Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ending the Year

There is no shortage of things to do here on St. Croix tonight. Every restaurant and beach bar has dinner and music lined up to ring in the New Year. In addition, the week-long Crucian Christmas Festival is in full swing with Festival Village erected to offer carnival rides, local foods, dance performances and live bands tonight until 4 in the morning.

Tonight Bob and I are teaming up with our pals Adele and John for a last hurrah with Mary Anne, who will be moving to Florida in a couple of days. Not wanting to commit to one place all night, we're creating our own a la carte celebration. We'll convene at John and Adele's for dinner and then we'll go east to Chicken Charlie's Roadhouse to see Outlaw Brassie James, a great local rock and blues band. From there we'll work our way westward and backwards in time to Tutto Bene for a sampling of their Disco Night. If we still have enough energy, we'll stop in to Club 54 to see Banooba, a NY-based funk rock group very popular here on St. Croix.

I may need a nap before all the festivities, but more importantly, I want to sit today and take stock of this year and focus my thoughts on the new year. As I do every year on this day, I'll make a list of everything that I want to leave behind in 2006, and another list of everything that I want to welcome in 2007, and you can bet that quilting is going to top that list!

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mini Wallet/Biz Card Holder

Here is the promised photo of the mini wallet/business card holder that I've been creating with Olga's help. It's small enough to fit in the back pocket of your jeans when you don't want to carry a handbag, or it goes in your handbag as a nifty place for your business cards. It can fit business cards, credit cards or folded bills. When you pull on the little ribbon tag, the contents slide up for easy access. The photo shows the front and back sides.

I've designed it, created the prototype and selected all the fabrics to be used for this project. Olga has helped me to cut all the materials and now they are waiting for me to begin sewing it all up. My goal is to begin selling these at the Good Hope Art Exhibit in February. If they sell, then I'll try to sell them at gift boutiques around the island.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jellyfish Gestation

Last week I began working on an idea for a quilt about jellyfish. My first attempt flopped before too long. A second try suffered the same fate. The problem was the organza that I wanted to incorporate into the design. This sheer fabric has a luxurious glow and airiness that makes it the ideal candidate for any textile rendering of jellyfish. But its silky texture also makes it tricky to handle. The week ended with me thinking that I should simply give up on that jellyfish quilt for now and attempt it some other time.

Friday afternoon found me waiting for two-hours at the doctor's office. Fortunately I'd brought with me Creative Quilting: The Journal Quilt Project ("a compendium of more than 400 quilts, each 8 1/2" x 11", culled from the nearly 6,000 Quilt Pages made by 918 artists who participated in The Journal Quilt Project over five years"). So busy was I feasting my eyes on these wonderful quilts that I didn't notice the lengthy wait. By the time I left the doctor's office I had some thoughts brewing on how to rescue my jellyfish quilt.

I returned to the studio today after a five-day absence. I hadn't given the jellyfish ideas much thought during the weekend but they popped right back into my head as soon as I put my focus on the quilt. I was thrilled to see that my time away was not wasted. All those random ideas had a few days to simmer and today they coalesced into a quick, easy and coherent approach for my quilt. I had to tear myself away from the studio this evening, and I can't wait to return in the morning to finish this project. I'm bringing my camera tomorrow so that I can take a picture. Stay tuned...

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Colombian Christmas

In Colombia the big Christmas celebration takes place today on Christmas Eve. The streets take on the air of a carnival as people throw open their doors, blare their music and come out to greet their neighbors. One of the best memories I have as a kid was running around with other kids every evening for a week leading to Christmas. We'd make "cascabeles" or rattles out of flattened bottle caps and we'd travel from house to house singing Christmas carols in front of elaborate nativity scenes in each living room. There would be entire towns with tiny houses lit up by strings of tiny lights. There would be caravans of camels traveling from town to town, and hills with sheep and cattle. We'd follow the progression of Mary and Joseph towards the manger, and off in the distance, the three magi would also be traveling guided by the star of the East. Some houses got so carried away that the nativity scene took up most of the living room.

