Sunday, August 30, 2009

Missing an old friend

Next Thursday, it will be one year since my friend Hall Parrish passed away. I first met Hall when I came to Greensboro to do The Fantasticks in 1974. He was one of the most talented actors with whom it has been my good fortune to work. Not only was he an incredible comic actor, he was also a powerful dramatic actor. We did Annie Get Your Gun together twice, Charlie's Aunt, and, my personal favorite, Bus Stop. The picture above is a production photo from Bus Stop. Hall played Dr. Lyman and just broke the audience's collective heart every night.

Hall and I used to go to the Farmer's Curb Market together on Saturday mornings in the summer. He taught me about German Johnson tomatoes and half-runner beans. We also shared a love of mysteries. He read the first three Amelia Peabody mysteries when he was going through chemo.

Hall and his life partner, Stephen Gee, founded the Broach Theatre along with David Bell more than 20 years ago. I'm currently in rehearsal for my second play there, Gulf View Drive. It's the third play in the Nibroc Trilogy by Arlene Hutton. Opening night will feel strange without Hall, but I'm hopeful that it will be difficult to dislodge the spirit of a great actor from his theatre. You are missed, my friend.

Dear in death, thou hast thy part
Yet in life, to cheer
Hearts that held thy gentle heart
--Algernon Charles Swinburne

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Quilted Librarian: Maxed out

It's been a week. School started. I got Jim's cold. Rehearsals began for "Gulf View Drive," the play I'm acting in at the Broach Theatre. Something had to give and it was blogging. I will get it together this weekend. That's a promise. We do have a little news. (Drum roll.) We have a wedding date and it's going to be in our backyard. I have added several very interesting bridal blogs to my Google Reader feed. If you have any websites or blogs to suggest, please leave a comment. Catch you on the weekend. Quilted Librarian is out and on the way to school.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Kundun" is featured on a new blog

My son, Dan, has moved his blog to Word Press with a refocus on content. In redesigning the look of his blog, he decided to use a close-up of the quilt I made for him called "Kundun." This quilt honors His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Roughly translated, "kundun" means "presence" and is a way of addressing His Holiness. I first blogged about the quilt here. Good luck with your new blog, buddy, and thanks for showcasing the quilt.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Garment District (Fashion Center) of New York

Back in the day, it was always called the Garment District. I would often ride the bus or walk through this fascinating stretch of blocks in New York City, looking in the windows and marveling at the gorgeous things, but always reticent to enter a shop because I didn't know if retail customers were welcome. Well, it's now called The Fashion Center and thanks to Paula Nadelstern's excellent guide, I spent an amazing day enjoying it's treasures. While I experienced sensory overload in several shops, I did manage to spend some money! The Fashion Center has a cute little kiosk that offers information and a great photo op. I love the giant button and needle. There are also little medallions in the sidewalk, called the Walk of Fame, honoring various clothing designers.

Near the kiosk is this statue of a man sewing to honor all the garment workers. I made my trip on Saturday as Paula suggests because you do not have to compete with all the trade traffic then.

After a frustrating start at M & J Trimmings--too much stuff and staff that was more interested in socializing with each other than helping customers-- I moved on to a fabulous place called Tinsel Trading. Not only is this the cutest shop ever (one of Martha Stewart's favs), they have an excellent website, and friendly, very helpful staff.

I could have done a lot of damage to my budget in here, but I was good. Besides miles of gorgeous ribbon, they have antique trims and findings, and passementerie. I had to look that one up. It was a word I had never heard. Turns out, it means ornate trimming of braid, cord, or bead.

As a devoted fan of Project Runway, I had determined I was going to make the pilgrimage to Mood Fabrics on my next visit to NYC. It is all that AND a bag of chips as my daughter would say. As a quilter, I do not limit myself to 100% cotton because I came to quilting from theatrical costume sewing. (What do they make stabilizers for?) You won't find an abundance of cotton prints at Mood, but you will find everything else, and besides, the sightseeing is totally worth it.

