Monday, March 22, 2010

Dyeing--the good way

The other day I got to do some dyeing with a friend, but each time I would mention it to Jim, he would give me sort of a concerned look. That is the funny thing about speech. Sometimes what we hear is not what is intended. So we did the good, fun kind of dyeing, and I brought along some more of my Vietnamese silk scraps to use. I love the shimmer of the blue and green piece above, and now, of course, wish I had bought some of the natural white patterned silk while I was there and it was inexpensive. Oh well, another trip!
The reds were just as intense, and I love the top strips of yellow and hot pink. Dupioni silk dyes well, too, of course, but doesn't have the shimmer of the Vietnamese silks. I'm sure many fabrics are available through mail order from Dharma Trading, who also carry the dyes we used.
I also learned an important lesson, which is that it is important to do a test dye with your fabric, as it may look like silk, but turn out to be synthetic, which does not take dye. I learned this the hard way, unfortunately.
This piece was more subtle but it had some nice areas of color and a very soft hand after washing. I knew that I wanted to turn it into something, and the first thing that came to mind was a soft journal cover.
For some reason I am really enjoying making this style of journal lately, and even though I am not sure if this is my particular favorite kind of journal to carry, it is fun to shake things up and try a different style occasionally. It contains two signatures of 140# watercolor paper, sewn in by machine.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

black and white journal sketches Japan

Before I put my trip sketchbook back on the shelf, I thought I would share a few of the sketches from the end of our trip. This one of a Vietnamese woman was done from a magazine photo but it really typifies the women I saw there. I was too timid to take photos of them face to face,so never got any this close. I can imagine how they must feel having people take photos of them in the markets and on the street, so I don't like to be too obvious about it. One day in Bali we were at a small museum and a group of Balinese came in and wanted to take our photos! It seemed so funny, but is that any more strange than me taking photos of women as they went about their day? I suppose what seems exotic to each of is all relative
On our way home from Bali, we had a 9 hour layover in Tokyo, and I am not one to sit in an airport for that long, so we decided it would be more fun to go into the city. Paula has been there before so she shared some useful travel tips and maps of Tokyo with me, and we set off on the train into the city. Luckily she mentioned that it took a long time- nearly an hour or more from the airport. As I wrote in my journal, it was easy to draw people there, as almost all of them were napping, so I didn't need to be furtive!
It was cold in Tokyo, 35degrees or so, and everyone was bundled up for winter in stylish boots, black overcoats and scarves. We had on all our layers, but probably still looked like hicks from the sticks in our rumpled travel clothes.
It was really quite fun to see some of Tokyo and in 6 hours we had a whirlwind trip, visiting ITOYA for waterbrushes, and most of Tokyo Hands, an amazing store chock full of all kinds of craft supplies-5 floors of it! Our favorite thing to do, though, was to have lunch at a traditional noodle shop, where we put our money into what looked like a vending machine, and out popped our ticket which we handed over for a steaming bowl of noodle soup.
It was fun until we had an "amazing race" experience of rushing to get back by train in time to catch our flight, only to realize that we had plenty of time. Next time I go to Japan, I hope it is for longer than 6 hours!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

inspiration,or why I love Portland

I had some extra time this morning on my way downtown for a massage, so I decided to stop by Anthropologie, probably my favorite store in Portland for artistic inspiration. The window displays are always creative and exciting, often using recycled materials in a clever way. Today they did not disappoint. The theme was SPRING, with hundreds of flowers made from spray painted plastic bottles.
These were such cheerful spring pastels that I was bubbling with ideas for making my own immediately. Then I went inside and they were working on new installations in the store as well. I chatted with the creative staff, and said that I wanted to be a display maker at Anthropologie when I grow up.
Out on the street I spotted a truck just passing by, hauling a trailer with this familiar gal. I couldn't believe my luck when he pulled into a nearly garage. Usually when you see something like this, the moment passes, or you don't have a camera. I asked if I could take a photo and he laughed and said "You wouldn't believe how many people have asked me that today".
Anyone who has lived in Portland for any length of time will recognize the Jantzen swimwear girl. She is about as famous as the white stag, one of Portland's iconic figures. I learned that she will be in a museum exhibit, then taken to a mural that will be created in Vancouver, where we all can enjoy her again. I had so much fun that I missed my massage appointment, but I hardly minded. This is why I love Portland.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

