Signs and owls

I went exploring with a friend. A lovely shopping area, one of those places you to have lunch and shop. This first sign caught my eye. Owls! I have no idea how a store like this survives, mostly cards, a few gifts and simple jewelry. I’m not in the business of figuring out the economics of these stores. I’m glad they exist, even if I’m not their best client.This got me to take pictures of owls. This one was outside that store.Even though the owl craze has died down, there were still plenty to be found.Not that they enticed me to buy them, especially not Christmas Tree decorations. This was probably one of the nicest ones I saw, a picture on a matchbook.This was the ugliest! But I did take his picture, even if I’d never let something like this into my house.Better, I think I have one like this.Even better!Nope, not at that price, even not at half that price, since there was a sign saying this table is 50% off.  I like the small one, but not gilded. I’m just not a gold girl. Two sides of a sign. This is one of those antique malls, with many stalls. I love the creativity of the signs!You didn’t expect me to leave empty-handed, did you? One display case had beautiful silver thimbles. I bought one, at a very good price. I found one that fits my tiny fingers. Came home and sewed with it.Not easy to see but there is a hallmark in there.  I’m just thrilled to have another wonderful well-crafted tool in my sewing box.


American Indian Arts Marketplace

Another event at the Autry museum, a combination sale, and show.

I went, I viewed, I’m a little underwhelmed.There were plenty of people around, which was nice. There were performances and food. There was also a large vendor hall.I love Navajo weaving, there were nice examples, but nothing exceptional.It’s nice to see the kind of loom that is used. This style of weaving is called tapestry weaving, each color is worked individually.

Native tribes wove baskets from local grasses. With the arrival of the Spanish in the southwest, sheep and wool were introduced. The Navajo adapted very well and started weaving blankets. These became very desirable items.

Another western textile, the quilt and specifically the Lone Star pattern became very closely associated with Indian quilts.

Cultural influences – learning from one another. Here we arrive at the present day cultural sharing. Yoda as a local shaman?

If you haven’t figured out, I hate the term cultural appropriation. What I like is that we can learn from one another and share ideas, techniques and art styles. I’m over the idea that the White man is evil, but if another culture takes over an artform -then it suddenly is valid. Or even if a neighborhood gets renamed because a new non while Culture moves in. Korea Town is the perfect example. It was Mid Wilshire for years. I love that it has become Korea Town, but I also have no problem with gentrification, if white people want to move back to the old neighborhoods they built many years ago, such as Boyle Heights.

Same thing goes for art, The Navajo didn’t invent weaving or quilting, but they use it to their advantage. I love it, it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t negate the fact that white people invented and shared their knowledge. I love a Texas Lone Star alongside and Indian Star. I’d rather see more sharing and less bifurcating into smaller groups. It was nice to see many vendors, I hope they grow and succeed. But the quality here was OK, I didn’t see great examples of pottery, or weaving. I didn’t even take pictures of the many jewelry booths. There were a few original jewelers. Most simply had the exact same rings, earrings, and necklaces.  Are they being made locally? I don’t know, I do know that I have seen much better work in the tourist stores throughout Arizona.Which leads me to believe that although this is marketed as Southern California’s largest Native American Arts Fair, it isn’t attracting the real talent. They must have much better places to sell their artwork.  If this is a stepping stone for artists, the first stop on their way to much better locations. So be it. I just know that there are incredible native artists making unbelievable artwork.  Nothing wrong with a two day fair that is open to other artists. Maybe being the biggest doesn’t mean being the best.Ahh! People watching,  loved this outfit!

There were dancing and music as well. All in all, a worthwhile festival. I’m glad the Autry has this yearly event. Though for me, it was a one time visit.  That is ok, there is so much to do and see, I’ll find other events. I do have to say, when the Autry puts on an exhibit of Indian art, be it baskets, beading or weaving – they showcase exquisite work.

Splendid Sampler -DONE!

