Calendar Quilt Series: My Spring Mini Quilts

I love sewing bags and other functional items because seeing people use my work makes me happy. At the same time, however, I’m just as passionate about creating fine art. In the first couple of years after starting ANY Texture, I made quite a lot of the first. Sadly, I hardly got to work on the latter. My sewing time is usually quite limited. Making an art quilt requires many days or even weeks. Between trying to prepare for fairs and maintaining my Etsy store, I simply didn’t have enough time for both. I ended up completing only three art quilts in two or three years (“Give a Hand,” “Falling Leaves,” and “Dare!“). I desperately wanted to make more.

Last fall I resolved to creating one small quilt a month. I decided to make one 12″ x 12″ art quilt for each month of the year. I hoped that this would get me into a routine of creating fine textile art, and would get my creative juices flowing.

I’m several months into this self-imposed challenge, and so far I’ve been enjoying it tremendously. Working on these quilts forces me to think of what each month means to me. It allows me to play with colors, textures and shapes. It also turned out to be a great source of comfort at a personally difficult time: since my father’s unexpected passing in March, I haven’t been able to return to my sewing room on a regular basis. I did, however, force myself to work on the monthly quilts, and found much solace in that slow, meditative work.

Recently I completed the third and last of my spring mini quilts. I thought this would be a good time to tell you more about them.

My Spring Mini Quilts: Influenced by Nature

“Rebirth,” My March Quilt

I live in California. The state suffered from an eight-year-long drought that officially ended on March 5th of this year. After many years of hardly any rain and strict water restrictions, we finally had a really wet winter. I will never complain about rain again, but this last winter did feel long and dreary at times…

We don’t get snow where I live, but it does get cold and dark and–this year, finally!–wet. Many trees lose their leaves, and there are no flowers to be seen. Its nice to stay indoors and hibernate, but as the weeks stretch on one begins to wonder whether the winter will ever end.

I have a garden where I spend many hours when possible. When I look at my deciduous trees over winter, bare for months on end, a little part at the back of my mind wonders whether they will all wake up come spring. I worry that some might not. Over the years, two of our trees actually didn’t. One died a couple of years ago, and the other this very year. And so, for me, March is a time when I hold my breath, so to speak. I always experience a sense of great relief when I see the first buds forming on trees, and when the first flowers erupt. There is a kind of reassurance in the awakening of trees, in the end of a long dormancy. For me, therefore, March is all about the gradual awakening of nature, and the the sigh of relief that accompanies it. 

This is what my March quilt is all about. It is dominated by the various browns of still mostly-bare trees, punctured by the bright pinks of freshly-blooming flowers, and the gold of newly-emerging young leaves. I call this quilt “Rebirth.” 

“Lush,” My April Quilt

By April, shrubs and perennials start to stir, too. Plants grow fresh leaves, often in light greens and lime greens. The first flowers add pops of color to the world, attempting to erase the browns and grays of winter. Weeds, too are happiest that month.

After I returned home from mourning my father, I spent several days in the garden pulling out waist-high weeds. My father was an amazing gardener, who taught me everything I know about plants. Working outside, surrounded by fresh greenery, some of which he planted for me, was a kind of catharsis, a medicine for my aching heart. 

My April quilt is dominated by the fresh greens of early spring, sparkled with pops of new blooms. It also has some of the curves of fragrant peas, which dominated my garden this year. I call it “Lush.”

“Bloom,” My May Quilt

May is my favorite month of the year. It is the peak of spring, full of colors and smells. This is the month in which my garden puts on its best show; when all my flowers are at their best. This is when I see results for all the work I put into the garden in the fall, when my efforts to paint the world with flowers bear fruit. Everything in my garden feels vibrant and alive, humming with buzzing insects. In May I gladly trade my sewing machine for hoes and pruners, and spend as much time in the garden as I possibly can.

Oh, did you know that my favorite color is purple, and that so very many flowers just happen to be exactly that?? Essentially, May provided the best possible excuse to make a quilt in the colors I like most! I call this one “Bloom,” and I’m sure you see why.

So, what do you think? Did my spring mini quilts succeed in capturing the essence of the months they represent?

 

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Nevertheless, It Persisted

A couple of weeks ago my family and I went on our first local hike of the season. We’ve been reading about the California superbloom that followed last winter’s record-breaking precipitation, and hoped to catch a glimpse of some local wildflowers. Sadly, we soon realized that the wave of bloom hasn’t yet reached this far north. We did see one or two large flowers, as well as fields of tiny, hardly-noticeable ones. But this was not even close to what we expected.

Still, being outdoors is always rewarding. We enjoyed the freshness of the air, the awakening of winter-dormant plants, and the many different greens. Our hearts widened by the sight of a rambling river, one that actually had plenty of water, for after several years of drought we were already used to dry river beds.

