Friday, May 29, 2009

Vermont Highlights

Besides doing the Vermont Open Studio Weekend, my visit also included staying with family on an awesome Vermont farm.

Some of the highlights for me:

1. Farm fresh eggs! They have a coop full of chickens, as well as a box of new baby chicks getting big enough to head into the coop. There is nothing so delicious as fresh eggs. The yolks are orange and so full of flavor. So delicious that I had an egg breakfast two days in a row.

2. Farm & Chef Partnership. Seeing a sign like this at a restaurant was new to me, but maybe not to Vermonters. Our salad and eggplant sandwich that we had was delicious. So full of flavor, and you can't beat fresh cheese.

3. Microbrews and Cheese! Yum. Couldn't pass up this Longtrail "Brewmaster Series." Haven't had it yet, but looks promising. (We smartly brought our cooler with us for this trip.)

4. Barns. Just so picturesque.

5. Lilacs! They were in bloom last weekend and just smelled so good. Nothing beats driving along and getting a huge whiff of lilac as you go.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vermont Open Studio Weekend

I had an awesome time this past weekend in Vermont. I was so impressed with the Open Studio Weekend. I didn't know what to expect, but I was blown away at how together and organized this event was. Back roads in Vermont can be a little daunting, but between the clear directions in the tour guide, and the plentiful signs along the roads, it was very easy to navigate.

My first stop was Bhakti Ziek's studio. Bhakti was a professor of mine in college and we've stayed in touch, even traveled to Turkey together with some other textile lovers in 2001. I couldn't wait to see her studio. She has the coolest loom ever! It's basically a personal jacquard loom. She designs jacquard fabrics in Photoshop, brings the design into the loom's software as point paper, and the computer operates the loom and lets her insert the weft by hand. This is so outrageous to me. Jacquard weaving is traditionally reserved for mills weaving upholstery and commercial fabrics (like what I used to design in my previous life), to see it being used for art pieces was incredible and exciting. The possibilities are endless and she's just the person to have this loom. She's doing incredible things on it and her enthusiasm for it was infectious. To see a virtual tour of Bhakti's Open Studio display and studio, visit her blog and click on slideshow.

Her third floor studio was full of books, yarn, looms, and fabric. It was just the shot in the arm I needed to get me excited to get my own loom going again. It's been dormant for about 5 or 6 years (in the basement for 3 at my last small apartment) and finally has a space in my new studio. Today I'll be putting the final touches on getting it properly reassembled so I can get a warp on there.

Other places I visited were an exhibit of the Vermont Weaver's Guild in Randolph. It was fun to see how many weavers are in Vermont. Next we went to the studio of Nancy Stone who makes artist books in addition to paintings and drawings. I really loved her pieces done with walnut ink. Then we drove up a mountain to the studio of Jenny Hermenze who does Japanese-stencil dyed scarves and t-shirts.

Seeing these Vermont studios was so inspiring. Even though I think of myself as more of a city girl at heart, there's always this romantic "Studio in Vermont" idea that floats through my head. I think if I go up for this again, I'd really plan a route and try to take in more studios. The artists were all so warm and excited and being in their studios was inspiring.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday Series

Just blogged over on the BEST blog about one of my favorite journal inspirations. Read it here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Free Fun!

Looking for something to do this weekend, but don't want to break the bank? Like me, are you dying to escape Providence this weekend and the onslaught of parents arriving for graduations? Well, if you followed my previous advice (from this post) and bought yourself this book, then check out one of its hikes.

Last weekend I went for an early morning hike at the Lime Rock Nature Preserve (#32 in the book). One of the benefits of living in such a small state is that not far from the city can have a very rural feel. This hike was full of lots of ferns, mushrooms, and a small pond.

Any good I did my body in terms of burning calories was promptly undone with lunch following the hike at Venda Ravioli. We bumped into friends there, so we joined them at a table outside and had a delicious meal. Their antipasto really is the best around. DJH gets crazy excited whenever he sees whole fish on a menu. ("That's where all the flavor is.") Lunch here doesn't fall into the "free fun" category, but it's definitely money well spent and a pretty good bargain for food this delicious in such nice ambience.

Have a fun Memorial Day weekend! I'll report back next week on my weekend in Vermont and my first time at the Open Studios Weekend.

(Unrelated: did you check here to find out which wine won our Cru Beaujolais tasting? Did you read this little interview with me on the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team blog?)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Block Printing

I've been working on a project lately (for a soon to be revealed reason) that involves peaches and surface design. I'll be doing some stenciling and some block printing of images inspired by peaches. I have been meaning to try block printing with those rubber blocks ever since I got my Lotta Prints book, then again when I got the Lena Corwin Printing by Hand book. (Awesome books!) This project gave me a great excuse to finally give this a try.

