Friday, November 23, 2007

pictures at last of my holiday in Damascus

On our first day in Damascus, we staggered off to the souk and the grand Mosque to find a guide for the duration. Walking through the souk was wonderful - busy, with real people going about their everyday shopping, not just tourists like us. This window was on the first floor, and as soon as they saw me take a photo, they sent a runner to take us through some dingy doorway you would never have found on your own, and up the stairs to the shop, which was tiny and absolutely packed with textiles - clothing and hangings and cloths and runners, and jewellery and knick knacks. it was lovely, but very expensive, apparently the fault of the Italians who have a habit of paying what they ask instead of haggling. No offence intended, just reporting it.

At the end of the main drag through the souk - there are lots of side streets so you could wander round in there for weeks! - you go through this archway into a square. The arch is Roman, and part of the original temple. As you can see, there is very much a waste not want not feeling here, one perfectly good arch, why knock it down?!!

These next four pictures are inside the courtyard of the grand mosque, showing some of the roman mosaics, and the little kiosks. I say little, but you can tell by the people the scale of the place is not on the little side of things!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

2nd KTAA meeting

We had a truly wonderful evening on October 23rd. The theme was an invitation to an Indian wedding, and we had a traditional dancer, music, food,stunning costumes, jewellery and shoes, incense, henna painting, bangle making, shawls and the most brilliant mandap, which is the support and canopy which they perform the wedding ceremony under, and over 130 people came along to join in the fun - some dressed in Indian costume. I have been waiting to see if I can get hold of some pictures, as I was so busy I did not have time to take any myself, but so far none have come through, so I will post this and then add pictures when I get some.

I don't know about most of you, but India in general, and Indian weddings in particular, is something I actually know very little about. I mean, I know where it is, but know very little about the geography of the country, where all these regions that we hear about are in relation to each other and on the map. So I found this a real eye opener on a lot of levels. The rituals vary from region to region, caste to caste, religion to religion. There are the beautiful saris that we all know, and the shalwar kameez, and then there is the ghagra choli and ghagra lehenga sharara, another whole range of tops and skirts with veils or shawls, heavily embroidered and beaded which is the direction the wedding outfits are taking. We pulled a lady from the audience and showed everyone how to put a sari on properly. I had several Indian ladies in the audience from different regions, so they were put on the spot and asked to fill in details which I had not been able to find.
They have pre wedding ceremonies, wedding ceremonies - incidentally it is becoming more common to have the party first and then the actual binding ceremony, and also post wedding ceremonies.
A store here called the Indian Heritage Centre provided everything for for the evening for us, except the dancer (who is 14 years old, has been learning the dances for 8 years, and has been taught at the Nritta Dhyana school of Indian Classical dance here in kuwait.) They did a cracking job, and have won another tranche of customers from the KTAA. They even provided raffle prizes and, in something of a coup, discount cards for all KTAA members. All in all, a truly wonderful evening.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In which 3 go on holiday - at last

Phew, what a month this has been! every day life here in kuwait is affected hugely by Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the hours of daylight. It is held in the 9th month of their calendar, which is lunar based and therefore the date changes every year, and lasts for the duration of a lunar cycle. The observation of the fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, and taken very seriously. All restaurants and cafes are closed, and eating and drinking in public for non muslims is also strictly forbidden. The offices and shops also operate on different hours, and schools and offices start later. This means that le tout Kuwait is trying to get somewhere at the same time in the morning, rather than spread over 3 or so hours. It is a nightmare. a 15 minute journey took me 2 and 1/2 hours the other day.
However, there are a few good things. The aforementioned late start means getting up an hour later - bliss - I am NOT good at 6am! In the afternoon, every one goes home to pray, take a siesta, and to conserve energy and get ready for dusk when they can break their fast. The afternoons and until dusk is like driving in a ghost town, wonderfully empty roads, but definitely spooky. also dangerous, because the few drivers there are tend to ignore traffic lights....
The breaking of the fast at dusk traditionally involves eating 2 or 3 dates - for sugar presumably and drinking a yoghurt type drink called laban - it's a bit like activia. Then prayers and then they head out for Iftar - literally the breakfast meal, as in break fast. And it is a feast. And from then on the streets are gridlocked, as everyone, but everyone is going to visit family and friends to celebrate. All night. Some don't make it to bed before going to work the next morning.
The end of Ramadan is marked by an Eid (pronounced eed), a holiday lasting 3 days officially, and for some much longer.The first call to prayers on the morning of the start of Eid goes on for about 30 minutes - usually they last less than a minute. In kuwait most people go away for the Eid, and for several weeks before hand will have been discussing where they are planning to go. There are a limited number of flights out of the country on any one day, so they get booked up to popular destinations very quickly. In order to get to somewhere nice, you have to put up with the airport first. a tall order, but you just keep thinking of the destination.
We, dh, daughter and me, went to Damascus for the Eid. We had originally planned to go in March, but because my dh is in the military, our visas did not come through in time for us to go then. They are valid for 3 months, so when they came through in april, it took a quick visit in uniform to convince them to let them remain valid til Eid.
The airport was every bit as crowded and evil as predicted, but we got into a line and waited, and then when we got to the counter, they did not have our reservation. Dh had to go and buy 3 more tickets to get to Damascus - thank goodness they had some, and then try to get return ones, which they had no more of for the date we wanted, so we had to have an extra day. Shame I hear you cry! Whilst booking those, they found our return details on a totally spurious date two days before we were leaving kuwait - amazing!
We did get on the plane, but it got held up with a technical problem for half an hour. We were unofficially entertained by a poor stewardess having to maintain good manners and customer relations with a passenger who was being an absolute pain in the ****.
I don't know about Syria being one of the 'axis of evil' countries, and I'm not about to enter into political debate about it, but the Syrians are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Damascus is the oldest city in constant inhabitation in the world. It has some of the most beautiful old buildings, a real mix of eras including Roman ruins incorporated into them. There is a tradition of painted wooden ceilings from late 17th century for a couple of hundred years, and of course some fabulous textiles.
We stayed at the Sheraton, which was...the Sheraton, but a good base. We spent the first day exploring, and went to the souk and the Grand Mosque. Originally Roman and a christian church, the Muslims simply annexed it, removed the altar, and it became a mosque. This is apparently a very commonplace occurrence throughout this region.
I am trying to post some photos but my computer is running on another agenda!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