It’s been almost two years in the making. The longest I’ve ever worked on a quilt. Now it’s true the first year was a quilt along, I had to wait every week for two blocks. Then I realized that I don’t like such a busy sampler. So I started making Hawaiian applique blocks, each one taking a long time since I was sewing by hand. Needle turn applique.  I thought I’d try to hand quilt around the applique. Yeah, right! It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve done hand quilting. I even went and bought a quilting hoop! No go! Within five minutes I realized that I couldn’t do it. Maybe I could do it on one block, but the quilt was heavy and unwieldy. Echoing the shapes on the machine worked out just fine.I only used 26 of the hundred blocks on the front of the quilt.  So most of the rest ended up on the back. Sure if I had bordered each block they might have stood out more, but this is why I don’t like samplers made of small blocks. There really is no place for the eye to rest.Of course, the quilting has no relationship to the blocks on the back, which also means – no focal point.But for the back of a quilt – this is impressive. It also makes the quilt much heavier – all those seams and thread. Since this is going to be my snuggle on the couch quilt – both sides will be visible. The small blocks all got a lot of detailed quilting.  The border bands got none, which means they stand out as real frames.  I used wool batting which was wonderful to quilt with, really smooth. It does give the quilt more loft, definitely more than cotton.I’m very pleased with the result. I shared this image on the Splendid Sampler Facebook page. Pat Sloan herself commented on it. She really liked how I made the project work for me. It’s not about having cookie cutter quilts, it’s about personalizing the project.I embroidered a simple label, after all the work, I simply wasn’t up to making an elaborate label.

So what did I learn from this project? I improved on certain skills, like paper piecing. While working on the blocks I realized that I want to do more applique, which led to the needle turn Hawaiian blocks. Having done them, I think I’m ready to move on to other kinds of applique. I like the hand-sewing, I just think I’m done with Hawaiian style blocks.

I realized that sampler quilts aren’t my thing, but I am very very pleased with my solution and my ability to use most of the blocks.

I don’t think I’ll be doing any more mystery quilt-alongs. I have too many ideas of my own to work on.  All in all, a great experience and another unique, warm handmade quilt in my collection.




Honey bear

When Eyal was born I made him a cat from the wonderful Pauline at FunkyFriendsFactory. Recently I signed up for her weekly newsletter, mainly to get the free pattern, Honey Bear.

I had heard that Cuddle, the minky fabric made by Shannon Fabrics is wonderful for stuffed toys.

Look what I found at Candy’s Quilt Emporium. She carries a lot of Cuddle and fake fur. For my first try, I wanted something as simple as possible.First let me say, there is fuzz with this fabric, but it wasn’t shedding all over the place.Paula has a simple trick for making sure the muzzle stays stuffed. Here he is, all put together, now to stuff! I have to say, two years ago I made a hippo out of knit fabric. I had seen the sample at a booth at Quilt Con. I guess I should have used interfacing, the thing grew and was completely out of proportion. The knit backing on the Cuddle isn’t like that at all, there is some give, but in general, stuffing was easy and I ended up with a nice firm little bear.Remember about a year and a half ago I made a flying bunny? That was Trapeze Bunny, unfortunately, he got lost before he was gifted. Such things happen. Anyway, the shape of this bear reminds me of that bunny.Look at that face! As much as I love keeping many of my stuffed creations, this fellow will be gifted to a new baby. Therefore I couldn’t use beads or doll eyes. I embroidered both the eyes and the nose.No sitting up here, but he sure is warm and cuddly. Yup, I put my name on him.And the back view.

Now, off to the website to see other patterns. I already bought a fox pattern, which I will probably make out of quilting cotton. I know for sure, I want to make more of these out of Cuddle or even the fake fur!




