Monday, August 24, 2009

Stones, Shells and Hemingway... Inspiration to Sew By

"Let him think I am more man than I am and I will be so."
- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

With this new piece, I happily revisited a previous theme which I first began exploring a year ago... Mid Century inspired table runners/wall hangings, (which I also refer to as "functional art quilts" as these pieces work both as beautiful, functional table runners and decorative accent pieces, as well as a beautiful piece of art to hang.)

My muses for previous pieces, (see here, here and here) included old utilitarian quilts and Frank Lloyd Wright.

For this piece however, my inspiration came from stones, shells and the mental image of Ernest Hemingway. The stones and shells, gathered on my recent visit to the sea side, were a visual influence for my color and pattern choices,

where Hemingway provided the muse for creating a piece with a masculine feel... I wanted something that would look at home in a study, draped over an old and well used wooden table that had been oiled to a deep, rich shine.

"Hemingway" - A Mid-Century Inspired Functional Art Quilt is currently available in my shop.

P.S. I was delighted to learn from the comments on my last post that so many of you are familiar with and like Tsatsiki! What a pleasant surprise!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Good news: I have some new work to share.
Bad news: The weather has been too rainy and overcast to get any good shots.
Good news: I had this family recipe for Tsatsiki, (Greek Cucumber dip/sauce) typed and photographed and waiting on standby for just such an occasion :0)

If you have ever had a Gyro sandwich, (correctly pronounced “yee-roh”) this is the wonderful sauce that is used. Any cucumber will do, but I like to use the greek cucumbers that my mother grows in her garden. A few years back, she gathered the seeds and brought them back home with her from a trip to Chios, the island that my father's father came from. I look forward to them all year long!

1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup yogurt*
2 cups diced cucumber**
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients.

*Yogurt first needs to be drained by placing in a strainer lined with either paper towel or gauze cloth. Put strainer in a bowl to catch the water. Place in refrigerator overnight to drain sufficiently. Afterwards it will look like what is pictured above.

** After cucumbers have been been peeled and diced, squeeze them in between cloth or paper towels to remove excess water.
(I tend to keep my cucumber pieces pretty big, as I like the crunch... feel free to dice them smaller for a smoother, more traditional dip/sauce!)

I like to eat the dip with pieces of pita or flat bread. (I find that this is even better the second day as all the flavors have had a chance to blend together and the raw garlic has had some time to mellow out a bit!)

Since I am not a meat eater I also like to combine it with vegetarian meat, (Morningstar, Garden or Boca Veggie burgers, chic patties, or sausage patties) that I have seasoned with a bit of cumin, some sliced tomatoes and shredded lettuce piled in a thick pita or on top of some more flat bread, as shown above. Makes for a delicious and light veggie version of a gyro sandwich! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to the Beach

It is hard for me to believe, but it has been a month now since Mo has passed away. We headed back to the ocean for some more soul rejuvenating beauty...

“I shall go the way of the open sea, To the lands I knew before you came, And the cool ocean breezes shall blow from me, The memory of your name”

- Adela Florence Nicolson (aka Laurence Hope)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reconstruction no.1

Reconstruction no.1 was a true exercise in creativity for me. It's the first time I ever worked with denim, (in a quilt) and I had to exercise a few brain muscles on this one.

First I didn't want there to be a lot of bulky seams, so I kept most of the seams open and raw edged, securing them with zig-zag stitching.

Secondly, I was unprepared for how the twill weave on some of the pieces would prevent me from having an easy time quilting... the more I quilted the more some of these areas stretched and expanded, leaving me with long ridges and channels of excess fabric. Unlike the old quilting adage, "you can quilt it out" meaning the more you quilt the flatter the fabric will become, I found that the more I quilted the worse things got.

I don't know if it is because I am a big fan of "Project Runway" of if it was because I was using old denim pants, but I kept hearing the voice of Tim Gunn in my head, repeating his mantra, "Make it work!"
So I did!...

I cut long slashes where the fabric ran in raised gopher-made-like trails, and inserted red printed japanese fabric strips behind. Then I turned the raw denim edges in and carefully stitched things down.

I added an applique patch in one other problem area, and then scattered a few more all around the quilt to balance things out visually.

And I also added lots of big, red embroidered stitches through out... just for good measure....

and intentionally included certain naturally occurring imperfections found in the recycled denim, as honestly that is what drew me to wanting to work with it in the first place.

And when I was done, I found that the "problems" I had encountered and my solutions to them, ultimately created a quilt that was much more rich and interesting then anything I had originally set out to do. (But as for working with denim again... not so sure about that... we will see!)

Reconstruction no.1 is available for sale in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thank You's

Big thank you to Sew, Mama, Sew! for featuring my HoJo Space Spores on their blog yesterday!

I also wish to thank the very sweet and talented Amy Cartwright for passing on the The Bella Sinclair Award which was created by the delightful artist Bella Sinclair. Bella has had a major shift in her life with the loss of her husband. I cannot imagine such a loss, and I wish her and her daughters all the best as they travel this new road together.

And speaking of blog awards... my sincere apology for being awful at not only passing them on, but also for often not even acknowledging them. To those of you that have been so thoughtful to included me when passing on your awards, I ask your forgiveness in neglecting to mention them on my blog. Truth is, I get a little squirmy and self conscious and embarrassed about them.... just another one of my quirks and oddities. I doubt if I will get much better in the future, and completely understand if I am for ever more blacklisted from blog awards. (But I truly do appreciate the thought.) xo

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Meditative Deconstruction


Main Entry: un·sew
Pronunciation: \ˌən-ˈsō\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): un·sewed; un·sewn\-ˈsōn\ or un·sewed; un·sew·ing
Date: 14th century
: to undo the sewing of

Spending time these days unsewing old jeans.
(The plan is to re-sew the material into some improvised quilts.)

The ripping of their stitches and the opening up of their folded hems and seams is very relaxing. I adore the variations in color and subtle textures revealed in this process.

Monday, August 3, 2009


While taking down cloths off the wash line yesterday, I realized a whole world was struggling to be reborn around me...

Unfurl those wings and fly baby, fly. xo

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Finding Peace

The first four days were the hardest. I could not stop crying and second guessing myself.
By the fifth day I was pretty numb.
On the sixth day we decided to go to Cape May, New Jersey for the day.
A bit of a long drive just for one day, but a place that holds many happy memories for myself, my husband and my children.

Before my father became sick and passed away, it was a place the whole family enjoyed vacationing together, but now it had been ten years since we last were there.

Time to go back, and soak in its calm, healing magic.

Walking along a beach, bucket in hand and searching for treasures is one of my soul's greatest pleasures.
(I actually have reoccurring "nightmares" where I am at the shore only to realize that it is my last day and time to leave, but for what ever reason I forgot to walk on the beach and do my gleaning. I race in a frenzy to the ocean and sand, frantically trying to seek that peace in my few remaining moments.)

Sea shells are few on the beaches of Cape May, but lovely small stones are plentiful.

The prize stones are the "Cape May Diamonds". Clear, smooth pieces of quartz.

After the beach, a stroll through the streets of Cape May equally delights the senses.

The streets are lined with beautifully painted Victorian houses...

And gorgeous courtyard gardens...


Many heartfelt thanks. Your kind comments, loving emails, and thoughtful gifts lifted my spirit when it was at one of its lowest. The goodness and generosity of people is so incredible... if only the news was filled with the truth of peoples loving actions.

I miss Mo so much. I talk to her everyday. I picture her happy and healthy. I stroke her photograph.
She taught me more lessons in living this past year then I have learned in all of my previous.
She was a gift. Thank you for letting me share her with you.