Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book giveaway: "Vibrant Quilt Collage"

Interweave Press sent me this VERY COLORFUL book to review a few months ago, and I've been soaking up the photos of Bethan Ash's vivid abstract quilts like they were rays of sunshine. Now it's time to give it away. Leave a comment or send me an email ( if you'd like the chance to win it. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you. I'll draw a name at the end of the week. Now, on to the review ...

I love the book, but I must caution you that it reportedly is a reprint of a book by Bethan called "Instinctive Quilt Art." According to Amazon reviews, the content is the same but the cover and title are new under the 2012 Interweave Press printing. So don't rush out to buy "Vibrant Quilt Collage" if you already own "Instinctive Quilt Art."

Again, I love the book. Throughout, Bethan advises us to follow our instincts and intuition to spontaneously create unique art quilts. Her emphasis is on fused collaged abstract work, but she also includes photos of work by other quilt artists who do more realistic work. Mostly though, the book is about becoming comfortable working in an abstract manner.
"Learn to appreciate the abstract method of fusing and use of color and by doing so you will discover that your self-confidence grows as you become more accomplished."  page 6 
She discusses design concerns -- patterns, form, composition, color, texture -- and offers technique exercises. "The ultimate goal of the exercises," she writes, "is to help you free yourself from the psychological barriers that inhibit creativity, and to open up a myriad of new and exciting possibilities for making quilt art." 

Techniques discussed include fusing, collage, surface design, digital transfer, action painting, print techniques, resists, and giving your work a professional finish. You won't find anything about 1/4" seams or how to make your points match :)

Even though the emphasis is on abstract quilts, which she does so well, she offers this:

"To follow the abstract method of improvisation does not mean that you only have to work in an abstract way; on the contrary, the method and exercises in this book are designed to help you develop your artistic skills and feelings for color, shape, texture, composition, and harmony. The more you practice these skills, the better your work will be, even if you work figuratively."

So if working more freely and intuitively is one of your New Year's goals, this is the book for you. Leave a comment and it could be yours!

Have a colorful day

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Notes from Seattle

Breakfast on the ferry.

I took my last ferry trip of the year to Seattle today, along with my daughter. The plan was to get in a good, long walk and buy a few necessities from Pike Place Market, such as tea, spices and flowers.

I wasn't mentally prepared for how cold, wet and crowded it was -- although I should have been, given that it was the Saturday between Christmas and New Year.

The original Starbucks, near Pike Place,
always has musicians and a huge line out front.

Festive ristras at a street market.

It was so packed in the market that I didn't have the energy to shoulder my way to the flower vendors, so instead we made a beeline outside for the famed gum wall. Even that was so crowded with people posing for photos that I opted for pictures of other wall art.

All was not lost, as my daughter found a used copy of "Grapes of Wrath" (something on her wish list) and I got the lemon-parsley noodles I love and MarketSpice tea. But we were glad to finally settle onto the ferry away from the crowds for the ride home.

Have a peaceful New Year

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Marge's Christmas quilts

Happy Belated Christmas!

I've finally recovered from one of my favorite nights of the year: Christmas Eve at the home of our friends Duane and Paula. They sure know how to throw a good party! And look at the beautiful table that Paula set with holiday poppers, red and white tulips and a dramatic Christmas quilt.

Paula decorated with Christmas quilts made by Duane's mother, Marge, and they made the house feel warm and bright as soon as we entered. Marge, who is in her 80s, churns out at least one or two BIG quilts every month from her home in Superior, Wisconsin. These are just a few of the Christmas ones. Paula has so many of Marge's quilts that she uses some as tablecloths; the washing and drying gives them a nice soft quilty look.

When one of the guys suggested Paula was like a certain Martha because of the artful crackers (or poppers), she said: "I'm no Martha Stewart, but I am a Costco shopper." We gleefully yanked our crackers open and were showered with glitter, gold foil crowns and really useful presents. I got a little retracting purse-size tape measure and my husband the microbrewer got a beer bottle opener. My daughter got a multitool, which she said was exactly what she needed!

Duane adjusts his cracker crown.

