Greystone Mansion

For years I had heard about Greystone Mansion, the home built in 1928 for the son of Edward Doheny, the Oil Magnate. I knew that the gardens are open to the public, the 18 acres are owned by the city of Beverly Hills. I just never got there. There are opportunities, concerts, other events that take place in the house, once again. I never got there.So when Friends of Greystone offered a tour, I jumped on the opportunity! I think it was a great success, so they will probably do this again. This is the largest historic private home south of Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle dwarfs this, but still this is very impressive.These signs are all over. It doesn’t refer to the average visitor, like The Bradbury building, they want the professionals and the movie people to pay for the privilage of filming here.Even though we saw a lot more of the house than most people do, we didn’t get into this circular room.Up the staircase in the central entry hall. I should have gotten pictures of the floor, it is iconic marble tile. In every room there was an explanation about the room as well as what movies were filmed there.

Ned Doheny, Edwards’ son was in a murder suicide in the downstairs bedroom, with his male secretary friend. Sure he had 5 kids, he still could have been having a gay relationship that went wrong.

The wife and children stayed there. Through the years property was sold off. The final 18 acres were sold to a developer – who simply rented the house out for movie shoot. So plenty of movies were shot here. In the early 1970s the city bought the property because they wanted to put in a large reservoir, it is now under the upper parking lot. The woodwork is amazing! Most of the house isn’t furnished, still very very impressive. From inside looking out, Love the play of textures, light and shadow.There is a movie theater, too dark to take a picture, as is appropriate. A Bowling alley as well as a game room with a Billiards table made by Brunswick. If you saw my post from a few weeks ago, I shared the building that housed their LA portion of the company, exactly at the same time this house was built.A few pictures from the gardens, I’ll be back to give them the appropriate attention.There were plenty of wonderful details. I will be sharing some from inside the house shortly.

Underground at the Huntington Library

One of the rewards of being a docent with the LA Conservancy is the special tours that come up. Things are changing here, what used to be formal gardens and classic sculpture now has modern items, like this famous Calder and many of the gardens are becoming native and low water.

We came to see the underground portion of the library. Most people are familiar with the Huntington Gardens as well as the artwork, namely British paintings such as Blue Boy and Pinky.  But really the heart of this endeavor is the incredible library. There are always very important manuscripts on display, and yet, so much more is happening behind the scenes – or rather underground.In vaults such as this, climate controlled, behind gates, every which way of preventing fire. There is a massive underground warren that no-one ever sees. Henry Huntington himself collected important documents and since his death the library has grown to be one of the premier libraries in the world. New and old documents and artifacts are either purchased or donated.Signs like this are all over the place. All the windows are completely UV blocking – so the people are secondary. You need vitamin D – go outside! You are cold? Put on a sweater.Although the card catalogs are being digitized, some of these old cabinets are still around. The early attempts at digitizing in the 90’s didn’t work so well, better keep the paper around.The Rothenberg reading room, where many of the 1,700 researchers come to use the library. Think about it, 1,700 researchers a year isn’t a lot. Some are on fellowship for a year, others need to get approval and pay their own way.This is what one expects a library to look like. Very clear instructions, many of the manuscripts are original, one of a kind, they must be protected. When exiting the library, someone checks your bags – no thievery please!Here is a more modern reading room, also lovely. I couldn’t get a picture, the angle wasn’t right, but there is a wonderful Old bookcase called the Shakespeare cabinet, made of woods that would have been mentioned in his works. Henry Huntington bought it himself and filled it with original folios of the plays. These are now in the vaults, with facsimiles  on the shelves. Here are a handful of the books written by researchers in the last year. Every year they switch out the books, to showcase what that years research led to. There were many other books, I wasn’t going to take pictures of them all.

I’ve shared some images, the tour itself was fascinating, but not everything is worth a picture. One thing that is very interesting is the cooperation between libraries. For instance they have all the original work and notes of Octavia Butler – one of these days someone will rediscover here and do some serious research. She was approached just a year before she died and asked what she planned to do with her works, she had no idea. Therefore she was thrilled to donate it all to the Huntington, since she grew up right here. I’m sure she enjoyed the gardens and was thrilled to know they wanted her work.

In other cases somebody will offer documents and the Huntington will refer them to other institutions that may already have something in that field.

