The most delicious thing about living in a big city is discovering the small creative treasures it holds. My daughter discovered this one and brought me there on this slushy sunny February day. St-Hubert Street in Montreal is one place you will find fabric and trim. I did not expect to find an absurdist theater/button boutique!
Button store by day, Ionesco theater by night. Buttons and ribbons are organized along the walls by colour. Not only beautiful but handy.
There are art treasures everywhere, a case of painted eggs with creepy creatures crawling out, a painted ceiling, and not to be missed, the owner, M. Letendre's private collection of buttons under glass. In the back of the store is a small stage.
When they are in production, black curtains are pulled across the ribbons and buttons, displays are wheeled to the side, chairs are set up and Voilà! théâtre. If you are in Montreal, love colour, serendipity and/or Ionesco, you must visit:
7363, rue St-Hubert, Montréal
You too can sink your hand into the treasure chest.
If you can not visit the boutique you can visit their blog: http://rubansboutons.blogspot.com/
It is February, suicide prevention month. I live in Montreal. Need I say more? There a few things that work for my mental health during these winter months. One is exercise, gotta love those endorphins. Another is my full spectrum lamp I sit with for 20 minutes every morning. And a very important one is colour. This time of year here all colour ranges from white to black with all the shades of grey in between. No green grass, no orange leaves, no purple flowers, maybe a very pale blue sky but it is usually white. Desert for the soul. February often evokes in me an urge to dye everything in sight. This year it is drawing with thread.
When I am working on a piece on the long arm machine, I have decided to add very large side leaders to test tension and practice designs. It also gives me a chance to doodle,sketch and generally mess around. I use muslin or in some cases the fabric I will be quilting. The piece I am working on now is the first one where I have used silk and silk thread so I put a piece of the same silk in the leader to test thread.
The Iris pattern I copied from a piece of antique lace that will be added to the finished work.
I sew the leaders on with dissolvable thread. Once the piece is off the frame, just squirt with water and rip them off. Most of the muslin pieces I then cut up and make into coasters and place mats. I think these two will become small pieces on their own. This is inspired by a design on some antique French fabric I have.
My daughter who shares the studio with me came in after her classes. "Am I allowed to have this much fun?" I asked. She assured me I am. Thank the goddess for daughters and colour.
When I meet friends who live in the country, they always seem to feel sorry for me because I live in a big city. Certainly the earth is beautiful and I enjoy visiting less developed areas. I grew up in a place of great beauty and never got tired of soaking it into my eyes. I did get tired of being stuck in the mud or not having easy access to big cultural events. I love living in a big city and find beauty everywhere. Here is one of my favorite Montreal urban spaces.
The death of a young person is such a tragedy. My children (thank the goddess) are safe right now but so many are not. It was heart wrenching to hear Amy Winehouse's father say good night to his angel daughter. In the heart of a parent, whatever the child does in life, we remember the purity of our child's soul and the gifts they have to offer the world. I listened to that amazing voice of hers over and over during the weeks following her death and cried.
Besides being flooded with images of children starving and suffering in Somalia, I have been watching a dear friend being confronted with suicide attempts of her grown daughter. Her anguish and desperation are terrible to see. All I can do is offer her shelter. And most recently, I received the news that a childhood friend of mine had lost her oldest son. No mother wants to imagine this and yet in our darkest hours we do. I was immersed in sadness and robbed of words of comfort. How could there be any comfort left in the world when your child dies?
I took my sadness into the studio. This allowed me to spend some quiet days being with all my feelings and memories. I started with printing onto fabric a photo I have of the moon above a white lotus.
The darkness was rich and the light luminous. As it seems to always happen, the shapes, fabrics, stitching all made themselves known as I went along. It was finished and photographed and I was still wondering what to call it. The tear drop shape comes back in the stitching and the moon appears to be crying. I think that when ever a child dies, every mother, the moon and the earth cry. The tears water the lotus of compassion in the heart. Tears of the Mother.
It had been storming, thundering and pouring rain. As I was sewing the last inch of the label on the back, it was suddenly quiet. I looked up to see this magical scene.
This is how it is to move through the storm of grief.
Here is a little update on what I am calling for now Seventh Heaven or Septième Ciel. First order of business was to create a clean cozy space for my biodynamic cranial practice. I had clients scheduled in a week! My lovely thanka of White Tara to guide and inspire, a screen to hide the ugly electrical box, a soft rug, Ikea white curtains and... Voila! Zen space. I was concerned clients would be put off by the industrial building. Once up there all seem to love it. It is like being in the sky.
A peek around the curtains...And NOT so zen space
When I got a long arm quilting machine, I chose the 18 inch INNOVA on a 10 foot frame. That was all that would fit in my ex-dining room. She looks so small in the new studio!
The window washer didn't quite believe me over the phone when I said it was a 2 day job. 32 horrendously dirty double windows later he was convinced. What a difference! Thank you G. Foam puzzle tiles save my back and legs from the hard cement floors. Found a long cutting table and some industrial shelving from someone going out of business downstairs.
I tried duct taping a piece of batting to the wall for design wall. It has since blown down after a windy day with windows open. Will have to think of another idea.
Amazing J is putting in plumbing and fixtures for a kitchen and a dying area
It is finally summer in Montreal. Here is the view from behind my INNOVA.
The plants and I love being in our big sunny space.
OK, I am a bad blogger. Haven't posted since winter on the beach and now it is almost summer solstice. Well, I haven't been doing much sewing. The rest of winter and spring was taken up with the business of my husband and I purchasing our apartment and me renting a studio.
It may seem odd to be buying a home and starting a new career in my late 50s. And of course there is some fear and trepidation around it all. Isn't there always? The twin dreams of owning my own home and having my own professional studio space are manifesting as our twin daughters are taking flight. On to new projects and new horizons.
When I rented it in March, the studio was a big white empty space, lots of very dirty windows and an amazing view of the city. It is big enough to have an ample corner for my bodywork practice as well be a studio/gallery space for my textile art.
Being in the empty space reminded me of the joy of being in the vastness.
May we all remember to take some time to be with the emptiness that waits for creation.
A friend has been asking what our strategies are for beating the winter blues. I have many but this year I am fortunate to do the best one....escape to a warm beach for 3 weeks.
Now, one can not spend ALL day basking and reading and swimming in clear turquoise waters can one? No, one needs a project.
I just happened to watch a video of Susan Carlson (www.susancarlson.com/) on The Quilt Show (www.thequiltshow.com) demonstrating her collage technique using glue. Perfect. This could also be an exercise in working with value for me. I DO have bags and bags full of tiny scraps from all my projects. I wanted to take my whole studio. What if I needed that one scrap of silver or that purple with the gold bee? How could I leave all those precious pieces behind? I decided it would be an exercise in working with what I have at hand and brought some packets of batik jelly rolls and 5 inch squares I have been collecting. So here is the work in progress.
I am finding not enough contrast in value and colour in the batiks. Colour and value are not absolutes. Both depend on what they are next to. It seems to me the batiks are too similar. We'll see. I am however having a lot of fun. Stay tuned and please send your comments and advice.
Creating with texture and colour brings me joy. I make art quilts for the wall or for the bed. My work is full of colour and light, inspired by nature and my rich inner life. I can design a custom piece for your home or office.