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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Enhancing my Quilting Skills

Although I'm more of a contemporary art quilter, I do see the value in practicing pieceing traditional quilt blocks. I am a member of Craftsy which is a website that teaches all manner of crafts. I am currently doing the Craftsy Block of the Month in order to learn the proper ways to piece quilts and will then incorporate what I learn into my own style of quilting. Each month the site posts 2 new quilt blocks for us to practice. Being that it is almost the end of April and the May blocks will be coming out next week, I thought I should spend today putting together the April blocks. However, the April blocks have a fair amount of hand pieceing to do and they didn't get done today.
Below are some of the blocks I've completed. You can see that they are done in Christmas fabric. Since we started in January and will finish in December, I thought I'd make it a Christmas table runner.

This is one of the unfinished April blocks. It is a paper pieced
block and therefore the hexagons must all be handsewn

This is the second April block and once I sew all the little
hexagons together they will become a Christmas tree
in the centre of the block.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

International Inspiration - Elburg

During my stay in Holland, I visited a small fishing village called Elburg. I was struck that being a fishing village, why wasn't it situated on open water? It turns out Elburg was once on  a large lake that flowed out to the North Sea called the Zuiderzee. Often when storms came in from the North Sea they caused disasterous flooding and loss of life in the villages along the edges of the Zuiderzee. In order to stem the floods, a large dam was constructed, called the Afsluitdijk, which was completed in 1932. The Zuiderzee became the Ijsselmeer and land within this area was reclaimed for farming and housing. These areas are called polders.
A large polder (Flevoland) was formed in front of Elburg with a river flowing in between them. So the fishermen from Elburg can still access the Ijsselmeer however the water in the lake has turned from salt water into fresh water. Due to the fact that Elburg is no longer situated on open salt water, fishing has deminished and the town now relies on tourism for its economy. 
The town was built with large brick ramparts and the streets and alleys still breath the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. There are many terraces and cafes and popular shops to keep the tourist amused.

You can see where Elburg is situated today on the lower
right of the map. The green areas are reclaimed polders.

I began my painting by drawing the the composition lightly on
watercolour paper.

Then I masked the sailboat cables
and put pale washes in the

Then I started to add more colour and established some
of the shadow areas, leaving the foreground for the end.

"Elburg Fishing Boats"

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Journal Pages

I've returned from my trip to Holland to visit my dad and stepmom. While there I gathered inspiration for future artwork. I love the small European towns and fishing villages and was able to spend a day driving around with a cousin, enjoying the uncommonly beautiful weather. We sat in outdoor cafes, walked around an old village, did some shopping and took photographs. I have chosen a photograph and begun a watercolour of the village of Elburg which will be the subject of my next blog. However, in this blog, I thought you might be interested in how I finished some of the pages in the journal I blogged about earlier. While still at home, I prepared the pages of the journal by painting them and gluing in some pictures and pockets and leaving room for journaling and adding things I collected during my stay.

This a detail from the page above. It is a pocket I placed
on a page and in it is a tab with a photograph of my
dad as a boy on one side and a photograph of my dad
today on the other.

This page also has a heart shaped pocket on it with a tab in it
containing a photo of my parents when they were dating and
also a photo of our immigration to Canada.

I use maps and glued in things I have collected like sugar packets, coasters,
napkins, candy wrappers etc.
 I also wrote some of the things that I observed while I was there and some of my feelings about what I observed which I am busy writing up on another sheet of paper which I will place in an envelope inside the journal to keep a little more private. I will continue to keep this journal each time I visit my dad and it will be a wonderful, if not realistic memory of this time with him.
I wasn't sure journaling would be my thing but once I got started, it was rather addictive. I have also started separate journals for each of my grandchildren. In them I draw sketches of them at different stages in life. I mark their special events such as baptism, dedication, first teeth, birthdays and write my own feelings about those events. My plan is to give this to them when they are older in hopes that they will know how special they are to me.
Journals can be very personal and something you don't share with anyone but yourself or they can be special gifts to give to someone.