Home again, home again

I just returned from a ten-day trip to Madrid and Valencia, Spain and I’m still floating in jet-lag land. I know, no sympathy for someone who gets to take such a fun trip! But still, I’m not all here yet. I just wanted to say a couple of things about my Etsy Storque post on pearls, which went up while I was away.

I was stunned by how many people commented and how many people love pearls. I especially enjoyed the comments about thinking that pearls were stodgy. Steve (Bloom–author of Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Life of Pearls, who I interviewed for the story) made the point that while Barbara Bush wore pearls, so did Audrey Hepburn.

They’re classic, but not stuffy, in other words. There is a lot of talk in his book about the way pearls represent virtue, innocence, and tradition, but also sophistication, drama, and haute couture. My favorite quote is from Manolo Blahnik, who Steve quotes as saying “Pearls give a gloss, a certain refinement, even if you’re just a trashy girl.”

While I was in Spain I was especially attuned to looking at art with pearls in mind. Steve told me that pearl obsession was part of what drove Queen Isabella of Spain to push Columbus to explore the New World, and that areas of the Caribbean were essentially stripped of their pearls by early explorers who could take them back to Europe and make a pile ‘o dough selling them. Indeed, when I looked at paintings in the Prado, I noted pearls woven in women’s hair and stitched to their gowns.

(These photos are courtesy of Steve Bloom and top-to-bottom depict: a rare Australian pearl plucked from its shell; Chinese freshwater pearl technicians insertinginto mussels a bead around which a pearl will form. The painting is Circle of Sofonisba Anguissola (Cremona 1527-1626 Palermo), and is not actually in the Prado, but does show her wearing a number of pearls.)

More on Spain next…soon…really, I mean it!

The Sunday night blahs…

Sunday nights are a challenge for a lot of people. One of my sister’s used to call it “the Sunday dreads,” as in dreading the return to work on Monday morning. I like my job and the people I work with, but sometimes I still have that moment when I wish the weekend could go on a little longer. A couple of years ago I decided to make Sunday nights a sewing night and that helped—I actually started to look forward to the end of the weekend, because I’d set aside time to stitch.

Although I really have no reason to complain tonight, I’m feeling all the more challenged about returning to work because I’ve been on vacation. I had the amazing good fortune to spend five days in Lake Tahoe with some quilting friends, new and newer.
Six of us gathered at the most gorgeous home on the shore of Lake Tahoe and learned to paint on fabric from Mary Lou Weideman, who recently took a class from Susan Shie. Mary Lou drew on her art background and gave Susan’s painting and writing techniques a “Weideman twist.” (That’s Mary Lou wielding a paintbrush on the right and Molly on the left, learning from the master.)

I’ve said before that I’m not an artist and several of us felt intimidated about drawing and painting. But everyone was encouraging and had a great time. I didn’t actually get the words on mine yet, but I did enjoy the painting a lot…once it was drawn on the cotton I had that wonderful feeling I used to get when I colored in a coloring book: the pleasure of choosing and combining colors and just zoning out as I filled in the blanks. Lots of good thinking time, along with great conversation and an opportunity to admire everyone’s creative spirits (and eat M&M’s).

Our hostess, Lynn, was an absolute delight and made us really feel at home. I sometimes felt wrong looking at my work and not at the views, but there was always time to take a break, walk down the beach, or just step outside and check out the mountains and the water.

We also enjoyed some time in town, including at the Red Hut Cafe, where we purchased what became our uniform (left to right: Molly, Cherise, me, Mel, Robyn, and Mary Lou on the dock of Lynn’s home).

It was an inspiring week and on top of it I learned how to applique from Mary Lou and Mel got me all excited about making yo yos (that’s her at the sewing machine, with a stack of her Liberty of London yo-yos in front of her). Here’s what I came up with: