John Parkinson

I am on a mission, to introduce and make the name John Parkinson a household name in Los Angeles. About 5 years ago I went on my first downtown tour with the LA Conservancy, The name John Parkinson kept coming up, it seemed like he, along with his son Donald built many of the wonderful buildings downtown.

I became a docent and soon I was showing off a few of his many amazing buildings. I didn’t know a lot about him, just that he came from England and was a stair builder before he became and architect.  Lucky for us, Stephen Gee, another Brit who moved to LA, had also taken a conservancy tour. He got very interested in this fellow compatriot and started researching. Before you know it he wrote and published this bookIconic VisionIconic Vision, Stephen Gee,  I know,  it’s a hard cover book and the cost reflects that, but I read it like a novel.Autographed Iconic Vision

John Parkinson designed our most important buildings in LA, city hall, the coliseum, a large part of the campus of USC, Union station…. I could go on and I will in other posts.  He was largely forgotten, most people don’t know his name.  Due to this book an possibly because his time has come, the city of Los Angeles is setting out to honor him and to make him more of a household name here.

Last year this plaque was put up on the Crocker bank building on the NW corner of Sixth and Spring st.Plaque honoring Parkinson and BergstromCan you tell its not easy to see this plaque? That is because it is blocked by a Ficus tree. Normally I’m thrilled to see trees downtown, but really, they had to block this plaque?!

So yesterday the city named the intersection of Sixth and Spring st. John Parkinson Square. All four buildings on the corners of this intersection were designed by him.  I went to the ceremony in the Palm Court of the Alexandria hotel. The room has been spruced up.Palm court, interiorThis was a fancy restaurant in the early 20th c.Ceiling of Palm courtThere are two identical skylights as well as the third that is the header for this post.Parkinson familyGreat-grandaughters and one husband, great-greatgrandson along with city council-members Tom LaBonge and Jose Huizar awarding the certificate. The great-greatgrandson is studying architecture. Most of the family no longer lives in LA,  although one has promised to return, this just feels like home.Stephen GeeStephen Gee, who really got the ball rolling discussing the man and his book.John Parkinson SquareProud family, proud councilman, and for those us of attending, a very proud happy moment.John Parkinson Monumental architectI will be sharing more of his actual work in later posts. Of course I would love it if you came on one of our LA Conservancy walking tours.  I do one a month, so if you want to follow me, make sure to ask me personally. Of course the other docents are wonderful as well, we all share a real deep love for this city.

 

More success with the dress

Yesterday was the LA Conservancy event, Restoring Wilshire Blvd Temple.  Wilshire Blvd TempleThis is why I rushed to finish the dress, I volunteered for the event and what better place to debut this dress? Since it was a little chilly, I put on the dress, a cute little black cardigan, a matching black hat with white polka dots and of course, my LA conservancy badge.Showing off the dressHere Is Annie Laskey,  program manager, showing off my dress. She later got the official photographer to get some pictures, I hope to get some of those as well.

It was so much fun, having people come up and ooh and aah over the dress. I gave my camera to my almost SIL  Yochanan (one more month and it’s official) to get some pictures of me.being a docentDoing my job, talking about the Siegel courtyard.in Front of Wilshire Blvd. Temple modelExplaining future growth plans.IMG_3525Ok, so you can hardly see the dress here, but I really like this picture of me.

Today I was downtown and I wore the dress, strangers on the street commented that they like the dress. The salespeople at Michael Levine (yes, I had to go in there) were suitably impressed. I met a delightful young man from Berlin, he took my picture, although I never gave him any contact info, so I will probably never see it.

All in all, I have been having so much fun with this dress, and it’s only been two days.

I Love LA Dress

By now you should have figured out that I love Los Angeles.   Recently I was downtown in the garment district showing a friend around. There was the obligatory stop at Michael Levine. I really have to control myself – it’s like being a kid in a candy store. I was at the cutting table when along comes one of those cute, young, almost a fashion designer guys. He had the wild hair, the interesting clothes. Of course we got to talking, I asked if the is a student at FIDM (my alma Mater), no he goes to  LA Trade Tech. An amazing  community college that really teaches hands-on trades. I congratulated him on his choice of school – he will be prepared for the garment industry both professionally and simply because he isn’t in an ivory tower.