bye bye California

We had planned to hike in the Indian Canyons near Palm Springs our last day there, however
I had a little fall while going down the stairs to the pool (looking for Elvis?) the day before so I wasn't quite up to hiking. Instead we headed for a another soak at the mineral pools at desert Hot Springs before going on to Joshua Tree National Park. These strange Dr. Seuss like trees grow here in abundance, and that, combined with the unusual rock formations make for a very interesting landscape. We decided to buy a National Parks passport so we could get our first stamp, which I hope will be just one of many.
We stopped here for a short walk, enjoying the many rock climbers who find this to be a great place for climbing. I stopped to sketch here, while Jim walked a little further. The air was cool and clear and it felt great to have the sun on our backs.
This was the great hotel where we stayed in Palm Springs, The Caliente Tropical, just down the street from the ultra cool Ace, but ours had the distinction of hosting Elvis and Nancy Sinatra in the heyday of Palm Springs. We left here in the morning, palm trees and sunny skies, and headed North Highway 395.

We passed through desert landscape and some ghost towns along the way, and I found this cactus outside of an abandoned building. From there we stopped at Manzanar, the sight of a former "Relocation Camp" where thousands of Japanese were taken during WWII. There is not much still there, aside from the high school gym which houses an information center. However the National Park Service has taken this project on, and has begun to rebuild the site. This was a sad, and interesting stop along the way.
By the end of the day, after passing Mammoth and Mono Lake, we were in a wintry landscape, surrounded on all sides by imposing snow covered peaks. It was a spectacular drive, and described as one of the most scenic drives in California. I would like to see it in the Summer, but can't imagine that it would be as dramatic as at this time of the year.

Friday, March 5, 2010

california sights Salvation Mountain

It always excites me to come upon "found art" like this heart, and I can scarcely imagine a more unusual place to find this than on the shores of the Salton Sea, a very strange place, indeed. Jim had wanted to visit this place for a long time, so we set off from Palm Springs two days ago on the hour+ drive south. The "sea" is actually more like a large lake, very salty and as you get close to the water, you notice a very strange fishy smell. That may be due to the dead fish washed up on the shore, or the small barnacle type shells that also litter the shore.

There is also an abundance of birds, and great flocks of pelicans which I was delighted to see. Apparently there are many, many species of birds along the shores. This "sea" is actually below sea level, and it shrinks and expands from year to year. It used to be much larger and was quite the vacation destination many years ago. Nothing of that previous time remains now.
Our main reason for coming to the area, however, was to see Salvation Mountain, the work of Leonard Knight. Nearly 40 years ago he experienced a religious conversion, and tried various ways to proclaim the message that God is Love to the world. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he created Salvation Mountain from adobe and clay, painting it with more than 1000,000 gallons of donated paint over the years.
This is the "sinners prayer" that is written over and over on the mountain. We were lucky to get to meet Leonard, and a younger helper who told us that he and four friends had repainted the entire mountain in November for Leonard's birthday. Leonard is a very sweet, wiry fellow in his 70's or 80's--hard to tell, and was delighted to tell us that his mountain is now on Google earth, and brings in 300 visitors a day! It is such a joyful, colorful testament to his faith that it was truly inspiring to us, and made me want to create something from straw and clay at home.
This is one of the several trucks on his property that will no longer be traveling anywhere.
He seems happy that his message is being received and appreciated by so many people.
I think I want to spend more time visiting outsider art like this. It is so inspiring!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

closer to home

Well, it is way past the time that I should have posted something here that is not a cremation! I won't offer all my excuses, but you can probably tell that I am someplace other than Bali now...From one interesting part of the world to another. That is how we like to spend our time, so we sandwiched in a short road trip to California before we get back to our real lives. When we came home from SE Asia to Spring flowers, I decided that it is not so bad to take a trip in the dead of winter and come back for Spring. We were lucky to have a few days of sun when we returned, but then the rains came again, so off we went to sunny California, headed for Palm Springs. In one day, we had such a change of scenery, from miles and mile of white blossomed almond trees, to pink peach blossoms. It was spectacular!
When we passed this meadow filled with cheery blooms, Jim pulled over to the side of the
road before I even asked him to and said "go get your photo". I said I gave him points for doing that , but had to deduct a few for the resigned tone of his voice! (I gave him back the points later)
Only a couple hours later we saw this beautiful view of Half Dome in Yosemite, after having lunch at the Ahwahnee lodge. Jim had never been to Yosemite, and I had never seen it in the winter, which was a wonderful time to be there. We saw lots of photography groups out for the day.
The next day we were soaking in the hot mineral pools in Desert Hot Springs, a world away from Yosemite! I love a place with palm trees, whether it is Bali or California. I am also a fan of hot springs, and seek them out whenever I can. Here there were 6 swimming pools of varying temperatures, and it was very relaxing.