Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Speak Up, Speak Out

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Emerging briefly from the production tunnel to share my latest piece which, thankfully, I CAN share despite the fact I’ve entered it in the Threads of Resistance Call for Entries (Deadline in about 2-3 days)!  As many of you who have known me for a while know, I haven’t usually been politically involved or spoken out.  This is, in part, the legacy of being a federal employee, when you were not allowed to be political (there were ways you could do it, but it was such a fuss that it was easier just to NOT).   However, the last election cycle aggravated me so much I began making political posts and comments on Facebook and getting involved.   Even though I didn’t really have the time, when a group of art quilters got together with this exhibit concept and called for entries, I knew I wanted to try to make a piece.

Speak Up, Speak Out © Sarah Ann Smith 2017. Although the Women’s March imagery has become ubiquitous since the March, I decided to proceed with my concept because it was my experience.

It began during one of the debates last autumn (2016).  The then-Republican-candidate (I *refuse* to use his name) kept saying “Make America Great Again,” as if it weren’t great already!   I will be the first to say that we are an imperfect union, this great nation of ours, but that is part of why we are a great nation….or were and must recover from the collective idiocy currently gripping the country.  I started sketching during the debate and came up with two ideas for art quilts, one about Maine, one about our nation.  The latter was to have a border of hands, holding hands, and phrases and words that represented the US, but the center wasn’t yet clear to me.

With my soon-to-be daughter-in-law Ashley G., I traveled to the Women’s March on Washington on an overnight bus (overnight going and returning…LONG nights sitting up!).   I bought a cheap spiral notebook and asked riders on the bus, if they wished, to trace their hands so I could use them as the border in this piece.  Every hand traced is here (one twice, because I needed one more hand to make things fit properly).

At the March, I took many many photos and as the day wore on I knew that being in this sea of humanity, most in some sort of pink hat or cat ears (reference to the-one-who-shall-not-be-named joking that he would grab a woman by the pussy–slimeball! that’s sexual assault you jerk!) I had found my image for the center of the quilt.  The images of women and men marching, protesting peacefully (not a single arrest!), has since become ubiquitous.  So much so that I considered NOT doing this view because it has been seen.  But I decided that since I conceived of the quilt before the march and finalized during the day of the March as the images had barely first been seen on the internet, I decided that since it was also “my” March, I would proceed.

This photo became my starting point–it is the only photo I didn’t take (since I’m in it..someone on the street offered to snap pics for us):

Some of the ladies from the bus. We are on East Capitol Street heading toward the Capitol. Mainers were to wear blaze / hunter’s orange. I’m on the far right standing next to Ashley, who has her orange scarf on, and we’re wearing the hats I made us.  There is an odd aberration in the photo, but so it goes.  I printed this photo on the label.

Usually when you see photos of protest marches, so many of the signs are manufactured, a printed graphic done by someone professional (ish).  What impressed me about this March is that almost all–upwards of 95 percent–of the signs were homemade and many were clever and/or inspiring.   I selected my favorite ones and used them.  One of the signs in the quilt is the actual sign that I made and wore on my jacket during the March.

Left side of the quilt. I loved the sign calling for a return to civility, courtesy, charity and compassion.

In the sky above the marchers, surrounding the capitol dome, I quilted the Preamble to the US Constitution on the left.   Brief signs/slogans are under the hands at the top.  On the right I quilted the First Amendment’s four freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and right to redress the government for grievances (which is what we were doing!  Democracy living and in action!), as well as more slogans and thoughts.

There were three huge signs in the shape of cats, maybe 4 feet tall, so I appropriated one of them to use.

Center left. I LOVED the quote attributed to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (I think I am falling in love with that woman!) and made sure she really did say it before including “Better bitch than mouse” as one of the signs.

By the way, I used Fabrico felt tip pens and Pitt Artist pens (brush and bullet tip) for the signs.

When I graduated from Georgetown University (in DC) in 1979, a t-shirt was popular that said “A woman’s place is in the House, and in the Senate.”  At the time, no woman had been elected (or maybe just one or two…I’m thinking Margaret Chase Smith and Nancy Landon) to the Senate that had not gotten there by taking her late husband’s seat.  It was still common to be told that a woman’s place was in the home and the kitchen, not the office.  Now I’ve said “A Woman’s place is in the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Oval Office!”

