Lately….

September 29, 2016

…our weather has obviously been changing. Although we still get to see a bright blue  sky during the day, temperatures have dropped.  Evenings and nights are cooler, quilts are  welcome ! Mountains are often hidden behind a morning mist and parasols stay closed, a colorful reminder of our sunny Summer.dsc02832_2

Rain has fallen. Humidity was  so much needed and no one is  complaining.dsc02136

There are still some flamboyant colors  left in the garden, like this  red/orange gorse or broom ? that are brightening up any day.

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On a clear day at the lakeside, you could even meet The Lady of The Lake (not even feeling cold 😉  enjoying the late Summer sunshine.dsc02781_2

In town, Fall and Winter clothes are blooming in the shop-windows. A little dog is sitting outside; he looks at the passersby as if saying : “Here is the new Fall fashion for you, ladies”. A nice encounter with this irrresistible and patient doggie waiting for her owner who went inside the boutique. For how long ? Who knows ? He will wait for sure.dsc02927

On the way to the forest, I made another encounter that attracted my attention. A small yellow leaf was caught in a late afternoon sunray and shone in all its glory. Could this be another sign of Autumn settling down around here ?dsc02959

Ninio has felt something too and is trying to blend in. Hunting season has started, his instinct for camouflage  is awoken but I keep him on a leash…so as to be sure we walk back home together ! And avoid trouble with the hunters.dscn1581

Feeling like more color ? Then I am happy to share with you my latest quilt. One I started sewing when I received the bad news of my cancer. It has been a great help all along this past year. Sewing by hand, having it close by wherever I went and whenever I felt like adding a piece of material carefully chosen for all it inspired me. I loved searching in my  baskets of scraps for the right material or pattern. There are circles, many circles, more or less round – you could say like  cells, breasts, life circles.  Some are looking healthy but in others you can see wounds, pain, you can imagine hope too  and whatever you feel like. (if you click on the picture, you may be able to see the details).dsc03000I called this piece :

“Quilting for healing”
Circles … each one a precious life
Circles of all kinds
Circles of pain
Circles of fear
Circles of hope
Circles on the mend
Circles of gratefulness
Circles for Life
Quilting for Life

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and colorful Autumn.

Gifts of love

February 14, 2016

I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day !

This small heart,  made of joyful scraps weaved together like a tapestry of friendship and love between us all, is my gift for you. I had so much pleasure sewing it slowly, seeing how simple stitches could create such movement on the various materials (cotton and wild silk). This is just the beginning of a new technique I discovered in a book by Claire Wellesley-Smith “Slow Stitch” (mindful and contemplative textile art).

DSC02044.JPGMany Valentine’s gifts of all kinds are shown in our shops. I chose a window presenting books for children. Love stories with happy endings, questions like “What is Love” ? and many more tales about those unforgettable friendships with a beloved dog, a horse or a rabbit.Maybe these books will remind you of those of your childhood or the ones you read to your kids later on ?  I do remember “The Family Bear’s Picnic”, a book brought back from the States and that I read countless times to my sons. Being in English, I had to translate this story for them every evening for quite a long time. Sometimes I would not find the very same word as the night before and…it was a drama: “No, no, Papa Ours  (bear) did not say that !” or “His sandwich was made with ham and not cheese”! Memories of love that made me smile today.DSC02029.jpgNature offers us hearts  and signs of love in places you do not always expect them. Like this  piece of snow stuck between two branches and that I had not noticed when taking the picture. In fact, I was more attracted by the setting sun caught in the forest. Hasn’t it got a shape of a heart too ?hiver, baies rougesAnd here is another gift of friendship and gratefulness for you on Valentine’s Day. Thankfulness for your visits and support even though I have not been regularly posting and visiting you these days. This is the landscape I saw this morning as I opened the shutters of the chalet up in the Alps. I am never tired of looking at it, morning or evening, at sunrise or sunset, in Winter or in Summer.DSC02062.JPGWishing you well on Valentine’s Day and on the other days too 🙂

Isabelle

Christmas mood

December 25, 2015

Wishing you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS, moments of joy and peace, togetherness,  sharing the light and warmth of this special time of the year. Moments that I hope will last long after this day.