Then of course I went and saw the quilts and other objects like:A beautiful example of embroidery.Or these ivory clothes pins. Now I forgot to check, it is probably whale bone ivory. Since these are from the northeast. Clothespins today may have a clasp to open and close, but the size and shape hasn’t changed much.

I’m going back to spend more time in this exhibit.

Civil War era quilts

A chance to see Civil War era quilts in two different venues. Well, there were some pre-war and post war. Just saying 19th c. quilts doesn’t sound right.

On Saturday I was at the Huntington Library for an amazing tour. More on that later. Usually when I go, I’m walking around the gardens, at a friends suggestion I went into the American Art Gallery, boy am I happy I did.

I went to see the exhibit Becoming America, Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding collection. Some paintings, a lot of crafts and of course quilts.The background of this Bethlehem star is really a lovely blue not grey. What can I do, the camera sees what it sees. Since it is made from solids, I’m going to guess it was from the south. Look at those feathers!!  A flying geese quilt.Here is an incredible quilt. Bethlehem stars, Broderie Perse – this is where one cuts motif out of chintz fabric and appliqués them, a way of stretching out that very expensive chintz that came from Europe. Then we have smaller pieced stars as well as very accurate saw-tooth borders.

This is attributed to Mary Seeds Moon, made in Baltimore around 1840.A detail of the quilting, OMG. This quilt is in phenomenal shape, which means it probably wasn’t used much. One of many painted boxes. This is a quilt pattern, so I have to share.On to the Valley Quiltmakers guild meeting with Arlene Arnold. She farms up in Colusa CA and she loves and collects these wonderful old quilts. Here she is in all her glory in her Civil War garb. She bought this when she was sharing her quilts with Civil War reenactors a number of years ago. Got to get as much use out of it as possible. Her she is showing her version of a quilt that is similar to Mary Seed Moon’s. Unlike most of her collection, this was purchased from a museum that was liquidating it’s textile dept.

The larger pieces of chintz in this quilt look very similar to the border in the Fielding collection. Unlike today, where we have so many options in fabric, there was less choices in those days. An Expensive Chintz could very easily have found it’s way to two quilters.The lecture started with us saying the pledge of allegiance, how refreshing. The first quilt Arlene showed is this Seven Sisters quilt.  This pattern was developed in the south to represent the first 7 states to secede from the Union. The North forbad flying the Stars and Bars, so intrepid women made this quilt pattern over and over and displayed it in the window, on railings.  At some point Northern soldiers may have caught on, but they never bothered the women or their quilts

Southern quilts were usually made with solid fabrics and northern quilts had many more prints. Look at the effort that went into this baby quilt.Nine patch with prints. Two quilts made by the same quilter. No, she didn’t sign her quilt, but she did include hearts in her quilt. Here is a quilter who makes sure that her signature block be large and noticeable!Front of the quilt, from the north, see all the prints. But…Here is back. I have been known to use orphan blocks on the backs of my quilts. Look at how many this quilter has. I think most of us today prefer the back to the front.Another kind of signature, quilting in the quilters scissors!

I am very fortunate to be able to see these wonderful quilts, made by women over 150 years ago.

Stitches show

Stitches used to be all about the yarn. They are trying to expand, they are still mostly about the yarn. I have been knitting less, so really wasn’t interested in buying yarn. I did see two things I really like.40 years ago I made a sweater with this stitch pattern. I created it myself, not finding a pattern around. So I have a soft spot for this.  This would not be heard to duplicate and I might try, although probably not in these colors.I should have snapped more pictures of this shawl. Many booths had it in different color ways. I know the pattern is available on Revelry. I don’t want to make it, but I really liked the graphic aspect of this one.

Not much sewing or quilting. One big show was Cherrywood design challenge – purple for Prince.In these challenges one has to buy the package of fabric from Cherrywood, I think they can add other Cherrywood fabrics as well. To me and my friend, this just looked too dark.I am extremely impressed with the quality of work! I guess it’s just all that dark purple that really dominates. This was my favorite, I don’t think First place was in this show. I love it for the brightness, the design, the quilting and the bling. Two other ones I really liked also had bling. Bling isn’t my thing, but here it was necessary.So what did I buy? A grab bag of Cherrywood fabrics of course! Then on a Sunday walk I came across this harlequin house in Santa Monica. LOVE IT!Speaking of color and creativity, what is better than a fundraising event that includes painting a bus?? Nothing, nothing is better.Except for a very happy grandpa and grandsons.