Center of the quilt. I was really pleased at how the dome turned out. I used my photo as my guide and sketched out the pattern, cut the shape (as usual I am using Mistyfuse on fabric and raw edge collage; the dome is a rare case of me using a print fabric instead of a batik. The peach-yellow hand on the left is my dyed fabric, the salmon-pink-purple on the right is Laura Wasilowski’s, from a fat quarter from a class I took with her.  The fabrics in the signs are mostly my hand-dyes.

The coat hanger sign is a combination of two such signs that I saw.   I loathe the idea of abortions. But when I was in my 20s, I was a US visa officer.   I was processing the paperwork for a British man’s visa based on his marriage to a US citizen.  When you do that, you need to establish that the marriage is legal and valid, so you need to see if there were any prior marriages and, if so, that they ended legally.  He was a widower.  To break the tedium, I used to look at cause of deaths when these cases came across my desk.  His first wife died of septicemia (blood poisoning) from a self-induced abortion (because it was illegal in the UK at that time). Ever since, I have stood for freedom of choice because there will ALWAYS be women who are that desperate, no matter how awful I or others believe abortion to be.  Moving on…back to the quilt.

Center right. I loved the take on the Don’t Tread on Me flag from revolutionary war times that turned the snake into a uterus and says Don’t Tread On Me (on left, on Laura Wasilowski’s fabric).  The big pink sign with Michelle Obama’s mantra is what I wore at the January 21, 2017 March on Washington.  That’s my DIL Ashley on the left in this photo, me on the right. I modified a sign carried by a Vermonter to read (in the sky writing) One Maine snowflake in a storm.

Center bottom right. A bit sharper photo.  In the bottom left, under the copyright, you can see a “ribbon.”  The center woman I think of as “Everywoman.”  Then there is Ashley (DIL) in braids, and me on the far right.  Ashley’s hand is the purple one at her right shoulder, mine is the blue one next to Ashley, one in from the corner.

Some generous unknown-to-me person who couldn’t go to DC made and gave away these ribbons to those from Maine who marched. It was done in the Mainer’s blaze/hunter orange. That was pretty bright for the front of my quilt, and I didn’t want it to distract from the imagery. So I scanned the ribbon into the computer, then in Photoshop darkened the color so that it would work visually on the front. THANK YOU whoever made these!

Far right. My friend Gail Galloway-Nicholson used to be the Curator for the Supreme Court so is as familiar with Capitol Hill as I am, if not more so from having worked there for a good bit of  her career..  I worked for a US Congressman for two years, and we also lived just two blocks behind the capitol (yes, I got to see our old house).  She asked me to carry her name in my pocket since she couldn’t go to the March. I did, and added the names of more friends (some I’ve only known via the internet and quilty stuff).  Thank you all for being there with me!   I love knowing you and that you wanted to be there in spirit and on the cloth!

So that is all the details, well, most of them, of what went into this quilt.  Don’t know if it will get juried in–I know there is some awesome art being made for this that doesn’t use the ubiquitous image–but I am glad I made it!

And I have decided to get involved volunteering for my Town of Hope, Maine.  I decided that one needs to put your time where your mouth is, and as the saying goes, all politics is local.   Here’s to giving back to my adopted-shoulda-been-born-here home state of Maine!

 

 

 

 

Baker’s Heaven: King Arthur Flour

Sunday, May 15th, 2016
Viewing window, the King Arthur Flour bakery. An air vent nearby was exuding the heavenly scent of rising bread.

Viewing window, the King Arthur Flour bakery. An air vent nearby was exuding the heavenly scent of rising bread.

During Eli’s Spring Break, after visiting his college, we decided to visit a Nature center in Vermont on the way home–a rather circuitous but enjoyable route.  And I discovered two places I totally love were on the way:  King Arthur Flour and Ben & Jerry’s!   Today, it’s baking:

Framed and in the hallway at the beautiful facility King Arthur has where they make flour, bread, have a cafe, a store (swoon), and host classes/workshops!

Framed and in the hallway at the beautiful facility King Arthur has where they make flour, bread, have a cafe, a store (swoon), and host classes/workshops!

The view as you drive up:

Turning in to the drive.

Turning in to the drive.