I have to say, I love it! The rubber blocks are super easy to carve. Just transfer your image on there and go for it. It's like carving a block of cheese. They're also cheap, so it's a quick fix for some fast printing. Just ink them up with your brayer and print away. Love it. I'll definitely be doing more, possibly to feed my cloth napkin addiction. Great for fabric or paper. Just think: handmade thank you notes, gift tags, wrapping paper, napkins, hankies, the list could go on and on.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vermont Open Studio Weekend

This weekend I'll be heading up to Vermont to celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer and to enjoy the Vermont Open Studio Weekend. I first heard about the state-wide open studio weekend from my friend, Vermont artist (and my former weaving professor) Bhakti Ziek, and the more I hear about it, the more fun it sounds.

Today my studio tour guide arrived in the mail from the Vermont Crafts Council (who could not be nicer, by the way) which is neatly organized by county and by type of art. So handy. Asking around cyberspace for some recommendations, I've gotten some good advice on places to visit. See bookbinder Blue Roof Designs blog for some suggestions.

I'll be sure to take lots of photos and have a post next week showing some of the artists I visited. If you have any suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Santa Fe Galleries

One of the unique things about Santa Fe is the arts community. It's huge! Some cities have a Starbucks on every corner, in Santa Fe it's an art gallery. It seems that every street (besides it's most famous, Canyon Road) is lined with art. There really is something for every taste.

Wandering around I absorbed tons of gorgeous art, but the artist who struck me the most was Lisa Kristine at the easy to remember Lisa Kristine Gallery. She's a photographer who travels extensively around the world taking humanitarian images. As someone who loves to travel, seeing these images struck a cord with me.

An excerpt from her artist's statement: I am keenly interested in the different ways in which people find meaning in their lives, how an individual explores his or her existence through philosophy, religion or tradition. I believe that human forms are as engaging and mysterious as the lives they lead.

I particularly loved her images of people. While the huge image of Machu Picchu was striking for it's grandeur and clarity, the images of Andean children wrapped in bright textiles, women in India drying their saris in the sun and monks praying surrounded by red fabric were breathtaking and engaging.

Check out the above link to the gallery and click on the images link to see examples of some of her stunning images. If you're heading to Santa Fe, be sure to put it on your list of places to hit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Mexico

Just realized that I never went into much detail about my trip out west. It fell at such a busy time, that it got passed over a little with all the craziness of my move. I just uploaded a bunch of photos to my Flickr account, so please go visit and check them out.

It was such a good time. There's something about New Mexico. I had first been there about 10 years ago and it was just as amazing as I remembered. I appreciate the pace of New Mexico, the calm energy in the air. While there still is activity, it tends to happen without the bustle that I'm used to on the Northeast. There's also that sky. That blue is so spectacular, so clear and the sky just seems so much bigger than it does in New England. The blue against the adobe is something I never get tired of seeing.

I came back feeling so reenergized and relaxed. That huge sky, and the miles you can see with no interference has a way of clearing one's head, and that's why it did to mine.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More Free Summer Fun

Movies on the Block has been going on for a while in Providence, but I only went for the first time last year. It's pretty much as cool as it sounds. Sort of an urban drive in. You bring chairs, food, drinks and show up in the empty lot on the corner of Westminster and Union Streets and watch a movie projected onto a screen on the side of a building. This is free and an awesome way to spend a Thursday night in the summer.

Last summer we went to see Goldfinger and Forrest Gump. So psyched to see Ferris Bueller on this year's list. Bring some dinner and drinks with you and have a picnic during the movie. Blanket is usually key too (especially in September) for the chill in the air that settles in when the sun goes down.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Results . . .

Fun night last night. Cru Beaujolais proved to be a great wine to taste. It's always a good sign when no wines get zero votes, and when no one has any really strong negatives against any. In my book, that makes these safe wines to bring to a dinner party or give as a gift.

Here are a few more photos showing how we label all the glasses with tiny post-it notes, have lots of tasty food (this month all the food was from Venda) and then our make-shift score board. I thought I'd spare you the photo of the 36 wine glasses that will be hand washed by DJH over the next 2 days. (I don't want to scare you off of hosting your own such party.) I'll let you know when the results are posted on DJH's site so you can see which wines we liked the best.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May Wine Tasting

Once a month I participate in a very fun wine tasting. Here's how it works: 6 friends (4 regulars, 2 guests) each get an email with strict instructions of what type of wine to bring. Each guest must bring their wine in a brown paper bag. We pour, swirl, smell, taste and talk about what we're getting from the wine. All adjectives are fair game, they don't have to be official "wine terms."

