Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back

What a great year...what an eventful year...what happened?
The great thing is, I have a blog to look back on, to remember the year!
It was hard to get started, but now I wish I could go back and capture everything, write down everything, to enable looking back, fondly, at the best...

If I had to capture each month in only one picture...

January...our 11th anniversary celebrated at Kirkwood.

February...Megan's 20th birthday, with the floorcloth I made her, that never actually made it to the floor, because she liked it too much to put it on the floor.

March...Spring Break spent on Maui...ah...

April on all captured in blogland...thanks for a great year, and here's to looking forward to many many more.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Speaking of Books and Geisha

One of my many fascinations is with "many" things Japanese. I won't say "all" things, because I won't go near Japanese food, but I love Japanese fabric, Japanese imagery, and have spent much time, particularly in my quilting career, fascinated with the stories and imagery associated with geisha.
It was a beautiful geisha fabric (thank you, Kona Bay Fabric company) that inspired me to design my Hanafubuki pattern.


I was thinking about geisha tonight as I combed my bookcase and decided to sell my copy of the book "Geisha" by Liza Dalby. This is a fascinating anthropological story of the only foreigner ever to have become a geisha. I decided to sell it since I probably won't read it again and no one in my family shares this fascination, but once you have read or seen Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha (both of which I recommend), try this book for an excellent non-fiction version.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Presents (cont.) and an Intro to Books

I have been obsessed with books from my earliest memory. I had this stack of Little Golden Books as a child that I would carry all over with me. My mom would read me these stories so much that I had some of them memorized and thereby taught myself to read before the age of 5 (nowadays that's no big deal, but in the early 60's, kids just didn't read before they went to school).

Another clear memory is of me going to the Bloomfield Public Library as a pre-teen and bringing home as many books as I could carry. I loved the classics - Dickens, Bronte, Jane Austen, and still have these in my bookcase today (purchased copies, not the ones from the library :-))

I read constantly and incessantly until I started quilting, then I turned my reading attention to quilting books and magazines. I taught myself to quilt the same way I taught myself to read...with books.

And so, I love books. I love owning books, I love looking at books, I can never read all the books I want to read. I like the feel of books, the smell of books, the shape of books. I love bookstores, libraries, and identify with Belle when she feasts her eyes on the library in the Beast's castle. I've recently acknowledged that I will not use all the books I own, especially all the quilting books, so I like selling books so they can be put to further good use.

And so I asked for a couple of books for Christmas, and got the ones I asked for (and even a few more, like the gnome books and others which I have yet to reveal!)

One of the books I asked for was Collage Unleashed by Traci Bautista. I just can't get enough written material about collage these days, and I am determined to learn something and make successful collages.

I started a little exercise from the book. Using watered down acrylic fabric paint , I stamped wet paint onto white prepared-for-dying muslin, then while still wet, tossed down a handful of embroidery floss and pressed with an iron, giving me a print of the crumpled floss. It came out more pronounced on this piece:

I then did some outlining of the random pressed floss shapes with gold ink, then took it to the machine and followed the shapes with pink and gold metallic threads. I am calling this work-in-progress "chaos", which unfortunately reflects some elements in my life at this point (especially after moving the entire contents of Megan's apartment into our house this weekend).

On this next piece, using full strength paint, I stamped "X's" in an "X" pattern, then added some gold ink separating lines, and I've started some straight-line gold metallic triple stitching. I am calling this one "order", which is what I need.

I hope to have order and chaos complete soon. Thank you, Amy, Brian, Molly & Lily for the wonderful book which has inspired me to take the next steps in collaging!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Christmas Gifts

I received one of the best Christmas gifts ever two Christmases ago - an iPod Nano.

It was given to me by Megan, with Tod's credit card - one has the ideas, the other has the money - how perfect!

The great thing about an iPod is that it keeps on giving. It keeps me company on walks and flights, entertains me at work, and is one of my prized possessions.

So how perfect to receive some new music for Christmas!

From Megan, the wonderful CD from Flight of the Conchords. Not only great music but what great graphics! Thank you, Bubbie, I love it!!

What? Never heard of Flight of the Conchords? You must not have HBO. Well, I don't either, but Season 1 is available on DVD and from Netflix. This is one of the best darn shows on TV, with the best and most entertaining music. OK, this says a lot about my goofy taste in TV and music :-)

Then for a couple of self-presents. You don't buy yourself presents? Why not? It's one of the best ways to get with you want!

More music, this one a classic, Bruce Springsteen's Magic.