Mickey-Minnie rainbow quilt

I rarely sell my handwork, it simply isn’t worth it, on the other hand, giving quilts to deserving people isn’t a problem for me.

So my DIL wants something for a very special teacher who is now a friend. Nina loves Disney and rainbows, two things I’m not that crazy about.This is an image that Becky shared with me. Ok, I get the idea, no way would I ever make something like this, but, lets go with the idea.It is very easy to find a silhouette of Mickey online. I used Mistyfuse  and actually machine appliquéd using monofilament.It went quickly. These are 10″ blocks.Of course, I have to have some Minnies!Throwing everything up on the design wall.I added hearts.I think this is the final layout. At this point the quilt will be 50″ x 60″, I wanted it a little larger. This isn’t a lap quilt. It is meant to be cuddly and warm, so I need to increase the size.Here we go, now it’s more like 55″ x 72″, much better. Now I have to plan out the quilting.

I am now spending Tuesdays up at the new location of Quilts n’ Things in Altadena. I’m driving Aytan to his new school which is 20 miles away. Instead of going home, I start out in a coffee shop, and then by 10 am I’m up here for 4 hours, sitting and sewing with new friends. It’s lovely

I will probably bring my featherweight sometime and work on pillowcases. Meanwhile, handwork is in order. Do you remember this quilt? I finished it a few months ago, but really it’s not finished until it has a label.I had these labels printed up at Spoonflower. As you can see, I add the actual last two digits of the year by hand. In this case I even embellished the printed border with some embroidery. Now this one is ready to be gifted for the holidays, yes I have someone in mind.

While I was here in walked Charles Phoenix, his editor is right next-door! I have heard him lecture, have his autographed book. It was a delight, and boy was he impressed with this quilt. It was a mutual admiration society. Go look at what he does, he is all about Americana – in a loving, funky fun way.

Oddities in Simi Valley

Simi valley was originally ranches. As the need for housing exploded in Southern CA, it became a valley full of tract homes.  It’s a lovely area, but not quirky, well except for Santa Susana Knowles.  There is something about building up into the hills that makes for funky neighborhoods. I’ve seen it in Woodland Hills, Sierra Madre, Alta Dena, – the artistic types like to live in the hills in interesting homes.Because this is an unincorporated area, no one has rules about the exterior of your home. Since this was ranch land, there are plenty of old farm tools to be used.This is probably a real covered wagon that came west, with new canvas of course. The original would have rotted years ago.Another example sits outside a local restaurant.An old windmill for a well.Plenty of interesting garden art, a lovely example of stained glass. Birds.Birdbaths for the real ones. Interesting mailboxes.Keep on walking!


The best part of Halloween

All month I’ve been posting images of yard decorations for Halloween. While fun and all, what I really love is the grandkids joy in the fun.We stopped by the pumpkin patch near his school. Ah, the joy of making a grandson happy!Didn’t see this part of the family on Halloween, thank God for phones and pictures. Mama took the picture, I think she wore something pink and fuzzy. How about Mickey Mouse. This was taken at Daycare, they manage to get him to keep the hat on his head.For actual Halloween, he was Mario.

He wasn’t alone. We all walked the neighborhood before the real trick or treating started. Yup, this trio got a lot of high fives and laughs.Getting into the picture. Then it was on to the older grandkids to actually walk around and trick or treat with them.I had no candy whatsoever, none. Quite and accomplishment in itself.

What a blessing to have these grandkids and see them grow.