From the parking lot. Busy even on a mid-April weekday! Buildings are gorgeous!

From the parking lot. Busy even on a mid-April weekday! Buildings are gorgeous!

Panorama shot on my iPhone of the bakery

Panorama shot on my iPhone of the bakery

Panorama shot with the bakery at my back, of the cafe, hall to the shop, etc.

Panorama shot with the bakery at my back, of the cafe, hall to the shop, etc.  Jacquie–lunch here in June!

I’m happy that I’m taking a brief foray to Vermont Quilt Festival in late June and will stop and visit my friend Jacquie, and she’s agreed to go on a drive up to Norwich and visit.  She’ll be more amenable to browsing than my guys LOL!

 

 

Foto Friday, Silhouette

Friday, August 7th, 2015

This past weekend we went on a 4 1/2 day trip to Nova Scotia and home via New Brunswick.   Gardening work and unpacking and starting on an article has distracted me (gee, who me?) from blogging, but promise I will.  This past week’s lesson and challenge in the Ricky Tims 52 Week Photography Challenge class was silhouette.   I tried a lot of things, but due to travel wasn’t at a time/place where I could do sunrise or sunset silhouettes.  So I ended up submitting a photo of the rigging of the Bluenose II (the Bluenose original is on the Canadian dime) in Lunenburg harbor.   Right click on photos to see larger.

adjusted levels to darken the masts, smart sharpen.  Lightened the sky by adjusting the blues slightly.  Slightly cropped on the right. The Bluenose II, a replica of the Bluenose which is on the back of the Canadian dime.  Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  I liked the play of lines across the image.

adjusted levels to darken the masts, smart sharpen. Lightened the sky by adjusting the blues slightly. Slightly cropped on the right.
The Bluenose II, a replica of the Bluenose which is on the back of the Canadian dime. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I liked the play of lines across the image.

Major thanks to Valerie Hearder, an art quilter in Nova Scotia, for replying to my email and suggesting stops and things to see between Yarmouth and Mahone Bay and Peggy’s Cove.  More anon!

Lightened vignetting in the top corners, crunched levels to darken masts.  Punched up sky with vibrance. The Bluenose II, a reproduction of the Bluenose on the back of the Canadian dime.

Lightened vignetting in the top corners, crunched levels to darken masts. Punched up sky with vibrance.
The Bluenose II, a reproduction of the Bluenose on the back of the Canadian dime.

The masts to the tippy top of the Bluenose II.  Essentially no edits.

The masts to the tippy top of the Bluenose II. Essentially no edits.

Insalata, a Food for Thought Quilt

Friday, April 17th, 2015

A short while ago I shared with you a first peek at my new quilt, Insalata:

Insalata, (c) 2014  Sarah Ann Smith.  Premieres April 10, 2015, at the Food for Thought exhibit at the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Kentucky, USA.

Insalata, (c) 2014 Sarah Ann Smith. Premiered April 10, 2015, at the Food for Thought exhibit at the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Kentucky, USA.  Size:  40 x 42.5 inches.  For sale.

When I made the tomato quilts that were the featured project in my workshop DVD for Quilting Arts, From Photo to Threadwork, including fabric collage and machine quilting (see here for the DVD or here for download), I knew I had one more tomato quilt in me.

I grew up in a town called San Anselmo, California, and mom lived there until she moved to Maine in 2008.  She and two friends would go out for lunch once a month, and often went to a restaurant called Insalata.   So she took me there, too, when I visited.  I LOVED the Chicken Fattoush salad, inspired by Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean cuisine!  I also loved the artwork.  The restaurant is in a building that, when I was a kid, was the Crocker National Bank.  If you were alive in the 60s you remember those banks with the really high (like 2-story) ceilings!  What to do to decorate the place?  She painted the ceiling a dark brown, used something warm colored on the walls (don’t remember what) and had some over-sized paintings made including some of persimmons that were each larger than a beachball.  The canvas wasn’t stretched, but hung from gromments/hooks on the wall; these pieces were easily 4-5 feet tall and over 12 feet wide.

Detail of raffia "roots" on the shallots. Insalata by Sarah Ann Smith. (c) 2014

Detail of raffia “roots” on the shallots. Insalata by Sarah Ann Smith. (c) 2014  Click for larger view.