And then, as we turned a bend, I saw this:

I stopped and looked at this tree for quite some time. Its strong visual presence was striking. The tree masterfully occupied the space around it, like an actor on a stage. It was as beautiful as a statue. I admired the perfect symmetry between its bare canopy and its roots. I enjoyed its dark silhouette against the sky.

There were also some sinister notes, however. It looked as if the rug was pulled from under this tree’s feet, so to speak. Perhaps the strong rains that filled the river with water also caused a mud slide that carried half of the hill away. The scene created a sense of a brewing calamity. A part of me didn’t want my kids to stay close to this tree for too long.

Yet, despite the unfortunate circumstances, this plant kept clinging to its spot. It kept hanging on with all its might. It held as if its life depended on it, which it did. The tree defied losing half the hill. It braved the exposure of half of its roots. Nevertheless, it persisted. And its budding leaves proved that it was prevailing against the odds.

I could not help but admire this tree. I thought that perhaps we all have something to learn from it.

Getting Into Spring Mode: A Visit to Filoli Gardens

I love to travel near and far to explore beautiful places. Every now and then, however, I am surprised to discover new gems right in my back yard. This happened last week, when a friend took me to one of her favorite places: Filoli Gardens in Woodside. I lived around here nearly half my life, yet did not even know about this place. Once there, I couldn’t believe I had never visited before.

Filoli Gardens

Filoli was the country estate of a wealthy San Francisco gold-mine owner. He purchased the land shortly after the big 1906 earthquake, when many rich people chose to leave the city. The construction of his mansion began in 1915, but the development of its gardens took a few more decades. A subsequent owner continued expanding the gardens, bringing them to what they are today. That second owner donated the estate to the public in the 1970’s. Consequently, it is now open for all to enjoy. Telling by the crowds, it seems that a lot of people do, indeed, enjoy it.

When I visited last week, the gardens were full of tulips in all colors and shapes, giving it the feel of a spring wonderland:

Percy, the vain resident peacock, was an added bonus:

Peacock at Filoli Gardens

The combined effect of colorful gardens, grand house and peacock was truly breathtaking. Admittedly, seeing these meticulous gardens made me feel somewhat self-conscious about my own garden. I had to remind myself that this site is maintained by a large paid team of gardeners together with hundreds of volunteers, whereas I try to fight the weeds all on my own…

My friend and I spent a lovely morning in Filoli. We marveled at the various gardens (in addition to the tulips there are also a camillia garden, a rose garden and a fruit-tree garden). We enjoyed the beautiful weather, had lunch at the cafe, and checked out the gift shop.

Me at Filoli Gardens

All that fresh air, combined with the lively blossoms, put me in spring mode. Energized, I wanted to run right back to my sewing room. Hence, the resulting greeting cards are probably  just the beginning of my spring sewing:

ANYTexture purple tulips card, fabric greeting card ANYTexture pink flower card, fabric greeting card

If you’d like to see the estate and enjoy its flowers, too, you can start planning your visit here.

Year of the Weed: Spring in My Garden

I’m not sure how it got here so fast, but March is upon us already. Spring will officially start this weekend, with the move of the clock. It was a great relief, after four long years of drought, to finally have a rainy winter in California. Not just any rainy winter, mind you, but a record-breaking one at that! Our water reservoirs are now full and overflowing, and our snow-caps are at record deep. We sure needed the water, but many of us were no longer used to the long stretches of dreary, wet weather. Recently, however, the days of rain have started to be interrupted by longer and longer intervals of sunshine, and hints of spring are all about us.

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The Joy of Shopping at Farmers’ Markets: Sewing Market Totes

You can get pretty much anything your heart desires in the area where I live. This is courtesy of big ships from China and planes carrying goods from all over the world. But the shopping itself is … well, something you usually want to just get done with as quickly as possible. Big chain stores are loaded with merchandise. The huge spaces, cold neon lights and linoleum/neutral-carpeted floors, however, make you want to grab your necessities and run out. Not to mention that horrid music… Even the upscale, beautiful stores are somewhat too clean, too arranged, too sterile. They make you feel like you’re in yet another pharmacy. The liveliness that is present in some shopping options in other parts of the world is simply not there.

The closest exception to this are the farmer’s’ markets that continuously  grow in popularity. I am lucky to live in a town that has a large, year-round farmers’ market. It operates one morning each weekend. Shopping there is not cheap by any means. With $12 bread loaves and pricey vegetables, it can probably out-price even Whole Foods. Yet, I try to go whenever I can. Every time I do I find the place crowded with people. In fact, the crowds are part of the attraction. I enjoy looking at the flow of people, and am happy whenever I bump into someone I know. This happens almost every time.