It is cool enough for Sunday hikes

This time we went northwest into Simi Valley. I have quite a few books with local hikes. This particular one was published when the 10,000 steps was all the rage. So the author put together walks of about five miles. We started out in Corrianville Park, named for a Hollywood stuntman. Turns out a lot of Westerns were filmed here. This is Stunt rock, where many a stuntman was shot and fell into Robin Hood Lake.  Clearly no one has kept the lake up, so it’s a dry bed with a bunch of kids on bikes and skate boards. Today there is a modern Studio right near by.Complete with it’s own ‘backlot’. Fellow hikers told us there was a major Western filmed here recently, they built a whole facade of a town in the park.The rock formations are unique around here, even the hawk likes them.Simi Valley is quite the suburban area now. It is a very friendly safe place to live.The community next to the Park is called Hopetown. That is because Bob Hope used to own this land as well as the filming locations. They were donated as a park, and the community took his name. The old Santa Susana Railroad Depot and museum. We got there too early, the museum wasn’t open yet.So we enjoyed the displays outside. Like this citrus truck. Tapo is the name of a nearby canyon. Sunkist is still the large cooperative of Southern California citrus growers. Sadly, this label wouldn’t be allowed today, something to do with cultural appropriation. The local Indians never wore these headdresses, but that isn’t why this isn’t OK, rather than accept our history and move on, people feel the need to erase it. Maybe that is why it is behind a screen, so it won’t be vandalized. The train came by! No trains stop here anymore. It’s just a museum. The Santa Susana pass is very steep, modern trains can handle the climb, but back in the stagecoach days, the climb and then descent into Chatsworth were very scary and dangerous indeed.

More on what we saw in the next post.

Sewing for myself

I love knit fabric, not just for Shira’s dresses but for my own. It is so easy to whip up a dress, mostly on my serger and voila! About 2 hours of work and it’s done.Often it is the simplest pattern that works best with knits. Something I need to remind myself.I’ve been seeing in the fashion blogs that midi length skirts are back! I thought that would never happen. I also never thought that big full eyebrows would be the rage.Luckily for me, I only plucked my eyebrows a few times. Never into that tiny little strip. I just left them alone. These days, as they get lighter in color I do need to ‘pump them up’. At least it is my natural eyebrows that accept the pencil or powder, so it’s not too fake looking.I know, I wrote about hating polyester. And here I go and buy a polyester knit. I figure that when it’s cold I can wear a cotton camisole underneath. What can I say, I found this fabric on the remainder table at Michael Levine’s. I fell in love with the print and color, also, this is a pretty heavy knit, it has real body to it.I think I paid $10 for the whole piece, so if down the line I’m not happy, I will add it to the good will pile. I guess you could call this me made fast fashion. What can I say, this dress makes me very very happy. I hope to keep it in the wardrobe for quite a while.

Oh, and I was at Michael Levine’s this past week, guess what I bought? Yup some more polyester knit… I hope to use it soon so you can see what is getting me into all this trouble.

Mostly the Bendix building

Yes, a few years ago I did a post on the Bendix building, from time to time I share images of the tower. On this downtown tour I had the pleasure of going up on the roof.This is the kind of image I usually get of the sign, at a distance, not seeing the whole thing.Here I am, up on the roof, right under this massive neon sign. Yay for special tours. Another angle, with some sky writing in the background. I think it had to do with a club. The skywriters must go up in the air with a number of commissions. Later I saw ‘Vote Yes On Prop 6’. Amen to that! repeal the gas tax! The only proposition I’m voting in favor.From the Bendix roof looking over at the Applied Arts building.  It is fun seeing these details close up.

A view towards the financial district downtown. I never get bored of this skyline, no matter what angle I’m looking at it. It is changing so rapidly, I should probably try and put together images I’ve taken in the last five years. If I can find the photos…From this angle Santee Alley doesn’t look very busy, I can assure you, a Saturday in this area is a zoo. The alley is packed with people, the streets, like Maple and Santee are not only full of people but also wall to wall carts. Some selling fruits and many selling those hotdogs you see there. Hotdogs wrapped in bacon. Me, I had chicken tacos from one of the carts. Yummy street food. Back on street level, these figures on the Bendix building, progress, innovation. There are others as well.

Inside the Applied Arts building, this is what the top of a mail chute looks like. This building is once again used for applied arts. The top floor, where I was standing is today a woodworking shop. The kind of place where as many tools as possible are available, and people can come in, rent time and make things. I’m used to sewing studios that offer, sewing machines, but carpentry tools take a lot more space and specialization.

How did I get up here you ask? By elevator, but not any old elevator, or maybe yes, a very old elevator. One that has to have a human operator. And here he is. Btw, that round lever is very very important. He has to gauge when and where to slow down the car. It is never perfectly accurate when stepping on or off, it’s either step up or down. I know there are still a number of buildings downtown that haven’t upgraded the elevators. This is the first time I had the pleasure to be in one.