The online store has been neglected for months, but I have plans to change that. I have made some new pouches this week out of some great leather to put in the store. These pouches are great on their own to carry your phone and other essentials, with an interior pocket for tokens or cards. They also fit well into a larger bag. First kiwi and then gray crackle–they are a treat to look at and to handle and they will help you organize your life. More details in the online store. Check it out under navigation on the right.
We were away last week and stayed in Boston for three days in an AirB&B on Commonwealth Avenue. This is a street of beautiful early buildings with great curves and turrets. We had a busy visit but I had a little time on the first afternoon to sit in the park across the street from our building and sketch. The top building was next door to ours. The second one, which wrapped itself around the corner, looked to be vacant. I didn’t sketch the Spicy Tequila Burrito billboard on the roof, preferring to capture its stylish dignity while I still could.
I’m compiling my list of summer reading, books I want to take to the cottage and on the road trips we have planned. I had fun reviewing one of Liz Steel’s lessons on constructing volumes (she is getting ready to offer her class again here) and drawing my own stack of books. I have finished the top two novels and have begun the third. At this point I strongly recommend Mary Coin by Marisa Silver. Silver tells a fictional account of the lives of well-known photographer, Dorothea Lange and the subject of her most famous photograph, Florence Owens Thompson. I picked up a copy of the book after I watched a TVO documentary about Lange, a talented and determined woman who forged an artistic career in the 1930’s. Here is the fictional letter from Lange to the subject of her famous photograph, Migrant Mother, describing the experience of taking the ‘right photograph’. And isn’t there a similar magic in sketching?
There is a sense you get when you have taken the right photograph. It is a feeling that you have lived that second of your life more completely than any other. The moment opens, and you realize how much larger your life is that you thought it was, how much closer to a kind of …is it happiness? I don’t know. I saw you and I recognized you the way you recognize people in your dreams even if you don’t know who they are. That’s all a photograph is, really. A recognition.
I cycle along the river many times a week and I never tire of looking at the backs of the stores on the main street. In front they have on their commercial faces, but behind you can see the story of their lives, the hundred years and more they have stood in their spot. On Tuesday I parked my bike beside the path, set up my stool and sketched this section in pencil and then ink. I added the watercolour at home. It’s a great pleasure for me to let the pen explore the city I thought I knew. Sketching has shown me that even though I have lived here a very long time, it’s only now that I’m actually seeing it.
I have been back at the rug. I affectionately call this rug Annie, because as you probably know, the quotation at either end is from Annie Dillard. These are words to reflect on at any stage of life and so the quotation is perfect for rug hooking especially a rug of this size. Pulling the loops gives you lots of time to think. I promised myself I would not post the rug until all 65 houses were done. But as I approached house #50 I thought it was time. Each house takes about 1/2 hour by the time I choose the colours, cut them and hook. So there has been lots of hooking time already and I still have the background and border to go.
I began the rug with an off the bolt blue. I had 7 yards of it, but realized early that I would not have enough even though my plan involved a switch to green and maybe even yellow. The off the bolt wool had a pronounced stripe and one of the stripes didn’t work in the design. So seven yards weren’t really seven yards. So on Sunday, the first day of glorious rain we have had in Southern Ontario in ages, I got out the dye pots. Below you see some of the blues and greens I dyed. It feels good to know that if my plan to move on to yellow or even yellow green doesn’t work, I will be able to dye enough to finish this big rug.
And below that you see the rug as it lies with 49 houses winding their way around the rug. Eventually there will be 65, because this is my birthday rug–yes, yes, I am now past that marker. And the rug goes on.
I was visiting my friend in Hamilton last week and we spent a day sketching in Guelph. I tried to capture the train station but ended up being much happier with this little sketch of a flower shop. Below is the McQuesten House in Hamilton. This house, a block from City Hall in the busy centre core, is an oasis. It is beautifully preserved and has a quiet garden behind its walls–much as it would have been in the mid 19th century–and open to the public to enjoy. I remember when it was bought by the city in the late 1960’s. It had been in the McQuesten family since it was built in 1850 and a grandmother of a friend of mine had been in ‘service’ there when she came to Canada from Scotland in 1912. Thursday was a perfect day and I wandered through the garden, and then settled at the front of the house and did this sketch with my book and paints on the limestone wall which was a perfect height.