Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Taste tomorrow!

"The world loves a spice of wickedness" 
                                                --  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Just a spicy thought in anticipation of tomorrow's reveal of the spice color challenges!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Flavor of the World

As usual, I have spent most of this challenge period pondering spicy colors and thinking about what I wanted to do.  And, as usual, I started cruising the internet and looking for "spicy" inspiration.  I'm working on a map series these days so that led me to thinking about where spices come from, and that led to some delightful visual discoveries, like the spice-filled map above, courtesy of a very informative website called "Adventures in Spice."  Wouldn't it be wonderful to create a map like that with hand-embroidered embellishment?  I couldn't figure out how to do it in a 12x12 inch frame, though, so that idea was discarded.

But that set me on the path of looking at spices and geography.  And, as a home-schooling mom, I was delighted to find a great array of information and even lesson plans on using spices as a way to study geography.  (Digression here:  I found geography in high school totally boring.  How I wish it could have been taught with a little creativity, to show us how our own lives were impacted by other places in the world so geography would have felt relevant.  How fun would that be for a school project, to pick a spice from food we actually eat, and trace where it came from and what the trade routes were and find recipes in different countries that use the spice?)

So in case you're intrigued by this, here are a few of the fun things I found:

** National Geographic's website has a whole lesson plan on "Spice Geography"

** A website called "Spice Advice" has a "spice encyclopedia" where you can get facts about all sorts of spices, and even a timeline all about spices

** The McCormick's website has a section called "Spice Field Reports" where a spice buyer reports on where he goes to get spices, how they grow, what they're like in nature, etc.

Of course, after all of this I didn't do anything that involved geography in my spice quilt.  But it was a fun exploration and that McCormick's site had me distracted with delicious-sounding recipes, too.

Spicy hot!

No. Don't panic. This is not an accidentally early reveal. This is a ten inch journal quilt I just made for the Contemporary Quilt Group Journal Quilt Challenge. I think it may be better than my official Twelve quilt though......

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spice Threads

I'm back from exploring the east coast of Tasmania and it's quilting time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Give- Away

I hope you had a chance to read the profiles of each of the 12x12 artists over the past month on Crescendoh. Even after all this time, I am still learning new things about each of them! (And continued to be so inspired and thankful for our friendship.)

To wrap up this special feature, Lark has offered to give-away TWEVLE copies of our book!Just go to Jenny Doh's blog and leave a comment before Saturday, May 21st, by 5PM (PST). You'll need to have a US or Canada address. I am thrilled that twelve more people will get their hands on a copy of the book! We are eager to spread creativity and inspiration about this project.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting around the dye ban

Considering this is my theme I have been paying little no attention at all to it as a result of General Life Craziness.  And the prospect of dying fabric for this quilt was severely limited by the spouse-imposed ban on me messing with dye in our new cream kitchen. Entirely reasonable I agree. But entirely easy to get around. After all turmeric is both a dye and a food and the latter makes it fair game in a kitchen!

I used 4 tablespoonsfuls-ish of turmeric to 2 pints of water, boiled the water and let it simmer for fifteen minutes, took it off the heat and put the fabric in. The lighter fabric was in there for about an hour and a half or so. The darker one was the same then I let it dry and put it back in to the same dye bath when I went to work this morning and took it out about 6pm.

Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spice in Progress

Wool because women used to use it before the advent of sponges, dri-weave, and other space-age fibers; and an upholstry fabric because it's pattern reminded me of oriental rugs, which are from the middle east as are silphium and asafeotida.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I happened upon...

a new shop in downtown Annapolis when we were out celebrating Claire's birthday last week.

The Spice and Tea Exchange...
I think any of the "twelves" would say that whenever a new theme is announced, we start noticing those colors or ideas popping up everywhere. It's such a fun bit of serendipity.

In the ColorPlay series I have been focusing exclusively on the colors in the theme rather than any words associated with it, but I just might have to explore the shape and repetition of those jars -- and the colors, of course!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spicy Dress

 I am way behind on this challenge.  Maybe it was my husbands first reaction when he saw the colors -- let me just say that it put a damper on the spiciness and brought me back to the early days of parenting.  I'm definitely not going in that direction.  Instead of doing any serious work, I have been playing with mini quilts and making cards.   I couldn't resist adding "spice" to this little dress.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spice Notes

After being knocked out with the flu for a week and travelling for another two, I'm playing catch up with this challenge. I checked my stash and I may be able to get away without having to do any special dyeing this time around:

Cooking up Something

Mmmm, yummy spicy Indian food! That's what came to mind with Helen's palette. Almost immediately I thought of a spice market and those wonderful piles of color.

This would be fun to make with all my lovely brown fabrics, but doesn't it just look like a Brandon Mably fabric (though we all know I love his and Kaffe Fasset's fabrics)?

How about just the spice? A pile of colorful powder that looked like someone ran their finger through. I could do all French Knots in luscious embroidery flosses. I've done two knot-heavy projects in the last month though, and I think I need to do something else.

Reading up on the odd spice out, I learned that Asofoetida has a lot of medicinal uses in addition to it's cookery ones. That made me think of an apothecary and all it's jars, or mysterious drawers.

I kind of like this one.

I was certain that Helen had chosen this palette because she wanted us to think deep thoughts about Asofoetida and it's anti-flatulent, antimicrobial, contraceptive, abortifacient, balancing, and repelling properties. She says she was just thinking of the nice warm browns, but I told her I didn't believe it and would make a piece with a red circle with a line through it to indicate "no fart clouds."

I was loving all the names for Asafoetida based on it's fetid smell. How about a lovely redwork style botanical embroidery, with a bunch of "crappy" names (pun intended)? OK, there's potential in that design.

I was curious about the ancient uses of the spice though. Apparently, it is an inferior version of the ancient herb Silphium, which was so valued in the ancient world that it's image was used on coins, and it was over harvested to extinction by the Roman era. There's some speculation that because of Sylphium's contraceptive effectiveness the heart symbol we use to represent romantic love (that bears little resemblance to a real human heart) is actually based on the heart shaped seed of the plant. It's also possible that use of Sylphium is the reason there wasn't a huge population explosion during the Roman Empire despite much improved nutrition and medical care.

Connecting the dots from the spice palette, to Asafoetida in particular, I think I can make a case for using it's cousin Sylphium as inspiration. But what do I want to say? I think I want to say that for millennia, women have wanted, needed, and sought, choices. We need to accept that.

But I'm feeling that words are to obvious in a quilted piece -- a kind of a cop-out for me. They are much better suited for printed material, or that in the realm of words and letters. Besides, I found a website with bold, thoughtful imagery that is essentially what I was imagining.

I need to be more subtle with my Spice piece. I want to convey something visually without having to explain it in words. I want it to be more subliminal as well. I don't think I need to knock anyone over the head with my Sylphium reference. It can be an intriguing discovery.

Now, back to the drawing (sewing) board to see what I can pull off. What kind of fabrics could reinforce my theme?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Crescendoh: Week 2

Nikki, Terry and Diane are spotlighted on the 12x12 feature on Crescendoh this week! Be sure to check out their inspiring essays and beautiful images of art quilts!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Spice of Life

I've been checking out menu at my local Indian restaurants trying to come up with an idea for Helen's color choices.  The first sample I'm working on has turmeric and paprika in it.

I think the asafoetida and cumin can be added in later. Perhaps some mustard seed and garam masala, I'll have to do more research.