The outdoors shopping is a pleasant change, especially in spring and summer. I find that the natural light enhances the beauty of the fruit, vegetables and flowers. True, the pharmacy-like culture is evident here, too, with everything being a little too-neatly arranged and too-nicely piled. Yet, the overall experience is still enjoyable.

Colorful vegetables at the farmers' market

Most of all, I like buying farmers’-market heirloom tomatoes, sold every summer. I like their strange shapes and many imperfections, and especially enjoy their amazing flavors, somehow enhanced by the market experience:

Vegetables at the farmers' market

Despite relying on imported goods for nearly every other aspect of my life, I love the idea of buying my food locally. I delight in the many organic options, grown within a radius of 80 miles from where I live. And when berries are in season, I make sure to load on a week-long supply, which my kids devour eagerly:

Bright fruits at the farmers' market

A couple of weeks ago my farmers’ market visit yielded a bonus: it made me realize that I haven’t sewn any totes for a while. And so, as part of preparing for my next crafts fair, I spent the last couple of weeks sewing Market Totes, which I greatly enjoyed:

Fabric for new Market Totes

Working on my new Market Totes

Sewing new Market Totes

I hope these will make someone’s market shopping even more joyous!

ANY Texture: My Finished new Market Totes

One Last Sewing Project Before Summer: Sunflower Handbag

In three days the school year will be over, and my sewing season will come to an end. I am looking forward to spending relaxing summer days with my children. We’ll enjoy lounging around in pajamas until mid-morning, eating breakfast late and not having to live by the clock. It will be nice not to rush and be rushed constantly.

I’ve lived through enough summers to know to expect the occasional squabbles, as well as the many “I’m bored” complaints. Overall, however, I feel like we could all use a break. Knowing my kids, I am quite sure that I will not be able to get even close to my sewing machine all summer long. I know I will not be able to work on even a small sewing project.

Therefore, I need to take full advantage of the three days I still have left. There is one last project I need to finish: a gift for my mother in law. A while back she asked for a summer purse, and I promised to make her one. I haven’t had time for this so far, and will therefore need to act fast. The next couple of days will be dedicated to this one last project of the year!

My mother in law LOVES sunflowers. In the summer, she goes to the farmers’ market every Saturday, and buys huge bouquets of sunflowers. She then places them in a prominent location, right at the entrance to her house. Whenever I see sunflowers, therefore, I think of her.

Sunflowers

And so, I decided to sew a sunflower handbag just for her! Miraculously, I found a fabric that had a sunflower print. I bought it for the lining of her bag, and selected the outside fabrics to match it:

Fabrics for sunflower Handbag

I will do my very best to finish this sunflower purse before the last bell of the school year rings!

Getting Ready for SVOS

A few months ago I signed up to show my work at the Silicon Valley Open Studios (SVOS) event, which takes place over three weekends in May. I will be displaying my work on the first and third weekends only, the first of which is … TOMORROW!

I’ve been preparing for this show for the last several months. The preparations included designing and sewing whenever possible, as well as collecting display furniture for my booth. In fact, I designed my Spring Collection of handbags with Open Studios in mind. I’m looking forward to show it this weekend for the very first time!

On both weekends I will be displaying with several other artists, each working in a different media. My colleagues and I have been working hard for many months to get everything ready on time. As you can see from the below pictures, we already began setting everything up for tomorrow:

ANY Texture SVOS booth 2016

SVOS booth 2016

If you’re in the vicinity, make sure to stop by and say hello!

The Scrap Project: A Cross-body Pouch

 After cutting my Spring Bag collection I was left with a pile of small-yet-gorgeous pieces of various pink and lime-green fabrics.

Beautiful pink scraps

My fingers were twitching to make use of them somehow. So I lay them all on the floor, and started arranging and rearranging them in different combinations. Once I found the composition I liked, I sewed several pieces together:

Pink scraps sewn together

I then inserted a pink zipper:

Adding a zipper

And another one:

Designing a spring slip

The piece on top, cut from the flap of bigger purse, reminded me of the arched doors and windows so typical to many old buildings in my native Israel, which I always loved.

I found a luxurious piece of matching magenta silk for the lining:

Silk lining for my spring slip

And cut it to size:

Cutting the lining for a spring slip

I sewed, ironed, pinned and turned. And there it was: a lively, spring-ready cross-body pouch! When the sling was ready, I added matching tassels to emphasize its oriental look and make it more interesting:

My finished spring cross-body pouch

I liked this cross-body pouch so much that I decided to make it my own. An early Mothers’ Day gift for myself. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it just happens to match many of my clothes 🙂

My eco-friendly spring pouch

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