Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Day of Creativity

We've got a full day of creativity planned at French General on Saturday, April 21st from 10-5! Our morning workshop will feature Mavis Leahy, a local Los Angeles fiber artist, who creates mixed media, textile collage and assemblage from vintage materials and found objects. My friend Penny first introduced me to Mavis, by way of her quilted collages. Each of the pieces are layered and seem to tell so many different stories. The above piece, Starcrossed, was the first textile collage I saw - and I fell in love. In our Saturday morning workshop, Mavis will bring her stash of antique fabric and trims and we will be creating a Red on Red Textile Collage, utilizing Victorian sewing techniques to create our own wall hanging.
Saturday afternoon features Denise Hahn, another friend and artist, who will be visiting from Long Beach to teach her Sew Romantic Necklace Lariat Workshop. Denise has attended classes at French General (with her mom!) so it will be a treat to have her come and teach. Denise's art includes altered art, paper crafting, mixed media and jewelry making - but her true love is teaching - sharing what she makes with others. In the Sew Lariat Workshop we will be learning to create a steel hammered linked necklace and then embellish with vintage sewing notions. As always, all materials, supplies and tools are supplied at French General workshops.
Sign up here for one or both workshops - see you in April!

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Quilt and then Another....

I found an old quilt at a flea market a couple of weeks ago. And although I will look at ANY old quilt, I didn't think I needed to add this quilt to my collection. It was hand tied and the fabric looked like early 20th century - small madder prints. The back, on the other hand, was a bit more appealing - it looked like a 19th century French floral linen. So then I asked myself - do I really want to purchase this quilt just for the fabric on the back - was it worth the $85 the vendor wanted? Then, somehow, as I was examining it closer, I noticed the second quilt - the quilt underneath the original quilt. At first I thought I was seeing things - was I really looking at a whole cloth turkey red paisley? I had never seen a quilt with a print anything like this - and it looked like it was on both sides! The vendor started coming in closer - not liking the fact that I was carefully lifting up the corner of the top quilt to see what was underneath. I snapped a quick picture and he was right behind me saying - "Delete that picture". I said "I was just trying to get a better look at what was underneath" - he growled "Buy it or delete it". At that point, I was so excited that I had found two quilts in one that I quickly paid him the money, grabbed the quilt and ran home!
Here's the French floral linen and the indigo border:
And here's the indigo border, the French floral linen, and the turkey red paisley peeking out from underneath:
I spent the whole weekend picking apart this quilt - luckily it was tied and not quilted. Picking away, I found four different cloths attached to this quilt: the top patchwork piece, the blue floral linen, an indigo border and the turkey red paisley. When I finally finished, hours later, I realized that someone had decided to save this beautiful quilt by simply adding another over the top. I imagined this stunning turkey red quilt was used till it was thread-worn, it has small patches of brown calico covering the big tears. Finally, the lady of the house said "Enough! - I'll go to the market and purchase some linen to cover the back side", and when that proved not to support the aging quilt, she, or maybe her daughter (?) pieced together a patchwork top and hand-tied it on. Whether it was done out of necessity or to preserve history - I was now the lucky owner of this cloth and I studied it for days!
The turkey red paisley - found on both sides of the quilt underneath the original quilt:
To the best of my knowledge, this turkey red paisley seems to be French and anything similar I found in my textile books dates from 1810-1820. They also manufactured similar prints in England around 1850 - but the detail on this print, and the dye colors make me think it is French. I am not sure about the patchwork top - it looks American to me and quite a bit later. So did this quilt travel from France to America? Who knows...but I have really enjoyed taking it apart piece by piece and trying to put it all back together again...if only quilts could talk!
Here are the four pieces that came off of the quilt:
Any ideas or comments as to what this quilt might be? I would love more information about these fabrics so I can continue to put this quilted story together!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Trip to Ireland

About a month ago, my friend John Cohn, asked me if I wanted to go to Ireland for four days.  It sounded a bit crazy - but he had won a trip to Dublin - everything included.  I said why not and he told me the only stipulation was that I couldn't bring a thing - nothing - nada.  So, last Saturday, off we went to the airport - with nothing but the clothes on our back - and a tube of lipstick tucked in my pocket!  When we arrived in Dublin, our cab driver Seamus asked us where our luggage was...we told him we didn't bring any.....he laughed so hard and said in his "turty" years of driving a cab, no one had ever arrived from America without a bag.  He immediately began calling his friends and family members and relaying the story - keeping one eye on the road and laughing all the while.  Once the novelty had worn off - he dropped us off at O'Neals Pub, in the center of town and we went in and had ourselves a hearty Irish Breakfast.

Next stop,  we visited the Guinness Storehouse - which completely changed my idea of what an exhibition should be - ancient, authentic building, large, readable type, interactive and clear sound.  I was so inspired!  Learning to pour a pint and drinking Guinness in the Gravity Bar was also a treat.  Throughout the week,  we visited the Jamison Distillery, Dublin Castle, Trinity College and St. Patricks Cathedral.  Oh...and we shopped for a few necessities - a change of clothes and some walking shoes!
One morning, we woke up early and walked over to Adam's Auction House - next door to the Shelbourne Hotel.  We registered our names and picked up a paddle - hoping to find some old textiles in Dublin.  Within minutes of the auction starting, a spoon came up for sale.  It was a  George II Irish Hanoverian Pattern Hash Spoon - 1754 - and sold for 12,000 euros!  Finally, a textile came up that I fell in love with - unfortunately it was upholstered to a 19th century English settee. I snapped a few photos of the print - which I think would make a beautiful pattern in a quilting collection.
It was a fun four days in Dublin - we walked all over - were inspired by everything - just the kind of break I needed!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Day of Paper Arts and Crafts

Years ago,  at a dinner party, I met a woman named Joan Bunte.  Joan took me under her wing and has kept me there ever since - pushing me to do more... design paper, teach more, and basically put myself out there...something I avoided for many years.  For the past twenty years, Joan has owned a scrapbooking shop in Claremont, California called Stamp Your Heart Out, where she stocks the shelves with all of the latest and greatest paper supplies, stamps, and creative bits and pieces for people to create with.  Joan also hosts weekly workshops taught by visiting teachers and her fabulous employees.  It is always a good day when I make my way out to Claremont for a day of festivities at Joan's shop.  To coincide with the debut of our new paper arts line with Jolee's Boutique, Joan and her staff are hosting a day of all things French General - crafting, creating, eating and lots of inspiration!  If you live in the Los Angeles area, or might be visiting on Sunday, April 15th - please plan to come out for the day!  Sign ups and information are here.  See you in Claremont!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Turkey Red Damask and the Weaver's Wife

Three words I never knew I would write together - turkey red damask. And then, digging at a flea market, I found this....

Twenty one differnt turkey red damask scraps sewn together to make a tablecloth, picnic blanket or panel? Maybe it was sewn together by the wife of a mill weaver - he brought home a scrap of everything he was able to weave on the loom for posterity.   I think the graphics and different odd shapes make this a real find - and I love how all of the reds are the same hue. I don't know if it's American, French or English...but I'm loving it and can see a great cheater cloth for a Moda collection!

More details and history of Turkey Red Damask from Martha.