Monday, September 23, 2013

A Patchwork Canada

"Prairie Palettes"

"Stitchery" is truly an exciting medium for those of us inclined that way. We really can't help ourselves, nor stop ourselves. When my hands are not engaged in some form of "stitchcraft", my mind is whirling with ideas for the next project (or more then likely, projects) to be started. The idea of making a landscape quilt has been floating around in the back of my brain for the last 8 years or so, but something has always taken priority. So now, the time has come to experiment a little with a landscape design. It will be a simple little wall quilt, but it will give me the opportunity to experiment with and learn to use some of the different techniques and resources that are available.

The last part of our travels this past summer was a road trip from Winnipeg, in the heart of the Canadian prairies, to our home in Vancouver, on the Pacific coast of Canada. The opportunity to take endless number of photos has become possible because of digital cameras, and because of this repetition, I started to see the uniqueness and the beauty of my country with fresh eyes. Through the lens of my camera, I discovered that the quiet, unassuming prairie landscape can be as varied and as beautiful as the majestically chiseled mountain peaks further west. From this plethora of photos now in my files came the idea of playing with a landscape project.

Never having designed a landscape quilt before, the first step for me is to single out some of the elements in the photo. Using Photoshop Elements, I enjoyed a little play time transforming the original image using different textural effects.

Photo#1: Prairie landscape: Original photo

Photoshop Image: noise. Emphasis on detail.

PS Image: Crystallize. Simplified, but with interest in the edges.

PS Image: Palette Knife. Very basic.

Photo#2: Original

PS Image: Cutout. Simplifies the colours.

PS Image: Stained Glass. A tad dizzying, but shows good colour separation.

PS Image: Patchwork. Hmmm... .Too many little pieces for a "quick" patchwork!

Photo#3: Original

PS Image: Cutout. I like this one for the simplified landscape and colour separation.

PS Image: Stylize.

PS Image: Accented Edges

The next step will be to choose one of these 3 original photos, or maybe even a combination of them, and using the simplified images produced in photoshop, work out the basic design of the piece.

Another priority for this project is to use only fabrics from my stash. The colour choices may have to adapt a little to what's available. (Is that what they mean by artistic license?!? I somehow doubt it!)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pieces of Summer

After what seemed like a nomadic, sometimes chaotic spring/summer, our travel bags have finally been completely unpacked and placed into storage. Phew! Often, because of travel or circumstances, we were without internet access as well, and as much as we would all like to take ourselves off the grid from time to time, I found myself feeling isolated and lost without it. But we are now finally back in Vancouver, enjoying an unusually warm and sunny late summer.

The Seams French "staff" (that would be me), will be back on track shortly, with some new projects, some "in progress" work, and perhaps even unearthing some of those pieces that have been deeply buried in one closet or another.

In the meantime, I thought that I would share a little of our travels of this past July and August.

Montpellier is on the Mediterranean coast of France in the Languedoc region of France, and is surrounded by mountain ranges to three sides. Other then when driving to the beach, any other drive into the country takes us through one of these mountain ranges.The Pyranees are to the west, between Spain and France; to the east, in Provence, are the Alpilles; and to the north are the Cevennes and the larger Massif Central. The highway that took us to CERN in Switzerland (our first stop on this trip) wound it's way through the Luberon, the northern region of Provence, the area of France that Peter Mayle wrote about in his first book "A Year In Provence".

Ancient ruins of a fortress on the edge of a cliff in the Massif Central in the Luberon region.

CERN, (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the French/Swiss border, near the city of Geneva, is a very large research facility for high energy physics and the birthplace of the "World Wide Web". A must-see for the serious "I love all things science" junkie on this road trip (that would not be me!!!)
This symbol marks the gateway to CERN.

And they mean that very seriously here!

Having escaped the "Big Bang" unscathed, we drove towards Burgundy through yet another mountain range, the Juras, on the Swiss/French border. Yodalaheehoo!

In Burgundy, we met friends in the town of Beaune, where the vineyards never tire of producing some of the worlds best wines, both white and red.
Beautifully maintained vineyards as far as the eye can see.

The last stop, before we headed back home to Montpellier, was in Lyon, where I paid homage to the gods of fibre at "Musee des Tissus".
The entrance courtyard at the museum.

Back in Montpellier there were serious gastronomic explorations that had to be undertaken. We were both up for the challenge.
"La Forge", in the town of Bédarieux, is one of our favourite restaurants.

Just outside of Montpellier is "Ma Maison", whose garden setting is as much a delight as the chef's creative menu choices.

For 3 of the last 5 years, the Tour de France bike race has come right through our neighbourhood.
This photo was taken at the end of our street.

Since our flight home to Vancouver was from Paris, we got there a few days early and enjoyed a few leisurely days of a Paris summer. We strolled up and down the tree lined streets, lingered in the heavily shaded parks and enjoyed watching the life of the city while sipping something or other in one of the many cafés.

Walking towards the Rodin gardens.

In the Rodin Gardens.

"The Burghers of Calais" by Auguste Rodin.

And then it was on to Vancouver. See you soon France!
Taken from our balcony the last night we were in Montpellier.