Chapman court and plaza

On the tour of KTown, it was fun seeing old historic buildings.  1929 wasn’t all about Art Deco, another style that was still being built was Spanish Revival, with a touch of Churrigueresque. Yes, that is a tongue-twisting word that means a facade encrusted with design details.These two buildings are going through some renovation. Both are named for their developers – The Chapman Brothers, same ones that donated enough money to a small Christian college in Orange – so it was named after them.The plaza was a first of it’s kind, all the stores face inward to a large parking lot. Good old LA, drive your car in, shop for groceries and then drive out again. The first Korean BBQ that attracted the general population of LA was here. Today the whole complex is restaurants and bars – and is very successful.Across the street is Chapman Court, retail on the ground floor, apartments on the second. In some cases, the apartments were connected to a large studio – for a business or an artist studio. The tower was it’s own apartment, with tenants who only left a few years ago.A local resident of Ktown walking by. The facade is made to look like stone, along with that heavy decoration – Churrigueresque.The main arcade opened onto stores and went back to an open courtyard. The plasterwork is original, not sure about the paint, but it certainly fits in with the feel of the building.Wonderful castiron design. The new style of Art Deco (or Moderne as it was called then) was all the rage. A new style doesn’t take over right away, many designers are still work in the old familiar styles.Look at this metal work, so different from what we saw at the Wiltern.An original storefront cut up into smaller rooms for Bank of America. Once again, even though they created drywall partitions, look at the care taken to cut around the column and the crown molding.For almost 30 years the building was owned by one man, he lived in one of the apartments, where he paneled the whole place in wood. Although the library is full of law books it’s not clear he was a lawyer. Maybe he just chose law books, because they look good.Another element that probably predated the paneling – an interior Juliet balcony.The view from the tower apartment. This is iconic Los Angeles, palm trees as far as the eye can see.



The Wiltern

Twice a year the LA Conservancy has a full day special tour. This time it was over three days and it was in Ktown, otherwise known as Korea Town.

Our first stop was at the Wiltern Theater. I have been there years ago, this is a gem worth visiting. Our day started with a panel, with Wayne Ratkovitz, The Developer who set out in the 1970’s to save many of our Architectural gems.  This is one of his big saves.  We also heard from a professor and City Councilmember David Ryu about how this area became Ktown. The LA riots, 25 years ago had a lot to do with bringing the community together. Up until then, the Korean community was another invisible hard-working group of immigrants. They suffered terrible losses during the riots, and I’m sure vowed – never again. It also made the community aware that they need to become American, part of our local fabric and they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Probably to the point that some older Koreans wish their kids were less American and more Korean.Here is a great example of the success of both Ktown and the Wiltern, these aren’t homeless people, these are kids who camped out overnight to be first in line for a concert. These days most of the events at the Wiltern are aimed at a very young crowd. To my mind this is wonderful, it means that when these kids get older and discover that conservation is a good thing, their fond memories of the Wiltern will make them advocates for maintaining this beautiful building.  This building is an example of the height of Art Deco in Los Angeles. Initially, the theater was a movie theater, with retail on both sides and offices in the tower. It never did well as a movie theater, there was competition from a much larger theater down the street. As a live performance location, it has fared much better. The interior is amazing, so much plaster Art Deco elements all over. On the pillars, along the ceiling. Even on the ceiling.Inside the theater is this wonderful sunburst. Most of these elements were in such bad shape when Wayne bought the building that they needed a lot of repair work. The sunburst used to have 9 rays, now it has 7.Take a close look, each ray is a representation of an Art Deco skyscraper. This is how people imagined Wilshire Blvd would look like, except the depression happened and building stalled.All of the light fixtures were gone, Wayne went searching and paid a lot of money to find this original and put it back in its rightful place.Not easy to photograph a light in a dark room. Love the details on the frosted glass. Inside the theater are more lamps, some were bought back from antique shops, but that became very expensive so many are reproductions.More examples of the wall decorations.Tile was very important in the 1920’s-30’s. The whole exterior is different shades of Turquoise glazed terracotta.  Inside we have a number of these drinking fountains.The railings!  That wonderful industrial aspect that Art Deco has!

Thank you, Wayne Ratkovitz for saving this gem and thank you to everyone who has kept this place alive and very very viable.




