TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Gourd Patch Festival, Mayfield, Kentucky

Photos courtesy of Bob Davis

The days are still warm and pleasant here in Western Kentucky, but Summer has officially ended and signs of Fall and colder weather begin to manifest themselves. Leaves start to turn, night comes a bit quicker, that tell-tale chill in the morning... yep. The cold is on its way here.

With the change of season comes harvest and bountiful, beautiful pumpkins and gourds. A couple of my Paducah Fiber Artists friends and I took a trek to attend the Gourd Patch Festival in nearby Mayfield, Kentucky. What a wonder!

I've seen gourds before and plenty of pumpkins. But, I don't think I've seen so many varieties, such vibrant colors and all that texture!

We learned that the gourds are dried by leaving them on the vine, in the field, and the ones that survive the elements will make good gourds for craft use. I picked a few that I want to experiment using henna designs:

There was plenty to do at the festival as it featured gourd vendors, craft booths, a Gourd-mobile derby (!!!), food concessions, live music, a hay-bale maze, with the day ending in a ghost walk at a nearby cemetery (we didn't stay for that!).

Vendors definitely had a brisk business!

David Meeks from the Pumpkin Barn sells raw
gourds and these birdhouses he makes.

Paula Martin, of Nashville, Tennessee, looked around,
getting ideas for what she was going to make with the gourds she bought.

Many of the crafts were season oriented with Halloween, Fall and Christmas decorations in mind.

Others were quite lovely, appropriate for year round use.

Murray State University's Gourd Percussion Band tried really hard to make a commotion (they could have used some mikes...), but they were cute and darling.

My friend, Bob, posed for a portrait:

A great likeness in my opinion!

The Ice House Gallery (Yep! It really was an ice house way back when...) sheltered the masterpieces by gourd artists from all over the country.

It's amazing what different people came up with! Pigs, dragons, presidents, and intricate ornamental work revealed themselves through this gourd art.

At the back of the Ice House Gallery, there is a little shop and an art room for classes. I enjoyed speaking with one of the local artists (the guy who made the dragon).

We rushed out because we didn't want to miss the Gourd Mobile Derby. Our friend, Margaret had been volunteering inside, while her husband, Fred, also a gourd artist, got all the gourd cars ready for the big competition. For weeks before, kids prepared for this event by getting their spiffed up gourd cars ready. The base is from a kit, the same on all of them, but the top is up to the artist.

As you can see, some stayed close to traditional car designs, while others went wild with their imagination:

The cars are raced, three at a time on this special track. It was surprising to see which ones got the best umph!

We loaded up our pumpkins and gourds with ideas spinning around in our heads of what we might be able to create with these wonderful shapes! I'm sure there will be some tasty pies coming up in the next few weeks as well. Yum, yum!

The Exhibit at the Ice House Gallery continues through October 11. That's at the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild, 120 North Eighth Street, Mayfield, KY 42066. If you are a gourd artist and would like to submit your work next year ($1,000 award!!!), you can contact Dana Heath at icehouse@wk.net, 270-247-6971. They accept work from all over the United States.

The Mayfield Gourd Patch Festival is sponsored by the City of Mayfield, the Mayfield Tourism Commission, and the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild. See www.icehousearts.org for more information.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman: The Beautiful American

I just learned that Paul Newman is no longer with us. There is a sadness in my heart, a hole in this country, a vacated space in this world... I never met the man, yet I grew up with his movies and in all the years that he has gifted Hollywood with his presence, I have never heard a bad word uttered against him, a rare thing indeed when our press hungers for juicy gossip and grudgingly honors a good man.
There is a book called "The Ugly American" which was a big hit in the 1950's. Here is Wikipedia's description of it:
"The Ugly American is the title of a 1958 political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. It became a bestseller, was influential at the time, and is still in print.
The novel describes how the United States is losing the struggle with Communism—what was later to be called the battle for hearts and minds—in Southeast Asia, because of arrogance and failure to understand the local culture.