I found this fabulous brocade and decided to buy two yards to make a jacket. I'll blog later about its construction.

I saw this vintage sign in the window of one of the shops as I was walking to lunch at Ben's Kosher Deli. (The plate of chicken noodle soup was to die for, the latke, not so much.)

New York Elegant Fabrics does not have a website, but it is a beautiful shop with a great staff at 222 West 40th Street.
It was my last stop of the day since I had to get back to shower and change for the theatre.

Again, I could have spent a lot more money than I did, but satisfied myself with these two colorways of a Michael Miller Fabrics design called Lolli Dots.

This will not be my last trip to the Fashion Center. Now that I know where shops are located and what they offer, I will return!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Visiting the City Quilter

I had seen the City Quilter's ads in magazines, but when Paula Nadelstern gave them such a ringing endorsement in her guide to the Garment District, I had to make the trip. On my way back from the Brooklyn Museum, I changed to a local train at 14th Street and then got out at 23rd and spent a lovely 90 minutes at this terrific little shop.

One of the first things I found was this Kathy Hall fabric from her Midcentury Modern collection for Andover Fabrics. It will be perfect to back the black and yellow Bento Box quilt.

This gorgeous chrysanthemum design tone-on-tone is by Faye Burgos for Marcus Fabrics. I don't know what I will use if for, but, love is love and I had to have it.

These lovely dupioni silks also called to me for my stash.

The visual texture of tone-on-tone fabrics is something I use lots in my work, so I was naturally attracted by this great Robert Kaufman design cleverly called Marbleous.

Like a racoon in a second-hand jewelry store, I am always drawn to fat quarters and I got a wonderful variety.

Since Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte is one of my all-time favorite paintings, I had to buy this fabric from Exlusively Quilters call "Sunday in the Park."

As a lover of black, white, and grey, this fabric naturally attracted me AND it's a cityscape. What could be more perfect? It was designed by Luli Sanchez for Timeless Treasures Fabrics.

The City Quilter has a fabulous notions area as well where I picked up several skeins of sashiko thread, more needles, and more of the fantastic Japanese grey silk thread that I use for appliqué, and one of those nifty plastic thimbles.

Lots of gorgeous fabrics, a friendly staff, and well worth the 20 block walk. Be sure to visit with the City Quilters if you are ever in the Big Apple.

Seeing Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum

Getting to see Judy Chicago's masterwork, The Dinner Party, was nothing short of a life dream come true. My well-thumbed copies of Chicago's books about the project were my sole connection with it, and they had a profound influence on me as an artist. They made me believe that I could make art as a quilter. Through Judy Chicago's website, I had been following the effort to find a permanent home for her work which finally happened at the Brooklyn Museum. Having four days in New York City meant that I would finally have time to make the pilgrimage.

The New York subway system has improved immeasureably since the 1970's when I lived in Manhattan. I walked and got very good on the buses back then just to avoid having to make the trek underground into those dark, dirty, unsafe trains. Now, what a difference! We were staying in Times Square and I got a clean, well-lighted, air conditioned train directly to the museum in that station. This is also a good time to mention that the Brooklyn Museum is the best-kept secret in New York City. It has a collection that rivals the Met, but without the crowds. I visited on a weekday and was alone in the Dinner Party exhibit for almost 45 minutes.

Unfortunately, as with most museums, photography is not allowed, so you will have to make use of the links to check out the work itself. Here's a virtual tour. The Dinner Party is basically a triangular table with each side representing chronological historical periods. On each side are thirteen place settings that feature a table runner and a plate that illustrate facets of the woman's life. The table sits on a tiled floor that features the names of other women fired into the tiles. Judy Chicago had the assistance of many, many workers who made the runners and worked with her to create and fire the plates and tiles. She designed the images, but the weaving, embroidery, beading, stump work, quilting and appliqué was done by willing women who donated their labor.

Having this amazing work all to myself for the first 45 minutes was invaluable. I was able to stop in front of each setting, study the work at my leisure, and then go around a second time. The generous exhibit space also includes a little screening room that shows a very good film about the project on a continuous loop and the research panels with all of the amazing women that Chicago learned about in her journey discovering women's herstory.