KTAA first meeting

We finally got the 2007/08 season underway with our first meeting on Tuesday night. It was held at Sadu House, and we had about 50-60 people turn up, plus another 45 or so from another group who were meeting on the same night and came along to see what we were all about. Once I had stopped feeling ill with worry, I really enjoyed myself.

We had plenty of time first for people to look around Sadu house, and for some it was their first visit, and to renew their membership, and then I had to do my bit and welcome everyone. I don't think I managed to insult anyone - haven't been told of any complete cock ups anyway, so fingers crossed I got away with it! Sheika Altaf then did a small talk about how she came to be involved with the start of the KTAA in 1994, when just 6 people got together because they were interested in weaving..... something about little acorns springs to mind here. Once we had got all that out of the way, we got onto the interesting stuff and had a show and tell. I started the ball rolling by showing the little beaded doll brooches I'd got at the quilt festival in Birmingham made by the South African children whose parent(s) had died from Aids. We had jackets from south China, a throw from Peru, a hand embroidered table cloth, a mirror cover from Uzbekistan, a drape to cover bed linen also from Uzbekistan, both very old pieces, a rug from Morocco, a couple of quilts, and a painted wall hanging from India. I'm sure there were more, but my mind has gone blank - I don't think there were any cuddly toys or microwaves! And crawling all over the place, were the ubiquitous press photographers that come to all manner of events in kuwait. every time I looked up there was another telephoto lense up my left nostril! So no surprises for guessing that a couple of days later we were in the paper. And again today. Hey ho, no peace for the wicked!!
Just in case Sian is reading this, I have been slowly progressing with some course work, doing some weaving samples, and rubbings from them, and about to start playing with colour studies. that should get me off the hook for a couple of minutes anyway! I actually spent this afternoon making a couple of pieces of quilting. Our quilt group here has gone back to basics as we have a lot of new members, and we have been given a Kaleidoscope pattern to make up.

I also had a go at the disappearing nine patch as demonstrated by Helen on her blog a couple of months ago.
It is so much fun to do, and looks far more complicated than it is, which is always good value.

tomorrow is our Monday equivalent, so back to work, and for me that is a trip to the fabric souk with some new members tomorrow morning, and then out to the British Business Forum introduction to Kuwait evening at the Hilton resort. should be fun.

Friday, September 21, 2007

summer holidays part two....

So having taken on the floods, the traffic and the emergency services, got to my friends wedding, and out again, I collected my daughter, and battled my way out to Birmingham airport, from where we flew to Scotland to join my dh and stepson. We had a fantastic week on the west coast, not far from Tarbert. Glorious sunshine, lots of playing about in the water, barbecues and chilling with friends. It is a beautiful place to visit.
My thoughts and prayers though remain with the thousands of people who were affected by the floods, not only in this area, but in the north west as well. their lives have been devastated, and it will be many months before they experience something like normality again.
From Scotland, we flew to spain, and spent 2 more fantatic weeks relaxing in the sunshine, and playing in the pool. We visited the aquarium at Valencia one day, and drove miles around some pretty precarious hilly tracks (roads is too dignified) on another, seeing some fantastic scenery on the way, ate some great tapas, drank lots of tinto verrano, (my spanish drink) and read the entire library of books in the villa. 6 if you're interested.
When we came back from Spain, we dropped my daughter back with her father, my stepson back with his mother, and then dh and I departed next day for Budapest. This city comes highly recommended. easy to get around, with buses, trams, metro and trolleybuses. plenty to see and do, some great restaurants, and shamefully, they speak pretty immaculate english. to be fair though, Hungarian is one of the most impenetrable languages in the world. We had 4 wonderful days there, filled with wonderful things to do, including the ethnography museum filled with beautiful folk costumes from the different regions and classes of the country from 100 years ago. sorry, no photos, my camera battery died. Dh then returned to Kuwait, and I headed to Birmingham for the last 2 days of IFQ at the NEC.