The book takes place in a fictional nation known as Sarkhan. In the novel, a Burmese journalist says "For some reason, the people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They're loud and ostentatious." The phrase "ugly Americans" came to be applied to Americans behaving in this manner."

These are the Americans who have angered the world. We will protect our loud and wasteful way of life, at any cost, because it is our God given right. Paul Newman was not one of these men. He rejoiced when he found out that he was on President Nixon's top 20 "Enemies List", saying that his inclusion on the list was one of the top accomplishments of his life. Paul Newman often portrayed the angst of the American soul, the discomfort of being judged by wealth and beauty. As a young man and as an old one, he challenged social norms, living on the edge on film, maintaining a solid marriage with Joanne Woodward (Well, isn't THAT something?!!), and with all of his social entrepreneurship.
Robert Redford is of the same caliber and he is still with us. His visionary protectionism of the Sundance land began long before he was famous. Both men acted on principles, "Walk the Talk".
I almost lost my father to a diabetic coma this week, but my mother, a nurse, caught it in time and saved him. My father is also one of these beautiful American men. After this fright, I started documenting our time as missionaries in Brazil in a new blog, Biels In Brazil, as an exercise in memory, of capturing the essence of what has passed. These beautiful Americans have worked quietly, but steadily, leaving behind a model that attentive younger Americans can follow. Yes, Paul Newman has passed on. Robert Redford and my father are both now old men. But, as they leave us with their body, their spirit remains. I found this interview with Paul Newman last year very interesting:

There is a dignity in this man that is absent from our social fiber as a nation. I watched the debates between future-president-wannabes McCain and Obama last night and both lacked something that I cannot quite put my finger on- a certain ease of self, a definition of manhood that I look for in leadership (although maybe Obama is 80% there...).
People like Paul Newman are beacons of light in this flippant world. His work has often voiced my own angst at how things are, but his actions have also been a nudge to keep on going and fight the good fight without imposition or aggressiveness. Yes! I would love to make Nixon's (or McCain's) enemy list as well! Yes! I can be a positive force in my own circle. Yes! I can be a beautiful American, too!
My heartfelt sympathies go out to Newman's family and friends. You have been blessed to have known his true self. May he go in peace.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Interlacing Designs for Quilt Borders by Donna Hussain

Most beginning quilters focus their creative energies on the patchwork or appliqué centers of their quilts. By the time their quilt blocks are stitched and sewn together they are tired of sewing the quilt top, eager to start the quilting phase. However one last quilt-top task remains: the addition of borders. A common border solution is to frame the quilt top with four border strips of matching fabric. But does this border add visual interest and enhance the beauty of the quilt? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If not, what other options are there?

Traveling Star of the East By Donna Quartier

I am always looking for innovative ideas for borders. At quilt shows I walk down the aisles focusing on the borders of displayed quilts to collect border ideas. My scrapbooks of quilt pictures are a helpful resource when deciding on borders for a new project. A number of years ago I started a collection of interlacing patterns that I found in Islamic and Celtic art books, planning to sew these designs with bias tubes onto the borders of my quilts. Once my interest in interlacing designs was piqued I began to notice the patterns on jewelry, fabric trims, engravings, picture frames, fine china, greeting cards, and kitchen tiles.

However, I had to be able to draw interlacing patterns before I could sew them. The drawing was challenging until I realized that each pattern is a single motif repeated over and over again. Since I could not reproduce the symmetry of the patterns with accuracy when drawing freehand, I developed a grid structure for drawing the designs.

Sample drawings of patterns.

Click on the images to see the type more clearly.

Interlacing designs drawn on paper can also be drawn on fabric. By sewing bias tubes over the design lines the patterns can be sewn to border fabric. In 1998 I published a book on this subject, Interlacing Borders: More Than 100 Intricate Designs Made Easy published by Martingale Company. Included are directions for making bias tubes and for sewing the patterns, including how to start and stop as well as tips for sewing angles, curves, crossovers, and corners. Unfortunately this book is now out of print but can still be purchased either new or second-hand on the Internet.

