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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Free Form Embroidery

Free Form Embroidery
Judith Baker Montano
© Lydia Lowe  2013

    I enjoy all aspects of embroidery and I've made no secret of that over the years.  So I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book.  Judith Baker Montano books never disappoint and this one doesn't either.  If you are looking for a good all around embroidery book for reference, this is the book for you.

     The author covers everything from tools and supplies to threads and ribbons, yarns, fabrics, the various needle types and what they are used for, as well as how to prepare your hoop for stitching.  Montano takes plenty of time explaining the various stitching techniques through diagrams as well as written descriptions.  She shows you how the stitch begins, progresses, and finally what it looks like when completed.  Primarily all of her stitching reflects the natural world around us: trees, shrubs, vines, weeds, grasses, underwater flora and fauna, and botanicals.

     There is a section on how to think "like a painter" because that is what the stitcher is doing, painting with thread.  From here the author launches into photo prep and how you, the stitcher, can now apply what you've learned to actual hand stitching and embroidery.  Montano goes step by step from the photo she's chosen throughout the process, so that you can see how everything is done.

     This book is another in Montano's wonderful series of embroidery books.  I think if you are a beginner or an advanced stitcher, you will gain knowledge from this book.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge

     Many of you know that I have participated in NaNoWriMo for a couple of years now.  I really enjoy the challenge of creating a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Well, today I found out about a blogging challenge project that happens every April which is called: The A to Z Blog Challenge.  For the month of April, I will write a daily post (a 10 line poem) on a topic of my choosing having to do with a different letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z, of course.  So check out Chalk Outlines on April 1st and follow the challenge. (I know I said earlier that Chalk Outlines was taking a year long hiatus, but hey, I'm allowed to change my mind!)  Click on the button on the sidebar for more information on the challenge and how you can join in on the fun.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Thomas Pecore Weso

  Thomas Pecore Weso
Hutchinson Art Center
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe  2013
Bloody Basin: Cactus and Purple Shadow

Black Cactus at Moonrise

Yellow Kokopelli

Skeleton Chief

Sun Glyph with Mountain and Cactus

Fenced Pink Mountain: Looking In or Out

Floating Red Shaman in a Gathering of Cacti

Bloody Basin: Purple River on the Apache Trail

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nothing Daunted

Monday Night Book Discussions
(written by Dorothy Wickenden)
Salina Public Library
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  1/14/2013

     This was a difficult book to get caught up in.  The beginning chapters were a sentence or two of story and then all kinds of historical data: names, dates, places, stories, etc.  I got really tired of all this unending data strung together in random order.  At one point, I considered putting the book aside and moving on to something else.  

     I kept reading and finished the book.  It was a passable story but nothing spectacular.  Just because you find historical letters or a diary written by an ancestor, doesn’t mean you should turn it into a book.  I suppose in the historical sense, it is an accurate representation of the early 1900’s and life in the mountains of Colorado, up to a point.  There were a lot of details that weren’t included that would have rounded out the story, like leisure time/day to day activities that were glossed over and I suppose the details weren’t included in the letters that the story was based on, but I thought that with all the historical data that was researched and included, the author would have thought to research and include some of the other more mundane aspects of life in the mountains.

     This was basically a coming of age story about two friends, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, at the turn of the 20th century, who took some time to find themselves before  getting married.  That is the basic story.  It's suppose to appear to be a somewhat scandalous notion for the time period. 

     If you have some extra time on your hands, are looking for any easy read, where you don’t have to invest yourself very much in the story, and you can slog through all types of random and unending historical data, well, then this might be the book for you. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cirque du Soleil

Intrust Bank Arena
Wichita, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

      I'll have to say that I have never seen a show like this anywhere.  The show is part acrobatics, part circus sideshow, there's acting, storytelling, street performance, dancing, and then there's the feats of derring-do.  I can't really nail down the experience, but trust me, if you miss seeing this world-class show in Wichita, you'll miss a lot.  It is well worth the price of admission. 

     The night that I went there, there was a performer who in the middle of the first half and second half of the show did a bit of an Abbott and Costello shtick with members of the audience.  It was truly hilarious.  And it came at a time during both halves when the story was getting particularly intense and broke up the story line.  It gave the audience time to digest what they'd been seeing and experiencing.  I didn't realize how important his job was until the end.  More on that in a minute.

     The aerial acts, except for one, are all done without any kind of safety equipment and between that and the story line, it's an intense experience.  The final aerial act is a particularly intense thrill ride because even with the safety equipment, if the performer doesn't hit her marks exactly, it could be a disaster.  On the night that I was there the performer hit every mark and really didn't require the safety equipment.  I was glad that she had it, though.

     I had a chance to go backstage before the show and got to see a couple of performers practicing on these red strips of fabric suspended from the ceiling.  They literally started at the floor and "walked" up these pieces of fabric to the ceiling and then practiced their acts from there to the floor.  To see the performer already suspended above the floor and pulled onto center stage was exciting and scary.  The entire act took place in the air using two strips of fabric and absolutely no safety equipment.  It looked completely effortless.  The continuing practice that must have went into just this act alone consisted of hours and hours of work.

     Then there were the jump ropes . . .one performer at a point during the jump rope sequence was doing a double-dutch while he jumped his own rope and two fellas with another jump rope walked through all of this and he jumped it at the same time.  Normal things and objects take on an entirely new meaning at a Cirque show.

     And the Abbott and Costello shtick that broke up the tension during both halves of the show, although he doesn't do anything remotely "special" he serves two important purposes during the show, he breaks the tension so the audience can breathe and he gives the performers a well deserved breather, as well.  He also got the biggest crowd pop at the end of the night.