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Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

Archive for the ‘Gingko’ Category

Yellow = Optimism

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Yesterday, the hubster wanted to take a walk, and take in one of the last warm and gorgeous days of the year. Seeing how the gingko in front of our townhouse and the maple in back of it had just turned gorgeously golden, I ran to get my camera. Soon, I had a bad case of Yellow Fever: I couldn’t stop snapping wherever lemon, butterscotch, or canary turned up.  And Hubby was soon beating me to the Hello Yellow moments, pointing out the best shots, whether mellow yellow or mighty yellow.

  

     

 

Not all the yellow was flora, mind you. Still, the color endowed any item–no matter how mundane or humble–with zing.

  

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didja get a load of that BRIGHT yellow house in my ‘hood? (How could you miss it?!) And at the risk of inviting more yellow puns or yolks, er, jokes, folks, it’s time to apply the Glad packaging of yellow to quilts. Here’s what that fab colorist, Kaffe Fassett does with yellow; this is Nona, from his book of a few years back, Passionate Patchwork:

 

 

And here’s Bouquet, by the wonderful, always thought-provoking folk artist, Ginny Smith:

 

The late, great, Jean Ray Laury knew a thing or two about yellow, as shown in this quilt she made of her commercial fabrics:

 

Here’s a sensational bit of whimsy from Jack M. Walsh III’s collection, as seen at the Morris Museum a few years back. Doesn’t the background color (ad)dress the happy dilemma faced by the artist’s daughter in getting dressed every morning? I seem to recall that the embroidered text repeats, “Does this look good on me?”  I truly regret that #1, it’s not in good focus, and #2, I don’t remember who created it…Can someone help me fill in the appropriate credit? And maybe I can get a good image from the folk artist, one that does this piece justice.

Let’s sashay on down the yellow brick road to my work. BIG surprise, and humble, yellow-bellied confession: I don’t look good in yellow, and even standing near it makes me look jaundiced. Sooooo, I have actually used yellow startlingly little in my quilts and my wearables! But since black and white makes ANY color rock, I did make a big yellow taxi tote:

Here’s where you can find the free directions. 

Or, take inspiration from any of the projects in my book, Unforgettable Tote Bags: 20 Designs too cool to leave in the car.

Or, bring me to your guild or local quilt shop to teach the workshop, Unforgettable Tote Bags. (You don’t have to use yellow.)

By now, I bet you’ve figured out the secret to using yellow. Even a little adds a dash of fun, joy, hope, cheer, sunshine. Pair it with its complement, purple (or lavender) to make it sing. Rev it up with red; cool it down with aqua. Go natural with shades of cream, or ramp up the star power with metallic gold and copper.

Here’s a couple of pillows I made for gifts –to bring some shine and sunshine to a comfy spot.

  

Anyone who has seen Sunflowers knows Van Gogh’s favorite color. Hey, skip the Van, Go Yellow! We all live in a Yellow Submarine, a Yellow Submarine, a Yellow Submarine…Now to dive into my next quilt project…and pick from among my photos to create an upbeat piece of quilted art. What’s your vote?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingko = Memory

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Who doesn’t love a gingko leaf? Possibly the most graceful form to be found in nature.  Each as unique as a snowflake, its veins radiating out from a sinuous, curvy stem into a blade that’s rippled or notched.  Of course, the essence of its beauty is its fan shape, conjuring up timeless Oriental serenity.  Which makes sense when you realize that the ginkgo is one of the oldest forms in nature. Fossils of early versions date back 270 million years–now doesn’t that make you feel young?  The  species survived the Pliocene age only in a small area of central China, where it has been cultivated for a very long time.  The proof is in the garden: there are some gingkos at Chinese temples that are thought to be over 1,500 years old.  And Europeans found gingkos in Japanese temple gardens more than three centuries ago.

So it stands to reason that many quilters who look east for inspiration find the gingko leaf to be a most evocative motif.  One such extraordinary talent is Lonni Rossi (LonniRossi.com), who often incorporates Asian inspiration  into her commercial fabrics for Andover, her one-of-a-kind silk screened fabrics that she creates in her studio and sells in her shop, and in her masterpieces. Here’s the art quilt Lonni made as a gift for her sister’s 50th birthday:

Harmony, by Lonni Rossi

How I envy the recipient!  But you know, any quilter can have a Lonni Rossi design: Her Seasons of the Moon is on the cover of my Skinny Quilts & Table Runners II (click here) and her Pocket Masterpiece is one of the cover models in my Unforgettable Tote Bags (click here). Check out Lonni’s website for other patterns and kits. And for more pure inspiration from Lonni, take a long look at this triple panel wall hanging that simulates a kimono. Lonni used her own hand-painted silk, and planted a gingko leaf for a focal point:

Triptych #1, by Lonni Rossi

Gingko leaves in the free-motion quilting, with decorative threads

Back to botany: The genus, sometimes spelled ginkgo, means “silver apricot” in Chinese and later in Japanese. The species is Biloba, bi-lobed, or two lobes. Strange names, and if you find them hard to remember, you may be one of many folks who take a form of Ginkgo Biloba to enhance memory. Knowing this, you’ll understand why I have often used the leaf motif in my Memory quilts. Here’s one about family, and if you knew the very skinny genus—er, genes of my peeps, you’ll get why this Skinny Quilt is called Stringbeans:

Stringbeans, by Eleanor Levie

If you happen to live on the internet and you see my blog today, you might think Memorial Day compels me to commemorate  memory, specifically lives lost in war.  And that would be most appropriate, as my father is a proud WWII vet, and these days, everyone I know hopes and prays that our military sons and daughters return safely from deployments overseas.

But what actually brought me to blog about gingkos is much closer to home. To be perfectly candid, it’s standing  in front of my home, on the side of our very narrow, historic street.  As you’ll see in the photos below, a curtain of green and then yellow leaves outside my home office window, and as the leaves fell, an autumnal yellow carpet on the streets are high on the list of reasons we fell in love with and bought this Center-City Philadelphia townhouse a year and a half ago.

 

 

Alas, lumberjacks working for the city took it down a few days ago. It was decided that it was too big, breaking up the sidewalk and street. But serendipity sneaked in. Months ago, we had asked the city to gift us a new tree on our side of the street.   Reasoning that we had the gingko, and that a different tree wouldn’t grow so big, we gave our preferences for three other options. But what do you know, another gingko was chosen for the site and recently planted with the help of volunteers from our civic association. This time around, it’s a clone of a better species that won’t grow as tall, yet will branch out high, to soar above our four-story building.  A happy ending…as long as I’m willing to wait until this blog is but a distant memory!