Detail photo 2, Insalata, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.  Click for larger image.

Detail photo 2, Insalata, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014. Click for larger image.

Each of the tomatoes is about the diameter of a beach ball!   So now I think I’ve finished with tomatoes.  For the time being.  Hope you enjoy!  And if you like this one, please be sure to visit the slideshow on the SAQA website of the entire Food for Thought exhibit, here.

The new Food for Thought catalog from Studio Art Quilt Associates.  Available to order here.

The new Food for Thought catalog from Studio Art Quilt Associates. Available to order here.

My pages in the catalog.  Great layout and design on the pages--love the enormous detail photo on the left.  The booklet is about 8.5 inches square.

My pages in the catalog. Great layout and design on the pages–love the enormous detail photo on the left. The booklet is about 8.5 inches square.

England beckons yet again: more in York

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

York was filled with inspiration wherever we went. Sunday was no exception:  fine needlework, illuminated artwork, inspiring architecture, Thomas the Tank, Harry Potter and best of all a day spent Anna W, a internet friend from a small group.  The day began with a visit to the York Minster, which is good because there was a good wind blowing–felt like early autumn not late summer.   Even though some parts of the Minster were off limits due to an issue with the security cameras not working we still had ample inspiration.

What a day, and it all began here, at the York Minster.  While in England, I learned that a "city" is a place with a cathedral, everything else is a town.  Makes total sense to me!

What a day, and it all began here, at the York Minster. While in England, I learned that a “city” is a place with a cathedral, everything else is a town. Makes total sense to me!

Since there are so many photos in this post, I think I’ll just comment below each photo:

On the way to the minster, we passed yet another pub with glorious flowerboxes and a wonderful sign.

On the way to the minster, we passed yet another pub with glorious flowerboxes and a wonderful sign.

Guy Fawkes day is a big celebration day in Britain,

Guy Fawkes day is a big celebration day in Britain, celebrated (according to Wikipedia) on November 5, where “his effigy is traditionally burned in a bonfire. ” You might also wonder where you’ve heard that name (if your not English that is):  That was the name of Dumbledore’s phoenix in the Harry Potter books.  Get it, the phoenix is reborn by going up in flames?

The inside of the big doors on the West face of the Minster and Eli, not so happy that I'm taking yet another  photo of him.  That's what moms do, kiddo!

The inside of the big doors on the West face of the Minster and Eli, not so happy that I’m taking yet another photo of him. That’s what moms do, kiddo!  Plus, those strap hinges are great inspiration for quilting designs.

Illuminated map and lettering--Val Webb, thought of you!

Illuminated map and lettering–Val Webb, thought of you and your fabulous Watercolor Lettering class.  This looks like gouache and gold leaf.

A close up

A close up–just STUNNING!  Love the artwork.  Notice on the left where it shows the chapel dedicated to the women of Britain who served during the wars.

Part of the stitchery on the altar cloth.  England has an incredible tradition of embroidery.

Part of the stitchery on the altar cloth. England has an incredible tradition of embroidery. Yes, that’s stitching, not paint!

And I "do" dragons, and loved this one.

And I “do” dragons, and loved this one. More design inspiration.

Just tilt your head sideways....

Just tilt your head sideways….an angel for Marie.  Have no idea why this flipped sideways!

Tapestry

Needlepoint kneeler and seat cushions in a chapel

Madonna and child

Madonna and child in cloth.  Art quilts eveywhere!

Up under the soaring roof are the ribs, the supports for the ceiling.  When part of one nave of the church was restored some years back, they had to make new bosses, the designs at the intersections.  Children were asked to enter designs in a competition, and this one of man walking on the moon was included.  Totally awesome way to restore yet include contemporary life, which is totally in keeping with how the churches were built and how they keep in touch with contemporary life.

Up under the soaring roof are the ribs, the supports for the ceiling. Glad my camera has a superzoom! When part of one nave of the church was restored some years back, they had to make new bosses, the designs at the intersections. Children were asked to enter designs in a competition, and this one of man walking on the moon was included. Totally awesome way to restore yet include contemporary life, which is totally in keeping with how the churches were built and how they keep in touch with contemporary life.