What a treat the IFQ was. I know that many of you visited for at least one day, and like me were absolutely blown away by it all. I caught up with Maggie Grey on the WOW stand, and with Angie Hughes of Ledbury Art Place, and met Ruth Isset at long last. I was there with the Faces of Arabia stand from Kuwait. You will have seen some of the quilts previously on this blog, but this one was new. and he would have pretty much stopped you in your tracks as you walked past our stand.
He is by Jenny Bowker, Australian quilter, and the lady who came to judge our show in May. We invited her to submit a quilt to show with ours at Birmingham.

However, the star of the show as far as we were concerned was our own Paramjeet Bawa. she took up quilting 5 years ago, and was persuaded to enter one of her quilts, called 'Duststorm', into the pictorial competition. She was placed second, won the amateur award, the best use of colour award, and the judges award. We later found out that she had also won the viewers choice award. the quilt then went to Houston, and today, Paramjeet has found out that it received an honourable mention there. Are we proud bunnies or what?!!! For those of you who didn't make it to the show, or didn't see it, here it is:

There followed a week of visiting friends, travelling the length and breadth of the country, before returning to Ledbury, and a 21/2 day workshop with Angie Hughes. Now that is the way to finish a holiday, well nearly. there were 4 of us, in the heat of a proper summers weekend playing, sorry, working with mixed media, and having so much fun. I will add photos to this when I get my work back from the art teacher I have lent it to. The Ledbury Art place offers all sorts of wonderful workshops throughout the year, but this was the first time I have been able to fit one in.

My last textile trip of the holidays was to the Forge Mill Needle museum in Redditch to see the finalists in the Charles Henry Foyle Trust competition. The winner Karin Millson, lives in the Middle East, and has just finished a C&G level 3 Diploma in design and stitched textiles with Sian Martin and Distant Stitch. (the same course I am on). The pieces was a hanging, and was a very clear winner. Congratulations to Karin.

So anyway, that is why I have been out of contact for so long, promise not to let it be so long til the next post. Now I am concentrating on the first meeting of the KTAA, but more of that next post.

so how did you spend your summer....?

I flew into Heathrow on Friday July 19th. Nothing personal to anyone for whom its a special day, but for me, just another ordinary day. Not so. My plane was held circling over Chatham docks for an hour, in the thunderstorms - nice! NOT. And then, once we landed, there was so much rain on the ground that they could neither pull planes back nor dock newly landed ones, so we sat in said plane for 2 long hours waiting. Eventually docked and allowed off, it then took another hour for our luggage to get to us. by this time, I was beginning to lose my sense of perspective.... but the day wasn't finished with me yet. oh no! I picked up my hire car from a very friendly girl at Avis, who asked where I was travelling to and when I said Gloucestershire, warned me the M4 was a bit busy.
Are you with me yet? have you connected the date with anything? No? read on. It took me 3 hours to get to Chievley (?) services, and then another 6 to get as far as Cheltenham. I started picking up traffic news of torrential rain and flooding in the gloucestershire/worcestershire area, but hey, I've lived in the area for years, it always floods there, what was the problem this time? By the time I reached Cheltenham I finally decided that I had had enough. It was 2:30am, I had had nothing to eat or drink since the lunch on the plane, and I was tired. Looking around I found I was inching past a Catholic church, and decided I would take protection from any source available. I pulled in and managed 2-3 hours sleep in the car, (note to fellow car hirers, Renault Clios, while excellent cars in many ways, are not comfortable for sleeping in) before resuming my journey (ha).
After inching along for another few miles, I found a garage which had stayed open all night to look after stranded motorists - mega kudos - the poor chap was worried he would be sacked for not doing his paperwork. the fact that he had taken a months worth of money in one night should have been something in his favour, I hope so anyway. Back on the road again, it took another 3 hours to get onto the motorway which was pretty empty of moving vehicles, but the hard shoulder was chock full of abandoned ones, and I mean abandoned. cars at every angle you can imagine. It looked like one of those armageddon type movies.
reached Tewkesbury, nearly my destination, pulled off the motorway, drove about a mile down the road and stopped. A man was moving slowly from car to car, and when he got to me, told me I couldn't get through that way as there was 5 feet of water on the main street. OK. even I know my limitations, and walking, or driving on water is not my strong suit. He asked me where I was going, and when I told him Twynning, he replied "Not a cat in hell's chance". I had just been travelling for 30 hours at this stage, through what could be called an unpleasant experience, and I was not about to be beaten by a little water. but I was tired. so I rested my head on my steering wheel for a second. At which, this darling man turned into a modern day Sir Galahad, told me to park on the verge and come and let his wife make me a nice cup of tea. So I did, and she did, and their daughter made me some toast, and thus fortified, I headed back to the motorway and down to the M50 junction.
Why, I hear you ask, was I trying to get to Twynning? My dear friend Su was getting married at midday there, that's why. She even phoned the local radio station asking if anyone had a 4 wheel drive, or a tractor, or a boat to help get her from Worcester to Twynning. I spent a slightly damp but otherwise surprisingly pleasant couple of hours hanging around at the entrance to the M50, chatting to the slowly increasing number of people wanting to get to Twynning. At about 10:30am, we were all discussing amongst ourselves why we wanted to get there, and when I said for my friends wedding, one of the emergency guys butted in and asked if that was the one on the radio. When I said yes, he got straight on the phone, and while it might be totally unconnected, we were taken down to the junction for Twynning in convoy within the half hour. So I got there. As for the bride, no one answered her SOS, so she drove her and her mum herself. they did fine until they got stopped in a line of traffic in one of the villages on the way. they had 7inches of water on the road, not dangerous like some places, but the police were restricting the traffic to one car at a time in alternate directions. Su's mum got out of the car, walked down to the police man and explained that her daughter was getting married in half an hour and it could take them that long to get through. the police man said what the one on the radio, and then, it was like one of those feel good movies, the police man called to his mate at the other end of the flood and told him to stop all vehicles from his end, as there was a special one coming through from this end, Su got waved on, everyone was singing here comes the bride and tooting horns, and she got to the wedding on time. Hooray! And this is the happy bride, groom and family.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Distant Stitch Summer school at Urchfont