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This is also a time when my parents are both very present around us. They both left days before and after Christmas. Here is the quilt I made in memory of my mother, gratitude and happy years together. Little pieces of materials that belonged to her or that she used a lot : pillow cases, towels, aprons, napkins, handkerchiefs, curtains, cushions, tablecloths. I felt good sewing it slowly, thinking of her and smiling.DSC01914

A crib in town. There were many of them, nicely built and decorated along the “Path of the Cribs”. I like this  one for the feeling of peace it conveys as well as togetherness, offering, sharing, realness.

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These images are my gifts to you on this Christmas Day, dear visitors, friends  who happen to stop here today.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” 

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Of colors and Winter

February 9, 2015

Don’t we all need colors in Winter ? More colors than the occasional yellow or red leaves that highlight a green bush ? Thanks for them Colours that strike you vibrantly and bring a smile Colours that make you blink as if the sun had hit your eyes Or as if a rainbow from elsewhere would bend down gently over  you  to warm your heart I send you the gift of a quilt I sewed recently, digging into my scraps boxes with the utmost pleasure. DSC00829 I will be kept away from my window to yours for a while. Should you wish to send me a message, it will definitely bring more colors to one of those mailboxes, and to the other too since they are so close together. mailboxes, 2 Wishing you all the best. With love Isabelle

Moments I like to remember

October 17, 2014

On a hot Summer evening under the roof of his attic apartment. my eldest son was busy preparing a Thai meal to celebrate my birthday. Great concentration for adding the many ingredients that were chosen for  this special and delicious meal. Thanks JB !

collage, Thai foodLast June I finished sewing a picnic quilt. Lots of leftover scraps from previous quilts. I was really happy.

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The problem was that our Summer was so cold and rainy  that picnics were too rare. Fortunately Autumn has started beautifully and warmly. Sooner or later the colorful blanket will be part of a joyful day in the open.DSC00109

Oh, the great moments I spent reading these books during last Spring and Summer ! Not always cheerful stories  but certainly all different and fascinating in many ways, locations, times, styles and characters.

books, Summer 2014

I remember with emotion the outing my family and I made – as well as many cousins – to an unforgettable place in the Alps. 300 hundred years ago a major rockslide hit a small mountain village, killing many of its inhabitants and their cattle, destroying their rough wooden chalets.

Last August a day of remembrance was celebrated up on those mountain pastures where rocks are still covering much of the landscape. “Emotion”, I wrote because this area is where my mother grew up; she and her siblings used to go up there every Summer looking after the family domestic cattle. Those were hard times but “some of the best of my life”, my mother used to say. All day long I thought of her and how she would have loved to be there with us. She certainly was in my heart.

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On the road to the pastures, we were welcomed by local musicians playing the Alp horn, a typical musical instrument here.DSC00075

Another moment to remember of  this past Summer was my father’s significant birthday ! Having owned a garage  almost all his life, we thought it would be a nice surprise for him to rent an old Londonian taxi (Austin 1970) to drive him to the place where family and friends were waiting to cheering him. He was hugely surprised and absolutely delighted.

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What a great moment too when I was able to pick the first apples – boscop – in the garden ! Not exactly shiny nor smooth, they are nevertheless tasty and just perfect for pies or compotes.DSC00352Guess what other moments I always like to remember ? The adventurous walks Ninio leads me to. Nature in all its forms. Wild most of the time. Not that he refuses to go to my chosen destinations. But his eyes and slower pace tell me : “Now, how about going on exploration to places that smell interesting ?”

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Astronomers and stars

June 15, 2014

As I received this image (in B&W), together with a fine poem by W. Whitman, I could not but try imagining how this world must have looked in colors. I spent a quiet moment painting it according to my own wishes.DSCN1543 WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams,

to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer,

where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

” Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1867

stars quilt   Have you ever stopped and looked up at the sky on a clear night ? Have you ever taken time to search for stars, the brilliant ones and the more dimly-lit ones ? Have you ever felt dizzy while looking up, your head pulled back and you neck sore from observing the vastness of the sky ? Dizzy, amazed and feeling so small under the celestial vault. We obviously need to be grateful to science and scientists to research and explain all kinds of phenomenons. Don’t we also need taking time to look behind the charts, figures and diagrams ?