Antique storage chest for the Bishop's vestments, and more design inspiration in the hinges.   The capes/cloaks (don't know what they are called officially) fold into triangular wedges, then are stored in here.

Antique storage chest for the Bishop’s vestments, and more design inspiration in the hinges. The capes/cloaks (don’t know what they are called officially) fold into triangular wedges, then are stored in here.

Design inspiration in  a floor grate even!

Design inspiration in a floor grate even!

And I "do" bats as well.  Anything that eats mosquitoes is a friend of mine (yes, spiders also).  Loved this boss!  More design inspiration!

And I “do” bats as well. Anything that eats mosquitoes is a friend of mine (yes, spiders also). Loved this boss! More design inspiration!

asdf

The massive stained glass window that faces east is being restored.  Bit by bit as the work is done, the actual panels are being displayed at floor level.

And another angel for Marie Z. from said window.

And another angel for Marie Z. from said window.

And if you wonder why they call it a great window, this explains it.  The window is the size of a **tennis court**!!!!

And if you wonder why they call it a great window, this explains it. The window is the size of a **tennis court**!!!!

By then we were pretty much churched out, and decided to walk a portion of the medieval walls of the old city of York.  Anna led the way.  I was petrified.  I am not afraid of heights as much as I am of falling (and wait until you see my brave pics from the top of St. Paul's in London at the end of the trip).  This may have required more nerve, tho, as there were no railings on the left.  In the US there would have been cement barricades defacing the walk (to keep the litigious and the lawyers at bay).

By then we were pretty much churched out, and decided to walk a portion of the medieval walls of the old city of York. Anna led the way. I was petrified. I am not afraid of heights as much as I am of falling (and wait until you see my brave pics from the top of St. Paul’s in London at the end of the trip). This may have required more nerve, tho, as there were no railings on the left. In the US there would have been cement barricades defacing the walk (to keep the litigious and the lawyers at bay).  We didn’t do the whole thing due to time and, frankly, my nerves!

And lovely rooftops on the walk--would make a great quilt!

And lovely rooftops on the walk–would make a great quilt!

We had a lovely lunch and tea, and Eli kindly took this photo of me with Anna.   The sweater she is wearing is one she made and is FAB.  As you can see, though, the wind had abated and it started to warm up a little.

We had a lovely lunch and tea, and Eli kindly took this photo of me with Anna. The sweater she is wearing is one she made and is FAB. As you can see, though, the wind had abated and it started to warm up a little.

We walked Anna back to the train station (she lives about an hour away from York and came all the way to meet us!)

We walked Anna back to the train station (she lives about an hour away from York and came all the way to meet us!).  Next to the station is the Railway Museum, so had to take a selfie with Thomas the Tank since Joshua and I read those books and watched the videos.   Saving the books for some future decade and grandkids!

We were lucky--the "Hogwarts Express" engine was on the sidings at the museum--it is still a working engine so sometimes is out working!

We were lucky–the “Hogwarts Express” engine was on the sidings at the museum–it is still a working engine so sometimes is out working!

The actual Platform 9 3/4 sign from the Harry Potter museums is here, not at King's Cross Station, so I'm pretending to push my cart.  Thanks again to Eli for being my photographer!

The actual Platform 9 3/4 sign from the Harry Potter museums is here, not at King’s Cross Station, so I’m pretending to push my cart. Thanks again to Eli for being my photographer!

This was too cool not to photograph, also in the Railway Museum.

This was too cool not to photograph, also in the Railway Museum.  I think it came fro a station somewhere, but can’t read my photo of the signage.

And some of the engines.  That green one with the bump looks JUST like Percy, my favorite engine from the Thomas the Tank books.  Percy is such a sweet personality, always trying hard even if the task seems beyond his abilities--he always tries, and does so cheerfully.   Methinks I need another visit to York to include more time as this was just about a half hour quick visit!

And some of the engines. That green one with the bump looks JUST like Percy, my favorite engine from the Thomas the Tank books. Percy is such a sweet personality, always trying hard even if the task seems beyond his abilities–he always tries, and does so cheerfully. Methinks I need another visit to York to include more time as this was just about a half hour quick visit!

So that’s Sunday in York.  Monday will take us to–DREAM–the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.   Think Thomas the Tank steam engines, Hogsmeade (Harry Potter), and the moors from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.   Stay tuned!