In which I met a wonderful group of new friends, learnt some fabulous new techniques and ate more delicious food than is good for one person.

I arrived at Urchfont in not quite sunshine on Sunday afternoon to find the exhibition of students' work and the textiles masterclass in full swing. For those like me who have / had never been to Urchfont, it is a beautiful old Queen Anne style ? house set in some lovely grounds which has been turned (very successfully) into a residential centre by Wiltshire council. I had time to wander around and view all the exhibits, chat to a few of the makers, meet my Distant Stitch tutor, Sian Martin, spend another small fortune with Art Van Go - (see previous post to find out how much I didn't need to do that!) and Winifred Cottage, get a cuppa and then check in! By then I needed a lie down to recover.

The summer school started in the cellar bar before dinner, where we all introduced ourselves over a glass of wine. There were several summer school stalwarts, as well as a good sprinkling of new bods like me, but everyone, without exception, was so friendly. Just goes to show what a great bunch we textile peeps are. At 7 they rang a gong for dinner and we all trooped upstairs to the lovely old dining room, with views over the croquet lawn, and sat down for the first of the most delicious meals. 3 courses of it, plus cheese and fruit if you could manage it!!! fantastic!!! After dinner it was over to our classrooms in the converted stable block, where Sian kicked us off with some "easy" drawing exercises. ha ha! we all did have great fun, and what was even better was that there genuinely was no sense of competition. Obviously there will always be a few who can draw anything standing on their head, blindfold, and whistling dixie. I'm pleased to say Sian didn't quite put us through that much, but she certainly kept us up to the mark!

the following day we started a two day Metal Magic course with Maggie Grey. It was both huge fun and just so brilliant to meet and work with her. She is so full of energy and enthusiasm, generous with her time and knowledge, and hugely encouraging, whatever your ability level. We did of course do far more than work with metal;we played with paper pulp, tissue paper backgrounds, velvet backgounds, wrapping, expandaprint, spirit dyes, walnut ink moonshadow paints, and so much more. Oh, and we got to use an embellisher. (Now that was fatal. We all want one now.) We all even managed to create at least one resolved piece from all the disparate bits we had made, which is really impressive given none of us planned anything terribly carefully and had odd pieces in different colours. But it worked.

Our second evening found us turning our drawing exercises into a line drawing and then into Kantha. Again great fun, and just right for pace to sit and sew quietly as I'm not sure how much more we could have absorbed at that stage. The last evening we watched a film, which had won an award at last year's Cannes film festival, and which was about 2 women, in various stages of muddle in their individual lives, brought together by embroidery. Very gentle in the way only the French can manage, but rather lovely.

In between all this ferocious activity, Sian managed to pull us out at intervals for group tutorials. We were there after all because we are going through one or other C&G course! We are on different courses, at different stages of those courses, but the whole thing seemed to be remarkably calm and well organised. And goodness, there is some stunning work evolving.