Well one of the fabrics he was buying is from a line called Urban Toile, there is one for NY and one for LA, it is more of a canvas, bottom weight fabric. This kid was going to make himself a shirt, before you know it, I had bought enough for a dress for me.Urban Toile, LAMany of LA’s landmarks, right here on the fabric.Biltmore HotelFrom downtown, the Biltmore hotel.405 & 101 plus food truckYes, I am often at that part of the 101 freeway. Also, the wonderful Theme restaurant at LAX and a food truck.Vogue 1353I’m thinking of this pattern, my one concern is that the fabric is heavier than is needed for this dress, but I don’t want to make pants or a bag. The dress is fully lined, that would add to the weight so I need to come up with creative solutions.front bodiceSo far so good, I like the way the fabric is holding the pleats.P1020084The heaviness of the fabric is working to my advantage, the skirt has good volume.

Lining for I love LA dress

One reason to line a sleeveless dress is the clean finish at the neckline and the armholes.  I decided to use silk organza.  A while ago I bought about 5 yards of the stuff. It is one of those staple fabrics that is good to have around.  It is super thin and won’t add any weight. Being silk and not polyester, it is  strong enough to line the bodice.  No, there  is no need to line the skirt.  P1020094Here I am pinning and inserting the lining. Yes, I had some problems, I stretched it too tight  on one side, so the dress didn’t lie flat. Since I’m not a perfectionist, I simply slashed the organza open and inserted a patch. Sorry no image. Luckily, because the dress fabric is thick and the organza is thin, no one can see the patch.P1020086More proof of my not being a perfectionist.  It is very easy to see that the Bodice line does not match up on the back. I could have been more careful, I could have removed the zipper and started over. I did neither,  maybe because I don’t see the back of the dress, maybe because sometimes, good enough is simply just that.decorative grosgrain ribbonA final touch, this black grosgrain ribbon with cutouts. I had bought this last year for another project that I never made. This is how stash is built up, you think you are buying for a specific project, but you aren’t. I love these kind of special touches, they really make the dress my own.P1020108Looking good!P1020100Not sure how long the exposed zipper will be fashionable, I still like it.photo 2Modeling dress with centerpiece flowers.

 

Visit to Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach Ca.

IMG_3482Today was a fun day with the grand kids at the Aquarium of the Pacific. I remember visiting  when it opened 16 years ago. Of course I’ve been back since, going with grandchildren makes it all the more fun. When it first opened, they stocked it with baby fish, by now many of them have grown and many others have been added – it really is a magical place.IMG_3484They have 3 or 4 pools where children (and adults) can use two fingers to touch the animals. Here it is sea anenomes,  in other pools it’s baby sharks, baby rays, star fish and jelly fish. Not the stinging kind!IMG_3485Aytan didn’t get the message to look at the camera.IMG_2309They have divers in the big central tank, saying hello is always fun.

What did Aytan think was the best part? Feeding the Lorakeets.IMG_3487 IMG_3491Birds at an aquarium?  Birds from Australia no less?  Well I guess it is on the Pacific ocean. At $3 a pop for that little cup of food, it is probably one of the best money makers the aquarium has.

This is a wonderful place for anyone interested in the bounty and beauty of the ocean.  A fun place to spend a nice brisk spring morning.

Baby blanket

As soon as we heard about becoming grandparents again – I had to start making baby items. Although I don’t like knitting blankets,  it’s different when it’s my own grandchild. We found out the same day they did – they told us immediately. So of course not knowing the sex of the baby it just had to be bright and colorful

Princess Squares blanketI have subscribed or bought many knitting  magazines over the years. Not being a hoarder, every so often I will go through and tear out the patterns I like and throw the rest away. This is one of those tear outs,  it didn’t have the instructions, I must have neglected to tear those out. lucky for  me, everything can be found on Ravelry these days.  Princess Square Blanket.  No instructions there either, but  this is a  modular square, a quick search on you-tube and I was reminded how to make these. Seeing other people’s finished projects on Ravelry gave me the confidence to just go ahead and make this.Knit Picks BravaKnitters know that Knit Picks is a great source of inexpensive yarn. Sometimes you get what you pay for. In this case, I want acrylic – a blanket that can be thrown in the washer/dryer and will be fine. So Knit Picks Brava it is. Also, they have a big selection of colors.Knitting the blanketI could have chosen different colors, but I figured these would work well for either a boy or a girl. icord bindingThe original pattern called for picking up all the stitches and making a 1″ border in garter stitch. That is way too much work.  Back to You Tube for reminders on making the  I cord edging. Finished Princess Square BlanketThe original blanket  was 8×8 squares, as you can see, I made a rectangle. Not sure why I made the rows 9 blocks long, but I did. and after a while, I was getting tired of the repetitive knitting. Have I mentioned I don’t like knitting blankets?Princess Squares blanket finished.Time to get creative with photography, it sure makes the blanket prettier.With Vera BearVera Bear is mine, I made her for me, she lives at my house. Grandson will get a different bear, but she sure does look cute on the blanket.

