Friday, April 29, 2011

The Rug Auction

Ever since we moved to California eight years ago, by way of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada I have had a weakness for good old Navajo rugs. I remember picking up my first Ganado style rug at the Hubbell Trading Post and I've been picking them up ever since. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a tiny ad in the Los Angeles Times about an American Indian Auction being held in Pasadena - and I knew I had to go. I walked into the room and I instantly felt I had found my people and my rugs. Ganado, Klagatoh, Crystal, Two Gray Hills - all were represented by an old auctioneer and his family of traders.

I set my sights on a couple of beauties and picked up a paddle thinking I would dabble in the auction if the prices were reasonable. The auction started out with some sterling and turquoise jewelry from the twenties - "Who'll give me a hundred, a hundred, a hundred, ok - seventy five, seventy five, seventy five - no? Ok - fifty, fifty, fifty" - and finally someone would raise their paddle and the auctioneer would yell "SOLD!"

So, when it came time for the rugs - I half expected a similar pattern - but what I heard was "Who'll give me three fifty, three fifty, three fifty - no? Ok - move it out" Move it out? - but I thought there was going to be more of a game - what about 300 or 250 or 200? Sadly, no. What I learned at the American Indian Auction that day is that Navajo rugs are not given away - they are prized for their craft, beauty and history and there is a buyer who will always pay for a good rug.

When the next rug came up for auction, I was ready. The auctioneer said, "Who'll give me three fifty, three fifty, three fifty?" I slowly raised my paddle.  SOLD! No bargaining, no bidding war, just me and the auctioneer. The result.... I am now the proud owner of a 1900 handwoven, wool, Crystal style rug (gulp). I guess I'll have to hit the road and see if I can find a bargain the next time. I'm thinking about a rug tour - a van, a tent and the open road, headed towards Taos.  Anyone?  Anyone?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Down By the Sea Workshop

I'm heading up towards Santa Barbara on Saturday, May 7th to teach this lovely necklace and earring set at Summerland Mercantile. Run by friends, Cathy Mogull and Stacey Crenshaw, Summerland Mercantile is an atelier, workshop and market filled with vintage finds, creative crafts and great food.

Join us for the day - sign up here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Lure of Catalina Island

Growing up in Southern California, I could see the island of Catalina from our backyard. As a kid, we used to go over for the day to explore the island, run around, camp, and basically feel like we were in another world - just for a couple of days. This past week, Sofia JZ and I headed over on the ferry, the Catalina Express, for a short break - just 26 miles from Palos Verdes Peninsula.

I hadn't been to the island since 8th grade, when our whole class played hooky and spent the day on the tiny beach tanning (burning) ourselves in preparation for our graduation. The first think I noticed about the island were the beautiful, colorful tiles that seemed to be everywhere - along the walkways to the casino, on the beach benches and throughout the botanical gardens. 1920-1930 tile designs had been preserved or restored and gave the island a vintage feel - almost like nothing had changed since the twenties when Hollywood stars used to go over and dance at the casino for a night or two.

We found a couple of good restaurants - Sofia enjoyed her first pound and a half lobster, after she figured out how to eat it - and there were plenty of cafes serving the local fish. A visit to Catalina wouldn't be complete without a Pacifica and a basket of fish and chips, doused with vinegar, from the pier.

Pondering why I wasn't doing one thing everyday that scared me, I decided to join Sofia and JZ on a parasailing adventure one afternoon. Flying 1200 feet into the air, we were pulled by a small boat which gave us a birds eye view of all of Avalon. Slightly unnerving, but eventually exciting, we were amazed to see the dolphins and seals swimming below us.

A perfect three day vacation, within an hour from Los Angeles - the lure of Catalina is still as strong as ever - I can't wait to go back!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Block Printing Workshop

Come learn the creative techniques of block printing! Wood block printing on wallpaper become famous in France at the end of the 18th century. ZUBER & Cie claims to be the last factory in the world to produce woodblock printed wallpapers and furnishing fabrics...oh to get into that basement!
On Saturday, April 30th we will learn how to carve an image on a rubber block, what kind of inks to use and how to print an image on paper and fabric. Join artist Laura Palm as she teaches us about this antique method used to print text, images or patterns on textiles and paper. Bring in your own image to transfer onto the block or design your own in class - maybe you'll be inspired to print a roll of wallpaper!
Sign up here for this new French General workshop.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hyperbolic Coral Reef Coming to Town!

The Autry National Center, here in Los Angeles, has awarded Margaret and Christine Wertheim, co-creators of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, the first Theo Westenberger Grant for Women of Excellence, an honor that recognizes “innovation in any field of art” by a living female artist. On Saturday, April 30th the sisters will present a lecture about their five year project building a community project to help save our coral reefs.

Who would have thought that crocheting would lead to solving a 200-year-old geometry problem and then become a crocheting phenomenon. Designed and curated by The Institute For Figuring, Margaret and Christine have taught women throughout the world how to crochet a coral reef. By engaging local communities to crochet coral reefs, they have celebrated their beautiful diversity and addressed the urgent need to protect these vanishing ecosystems.

From the sisters' blog:

Check out Margaret Wertheim speaking about the beautiful math of coral on Ted Talks - one of my favorite places on the web for information and inspiring ideas.

More information for the Autry discussion on April 30th can be found here - hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Woad is Me!

What a day we had this past Saturday - our Woad Workshop in Elysian Park was as magical as I could have hoped for!
Friday was a different story! I was a little worried, after Denise, our master dyer, had arrived in Los Angeles from France, called me and said pray for me - "pray for you?" - "no", she said, "pray for the mother vat." It turns out, a woad vat does not just appear with a bit of powdered blue dye and a bucket of water. Denise arrived at my kitchen early Friday morning and for the next six hours, she and JZ performed alchemy like I have not seen before! A little bit of this, a little bit of that, a bunch of gurgling in old pots, oh and where's the powdered lime wash? A few frantic runs to the hardware store, paint store and a building supply store and, voila! The mother vat was finished! What a vat it was - I hadn't seen such depth to the color blue since I began woading two summers ago!
Saturday was meant to rain, but the clouds parted ways and the sun shone throughout the day! We had over 1,000 feet of laundry line hung in the park and we dyed over 500 pieces of material - including skeins of wool, linen pants, hankerchiefs and shoes! Everyone learned something new and we all felt a kinship towards each other that one only gets with spending five hours in a field together. Thank you Denise for coming and thank you to all of the students who took a chance and signed up for our very first Woad Workshop - we're ready starting to plan the next one - are you coming??

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Number of Blue

800 Feet of Laundry Line
500 Clothes Pins
100 Gloves
45 Blue Aprons
40 Students
20 Garden Sticks
7 Vats
5 Helpers
2 Editors
1 Dye Master

We did it! We sold out of our Woad Workshop to be held this coming Saturday in Elysian Park - praying for clear skies and dry ground, we plan to spend eight hours in the park learning about the medieval plant that has been brought 5,870 miles from the South of France to Los Angeles! Now if we can just try to dye the 14 different shades of blue - we'll have a wonderful day!