After tasting, we snack, chat, and try to pick our favorites of the night. (This is usually when the line between tasting and drinking gets a little blurry.) We then rate our faves and reveal the bottles and how much they cost. (We love when the "winner" is a good value.)

DJH is our official host and wine-geek. He picks the theme and does some research so he can tell us about it. Read about previous tastings here. We've been doing this for over 5 years and haven't repeated a type of wine yet!

Tonight is Cru Beaujolais.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday Series

My weekly post on the BEST blog went up yesterday, check it out here.

Just hung up

I posted about these awesome prints by JHill Designs a few weeks ago (here) when I got the Bordeaux one as a housewarming present from DJH. Last night we framed and hung them in the kitchen. I think they look so awesome, I'm so excited! They look so good hung as a pair. Check out her site for more places in this collection, it was hard to chose only two!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Carrie Bradshaw of Scarves

You should know now that I have a small problem, I'm helplessly addicted to scarves. I would sooner walk out of the house forgetting to put shoes on, then forget a scarf. Time of year, temperature, nothing deters me, I have a scarf for every situation.

Which leads me to my question: is it just me, or does Target have the coolest scarves lately? Maybe it's just because I moved 2 weeks ago and have made way too many trips, but I don't remember them having any this nice before. They're right in front too, the second you walk in! It's painful. Things like this are going through my head, "Just get the paper towels and light bulbs, and get out of here. Avoid the Orla Kiley display entirely."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Recession Recreation

Summer is on its way to New England. (At least, that's what I hear. The sun is out today, so it actually feels like it may be true.) We're all feeling the pinch a little lately, so this summer take advantage of some of the free fun happenings in your area.

Providence is chock full of free fun. Today I noticed the schedule was out for one of my faves: Waterfire. This is so unique to Providence and something even us locals like to come out for. I particularly like it late night when the crowds have thinned down a bit and the air has gotten a little cooler.

Check out the schedule here and plan a visit. Also, when there, definitely donate. Given there are far fewer dates this year, they must be feeling the pinch too.

(Photo taken by me last summer.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Personal History

Great blog post over on the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team (BEST) blog about using a journal to keep a personal history. It's written by fellow bookbinder Cindy Leaders of UsefulBooks. It's inspiring, check it out here! (Photo is one of Cindy's book, available in her Etsy shop!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stuff Other People Make

I just love these silly monster magnets by Fishcakes. Taken from the Fishcakes About Us page, "Fishcakes is actually just Voz Perkins; self-proclaimed champion of the underdog animal, and lifetime fan of all kinds of cakes."

I had gotten 2 magnets for me (on the left) and 2 for DJH (on the right) at Craftland. There is a magnet for everyone in her collection of them and they sell like crazy at Craftland. My favorites are the literate narwhal, I make stuff, and all her grammar related ones. They crack me up.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book Inscriptions

I spent a few hours last night organizing my bookshelves. This was a tall task, I have a lot of books. I found myself opening a lot to see what was inside. I usually write my name and date inside each book, so I know when I read it. I also get excited seeing inscriptions from other people in books I've bought in used book stores; that little glimpse into a book's previous life.

My faves are books with inscriptions to me from whoever gave me the book. I love remembering the time or place I got the book, the special person who gave it to me, or the event that prompted the gift. It always makes me smile.

Below is a photo of one of my favorite inscriptions. In kindergarten, I was so enthusiastic about Charlotte's Web, a story we first saw as a film strip (do those still exist in schools today?). My mom gave me the book on the last day of school that year with promises that first grade would bring with it all that I wanted: to read! (What's funny is my mom is deathly afraid of spiders, that's dedication.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Series

My Monday is available to read over on the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team blog.
Check it out here.

Back to Business

My new place is not 100% unpacked, but it's at least unpacked enough to get back to business. My old apartment had a drafting table where I did my bookbinding. This one table often gave way to my entire apartment being taken over by paper, board, atlases. My old place also had basement storage where my 16 harness Macomber loom was stored.

My new place has an actual room I can now call a studio. Woo-hoo! My loom has been saved from basement storage and is now (mostly) set up, and will hopefully be used in the not so distant future. My drafting table is set up and I have shelves for supplies and tools. This is wildly exciting.

I was hoping to be able to share photos today, but it's not quite ready yet, instead I'll share some photos of details of the room that are making me excited and happy.