A Surprising Twist on Caning

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I was wandering in the Alhambra complex in Granada Spain last year when I chanced on Laguna Taller de Taracea, a store and workshop offering splendid items for sale that were decorated with marquetry.  Marquetry is a design applied as a veneer that’s made up of  different types of wood, ivory, bone, and metal. The pieces are combined to form intricate geometric designs.  It’s usually applied to furniture, frames and boxes.

I was watching a demonstration of the process when someone in the crowd remarked that it must take a great deal of patience to cut out all those tiny pieces and fit them into the design.  “Not so,” replied the craftsman.  He held up an object which I immediately recognized as a cane.

After the demonstration was over,  I hung around to take some close up pictures of canes and some work in progress.

We polymer clayers have it drilled into our heads that we adapted the caning we use in our work from glass millefiori.  But canework is also a hallmark of marquetry, and the  style of marquetry found in Granada and the south of Spain follows in the tradition of Islamic geometric patterns and stays away from the figurative images you are more likely to see in European marquetry.

Here are some more pictures of the process and a video.

 

As for me,  I am continuing with the caning challenges put out by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild and will let you see what I make in future posts.

Street Art in Lisbon

Last week’s post on the Philadelphia Fashion District referenced the Streetsdept.com blog which chronicles street art in Philadelphia.  I love street art because it’s free for the viewing,  usually relevant to current events, or a chronicle of  past events that need to be memorialized.  People have been drawing and writing on public walls since ancient times.  Street art can be viewed as a crime or high art.   I prefer to think of it as  public art.

Lisbon in Portugal has a lively and vibrant street art scene as I discovered on a  trip there earlier this year.  Here are some highlights:TheFoxLisbon89

The Fox covers the side of a building and is made up of junk and recycled materials.

Read more about the artist, Attero Bordalo II, here.

 

The Alfama District is home to some great street art including a mural dedicated to Fado singer Maria Severa Onofriana.

LisbonWalkingTourAlfama13Respect Stpry of Old Women Graffifi Artists

Here’s one of my favorite Lisbon murals.  It’s called “Respect” and is also in the Alfama District.  Apparently there is a whole cadre of senior street and graffiti artists in Lisbon.  We were told that this mural depicts one of them reacting when a younger colleague does not show her the respect to which she is entitled.  Read more about the older artists here.  Read the real story behind the Respect mural here.

Some more  Lisbon street art picturesLisbonWalkingTourAlfama76 2LisbonWalkingTourAlfama10IMG_7923IMG_6967IMG_6949IMG_6872IMG_6862IMG_6860

If you want to learn more about Lisbon street art, the Camels and Chocolate  blog is a good place to start.  Better yet, go to Lisbon and walk the streets.

 

 

Retreat to Pittsburgh

Patty’s car died so we decided to take the bus from Philly to Pittsburgh rather than rent a car, or go by train or plane.  It was pretty easy for me since the bus station is a few blocks from my house and my husband dragged my suitcase for me which was filled mostly with a pillow, some clothes and some beading implements.

OurBusIt’s a free for all when people disembark from a bus.  People don’t wait for the seats in front of them to empty before entering the aisles like they do on planes.   It’s like everyone on the bus forgets his manners or else they think someone on the sidewalk is giving out twenties and you won’t get one unless you trample the person in front of you.  But I found out that if I waved my arm cast around, people would stop in their tracks.  I had already decided that the cast looked like part of a super hero costume and I was right!  I wave it around and people fall aside like dominos. TAKE THAT!

MyNameTag.
I dressed my cast with this lovely name tag when I got to the Retreat.

WorkroomWe had a large and lovely work space although it soon became clear to me that I could not do much beadwork.  I can bead left handed but supporting the work with my right hand was not comfortable.  So I put the beadwork away and schmoozed.

KoiPondSpiratancenterI also got the changc to wander the grounds of the Spiritan Center where the retreat was held.  They  have lovely grounds and an incredible Koi pond.

Typing is still a bit uncomfortable for me.   So here are some pictures from the retreat for you to enjoy.  There was a lot of talent there!

Marionette Museum Lisbon

The Marionette Museum in Lisbon wasn’t mentioned in any of the guide books or web sites consulted before the trip.  But my friend Rachel, who had recently returned from Portugal, raved about it.  That and I have a penchant for traveling with Le Mutt who is the creation of puppeteer Francesca Hoerlein.  How could I resist?

The Lisbon Marionette Museum houses more than marionettes.  Its collection contains hand puppets, shadow puppets, masks, props and, of course marionettes from all over the world.

Greek

Puppets have been around for thousands of years.  There was a puppet theater in Greece in the 5th Century BCE.  And puppets might even be older than that.

We all remember puppet shows from our childhood.  But puppets are more than dolls used to entertain children.  Puppets tell stories, sometimes subversive stories, that live actors would not be allowed to perform.

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And puppets are are made from every material imaginable.  The Museum houses creations made of cloth, wood, class, metal and clay.  I am sure there are 3D printed puppets out there.