Of course I have many other baby projects to get to now.

 

 

Urban Nine Patch – finished

I sat down, quilted, binded and put on the label. Oh and of course took pictures.Here it is in all it’s glory. This picture was taken before I washed the quilt. Yes nice crisp lines. P1020057P1020060Here is a close up, you can’t really see the quilting on the prints, except for the straight  lines in the large grey areas.  Yay for a walking foot and a machine that cuts the thread itself. I’m talking about my Juki.Back of UNPThe back is made up of the leftover fabrics from the piecing. So once again, quilting is not obvious.P1020052You get the idea of what the quilting looks like.  Initially this quilt was meant for me. I had made the blue/grey quilt for Joel so this was going to be my, cuddle up quilt.  I was posting pictures along the way on FB and before I knew it, a good friend claimed it. It is her colors! She wants this quilt and is willing to exchange a piece of art for it.

I don’t sell my quilts. I have given baby quilts as gifts but this is a full size quilt and the time and effort put in are much more than a baby quilt. An exchange, now there is an idea, I said yes.

If this were a wall hanging, there would be no need to wash it. Since it will be used as a quilt should be – I washed it.  I don’t want the new owner to have any surprises if down the road she decides to wash it herself.UNP cornerHere it is washed.  What’s the difference you ask?Before and after washing a quiltThe top is unwashed, the bottom, after washing. Now you can really see the difference.  I didn’t prewash the fabric, I used 100% cotton batting. Then threw it in the washing machine and dryer and this is the result.  The quilt shrunk a little but it is also much softer and cozier. You can see the quilting in action, how it makes everything much more three dimensional.UNP labelA quilt isn’t really finished until there is a label. It’s the artist signature, name and date.Close up of labelThis is why I still need the Babylock machine. It does basic embroidery, which is a nice easy way to make a label.

Next week I will show this off to my Quilt Guild and then it’s going across the country to Connecticut to my friend Lynne.  When I get the artwork from her, I’m sure I’ll post about that as well.

More Downtown treasures, Allied Crafts Building

I always tell people, when walking downtown – look up! There are amazing things to see. While dress shopping on Saturday, I had to stop and take a closer look at this building. With so much cacophony on the street, it’s easy to miss even a building of this size. ACB buidling todayAs you can see, most of the area is much lower buildings. So this Beaux Arts and it’s neighbor the Bendix building do stand out.

ACB Photo (3)This is a photo from the 1930s. You can see there was retail on the ground floor even then and across Pico Blvd, no high construction.  This was really the outer limits of downtown, from here on there would be other tall buildings, but many more low warehouse and small industry.

As the fashion industry rapidly expended here, the owners are doing just fine renting out large loft style space. They also set about spicing up the lobby.Lobby Allied Crafts buildingYou can see the wonderful old elements that haven’t changed, the marble wainscoting, the wonderful mail box. In  2010, they brought in the artist Andre Miripolsky to add some vibrant color. Boy did he ever.Mural by MiripolskyI love how he worked around the old elements, the clock,  The grill.Elevator, Allied Crafts buildingWonderful old elevator doors. I was able to see into the elevator but not snap a picture. It looked like the original paneling – no fancy materials but nicely decorated wood. And there is an elevator operator – which leads me to think – they haven’t updated this elevator to standard push button yet. Now there is a job you don’t see often, although I’ve seen other buildings downtown with one.Entrance to lobby, ACBIt was hard to isolate out an image like this, so much stuff on all sides.  This  is the balcony over the Lobby entrance, also, the end of the fire escape.ACB, from across streetOn  a busy shopping trip, I’m sure this restaurant does good business. I love the cocktail sign, I think it was from a previous business. I’m pretty sure there are manufactories  upstairs, they have wide open loft space, although this business looks more like a design studio.

Next door is another very interesting building. The Bendix building.  I shot this image from the rooftop garage across the street where we parked.Bendix neon tower This building was build in 1930.  The tower was built by Bendix Aviation Corporation  manufactured to aid in nighttime aviation. The entire sign stands 150 feet tall; the letter “B” alone is 25 feet tall and 16 feet wide.  This helped light the way to an airfield in Glendale, 9 miles away.  Three years ago the tower was restored and the neon is now lit again at night.