For our singing we'd receive candy every night, and on Christmas Eve, the last night of caroling, we might get a small gift, adding to the excitement over the greater gifts to come. Because the nativity scene was the focal point of the holidays, we had no Christmas tree or gift exchange under it. What we had was the promise that Baby Jesus would be born at midnight, and he would bring along a gift for every child. So we kids went to bed scheming ways to stay awake so that we could catch a glimpse of the holy infant as he performed the miracle feat of simultaneously being born and delivering toys to every sleeping child in the world. We awoke on Christmas Day to search for the gifts at the foot of our beds, hidden somewhere under the covers.

Today my heart is heavy with remembrance and missing as my family in New Jersey will continue the tradition of celebrating on Christmas Eve. There is a tree now instead of a nativity scene, but tonight they will still sing Colombian Christmas carols and grandma will still make typical Colombian delicacies, such as Natilla (a sweet polenta) and Bunuelos (fried cheese balls) and brevas (fig stew). I'll miss the chaos of organizing a buffet for about 30 people, and the noise of everyone talking at the same time, and the joy of watching the new generation of babies growing up into toddlers, and the gratitude that my 95-year-old grandfather and my 89-year-old grandmother are still with us. Tonight I'll be here in St. Croix having a quiet evening, but I will certainly be there in spirit!


Friday, December 22, 2006

Creative Overload?

My friend Olga has volunteered to come to the studio in the afternoons and help out. Her offer came just as I was planning to create a line of quilted wallets and purses to sell at the Good Hope Art Exhibit in February. With Olga's assistance the idea has blossomed into a full-blown operation and we began by producing mini wallets/business card holders (I'll bring one home to photograph and post.).

Now I'm dividing my time between making art quilts on my own, and then working with Olga on these smaller items. This new arrangement brings forth a whole new array of ideas and decisions to be made. And I'm beginning to feel on creative overload.

Running the gamut of ideas through my mind is like window shopping, everything looks good, everything is a possibility. But selecting a single idea and committing to it requires a mental and emotional shift if it is to be successfully brought to fruition. So today I'm going to the studio and I will take a deep breath and sit for a while until I work out which idea has the strongest emotional pull to become my next project.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice

Although "winter" here gives us a dimmer sun and slightly shortened daylight hours, today being the shortest day of the year is a fact that bears little overt significance in the tropics.

In New Jersey I used to observe the winter solstice as a time to prepare for the deep freeze of winter and the resulting period of introspection and reflection. I was like a bear preparing for hibernation. With the short gray days, my energy was low and my need to sleep was gargantuan. I remember dragging myself out of bed at 8 a.m. and being ready to succumb back in bed at 7 p.m. Writing and cooking hearty soups were the only activities that seemed worth pursuing.

My winters are very different now, with abundant fresh air and sunshine. I don't need to be in bed half the day, though I always cherish a full night of sleep, a good writing session and a hearty bowl of soup.

Today I will still observe the Winter Solstice. I won't be burrowing away under thick blankets waiting for the thaw, but I'll be retreating into the studio for a period of quiet creativity. And just knowing that I'll have the opportunity to hibernate in such a delightful way is enough reason to celebrate!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Back in a Time Warp

I traveled to NJ in that limbo space between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and now that I'm back in St. Croix it's taking me a while to get my bearings. In New Jersey I experienced the usual cold snap, the ensuing cold and bout of bronchitis, the ubiquitous lighted decorations to make up for the shortened days, the exaggerated commercialization and rush and expectation in the countdown to Christmas.

Here in St. Croix there is no wood smoke in the air, no belighted pines on front yards, no warm scarves to keep out the cold. The breezes are refreshing, the trees are green and lush, the sun is bright and the Christmas carols on the radio sound out of synch. Monday is Christmas and I can't seem to muster that sense of anticipation, much less a coherent plan for dinner and a way to spend the holiday. Without family here, traditions go out the window. And yet, I know that we and our friends will come together and find our own meaningful way to celebrate a year of good fellowship in which our friendships carried us through fun as well as difficult times, the same way that families do.