And did I mention the food? A full cooked breakfast as well as cereal, fruit and toast every morning, home made biscuits at coffee time, a cooked meat and vegetarian option, jacket potatoes and salads, plus pudding at lunch time, home made cake at tea time and then the 4 course dinner. Just as well we didn't have far to waddle between our accommodation and the class room - although maybe it would have done us good if it was a bit further! We did manage a stroll down to the village duck pond, and had time to make a small piece for one lady who had been unable to come at the last minute. But when I finally left, and drove to my friend's house, I was pleasantly exhausted. It was a great feeling. I do so hope that I will be able to go again next year. here are a few pictures. sorry some of them are a little dark, but hopefully they will give you a taste of it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

KTAA annual exhibition

well it's taken me ages to find the time to sit down and write about the show, but being president has meant that I've been just a little busy. And of course I've been back to England in the meantime. I have also had a new camera to sort out, and dh bought a new computer the other day, which is great because I can put the camera stuff on it, but has meant ages spent moving files from old computer to new computer, yadda, yadda.....

The quilt group meeting on the Monday before the show was the big reveal of everyone's work, which was a great morning, but left us reeling from sensory overload. Finally got home just in time to meet my daughter off the school bus, and crashed. Tuesday was hanging day. there were about 10 of us, split into the two halls, and for the most part we all worked together pretty well. The lady in charge made us redo something a couple of times, and one whole wall of mini quilts was moved somewhere completely different, but there was no actual bloodshed. I had organised lunch for anyone who wanted it, and various other ladies had brought plates of goodies in too, but sheez, trying to get folks to stop work and eat was a nightmare. Next year, I might buy a siren!! The judges arrived from 5pm onwards and I left them to the care of the outgoing president.
Our judges were Australian quilt artist Jenny Bowker, who flew in from Cairo where she currently lives, Canadian quilt artist Linda Hancock who has been living in Kuwait for several years but who is returning to her home in Canada, and Noelle Aleyagut, a medical illustrator and artist who lives here in Kuwait. Somehow they had managed the almost impossible task of selecting various winners in each of the categories, and various highly commended. Each judge had their own judge's choice rosette to award, and then finally, there was a best in show.

On Wednesday a friend and I spent the day making canapes for the opening. she had a lady staying with her who is going to be moving out here in January, and who was just here for a look/see. So obviously she was press ganged into working too.

The evening was a great success. probably about 100+ people came, all the local press was represented, a couple of ambassadors and their wives, unfortunately not Sheika Altaf as her travel plans changed, a host of members, some of their husbands, and the rest must have been rent a mob. But what a fabulous evening. Prizes were awarded, with more than a few surprises along the way. This year our members seem to have been keen to take on the challenge of art quilting, and we had a fair mixture of both traditional quilts and art quilts displayed in the exhibition. I think though it came as a surprise to some that the best in show went to a traditional sampler quilt.

Throughout the exhibition, Jenny Bowker ran 2 one and half day workshops, which must have exhausted her, but were thoroughly enjoyed by the students. We looked at designs from nature and working in tiled patterns, and I'm looking forward to seeing if anybody is brave enough to develop their designs further into a quilt.

If I can work out how, I will put some photos up, but for now I intend to finish this and post it as it is embarrassingly late.
hooray, here we are. this one in the middle of course had to the first one, because it is my entry in the Faces of Arabia section, and is my first ever solo quilt. It will be on display in the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in August, along with all the other amazingly beautiful quilts in this category and a couple of others, Stars, and Self Portraits.

This beautiful blue and white sampler won the best in show, and the Shades of Autumn was the visitors choice. Both are by Penny Armitage.
In no particular order, here are some of the other quilts from the show.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sanded in!

Well, admit it, it makes a change from snowed in! Kuwait, and quite a lot of the gulf region, has been having a sandstorm for the past 3 days. it is showing signs of clearing, but I remain unconvinced, as its done that once before and come back worse. it's not like a blizzard, with it blowing a gale in your face, but it just sort of hangs in the air. visiblity is not very far at all, sometimes down to feet rather than yards (or even metres!), and breathing becomes interesting! the sand is so fine, that even staying indoors is no guarantee that you will avoid it, as it comes in round the doors and windows, and through the ac vents, and everything is coated in a fine layer of the stuff - a bit like a middle eastern version of Miss Haversham's wedding feast!!!
One advantage of the sand storm has been not feeling guilty about staying in and sewing. The kuwait textile arts association is having their year end exhibition at the end of this month, and while I wasn't too fussed about having anything in it, now that I am to be their next president I felt guilty about my apathy, and decided I needed to get something done. So I have been slaving over a hot sewing machine, and made a self portrait, 18"x18", and a 30"x45" quilted wall hanging, and a bag, and will finish the secret garden piece that I made a few weeks ago for the Textile Challenges group monthly challenge, and about to start a pair of fairy shoes, and maybe a bracelet, if I have the time after I have put hanging sleeves and labels on the backs of all the quilts. I particularly wanted to do some non-quilted pieces, as I'd done the talk on my embroidery, and have had great fun running up the bag, and know I will enjoy the shoes. We are having a bit reveal at the quilt group meeting on Monday 28th, so no piccies til after then, in case anyone here decides to read this. the exhibition runs May 30th til June 2nd, and I will be practically living there! have forewarned dh about this, and he reminded me that we have a party here on the 31st to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. (actual date 27th May) I had not forgotten, it's written in my diary after all, but maybe it was a good thing he mentioned it!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