In the 1930’s this building was used to manufacture  automotive parts, navigation instruments and car parts. The fashion industry moved in much later.  

Shopping for flower girl dress and ring bearer Tuxedo.

With all my creative efforts you’d think I’d be sewing a most adorable dress for my granddaughter who will of course be the flower girl. You would be wrong, very wrong.  Here in LA we have, downtown LA fashion district. That is where I have bought some very unique fabric, trim and other items for my creative endeavors.

There is a specific area – Santee Alley – which is well known for it’s inexpensive clothes, knock-off watches and handbags. 20 years ago the alley was one small block long. Now, it stretches from Olympic Blvd all the way to Pico, 0.3 miles long.

They have some little children’s clothes but it’s at the Pico end, on Maple street that they sell all the wonderful party dresses. So Becky and I  went off shopping.party dresses downtown LAYes, that price is accurate, they sell these dress from $10 – $40.  I can’t compete and btw, they are adorable little dresses.Party dressesOk, those bows look tacky, but they are just pinned on, easy to remove. First good option, flower girl dressAt our very first stop we find this, it’s green which is perfect, It’s got bling, but not over the top.  We sent a picture off to the boys, sure fine they say. But what’s the fun in buying the first thing you see. On we went.green and white dressVelvet green top? No, the green is too dark and it almost looked to Christmas to us.grey party dressLovely gray, everything is perfect about this one. (Gray, green, black are the colors) except one thing – they don’t have it in a small enough size. downtown LA party dressThen we find this one, perfect! (we will probably lose the flower).  A little more elegant, a little greener. We send off this picture and the response is – perfect get this one. Just to be sure we go back to check dress one – it had already sold. Yes, it is the day before Easter, I’m sure many a mom were out looking for an Easter dress.  For $25, I couldn’t make this, the materials along would cost more, not to mention my time

Oh and a suit for the ring bearer?boy suitYeah, went into one store, it was black or gray. Last year he wore black at Elk and Mandy’s wedding. So this year, it’s gray. We will lose the tie and pocket patch, wrong colors. But the whole suit comes as one unit. If I can’t find something green, it will simply be a the suit and shirt – no extra color.  No question, shopping for little girls is much more fun.

Also, these are staying at my house, I know Aytan doesn’t care about the suit (no spiderman on it), but Shira would never take off that dress. We want it new and lovely for the wedding.

It works! Chuppah trial run

Yesterday the boys went to visit the Dads in the OC and put the Chuppah together.                             First they ordered 8′ birch poles.Chuppah polesHere are the poles leaning up against the side of the house. Sturdy and tall enough for a lot of people to stand under.Sturdy eye hooks on birch polesThese are what I call massive eye hooks. No problem of the chuppah falling off of these, even if it was twice as heavy. Lucky for us Paul has some massive tools, so this was not a problem for him to drill and glue the hooks in place.The Chuppah, trial runAnd here it is, luckily Paul has long arms so he is holding two poles while Yoch is taking the picture, I have no idea if there was a decision to coordinate the orange shirts. Yup, that’s my boy Yishai with a big grin on his face.

This really was a group effort. Yoch came up with the design idea and pieced the top and bottom. I pieced the corners, quilted and bound it. As well as came up with the sturdy ties.

Paul and Darryl bought the poles and affixed the eye hooks and are the first to give it it’s first trial run. 35 days from now, the four brothers will be proudly holding up the chuppah while Yish and Yoch stand under it to get married. I’m getting all verkelmpt, so I’ll stop here.

 

FMQ (free motion quilting) a large quilt on a home sewing machine

I’m new to making videos and putting them up on youtube. But hey, the only way to learn how to do it – is to do it. I’m sure I will get better at zooming in on my actual work, but for now, you can see me in action on a large quilt.

I follow other blogs and am very impressed with FMQ that people are doing, but rarely do you see them working on a large quilt. It’s fun to practice on something small, but here you have a chance to see how I deal with the big bulky quilt, stopping, moving, readjusting.

While taking Angela Waters Quilting feathers  she showed a wonderful new tool to me. The Grip & stitch. These replace those quilting gloves that I find hard to use. What a difference these make.  I really feel like I have control now, with a lot more experience, my FMQ will shine.