Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dancing the Tarantella!

If you've been following my blog, you've seen some mysterious tea-dyed music and a spider linocut over the last couple of weeks.  Finally, yesterday, after some technical glitches with bubbly ink that created a fuzzy print (I guess I was too close to the end of the tube, when I used different ink, all was well), the tea-dyed music and spider linocut have come together to create....Tarantella!  

The music is Frederic Chopin's Tarantelle, Opus 43. According to legend, the bite of a tarantula could only be cured by dancing the jumping, turning, whirling tarantella.  So, to me at least, it made perfect sense to print a tarantula on a tarantella!  If you're a spider lover (or a music lover), Tarantella is listed on Etsy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Something Old

I spent my Saturday taking photographs for our local county quilt documentation day.  People are encouraged to bring their old quilts so that the makers and detailed information about the quilts (patterns, stitches per inch, age and types of fabrics, etc.) can be documented.  I'm not a quilter, but I appreciate the graphic patterns of the quilts, the workmanship and artistry, and the varied fabrics used to make these wonderful utilitarian pieces.   One of the quilts we documented on Saturday was from the mid to late 1800s.  Many of the fabrics were from the Civil War era and we even found some pieces of homespun fabric that is exactly what it says - it was woven in the home.  Though the women were making a utilitarian piece, their artistry and creativity comes out in the patterns, the ways they assembled the colors, and their quilting.  Certainly these quilts are treasures!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Little Tea Anyone?

I've been experimenting with ways to dye my bright white printing paper to a browner shade so that it looks aged.  I have tons of tea that has been given to me over the years.  I find that I only drink my tea iced and am not a fan of many of the herbal flavors, so the tea has gotten pretty old by now.  I'm not going to drink it, but it seemed like just the thing for dying paper!  I tried some herbal tea this weekend, but it didn't have the tannins in it to provide the shade I was looking for - I ended up with a rather weak gray.  I tried black tea today and - voila! - aged paper!  I'll give it until tomorrow to dry and make some prints.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

With cherry tomatoes and sweet yellow peppers and pickling cukes all in their pots!  I thought I was too late to plant veggies this season, but I wandered through the garden center on a whim and found more choices than there usually are by the time I get there.  I planted them this weekend so we should start to reap the bounty in August.  I was more adventurous than usual and added peppers and cucumbers to go with the usual tomatoes and basil.  I keep fantasizing about a real garden because fresh produce is so much tastier than the stuff at the supermarket, but need to start that much earlier than June.  This year I'm sticking with the containers and a trip to the farmers' market downtown on Thursdays.

Isn't the basil beautiful? And it smells wonderful too!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Big Furry Spider!

When I started this blog, my plan was to have all sorts of creative things to show on it.  It would be my journey to a more creative and fulfilled life.  Unfortunately, other than the photographs accompanying the entries, I haven't been doing very well at being creative lately (though I'm making progress on the fulfilling life part).  Today, I've been carving a linoleum block.  It's a design I drew on the block several months ago, but I got discouraged when I realized that I wasn't thinking about reversing the design when it prints, so much of the work I had done on the block was for naught.  I've figured out now that I'm going to handle that part of the design differently and so, I present you with, a big furry old spider!  Don't worry, it'll make sense when I get it printed!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Fun of Public Art

I had the pleasure of visiting Staunton, Virginia this week for a book signing.  Staunton is a small city in western Virginia that has had great success in revitalizing its downtown area.  I'm an architect by training and love old buildings.  Staunton's buildings are especially enjoyable because of the intricate brickwork and cast stone used to build them - the details appeal to my artistic sensibilities.  Unexpected public art just adds to the experience of visiting!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bird House for Rent

This morning I looked out at our birdhouse and saw a bird hanging on and looking in.  Maybe it's listed for rent in the Bird Times?  I've seen house sparrows and blue birds check it out.  I think a chickadee family was birthed in there, though I never saw them fly off.  The house has been empty for several weeks now.  This bird spent a considerable amount of time looking inside (I had time to go downstairs, get the camera, and take multiple photos).  Maybe she was trying to decide if it was worth the effort to clean up the previous nest?  The male kept coming over to look too, but they never went inside, just peeked in the door.

I had to pull out my bird book for identification of these two.  From the look and sound, I think they're tree swallows, although according to the book, their territory doesn't quite extend into Virginia.  Maybe they saw the Virginia is For Lovers ads and decided a trip was in order?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting Knotty

I've been restringing all my Roman shades with drapery cord.  That means I have a lot of 8 foot long or so pieces of nylon rope that is just begging to become something else.  I have several books on knotting that I got from my great uncle and have long been intrigued by some of the more decorative knots that could become door mats or key fobs.  I decided yesterday to pull out one of the books and give knotting a whirl.  I found a Chinese button knot with good directions, twisted, twirled, over-undered, pulled and prodded, and found myself with a cool little knot.  The rope was a little fuzzy from its previous use, but knot bad for a first try!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Porch Sitting

In good Southern tradition, we have a front porch with rocking chairs to watch the world go by and say "hey" to neighbors as they pass.  We also have a back porch opening out to the grassy back yard which is preferable to the introvert in me who doesn't want to talk to everyone who walks by.  We are rehabbing our old house though and the back porch has yet to take precedence over things like windows and bathrooms (go figure).  In fact, it has tended to be a place where scrap lumber, sheet rock, and excess furniture lands.  

NOT my back porch. I can dream though, can't I?
This is from Sarah's Summer House on HGTV.

Today, I tackled that back porch.  I pulled all the lumber out and restacked it since I didn't have anywhere else to put it.  I vacuumed up all the spiders and their friends.  Best of all, I set up some of the furniture out there so we have a seating area to enjoy the view to the back yard.  One day we'll be done with the lumber, refinish the floor, and have walls of French doors instead of old storm windows.  Until then, I can sit on the back porch and dream.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jungle Season

Jungle season usually comes before the cat days of spring and may continue indefinitely depending on the rain situation.  We've had a pretty wet spring so when the sun came out, everything turned green and GREW!  That's fine for flowers and trees, but not so much for the things that aren't supposed to be in the flower garden.  I spent some time this morning removing grass, lilac shoots, and vines from some of the flower beds. 

Tip of the day? Vines are a bad idea in the South. I say very unladylike things about whoever planted them every time I yank, pull, and untangle them from the lilacs, roses, peonies, and everything else they're trying to choke. Today's photos are of the peonies (pee-OH-nees here in the South) before they went by. So pretty! 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Cat Days of Spring

You've heard of the dog days of summer?  Well, here in Virginia it is the cat days of spring.  There's that beautiful time in April and May when everything is blooming and you can't decide if you need a jacket or not when you go outside?  Then, before you know it, the weather turns hot and you don't have enough summer clothes?  Those are the cat days of spring.

We have mountain breezes and tons of windows at our house so we don't have air conditioning.  We can keep the temperature pretty comfortable by opening windows and curtains at night to let the cool air in and closing them during the day to keep the hot air out.  But, the poor little Smiling Cat hasn't had time to shed all of her winter fur, so despite the ceiling fans, evening honeysuckle-scented breezes, and cool water in her fountain she's sprawled out trying to cool off (or will her fur to shed).  I may have to plant her a bed of cat grass to lay in to get her through the cat days of spring.