a talk and an election

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I did a talk to the KTAA quilting group about my C&G embroidery course a few weeks ago. this went down so well, that they asked if I would do it again only more for the main KTAA meeting on April 28th. in the first flush of relief and exhilaration at getting through it, I said yes. what came across from the feedback after the first talk was that they would all have like to have seen more of my design work, and something of the design process. the first part of that was slightly problematic, I have not got my design boards any more, of my partners in crime at college took some photos of them during our year end exhibition. I sent her an email, asking if by any chance she still had them, and whether she could send them to me. and I waited, and I waited, and then finally, 3 days before the talk they arrived. she had been away and not picked up her messages! the relief at seeing them was huge. I took them on a memory stick to the local printers who made them poster size.

so here they are, and full credit to Sue Jewkes, who took the pictures and got them to me in time. the first one above shows all six boards, from the top left, living forms, based on seahorses - particularly their tails, below that is a photo montage of a bluebell wood for the landscape/geological features board, and below that in a book, is the man made items and structures board, based on the cast iron decorations at Great Malvern Station. sorry you can't see that one so well. back to the top right, the water and sky board, based on an Escher print. we had to do one board in only black and white, so this was it. below that is the folk culture, history and religion board, which I based on the legend of the phoenix, and finally below that is my media board, based on my daughter's drawings. they were very popular, and actually quite good for me to see them again, you forget so quickly what you were doing/thinking and where you were going at the time. I then mocked up some design work process pieces, starting with that old chestnut weaving 2 pages from a magazine and isolating areas of interest. honestly, you would have thought I had invented the wheel, they had never seen anything like it. so then of course I had to agree to running a design workshop in the autumn.
the first half of the evening was taken up with the KTAA agm. as a result of which, I am now the new President. Pleased to say they elected me before my talk, but I think it would have been ok either way round! My first job is running, in tandem with my predecessor, the annual exhibition of work, some of which will be going to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in August. Photos to follow. So wish me luck, and if any of you have any brilliant ideas for talks for our monthly meetings, let me know. the KTAA stands for kuwait textile arts association by the way, so any textile related subject is allowed, and it can be macro or micro focused.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

travels, talks, courses and spending sprees

Well, I'm back from my travels and all set to go. I took my daughter back to England to spend the Easter holidays with her father, and took the time to catch up with my sons and friends, and to do a one day course at Art Van Go.
The travelling was pretty tedious as it usually is, 6 and a half hours on a plane is not my idea of fun, I would take sewing things with me, but the last time I did the combination of a metal daisy wheel cutter and a silver needle case brought the entire security team into play and held up the queue for far too long while I took everything out and showed them that it wasn't a bomb or the makings of one. and who needs that every time they travel? Sons and friends were all suitably pleased to see me, and we had the first of several boozy evenings together at the pub - what joy! well it is when there aren't any pubs out here at all.
I drove across country to get to Art Van Go, found it and then my B&B, which was excellent, so if any of you are planning to go to a course there, I will let you have the details. Comfy bed, delicious home made food, and hosts as chatty or not as you want them to be. and then the course. It was actually the first one I have done with them, living as I did in Herefordshire, it's not always so easy to get to Hertfordshire for the day, obviously it is much easier from Kuwait! anyway, I digress, as usual. the course was on dyeing and painting, and learning the differences between the two, devised and led by Viv because she reckons over the years the discussions about this subject alone would fill several books. She had about 3 different watching sessions with her doing the most talking and doing, interspersed with us doing the doing and some talking and several whoops moments and lots of ooh and ahh type moments. she put a gazillion bottles of stuff out and said help yourself. kids in sweety shops would not come close, but 12 women had pretty inane grins on their faces for most of the day!!! I wanted to do this course because I will have to do some dyeing/fabric colouring experiments for my C&G course, and having never done any before, wanted to get some sort of heads up first. not a bad decision.
Unfortunately, going on a course at AVG is a very dangerous thing. my credit card went into serious meltdown, and my luggage weight was in serious danger of being well over limit. however, I have reformed the plastic remains of my card, and just got away with a smile at check in. phew!! it was a brilliant day, and then the following morning I went back in to meet Sharon Osbourne, who was demonstrating techniques and chatting, and spent some more!! how useless am I. AVG loved me though!! maybe its just as well that I live in Kuwait and can't get there too often.
Since I've been back, I've finished a machine embroidered picture for Textile Challenges March challenge, which was the theme of doors and windows, using fabric, paper and a found object. I had finally had some inspiration the day before I left for England, typical! It's called secret garden. I have also been making quilt squares for various friends who are moving on over the next few weeks - looking forward to seeing the finished quilts. Can't say more in case any of them read this before we give them their quilts, but it'll be good. Am now finally making a start of a couple of quilts that need to be finished by May 25th - do I stand a chance? Not nearly, but I'll give it a go. We are having the KTAA annual exhibition at the end of May and then, gulp, they are going on to Birmingham for Quilts UK. I definitely don't stand a chance. And as if that is not enough to be going on with, I am repeating my C&G talk, with additions, to the whole KTAA next week, I also need to make some ATCs and some inchies for 2 different groups, AND (yes Sian I am still enrolled in your group) blooming well get on with my C&G stuff before I get the order of the boot. No pressure then! keep smiling everyone, I am, or is that insanity looming large?!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