We also had a red and green theme going on with the food, like this quinoa dish that my daughter made. She added pistachios for green, dried cranberries for red, and alternated red and green apple slices around the outside. It must be in her genes.

Here I am with Dave and Julia -- the only one missing is our son, who stayed in the Midwest. Paula roasted tomatoes and asparagus to continue the Christmas colors, and both were delicious.

Chef extraordinaire Paula and her daughter, Valerie, and my daughter.

Valerie made the chocolate pie and Julia made a vegan chocolate cake and chai snickerdoodles. Yum!

Jake was the center of attention much of the night. And this (below) is how I'm feeling after weeks of holiday eating!

Have a colorful day

Friday, December 21, 2012

Solstice sun

The Winter Solstice dawned dark and wet and chilly, but the Feet & Forks set off anyway on our planned 5-miler. We were astounded when the sun broke through, casting long shadows from the low sun shortly after 10:30 in the top photo. (No, I didn't set the camera for a black and white photo. That's really how it looked.)

Our good fortune continued throughout the walk, and afterward the solstice sun splashed onto our restaurant table as we took the requisite "forks" photo.

A few short hours after we parted, the sun already was setting. I drove down to the water at 4:30 to take this photo of the last rays of light on the year's shortest day:

Sunrise was at 7:54 a.m. and sunset was 4:23 p.m. That's about 8 1/2 hours of daylight vs 15 1/2 hours of dark. I am SO ready for the turning of our part of the planet toward more sunlight.

My birthday cake -- I'm almost a solstice baby.

In the meantime, what better way to get through the darkness than with festive food, cheerful red colors, a lot of candles and little white lights and friends and family gathered close.

Wishing you a Happy Solstice

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The birthday bunny

My friend Sheila gave me this FABULOUS pair of glitzy earrings today as an early birthday present. I just love them -- they have every color of the rainbow -- and Bunners sets them off nicely.

Then my daughter got home from Bellingham with my favorite chocolate Bismark from Rocket Donuts and a pink-iced vegan one for herself. Sheila also gave us a plate of Christmas cookies, so of course we had to pose one of the stars with the doughnuts before we stuffed them into our faces.

Tomorrow: CHOCOLATE CAKE! (In case you haven't guessed, I am NOT one of those women who want to ignore their birthdays.)

Have a colorful day

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finding color in Seattle

This is how it looked last week from the ferry as the intrepid Feet & Forks approached Seattle for our December walk. This was late morning, and this was about as light as the day was going to get. As soon as our feet hit land, we set out to find color and excitement.

First stop was the new ferris wheel on the waterfront by the ferry docks. The operator took our picture before we climbed into the -- thankfully -- enclosed cab.

Up we went, 200 feet above sea level. We had a bird's eye view of the harbor, the docks, and the nuts and bolts of the big wheel.

From there we hustled uphill to the exhibit of women artists at the Seattle Art Museum. No photos were allowed in the exhibit, but I did get one of this ceremonial costume in another exhibit:

It's called an "egungun (power concealed)" costume and is from the 1970s from Nigeria. It's part of a costume that whirls around the dancer, stirring up a "breeze of blessing" from the ancestors. According to the signage, "Egungun allow recently deceased ancestors to appear temporarily on earth, which they do for festivals and when problems threaten community stability."

The skies were still gray when we emerged from the museum, but we spotted this bright planting of red, green, white and silver in the shopping district.

Next up was the gingerbread village, explained above. Last year's exhibit featured train stations around the world. I blogged about them here: This year's exhibit featured children's stories.

"Alice In Wonderland" caught my attention because of the rabbit. You know how I love rabbits!

Can you spot Rapunzel and some other fairy tale characters in this one?

No trip to Seattle is complete without a trek through Pike Place Market, seen here as darkness settled in. On the way, I shot this wall of colorful ornaments in a store near the market:

We sampled succulent pears and crisp, sweet apples, devoured a bag of warm cinnamon doughnuts with tea from the famous MarketSpice shop, and bought flavored pasta, olive oil and dark chocolate and dark cherry balsamic vinegars.

Mural near Pike Place Market.

Wanting to hold onto the color once I got home, I worked on this baby quilt that a friend had commissioned for her first grandchild. I put the final stitches in last night.

Have a colorful day