ClaymationSpaceman

Be sure to visit the Marionette Museum if you are in Lisbon.  It’s not a big museum-you can see the entire collection in a couple of hours-and you will be glad you did.  Here are some more pictures.

My New Polymer Clay Heroes

I’ve always known that I was a late bloomer.  I’d heard of Ana Belchi but never knew about her videos and free downloads until I subscribed to Studio Mojo.

I haven’t watched all Ana’s videos yet, but I’m working  on it.  I was delighted to learn that she also offers  some free templates on her web site for the projects she demonstrates in the videos.

Fiona Abel-Smith also has an incredible video where she demonstrates how to construct a 6-sided polymer box and how to cover it with a geometric cane pattern that she explains in great detail.  She has a number of other fascinating looking videos that are on my must watch list.

On another note, I recently came back from a trip to Spain and  Portugal and my head is swimming with all the beautiful tiles I saw in both countries.  I’ll post more on that later.

You never know when a stuffed animal will make you a new friend. Our traveling companion Le Mutt broke the ice when my husband and I dove into a Nepalese Restaurant near our Lisbon hotel seeking respite from the many fish and potato meals we had in Portugal (where the people are lovely but the food not so much.  This is a contentious subject.)   If you are ever in Lisbon, drop by Himchuli 

USThis is not the first time Le Mutt has  made friends in a foreign land.

Pictures from Seville and Granada

And on the way to Lisbon . . .

More to come!

Benji, Boris, and Boston

This week was quite a week.  I drove up to Boston to pick up a friend and her dog Benji to bring them to Philadelphia for a visit.   Benji is a Yorkshire Terrier who has a thing for stealing glasses and chasing cats.

Benji                                                      Benji the terror and cat chaser

BenjiwithGlasses copy                                                            Benji the glasses thief.

Boris spent the week in the basement with his toys and food.  An attempted meeting betwen Benji and Boris was a disaster.  Only then did we learn that Benji is a cat chaser.

I got lost in the Big Dig tunnel in Boston after I dropped Benji and his human companion back at their apartment.  So I got a tour of downtown Boston which has changed immensely since Benji’s human companion and I were students at Emerson College.

Boston

 

We were able to get together with a third friend from Emerson before I drove back.   We were so young when we first met.  Now we are grandmothers.

Boris      Boris has reclaimed his house now that Benji the cat chaser is gone.

My Introduction to the Construction Junction.

My husband is a silly man who often claims, when I ask him a question, that I am “grilling him like a salmon.”  But he is a good sport.  After all, he married me, didn’t he?  So when we were in Pittsburgh last year for the opening of Into The Forest, he agreed when I told him I needed to make a stop at the Construction Junction. He even opened the door for me!

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The Construction Junction is a nonprofit used and surplus building material retailer.  It accepts all kinds of donations-construction materials, old appliances, electrical supplies, plumbing supplies, tools, lighting, building materials and many other things too numerous to mention.  This keeps stuff out of landfills and gives it a second life when it leaves in the hands of a customer to be used in a new project.

 

 

But the construction junction is also a mecca for creative types.  I found some embossed tiles there that make perfect polymer clay texture sheets.  I got some brass pipe and metal parts that I will recycle into jewelry.   If I wanted one of the vintage stoves that seem to be all the rage these days,  I could pick one up at the Construction Junction and restore it to working order.

 

 

 

The place is HUGE, the staff is friendly and there is plenty of parking.  Check it out if you find yourself in Pittsburgh.

 

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Dubliners for a Few Days

Here are some of the sights we took in on our wanderings around Dublin recently.

 3.GardenofRememberanceDublin

The Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square near the Dublin Writers Museum

4.GardenofRememberanceParnellSqDublin7.OConnellStatueDublin

O’Connell Monument

2.GPODublinGeneral Post Office known as the headquarters for the Easter uprising in 1916

5.InsideRestoredGPODublinThe Interior of the GPO as it appears today.  It was virtually destroyed during the Easter uprising and restored in the 1920s.  The GPO now houses the GPO Witness History Museum, a chronicle of the 1916 uprising.   You should not visit Dublin without seeing this remarkable exhibit.

1.ChristChurchDublin

Christ Church Cathedral

6.Leprechaun MuseumSignDublinLooks like the Leprechauns have gone and started their own museum.   (We skipped this one.)

8.TrinityCollegeLibraryDublin

The Old Library at Trinity College

Another View of Edinburgh

This has been a good week for spinning my wheels, losing things and taking forever to get things done.  I will not bore you with the sordid details.

I had the good fortune to visit Edinburgh, Scotland recently and took hundreds and hundreds of pictures.  I decided to skip the scenic travel pictures and share the more unconventional ones  ones with you.

1.BrainandLady

My husband, apparently encountering a clown on his way to  a circus dress rehearsal.

4.Sign

It’s no stranger than an English sign in China, but the juxtaposition of “Tartan Weaving Mill”  caught my eye.

6.TheWorld

What us this world welcoming us into?

1.NewWorld

A new world disorder?

 

5.TheEnd

We can meet at the pub at The World’s End

 

7.Zombiewalk

And if the Zombies find us.

 

2.Castle

We can escape to Edinburgh Castle