 

Here is something I liked and felt like sharing with you ? 😉 http://io9.com/5973932/walt-whitmans-when-i-heard-the-learnd-astronomer-in-comic-form

rusty quilt

February 21, 2014

It all started about one year ago after I visited a friend’s exhibition near my home. My friend is a sculptor, someone who looks at things she finds here and there in a way you and I may not always do. Marie-Chantal collects driftwood, pebbles, metallic parts, all kinds of abandoned objects transformed over  time and permanent evolution. Corroded steel is probably her favourite material to create her sculptures. She associates stone to solidity, wood is her symbol of evolution,  paper means malleability, glass she uses for transparence. Marie-Chantal likes to cite the philosopher Heraclite :

“The absence of consistency of things which move endlessly, never stay like they  were originally and that can transform themselves into their contrary”

To show you how her sculptures look like, you may wish to open this link on her website and see how inspired I was by her creativity :

http://www.marie-chantalcollaud.ch/fr/galeries-serie-1.html

http://www.marie-chantalcollaud.ch/fr/galeries-serie-3.html

Here is the result of my inspiration.

rusty quiltA quilt made little by little putting together many scraps. Rough and soft materials that looked “rusty” to me, textures like gunny, raffia, corduroy,  copper threads, cotton, linen, wool or softer fabrics like gauze and raw silk.

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rusty quilt 2 détails

DSCN1281It was a challenge to work with  materials whose texture did not always blend in nor fit perfectly with others. I used my scraps like Marie-Chantal used her little bits of stone, wood, corroded steel or glass. Looking differently at  things bring you lots of joy too.

And now, a long delayed work that I look forward to create. More scraps and more memories, dear ones. Pieces of materials, handkerchiefs, aprons, pillow cases, napkins and more that belonged to my mother. i am not sure yet what I will do at the end but I do look forward to remember moments, events, words and thoughts as I will sew these small pieces together.

scraps mamannew quilt with scraps

Cats in the garden

April 26, 2013

A short, very short story.

Two cats in a garden close to my home, so close they often pay me a visit. One jump over the fence and here they are :

Renia, the white Somali, sweet looking but fierce when it comes to defend its preys.Renia

and Solero, the brown Bengali who reigns over our area and whose descendants are numerous  and beautiful.

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The garden they live in is just beginning to bloom and it is a real pleasure to look at it. What a gift  to stroll through its alleys after the long Winter !  Its gardener, my friend Germaine, so loved by both cats, spends hours tending to it.

This is how Germaine’s garden looks through the eye of my needle.

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A round ochre terrace surrounded by colourful bush, neat narrow alleys and a kitchen garden where flowers have nested too. In a secluded corner lies a small pond amongst pink flowers, home to golden fish and frogs.quilt cats in the garden, 2

An air of Japan, stones,  big flower pots, small plants and cactus.quilt Cats in the garden, 3

Flowerbeds glimpsed at through Germaine’s kitchen window. Nature and beauty are  all around.

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Lovely and peaceful, yes, but on the other side of the fence is someone who is not in good terms with the feline crew. Worried and annoyed by the boldness of Renia and Solero, Ninio-the-Beagle shouts it loud and clear in the neighbourhood. Oh ! Happy Sunday mornings when our pets greet one another…Ninio, 3 ans, 1

Broken landscapes

March 5, 2013

For the past two years, I have been sewing this quilt by hand, on and off. I started assembling  fabrics after the shock and distress I  felt when  a major earthquake hit the  Eastern coast of Japan in March 2011. The earthquake triggered  powerful tsunami waves devastating everything on its way and caused nuclear accidents. Friends of mine were living in the same area. They barely escaped this disaster but so many, many people lost their life, were injured and are missing. Towns, villages were destroyed, homes broken, roads and railways heavily damaged,  whole landscapes disappeared.

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The quilt is better looked at from the bottom to the top. This is how I started assembling my thoughts and fabrics. Scraps of materials like the broken pieces of a familiar world that suddenly was “deconstructed” by powerful  and unstoppable natural elements. Layers of fragments and leftovers remaining after the devastation. Phases of life after the tragedy.

dét 4Huge black and fatal waves reaching the shore, blowing away and destroying everything   on its way, leaving only  unrecognizable bits and pieces.

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Destructive waves moving further inside the country, over scattered parts of houses and objects that were discarded and that used to be part of people’s life.