Trotula's table runner is one of my favorites. It's an appliquéd tree of life on a quilted background. Elizabeth I and Mary Wollstonecraft are fabulous as well. Photography just does not do this work justice.

Here's a close-up of the magnet I bought in the gift shop of Trotula's table runner. There are several new books out about the Dinner Party that I will have to collect soon.

The Dinner Party is an incredible vision and is a tribute not only to Judy Chicago's artistic ability, but also her organizational talents. The work itself is amazing and the stories of the women it honors make me very proud to be a woman. I highly recommend the short trip to Brooklyn if you will have some time in New York City. You won't be sorry.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kaleidoscope Quilts: The Art of Paula Nadelstern

The American Folk Art Museum is the site of the first major exhibit by a solo quilter and Paula Nadelstern's brilliant work is beautifully showcased in this little gem of a museum. Known for her incredible kaleidoscope quilts, Nadelstern, who is also a New Yorker, was the perfect quilter for this honor. Having the opportunity to study her work up close was an incredible treat. I loved coming across a tiny piece of fabric and recognizing it as something from my stash, and then being totally blown away by her use of these fabrics in her bilateral symmetry quilt smorgasbords. The museum has paired her quilts with several actual kaleidoscopes and her snowflake quilts feature an allied display about Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, the famous photographer of snowflakes.

I was able to visit the exhibit on a weekday and had the entire gallery to myself for most of an hour. If you are anywhere near the greater New York City area, I strongly urge you to get to this exhibit before it closes on September 13th. If you can't make it, there are several videos at the AFAM link above and Bonnie McCaffery did a really good vidcast with Paula that's available from her site.

Ever the souvenir collector, I picked up several things in AFAM's lovely little gift shop, including this lustrous group of fat quarters from Paula's Benartex collection called Opulence.

This is a postcard of Paula's quilt Kaleidoscopic XXXIII: Shards (2007). It is part of the exhibit and is a testament to her incomparable construction techniques.

I took a picture for Dan while I was walking back from the Paula Nadelstern exhibit and he's now put it up on his blog. I knew it would be his kind of billboard. Thanks for the shout-out, buddy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back from the Big Apple

We are back from our wonderful trip to New York and I have much about which to blog. I uploaded the new camera software last night, so the first pictures from my new camera are sitting on my desktop. Above is a shot taken from our hotel's eighth floor restaurant. Sitting at my feet is the box of fabric I shipped home after my trip to the Garment District (wow!). Over the next few days, I will tell you about all of my adventures seeing Paula Nadelstern's wonderful exhibit, going to Brooklyn to see Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party at it's permanent home, The Brooklyn Museum, visiting The City Quilter, seeing two wonderful Broadway plays, and, of course, traipsing around the Garment District, or the Fashion Center as it now wants to be known.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

On Vacation

Well, Safety Pin Studio will be closed down for a week while we take a little trip. I'll also be off line, so I will see you all back here after August 12. I'm taking my new camera with me. It was my 60th birthday present. I promise to take lots of pictures whilst I'm away and blog about our vacation adventures on our return. Be safe and happy.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More pink bento box blocks

Three more pink blocks are composed.

These bento box blocks are addictive and a great way to clean out one's stash.

Here's the third one.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bento box blocks for baby quilts

Our guild is going to participate in Make a Difference Day in October by making baby quilts for one of our service projects. I volunteered to be in charge and we are going to invite the Girls Scouts we are working with to join us. We will work in stations, cutting, sewing, pressing, sandwiching, pin basting, machine quilting, and binding. I think the bento box blocks will work out really well. I decided to make up several squares to take to the next guild meeting. Here's one of the blue ones.

Two blue ones together.

This is the first pink one.

In addition to working with value, I also like to try to contrast the design of the fabrics in each block. I've taken lots of fabrics out of my blue and pink stash to donate for the project. I love a good scrap quilt!