? It costs less than 10€ for a crate of 16 liter-sized bottles inclusive of the deposit that will be refunded with the empties. So when you go to a restaurant and order a water (you are not automatically given a glass of tap water with ice), you are likely to get a bottle of the local bubbly. One of the first things Americans have to learn upon arriving in Germany is not only how to communicate that they want "still" water, but that they'd prefer tap water as the mineral water tastes, well, mineral-y. This confounds the Germans because they've been taught that mineral water is very healthy, and well, the bubbly version is quite refreshing and they can't quite understand why someone would want plain old tap water.

A great way to embrace the bubbly water though, is to do as the Germans often do instead of drinking soda -- mix bubbly mineral water with fruit juice. "Apfelschörle" is practically the national drink (after beer and wine of course). Half mineral water and half pure apple juice, it's refreshing and not too sweet. If you like tangier drinks, try "Johanisbeersaftschörle," which beside gaining you points for being able to pronounce it, is a delicious mix of water and black currant juice.

So, will I choose "power" or "still vs. bubbly" or do something completely different? I have no idea. I'm still drowning in the possibilities.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Gallery Views

Following some group musings, and a coincidental prompt from one of our readers, the entry pages to the Dandelion, Chocolate and Community theme galleries have been revamped to display a larger mosaic and therefore more quilt detail. Click the thumbnails to see for yourself:
Dandelion by Chocolate by Community by

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Water Views

I need look no further than out my studio window for water-based inspiration:

Copacabana Beach Australia Day 2008

Water ©2006 Brenda Gael SmithAs I recently wrote on my blog I've been wanting to make a coastal-themed quilt for a while. Nevertheless, for this next Twelve by Twelve challenge, I think I will turn my attention to fresh water rather than the ocean. Here is a 12x12 quilt that I made for the Quilters' Guild of NSW Mini Marvels challenge. It forms part of my earthwaterfire triptych. I still really like the quilt but I'm looking to do something different for this challenge.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Community Gallery

A new set of gallery pages has now been added to the Twelve by Twelve website featuring our community-themed quilts. I am always fascinated as I put these mosaics together to see how common designs elements such as grids and colour can unify an otherwise very diverse collection of pieces:

Today I'll be updating other parts of the website to link to the new gallery. Please e-mail me if you notice any broken links or other maintenance issues.

Community questions

As always, I've loved seeing how we all interpreted this theme -- and I've been thinking about each of our responses to the same idea. I've noticed that most of us have included (either in the pieces or in our description of our processes) some ambivalence about community... Some level of discomfort or sadness or feelings of exclusion or tension...

And that has got me thinking about how, as fiber artists, we have various communities to share our work but we essentially work alone as we create. Art is essentially a solo activitity -- so I wonder whether the fact that we are doing this work in the first place, and clearly value the solitude that is necessary for this sort of creativity, influences our feelings about community?

I guess I've been wondering if you took any 12 random people and asked them to express their feelings about the concept of community, whether you'd get the same sort of conflicting feelings that our pieces reflect?

Or does this say something about us in particular?

Challange for April/May

I thought of and rejected lots of ideas before I settled on this one. Water. Of course once I decided that was it, I have seen this mentioned everywhere. I know our group can rise to the challange and put a fresh perspective on it. I hope we can blog even more about our ideas and plans. I really enjoyed reading everyones thoughts and I'm the first to admit I didn't blog enough last time.

Attached Disconnected

Yikes! I thought April 1 was the deadline and now I see I'm late. So sorry.

This theme was a big struggle for me. I have not had a chance to read through all the other posts, but I suspect it was a challenge for others as well. My quilt is called "Attached Disconnected."

I was inspired by many of my own experiences in various communities -- as a military family, as a church member, as a PTA volunteer, as a home owner in a few different places, as a mother, daughter, sister, wife, as a member of other clubs, groups and organizations. Just because we might have one thing in common does not mean we have everything in common. We can be a community both because of an in spite of these qualities.

Then I began to think about how to put these ideas into the cloth. This is when I just had to let the materials and my own sense of style and design take priority rather than try to be too literal.

The sliced up nine patch is a bit representative of a neighborhood block. Do the circle represent connected-ness or evolution? Or do I just really like circles? All the embellishments are things you could use to attach one thing to another. I'm really pleased with how they look. I'm pleased with the binding too. I had a beautiful bit of yarn in my stash that coordinated perfectly. I just zipped it over the edge. Each of my 12x12 quilts have had a somewhat interesting border treatment. That's been a fun additional challenge for me.

Later in the week I'll post a bit more about my process and my many false starts. Gerrie will notice that in the end, I went to my comfort zone color palette -- ah, the green and the purple!


I really had a hard time deciding in which direction to go... I finally chose my neighbourhood community, maybe because I've been doing several little quilts related to houses and neighbourhood these last months.
This is a very simplified view of my neighbourhood. Nice little houses with small gardens... A lovely, quiet and friendly neighbourhood. But as our children are growing, the links between our families seem nevertheless to be fading. I sometimes see each house as a kind of spiral centering on itself. Don't get me wrong, I still like the place where I live, but I'm a bit nostalgic of the good old time when the kids were all playing together in the street.
I made another quilt on the same theme, using my carved printing block, but I much prefer the first one. I'll post more about this on my blog soon.