I found this CD at a great price on eBay, in the same store in which I found another gift for myself, Starbucks sugar free cinnamon dolce syrup! Remember, whatever IT is, you can get IT on eBay!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My First Steampunk ACEO

Steampunk...first of all, what an awesome word. And most every time I see something described by that word, I like it! Boy, was it a challenge to buy steampunk parts. Seems many people share my fascination for tiny watch parts, teeny gears, springs, faces, coils, pins...steampunk parts. Thankfully, I had the fortitude to persevere.

I envision grander things, but I started with something simple. A juxtapostion of tiny precision mechanical parts onto a folksy organic element...steampunk black eyed susans.

ACEO Steampunk Susans, Diane Weber, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2"

The flower petals are hand cut from hand-dyed fabric, set against a deep blue background. The leaves and stems are thread-painted in with free-motion stitching (which shows through on the back of the card). The centers of the black-eyed susans are embellished with vintage watch gears and tiny seed beads. The edges are enclosed with satin stitching.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day... Gnomes, Books, Gifts

I received so many wonderful gifts for Christmas, I hardly know where to start. First of all, I am typing on my new Goldtouch keyboard. If anyone has trouble with their hands, arthritis or carpal tunnel, get one of these keyboards!

Perhaps I can deal with my gifts thematically. It's wonderful when the people who care about you know the things you care about! And one of those things would be...gnomes!

Two gnew gnomes became part of the family this Christmas...
Lumière (from Will, picked out by Megan - thanks Will & Megan) and Olaf (from Jay & family, , thanks Jay, named by Ron).

And then there were two gnome books from my best girl:

And speaking of the best girl, here is an unintentionally gnomish-looking shot taken in Union Square on Boxing Day, after successfully obtaining her student visa at the French Consulate.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas ACEO

In addition to being with the best family in the world, I was lucky enough to get this Christmas snow globe ACEO in a trade. This is an embellished print of an ACEO by Annie M, whose hand-made card I featured the other day.

The ACEO says it all... Merry Christmas 2008!
And thank you again Annie!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jay Playing Scrabble

Remember, I said I was not going to start collecting ACEOs! While interesting, they are not addicting to me, I have no room for them, despite their tiny size, and I don't need to buy art, because I can make art.

But, once again, I have found a reason for an exception :-)

This tiny painting grabbed my heart from the first moment I saw it. As is usually the case when that happens, it's the story evoked by the imagery, more than the imagery itself.

Let me start with giving credit to the very talented Heather Whitehouse whose work this is. Heather was awarded the Year's Best ACEO Artist's Choice and Collector's Choice awards for her "Jay Playing Scrabble" ACEO. And that is actually closer to the end of the story.

A couple of months ago, Tod, Megan, Jay and I were up at Kirkwood. Megan and I love to play scrabble there, and Jay asked if he could "get in on the next game". Why of course. I started out the game with a particularly good word, 7 letters so I got the 50 bonus points, and I may have even formed a 2nd little word. I felt secure for a win. Well, to make a long story short, Jay proceeded to beat the pants off us, forming 2 or 3 words with every turn. I think his score was double either of ours. And so Jay's scrabble-playing ability will live in infamy!

Along comes the Year's Best ACEO Awards. While reviewing the artwork, I come across this "Jay Playing Scrabble", but I don't know whose painting it is! I tried various searches to see if it had recently sold or to try recognize similar work, but to no avail. I thought about asking who the artist was, but that would be in violation of the anonymity of the contest, so decided I would just have to wait. Well, just today, the first categories of contest winners were announced and the artist unveiled. I no sooner discover Heather that I rushed to her ME page on eBay and from there to her website where I was able to purchase a print of this adorable work - thank you heather! And yes, I bought another print as well, because there was a raven in front of the Eiffel Tower...more on that when the print arrives.

Happy Birthday Jay!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blue Plate Special

This past Sunday Megan and I strolled through the Haight. Despite the cold rain, it was fun and will of course be memorable (thank you, Megan, for sharing your favorite places with me!). My new mosaic hobby prompted several stops and purchases. First stop was Mendel's Far Out Fabrics, where I have been before, but never noticed they have a whole little mosaic room! Prices were very high compared to my eBay seller friends, but I still felt compelled to support the local merchant :-)

Then after trolling several vintage clothing stores, we dipped into the Goodwill store. My mosaic friends tell me I should try cutting my own plates. My hands are a bit worried about this, but I thought I would at least look and see what I could find. There were lots of pretty plates, but I don't know how much one should spend for a plate.