major displacement activity

I really must start practising my grovelling, as I can feel a mega session coming on with Sian! No more progress on the C&G front at all.
But, I have made some atc's for a swap I signed up for ages ago, and some postcards ditto. So, I haven't done nothing, but I still feel guilty that its not really what I should have been doing.

these were fun, the theme was flower fabric and beads.

I must really get my stuff together and make something for the textile challenge group March challenge, which is a theme of doors/windows, using fibre, thread, paint and found objects. there are some lovely things already submitted. we decided as a group to give everyone the same theme and the same ingredients, and see how they worked out. like I say, very interesting so far.

Monday, March 5, 2007

exciting day

I had a really great day yesterday, with one minor exception, visiting the dentist, but we won't dwell on that. It started with a Kuwait Textile Arts Association quilting group meeting. I am not a quilter, but it seemed like a good group to join and a great opportunity to find out more about quilting. good decision. I've been going now for 6 months, and have picked up so many little tips and ideas along the way.
Yesterdays meeting was my moment. I was asked to do a talk and show and tell about my C&G Certificate course in Embroidery, to give all the quilters a different slant on things. I am not a teacher or a public speaker, so I found it quite daunting, but once I got going I really enjoyed myself. Afterwards, one lady came and said I should have had the whole morning, not just half and hour, another said I should do a presentation to the main KTAA group at their monthly evening meeting, and a third asked if I would do a workshop on design techniques. Flattered? Swollen head?? Floating 3 feet off the ground??? All of those and more. I was just glad that folks seemed to like the presentation, and that I got through it ok, but then to have all that come at me was just amazing. I have also received a couple of emails from people saying how much they enjoyed it, and one lady asking about the distance learning courses so that she could explore the possibility of having a go herself. Result, wouldn't you say?
I also made the decision to buy a new sewing machine. One of the KTAA members won a machine at last years show, which she has not even taken out of the box. She decided to sell it and give the money to the Indian government Tsunami fund, which is still helping families rebuild their lives. So any way, now its mine, yey!! Its a Bernina Aurora 430. Any tips and advice gratefully received. I had a little play yesterday afternoon, and I think I am going to like this very much. My old machine, a 25+ year old New Home, (now Janome) has been fabulous, but doesn't seem to like doing the free machine stuff anymore, and always seems to have to think about dropping the feed or raising them again, which in not much good if you are in mid work. I will be getting the embellisher foot for it which is great as I couldn't justify buying the embellisher machine. One of the best parts of this for me though is that I paid for it with my earnings from my own business which I set up in December. I am a holistic massage therapist, and have been slowly building the business since Christmas. It gave me a lot of pleasure to realise that I had earnt enough to pay for the machine outright, without having to raid the joint bank account. Before getting remarried and moving out here last summer, I was a single mum/full time student for 3 years, and money was very tight. I guess this is my first reward/payback for all that hard work. And now to go and have another play.........happy dancing and big smiles all round!

Monday, February 12, 2007

At last...loud fanfare.... I've started

I have actually made a proper start on my C&G work; written and created the spider diagram, statement and visual sheet, AND submitted them. A day later, (a whole day, what was she doing?!!), Sian had sent me back some incredibly helpful suggestions and feedback. My dh, friends and I could not believe how fast she turned it round.

For any other 'just starting C&G diploma bod', this is the visual sheet I sent:

I was not at all sure that this is what Sian actually wanted, but it seems I got it right after all. Note to self, 'just do it'.

I've been and got a couple of note/sketch books, and now have to start putting together a back up of design sources and ideas, little thumbnail sketches of bits of buildings that could be worked up into design ideas.

dh has got into the mood beautifully and has started taking photos of 'interesting' looking houses and buildings as he goes around. There is a slight p.o.v. gap though, as I also like ruined buildings, and so far he's just photographing immaculate buildings. but its early days yet.

I am planning a trip to a couple of kuwaits only historic buildings - most got bulldozed in the 60s when they realised they had lots of money and could build tower blocks. what they have left is good though, so I am looking forward to it. will post stuff when I've done it.

I am a member of FiberArt for a Cause, and their next fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is an online reverse auction. Virginia Spiegel has put this flyer out for members to include on their blogs and websites, follow the link and take a look at the sight. here goes...