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Little by little as waves receded, life went on when men and women overcame their indescribable fear, loss and distress.  With immense joint efforts, resilience and great courage, people started reconstructing homes, birds found their way in a nature that slowly came back to life.

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The top part of the quilt is sewn with  some Japanese fabrics. Symbols and tribute to  the People of Japan, survivors of  many tragedies, moving on with life courageously, great willpower and hope.

The quilt below, “Friendship Squares”, is one I sewed several years ago; it was sent with many other quilts made by quilters all over the world to various Japanese rescue associations that distributed them to people in need after the devastating events in 2011. My quilt was not very large, but I like to imagine it  warmed the body and heart of a child.quilt, carrés d'amitié

Sewing for Life

October 10, 2012

Today, October 10,  is the 10th World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty. Many events of all kinds are organised all over the world for this occasion. This year the emphasis is put on the progress  that has been accomplished for the past ten years regarding  a universal abolition of death penalty and also on the challenges to be  taken up in the future.

This quilt is a common project created in fact  for the International Day against Torture and Death Penalty, I sewed it  a few years ago.  The many embroidered squares of cotton were sent to me by members of various Human Rights organisations in my area, namely Amnesty International, ACAT, Lifespark.  Each plain cotton square has been stitched with the name of an inmate, one who is sentenced to death.  Behind each name there  is a life, its history and a fate which in several cases has already come to its end.

This quilt took me months to put together. It is filled with so many various thoughts and emotions. It was definitely not an easy quilt to sew. Nevertheless it was one  I wanted  to create with others for this special day, as a mark of our engagement for this cause.

As I sewed along, my thoughts went to these inmates, men and women sentenced to death, waiting for years  in their cells, a respite between life and death. In one month, one year,  ten years, even longer often, they will be escorted to the death chamber. Some prisoners receive a brief letter about their scheduled day and time of death. Others will never learn about their planned execution but in the end, all of them  have to follow the guards to a chamber or a yard.

How could I not think also of the victims and their shattered  families and friends ? I thought of their loved ones whose life had been changed forever in the most devastating way. Never to forget. Some families have found inner peace in a forgiving process. They are members of reconciliation groups, like  “Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation” http://www.mvfr.org/. I truly admire each and everyone of them, as I believe forgiveness is probably the most powerful action a human being can accomplish.

Then I also thought of other families, often forgotten, their distress and deep sadness is just as immense. They are the prisoners’ families, innocent of any crime and yet having to face this ultimate punishment : the scheduled execution of a spouse, a son or daughter, a Dad, a family member or a friend.

What about some of these death row inmates who had been claiming their innocence for years and who were proved right, only too late ?

So many thoughts went into every stitch of this quilt. Such inexpressible feelings under the embroidered names of those men and women whose  life or mental state went  very wild, violent and uncontrollable : feelings of despair, regrets, shame, revolt, remorse,  indescribable sadness, loss, hopelessness although at times Hope would shine dimly  in their borrowed time.

Yet, there is Hope that one day a universal abolition of death penalty will prevail. I truly believe that Justice, anywhere, can use other means  than a penal revenge to protect society from dangerous criminals instead of killing them. Is killing a good response and example for showing that killing was wrong in the first place ?  “An eye for an eye and the world is blind” said Gandhi.

I expressed my Hope in choosing colourful materials, mainly African, for sewing together the various embroidered squares. As if instinctively I wished bright shades could help healing painful scars in the heart of all those concerned, in an humble and compassionnate way.

Many thanks to all of you who joined me in this project.

“A Day at the Beach”

We were out in the recreation yard, just walking in our separate cages, exchanging thoughts. After they came to take F. back to his cell, I waited for my escort but he didn’t come. I guess he forgot about me.

I walked about until I ended up by the gate. A nice breeze was coming through the bars. The sun was shining and I closed my eyes and stood there, facing it.

The rays warmed my skin. It felt good, like when I used to stand on the beach. My eyes still closed, I saw oranges, reds and yellows, and I was somewhere else.

It was still and I could hear a bird chirping somewhere in front of me. My eyes still closed, I reached towards it but my fingers collided with the gate instead and I was at once brought back.

Still, It felt good to have been away, if for only a moment.”

Roy

More information on this World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty here :

http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=889 

(Human Rights Education Associates)