After more looking I did come across these sweet little blue plates for only .99 each. Is that a lot? Who knows, but these blue plate specials came home with me.

Big question is...will I actually cut them??

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Kindred Card Spirit

I received this card today from Annie M, enclosing an ACEO which I received for the snow globe ACEO trade. I'll save the snow globe ACEO (which I LOVE!) for another day, but I am so thrilled with this card. There is a lovely picture of a handcrafted ornament, calligraphy and embellishment. I can so see the loving details that went into this card.

Thank you, Annie, I love it and appreciate it!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saying Goodbye

C'est l'heure de dire au revoir à la colline de Potrero (aka Potrero Hill in San Francisco). A la fin du mois, Megan part son appartement , pour être prête à partir pour Paris.

Je suis un peu triste de dire au revoir au voisinage, mais, c'est l'heure pour les plus grandes et plus meilleures choses!

Merci, Potrero Hill!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nobody Here But Us Chickens

It's the 20th of the month, time for Nibblefest! The theme this month is "chickens".

I won a chickens ACEO from my eBay artist colleague David Venne a while back.

With his kind permission, I have reproduced his 3 chickens in fabric, ink, acrylic paint and thread. I really appreciate David letting me render his work in my media. It's not that it takes any less time to make it, but at least it saves me some thinking time! Thank you, David!

ACEO Pecking Order, Diane Weber, 3 1/2" x 2 1/2"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Minute Mosaic Gift

The best gifts, in my opinion, are those for which I have to buy nothing. Not that I didn't buy the component somethings at one point, but everything I need is in the house, relatively handy.

I've been planning to make a mosaic for Dziem, ever since she was last over and admired my mosaic tables. For a 20-year old girl to mention how much she liked something, and even to go so far as to say "keep on doing those mosaics because they're beautiful", I think that means she really likes them, not just "there goes Megan's Mom doing something crafty again".

Back when I first starting painting, Donna Dewberry style, I bought cheap wood things to paint at Michaels. This tray has been sitting in my closet for a number of years, quite dusty.

Thankfully I have plenty of acrylic paint around, and even though we cleaned out my "painting room" to make way for eating Christmas dinner, the paints were out and handy.

Then there are the tesserae (I love that word!). At first I thought I might not have anything, because I knew I didn't have any focal pieces. But by just combining some amber glass gems with sliver-cut pieces of red iridescent stained glass (yes, I cut them myself with my Lepps!), I was able to make a focal. Added in some broken china, the last of the pink and green stained glass I used on my very first mosaic table, the beautiful china fleur-de-lis pieces, lovely ceramic leaves from Carol aka CMK Sculptures and Linda of Linda's Mosaic Treasures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One More Vintage Yukata Quilt

While the last vintage yukata quilt I showed was done in my favorite fabric collage style, this one is much more "traditional", but nonetheless striking. The clean lines and high contrast focus attention on the beautiful piece of purple floral yukata used as the centerpiece of the quilt.

Yukata Delight, Diane Weber, 42" x 48"

Vintage yukata fabric is normally only about 14" wide, and so I needed to supplement the yukata to adapt it to my Diamond Delight pattern design. I used a contemporary typography print in a coordinating purple.

The quilt is finished up with dense free-motion quilting which shows beautifully against the pearlized Lakehouse fabric. In each green Japanese fabric square I quilted a sakura blossom.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More on Vintage Yukata Fabric & Quilts

In preparation for the holidays, we had to clean the house. We do this about once every 2 years, whether we need to or not. The room requiring the most work was the guest room, also known as the quilt storage room.

I have lots of quilts, many of them for sale. I feel strongly about storing them unfolded, which means storing them on the guest bed. I have a friend who likewise stores her quilts on the guest bed, underneath the sheets. So it's like sleeping on an old-fashioned elevated bed. I've slept on it, and it was comfortable. But when I tried it with my quilts and our guest bed, I got something that resembled more of a pyramid than a bed. And I would have needed 36" deep pocket sheets to cover it all.

So anyway, the quilts needed to be moved. The nice part about that is getting to see them again. Thankfully there is a nice part to this big job!

Here's an old favorite that features vintage yukata fabric. It is a rendition of my Panel Panache pattern, done in my favorite fabric collage style.

Yukata Panache, Diane Weber, 62" x 80"

I don't remember where I got this particular piece of yukata, but I remember that I only had 1 yard, so I had to be oh so careful in cutting it.

Such an unusual but lovely color combination.