Fiberart For A Cause, fundraising for the American Cancer Society, is back
in action with the 2007 Invitational Reverse Auction.

http://www.virginia NewFiles/ ACS/ReverseAucti on2007.html

Featuring fiber art donated by Jane Davila, Jamie Fingal, Mary Beth Frezon,
Lynn Krawczyk, Heidi Miracle-McMahill, Carol Moore, Scott Murkin,
Cynthia St. Charles, Sarah Ann Smith and Elin Waterston, the Reverse Auction
runs March 12-16.

Artwork begins at a fixed price and is reduced by a fixed percentage each
day. Wait too long and the artwork you want will be gone. 100% of the
proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society.

Friday, February 9, 2007

the fabric souk

yesterday, Thursday, was our Saturday equivalent. My daughter went to a karate camp for the morning, and I dragged long suffering dh out to the fabric souk with camera to try and capture images of the souk for you all. I found it almost impossible to believe when I saw it for the first time, and these piccies can only give a taste of what there is, but hope it helps you know what I'm talking about.

from the outside the buildings are not pretty. the inside is not exactly state of the art either. there are 5 different buildings, plus lots of other odds and sods, but every single one of the shops you can see in the first picture is a fabric, or notions or beads, or tassels etc type shop. now repeat that in five + buildings.

these are a couple of halls inside one of the buildings, ground floor. upstairs are all the tailors, seamstresses, upholsterers etc working in the most minute amount of space. One thing you may notice is a distinct lack of colour or pattern coordination in any of the displays. they actually seem to prefer to combine as many patterns and colours as possible, in displays and in their clothes, although the latter are mostly hidden under the black abbayas.

these two are taken inside one shop. its actually one of the larger shops, alot of them are no more than 10' x 12'. they tend to have batches of shops together, so for example all the tassel shops are next to each other, the ribbon shops are in a row, and so on.

a tassel shop and the window of a ribbon and bead shop. don't know if you can tell, but all of these ribbons are embroidered with beads, I just like to stand and look at them, but then I'm a little weird like that.
I would like to say that we went first thing in the morning to take these, and normally its buzzing in these buildings.

Monday, February 5, 2007

finding the focus

First of all, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has posted comments so far. It's really great to know that a) people are reading it, and b) they like my work. I have still been finding it really difficult to get my head around starting properly on my C&G work. Its not like I can't do a spider diagram and write an introduction, which has got to be the easiest get you in exercise known to man. Pleased to say I have now made a small start and done them in rough, and now just have to make the visual, rather than verbal, brainstorming sheet. It will be good to be able to get them to Sian at last.
In my defence, I have been busy building my business, and I've taken on running the membership for the British ladies society here in Kuwait, which are both ongoing works in progress. I have also been teaching a group of friends to make fairy shoes. I posted a picture of a pair I made on a day with Annette Emms, a lovely and talented lady. They all decided they wanted to have a go when they saw mine in the flesh.
I have made a pair for a friend to say well done for doing a presentation she is dreading doing. I made a mini patchwork fabric first, so that they are multi coloured, so I have done some textile related work.

Winging its way towards me as I write are a couple of packages of synthetic felt, which I cannot get in Kuwait. Proper wool felt by the mile, but no synthetic, which is strange as they want to sell me so many other synthetic fabrics you'd think they'd have the felt. I'm looking forward to this arriving so I can have a play for the Jan/Feb challenge in the Textile Challenges group. One of the packages will have some colours appropriate to my research project, so may be able to use it for samples. See, I am thinking about the course, even if not actually doing very much of it.

Kuwait is having its Spring at the moment. The temperature is now getting to a lovely 20 degrees or so, there are plants everywhere, and when you are surrounded by sand and sand coloured buildings all the time, the colour is great. I could not believe how cold it got over November, December and January, so this is really welcome. I don't do cold. Am I too hopeful that the Spring will get me going again? Hope not, but any suggestions for breaking the deadlock on starting and really getting going would be gratefully received.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I hate to admit that I still haven't started my C&G coursework, but I have been working on some trading cards I need to get out, and finishing up some fibre postcards ditto. I have also been leading a textile group here in kuwait.
I did tidy my studio space, which was the first thing on my to do list, ready to start coursework. Now if they could just offer a course in displacement activities, I would be a straight A honour student!!!
dh has kindly taken some piccies of the studio, although he said they are cheating because it is NEVER normally this tidy, and I'm giving you all a completely false impression of how I work - or not, as the case may be! anyway, here's a couple for you. Its down in the basement, with a door out to a patio where my daughter has a mini pool in the summ
er. big windows so plenty of natural light, and water outside not in, which is usually ok.

the pin boards in the background are fibre postcards from art2mail and fiberartists international the cupboards underneath are full of fabric scrap bags, the dresser on the right has boxes of threads, books, stash, and assorted stuff.
and this last one is, of course, the artist at work.
Out this evening to a KTAA meeting, a talk on the textiles and costumes of Oman, which should be really good, if others I have been to are anything to go by.
Tomorrow, I start C&G, promise....