Interlacing Borders by Donna Hussain

Here are some quilts that illustrate how interlacing border designs can enhance the borders of quilts. Some of the quilts are mine. Others are quilts made by Sacramento friends who allowed me to add interlacing borders to their quilt tops for publication in the book. Fortunately, I own the book’s copyright so can legally reproduce these photos.

Photos of Quilts

Starburst Fun By Joyce Reece

Forest Light By Donna Hussain

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Hearts By Candy Kraft

Leaves in the Wind By Cynthia Moseby

Rainbow Weaving By Elizabeth Lonnquist

Fourpatch Plus By Donna Hussain

Quintessential Quilter's Round Robin
Ouida Braithwaite, Nancy Barrow, Donna Hussain, Kit La Due, and Sandy Ross

California quilter, Donna Hussain, has exhibited in major quilt shows around the country, authored books, and is a regular contributor to Fiber Focus. Click on her name to see all of her past articles.

The photo shows Donna with her husband, Pascha.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Selcuk: An Aegean Home to Art, by Catherine Salter Bayar

A western view of Ayasuluk Hill, from the Basilica of St John.

The historical valley on Turkey’s West Coast where we live has more than its share of diverse cultural attractions – from centuries of wonders at Ephesus, a city founded by a mythical tribe of women warriors known as Amazons, embellished by King Croesus, liberated by Alexander the Great and nearly as important as Rome, to the tomb of Jesus’ favorite disciple and last home of the Virgin Mary, both sites of Christian pilgrimage, as well as a charming Ottoman village best known for its traditional pleasures of homemade wines and handmade lace.

Colorful neckpieces of silk, oya lace and embroidery.

Nestled amid olive and pine tree-covered mountains, mandarin orange and peach groves, the roughly 12 square-mile Selçuk area’s vast offerings are completed by a wide sandy beach along the blue Aegean Sea. Named for the pre-Ottoman Turks and pronounced “Sel-chuk”, through millennia this region has been home to the Hittites, Carians, Lydians, Persians, as well as the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Turks. Each culture has left its mark on the people who live here now, though the handcrafts of the past are quickly becoming only marketing tools to attract tourists, as modern generations have few opportunities to make a living though the arts.

Today, travelers visit the ruins of Ephesus, the best preserved Greco-Roman city in the Eastern Mediterranean:

Or, they visit the last standing column and a half of the ancient Seven Wonder Temple of Artemis, built to honor the Artemis of Ephesus, the goddess combination of the Greek Artemis, goddess of the moon, the hunt and fertility, and the Anatolian mother goddess Kybele.

This ancient temple, four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens, stood on the southwestern slope of Ayasuluk Hill. The Temple served as both religious institution and marketplace, visited by pilgrims, tourists and merchants from the far reaches of the known world, as long ago as 550BC. Ayasuluk Hill is also home to a Byzantine fortress, the 14th C Isa Bey Mosque, and the 6th C Basilica of St John, all above.

Travelers can also brandish replicas of gladiator’s weapons at the Selçuk Ephesus Museum, sip cold mountain spring water from the well at the Virgin Mary’s chapel, and wander the stony lanes in the hillside village of Sirince or our larger town of Selçuk, to mix with the locals and experience how people live here now.

Selçuk is inhabited year-round by a pleasant mix of farmers and business people, tourists and travelers, and a growing expatriate community. The town is easily accessible by bus, train or car from big city Izmir’s airport 37 miles north, or from the Aegean port town Kusadasi 12 miles south. All sites of interest are within walking distance from the town center or a short minibus ride away. Visitors stay in hospitable family-run hotels of antique-filled, traditional-style stone, or modern accommodations with sweeping roof terrace views.

Restaurants serve savory home-cooked Turkish food and a farmer’s market every Saturday abounds in fresh, locally grown produce.

Tall stone Byzantine aqueducts bisect the town, supporting massive stork nests for the revered migratory birds, and propping up my favorite old Ottoman house, which in my ten years here has perpetually been on the verge of falling down. All centered on cobbled walking streets, making Selçuk the perfect travel base and a peaceful respite from the congested Aegean coastal towns.