Sewing and Knitting

Time for long sleeve dresses. I had bought this fabric a few months ago, it’s a lovely Voile, which means thinner than quilting cotton, much better for garments.Here it is, a fun colorful dress.With pockets! Pockets are always good! these aren’t in the side seams, they are in the middle of the dress, very interesting construction.I had a weekend of visiting Art shows so why not wear something artistic? Good thing I did, at the Brewery Artwalk I met Teresa who commented that the print looks like one made by Barij. Yes indeed! I had recently bought another one of her prints on rayon – also destined to become a dress. Then I met Teale who also recognized the fabric. Others around the brewery simply commented on how they like the dress, even if they knew nothing about the fabric designer. I love getting those kinds of reactions.I knit a sweater for Eyal, perfect color for the season.It is probably a little big right now, that’s ok, he’ll grow.




Quilt for Eyal II

Laying out the quilt, I like breaking the symmetry.Here is the final top, you’ll notice that I have a section of the background in the gazelle block. I love that secondary design and it only showed up once, so I encroached on the gazelle.

Remember the problems I was having with my ruler work? I took a class with Becky Wilder, a new member in the VMMQG, she is a whiz with rulers. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out the problem. I needed to lower the foot a lot, much more pressure on the quilt was needed. The final item was using the purple Janome 90/14 foot. It worked.

Here is the result, nice clean ruler work, but what would happen when I go home and work on actual patchwork? Eyals’ quilt was the testing ground.See how nice and straight the outline is? I’m showing the back here, because the quilting is invisible on the print fabric I used.It wasn’t all ruler work, on the animals, I tried to highlight their shapes and then echo around them.Using the quilting to emphasize the owls’ eyes.On the dark brown chevrons, you can actually see the ruler work, on the green diamonds you can’t even see the quilting.

Yes, I still had some thread breakage, this quilt was great for practice. I still have a long way to go before I really conquer this technique, but working with busy prints is a good place to start, I’m getting the practice and you can’t see the mistakes. I still had some thread breakage, but that is to be expected, happens even when I’m doing regular free motion quilting.Finished! Well, except for a label that I need to embroider.How cute is the back? I used up a lot of my animal prints, a whole forest back there.I showed the quilt to the Dads and put Eyal on it, he is still small, it will be fun to take pictures of him on it periodically. Right now, I need to make a label, show it off at my guilds,  and then give it to Eyal.




Sunland Tujunga Open Studios

It was a busy weekend, The Brewery artwalk on Saturday, then up to the far northeastern reaches of the city of Los Angeles on Sunday. For those not in southern CA, Tujunga is pronounced Ta-Hung ah. Yup, Spanish J.

These two communities are beyond the Verdugo Hills in the Crescenta Valley. An Area that would make for a nice suburb, but in the 1930’s decided to become a part of the city of Los Angeles. It has a rural rustic feel, partially because it is far removed from the rest of the city.  McGroarty Arts Center was the home of John McGroarty, journalist, statesman. Notice how local rock was used in the construction, La Crescenta Valley is very rocky, so the rocks were put to good use. Olive tree orchards were planted here because these trees can thrive in rocky Mediterranean soil.His library is used as a little museum, there is a caregiver living in part of the house, most of it is used for classes and performances.The view from the house. Beyond these hills lie Glendale, Burbank, and the San Fernando Valley, and yet, this area is very secluded.

The art was OK, I think I missed some of the best artists, this event had 40  artists in 17 locations. This is the second year this event was held, I hope it continues to grow and thrive. In this post, I’m going to concentrate on architecture rather than art.Down where I was standing is a studio made out of a shipping container, I looked up at the house and knew this is special. Sure enough, the artist/owner confirmed, this is an original Pierre Koenig Mid-Century modern. They bought the house from the original owner. She had seen an interesting house in Glendale, back in the 50’s and knocked on the door. She had $5000 dollars to build a house. Turns out the house was owned by Architect Pierre Koenig himself, so he built the home for her.Steel, a lot of glass, look what $5000 dollars could build 60 years ago!The original owner is still alive in her 90s. The new owners had a lot of deferred maintenance to do, which they did beautifully. I think I saw this house being advertised 3 years ago. I also saw comments from people who love the style but would ‘never’ move out to the boonies for this gem. The price was no longer $5000, it was probably $350,000, that is still a steal for an original Pierre Koenig home. The present owners are very well aware of their good fortune.