If this all sounds like a tourism pitch, I suppose it is. For you see, I have a dream for the future of sustainable tourism here, a dream that is shared by a few other small business owners - all women - who also work with local artisans.

A Turkish wish tree – tie a piece of fabric,
make a wish, and your dream will come true…

Our dream is reclaim our valley in the name of handcrafts. Yes, we have ‘carpet villages’, places where women demonstrate the art of weaving to busloads of captive tourists. But how about staying in a small hillside neighborhood of winding lanes and old houses, with workshops where visitors spend a week learning how to shear a sheep, card wool, spin yarn, pick berries, roots and other materials to dye it, and develop the skill of tying a Turkish double knot?

The Isa Bey Mosque, built in 1375 by the Anatolian Selçuk Turks
from remnants of Ephesus and Basilica stone,
is an asymmetrical mix of Selçuk and Ottoman architecture,
with excellent carved decorations, a peaceful courtyard and
lovely old prayer carpets for inspiration.

Or, how about lace making classes? Plenty of Turkish women still make oya, the crocheted lace that traditionally edges headscarves and speaks a floral language that only other women of the same village can understand.

Other regions of the world offer knitting tours – why not learn to make these colorful multi-patterned socks? Or the art of feltmaking, more of a southeastern Turkish art, but a practical one that uses every last fiber of wool after spinning and carpet weaving is done.

Other arts abound as well. Our local spoon carver loves to show visitors how he whittles wood into a kitchen utensil that could last a lifetime:

There is always the ancient art of mosaics:

The sidewalks in Ephesus, where terraced courtyard houses were once occupied by the wealthy, are still complete with intricate mosaic floors and frescoed walls. Nowhere other than Pompeii do today’s visitors have such an excellent chance to experience life in the ancient world.

Selçuk surrounds Ayasuluk Hill, site of the first city of Ephesus, where artifacts dating to the Bronze Age of 6,000 BC have been uncovered. This is also the hill where we live, in a 70 year old stone house, just visible to the right with the red tile roof. With the wealth of antiquities here, few people live in houses as old of ours, a fact which I find ironic and also sad. The past is preserved only for tourists to visit, but why can’t we live there as well? Why not recreate this ancient hill, now home to immigrants from the east and gentrifying big city Turks and foreigners? Let us reclaim these old houses and fill the lanes with artisans’ workshops, creating jobs, training future generations and giving visitors hands-on experience in the ways things used to be made!

Saint John the Evangelist, favorite of Jesus and only disciple to attend his crucifixion, with his important role in disseminating Christianity and writing the Book of Revelation, is buried on Ayasuluk Hill, according to several early Christian writers. In the 6th century AD, Emperor Justinian built an enormous Basilica over an earlier 4th C church. Many of the stone walls, strikingly contrasted by horizontal rows of red brick, still stand. From the terrace, there is a wonderful view of Selçuk, the Ephesian Plain and the Aegean, especially at sunset.

Throughout the year, Selçuk holds festivals celebrating local culture. In January, camel wrestling is held near the beach. The traditional and colorful competition sports large beasts decorated in their finest kilims and tassels. While thousands of people come from all over to watch these beasts wrangle necks and kick up dust, it’s far more fascinating for me to see what the camels will be wearing.

May and September host art, music, dance and handicraft festivals which are gaining more interest each year. But someday soon perhaps we shop owners of Selcuk will come together and request that Ayasuluk Hill be made an artists’ district. Visitors could then come out from behind the glass windows of their big tourist buses and interact directly with the artisans – the carpet weavers, lace makers, copper workers, wood carvers, mosaic setters – and feel truly a part of the past here for a time, not just looking in as observers.

Catherine Salter Bayar lives with her husband Abit in Selcuk, near Ephesus, Turkey, where they own a vintage textile shop and a water pipe & wine bar. Catherine is currently working on a book on Turkish textiles. Visit them at www.bazaarbayar.com or www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com.


Related Posts with Thumbnails