As I was driving to another studio, I had to slam on the brakes find a parking spot and get out to photograph another house.A Storybook house!!!  These fairytale houses were built in the 1920’s-30’s in Los Angeles. There are a number of famous ones in Beverly Hill, the Hollywood Hills, and even Culver City. When researching this one, I found one mention on someone else’s blog, no mention of this one in the ‘big’ articles I found online.The details!! I could have taken so many more pictures. One of these days I may go back just to look for hidden gems. Look at the craftsmanship! The combination of brick and stone, the interesting bricks on the walkway as well as how they are patterned. I just listened to a podcast where Clare Graham was talking about craft versus art. This time he was extolling craft over art! A man after my own heart! I would love to see more of this home, maybe from the inside.

My last stop includes some art, well if a sculpture garden based on world religions is art.This is the wonderful thing about being off the beaten path, you can get away with being eccentric. Unfortunately for me, the owner wasn’t there, so I just wandered, looked and took pictures. Wendy Aft creates all of these from found objects. Clearly, she is influenced by Eastern Philosophies. The Taj Mahal.Thai Nagas, made like they would be in Thailand, out of glass tesserae.Some native American influence.A gay Jesus? Surrounded by Chinese inspired dragon and art.

There was more, I’m limiting the pictures, this post is quite long as it is. I hope not to wait until next October to go back and explore. The artists themselves were really nice, this was supposed to be about art studios, but I got sidetracked.



Brewery Artwalk

I really love LA, there is so much going on here and I only take advantage of a smidgen of it. Last year I missed this event, I’m very happy to have gone this year. Most of the artists do not want people taking pictures of their art, so I got my impressions of the Brewery complex. This sign is seen best from the freeway, I took this picture from the bridge that connects two buildings, so the angle isn’t great. visited here a year and a half ago and wrote up a post, I saw different things this time. I love the Art Deco facade of some of these buildings.Look at the view this artist has! The whole complex was full of people enjoying a lovely Southern CA fall day. Funny story, as I was leaving a gentleman asked me what is going on here, I told him it’s a free art show. He asked where the beer was. I had to laugh and explain that the complex was originally a powerplant, then the Pabst Beer company used it as a brewery and 30 years ago it became an artist colony. But, Barbara’s Brewery would be more than happy to sell him some beer if that was all he wanted.I should have taken the time to go up those stairs, each building is unique. Well, all this means is that I need to go back in spring for the spring artwalk.Quite a few of the artists have their homes/studios in lower industrial buildings, which gives them small patios as well. The interior courtyard of the Art Deco building, I love what they have done here, literally planted trees inside.Those who have access to the outdoors use it well. How could you not with the lovely weather we have here.Cats are popular here.

I had the pleasure of meeting Teresa Coates. Small world story, I listened to Abby Glasenburgs Podcast: While She Naps, this episode is an interview with Arvin Pairavi, owner of Shannon Fabrics. He mentions Teresa as education coordinater, we spoke for close to an hour. Having worked in that industry and her being a quilter – we had a lot to talk about. I’m sure our paths will cross again.  She will be at Quiltmarket next week and I am looking forward to seeing what she posts on Instagram.The interior hallways are fun as well, these are artists, after all, they are going to decorate their environments. Love the bright colors and the sign is cute.More hallway decoration.Here is an artist who encouraged photography. Patrick Guerre Arts, he is painting 10,000 of these hearts to raise awareness and to raise funds for his wife’s’ autoimmune disease. This project is called hearts for Gina. I love that he is using his art in a happy way to help his wife. Then I had the pleasure of meeting Andre Miripolsky. Mural by Miripolsky Elevator, Allied Crafts building Lobby Allied Crafts buildingI first saw his work 3 years ago in a lobby in DTLA. I reminded him of this building, took him a moment. He has been very busy painting much larger installations. What is really exciting is that he will be creating and LA Historama for the convention center. This will be fabricated by Judson Studios. I am so excited about this and I hope this comes to fruition. Here’s an article about his work and the plans for this mural.

This all happened on Saturday, Sunday will be a whole new post. Have I mentioned that I love LA?