Back to the Studio

Since we got back from Europe, I’ve been so focused on blogging about our trip that I haven’t posted anything about my crafting.

I’ve been working on a variety of projects: I finished a pair of socks, I’m in the process of (hand) quilting my next Craftsy project, I have a hand pillow in process as well as more stuffed kitties.

A few weeks ago, I came up with an idea for another Craftsy project. I planned it out, purchased some fabric for it a few days ago, and this afternoon went out to the studio and sewed together this little block.


It’s 3″ x 3″ finished. The little green triangle are 3/8″ finished. It was foundation pieced (of course). No way to do it otherwise, without losing my mind.



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Our European Vacation: Odds and Ends

It’s taken me two months to cover what we saw and did in Europe. Here are some various images that didn’t make it into any of the other posts.

Looking through a window at the Rodin Museum.

Rodin window

A fun poster in Paris.

paris poster

Public art at the Lilles train station, on our way to Calais. (Tulips of Shangri-Law by Yayoi Kusama)


Lilles tulips

Public art at Gare du Nord train station, Paris. (Angel Bear by Richard Texier)

Angel Bear

Two European birds. The one on the left I have tentatively identified as an African blue tit. However, its range does not appear to include France. But the bird picture here resembles the African species (with its black head) more than the Eurasian species, which has a blue crown. The bird of the left is an Egyptian goose, which is not native to Europe. According to Wikipedia, “Because of their popularity chiefly as ornamental bird, escapes are common and small feral populations have become established in Western Europe.”


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Our European Vacation: What Genuine “Bike Culture” Looks Like

Seattle likes to tout itself as being “bike-friendly.”

I’ll admit that it’s better than it used to be. When my husband and I bought our house in North Seattle back in 2009, I wouldn’t have been caught dead riding my bike around here, because, well, I was worried that I would, in fact, be caught dead.

In the last 7 years, though, I feel that the ambience has improved a bit. There are more dedicated bike lanes. I think car drivers are more watchful (though I ride defensively and yield to cars until I’m sure the driver sees me) and willing to share the road.

But Seattle’s hilly geography does not encourage casual bike riding, by normal-looking people wearing normal-looking clothes.

Not so with Amsterdam.

Everywhere, people on bikes. Mostly one-speeds, some pretty beat-up-looking. No racing bikes with curved handlebars and hunched-over riders. No spandex. And no helmets. But when you’re only going about 5 miles an hour and there are more of you than there are cars and you have your own dedicated lanes and traffic signals, what’s the big deal?


All ages.

Even your dog.


And everywhere, bikes chained up on racks and fences and railings.

And they always seemed to be there. It was like their people never came and got them and took them home. Kind of weird.

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Our European Vacation: Amsterdam Museums

Like Paris, Amsterdam is crammed with museums. Of course, we went to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, but we also toured Het Scheepvaartmuseum (the National Maritime Museum), the Amsterdam Historical Museum, and the Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance museum), and saw some other landmarks from the outside.

I didn’t take any photos at the Van Gogh museum. As at pretty much at any art museum, flash is not allowed and it is too dark to get anything good without a tripod. I took a few at the Rijksmuseum, but its website has a really good section devoted to exploring its holdings.

Reviewing my notes from our stay in Amsterdam (I jotted a few things down each evening for later reference), the Van Gogh museum did not have a version of “Starry Night.”

At the Rijksmuseum, in addition to many works by Rembrandt, I saw Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid.” I had not been surprised at the size of the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre, because I had already heard that it was smaller than you might think. However, I *was* surprised that “The Milkmaid” was as small as it is — 41 cm wide by 45.5 cm tall (approx. 16-1/4″ x 18″). Having seen it reproduced in posters that are bigger than that, and seeing the detail included in the piece, I was a bit taken aback to see its true size.

As at the other art museums we went to, it was a thrill to see many of the paintings that my art history course back in 2013 had covered. Among them,”The Night Watch” and this portrait by Frans Hals.


I especially was taken by how he painted the man’s lace collar.


I also liked this painting, “Young Woman with a Fan” by Simon Maris (1873-1935). I found it interesting that her face and hands were rendered with finer brushwork  than the rest of the painting, which has a more sketchy, Impressionistic look to it.


The Maritime Museum, in addition to a exhibits of maps, ship’s figureheads and metalwork had a fairly extensive collection of paintings of ships.

I liked the sea monster hiding in the corner of this one.

The styles and subject matter ranged from old and traditional to new and modern.





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Our European Vacation: Views of Amsterdam

In subsequent posts, I hope to write about some of the museums we visited in Amsterdam. But here, I will share a variety of things we saw just walking around.

The Central Train Station. They don’t make them like this anymore.


A canal.


A bust of Prins Hendrik, at the corner of the eponymous street where our hotel was. They don’t make mustaches and sideburns like that anymore.


An alleyway.


Residential apartments.


Bikes. Lots and lots of bikes. And people riding them (more on that later.)

If I recall correctly, this was a shopping mall.


An eyecatching poster and some public art.

A decorative door.



And, off in the distance, a windmill.



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Our European Vacation: Sacre Coeur

Paris is fairly flat. Consequently, anything that is on anything even remotely resembling a hill can be seen from many parts of the city.

Sacre Coeur is such a landmark.


We had arranged to meet my daughter there in the afternoon. Little did we know that this would be no easy task.

It was a Sunday afternoon in early April. Our first week in Paris had been kind of cool and a little rainy — not too different from what was happening back home in Seattle.

After we returned from Calais, however, the weather improved somewhat. Sunday in particular was sunny and not too warm, but not too cool either. Just the kind of weather to bring people out in droves. Which it did.


We had started out at the top of the steps, after climbing it-hurts-to-remember how many stairs out of the Metro station. (if you’re ever in Paris and want to visit Sacre Coeur, do not — I repeat, DO NOT — get off at the Abbesses station. Instead, disembark at Anvers.) About halfway up, we realized why so many people had been queued up for the elevator.

Anyway, we got to the church and started looking around for my daughter. Don’t see her. Walk around. Don’t see her.

Can’t call or text her, because, well, we’re in Europe and we don’t have international calling on our cell phones.

In the meantime, I take some photos of the church.

I take a panorama of Paris.


We wend our way down the steps toward Montmartre. After we get to the bottom and were about ready to throw in the towel, my daughter hails us. She had spotted my bright yellow blouse, a beacon among all the stylish Parisians wearing black.




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Our European Vacation: The Rodin Museum

I’ve loved works by Rodin since I first saw one. Going to the Rodin Museum in Paris, housed in the Hôtel Biron, where Rodin lived for a time, was a real treat.

Walking through the various rooms and see the exhibits, I came away with new insights about his creative process, a sort of “mix and match” approach.

One exhibit featured a variety of studies of arms, hands, legs, and feet. According to the Guide I purchased, he “built up a repertory of forms, into which he readily delved to complete his fragmentary figures, composing new groups and assemblages in  a totally unprecedented manner.”

Rodin would also frequently rework figures included in “The Gates of Hell” into larger works, such as “The Kiss” . . .

. . . “The Thinker”. . .

. . . and “The Three Shades.”

It was also interesting to learn that the three figures in “The Three Shades” are identical, just positioned at slightly different angles around a central point.

Though I associate Rodin primarily with bronze sculptures, he also worked in marble and terra cotta, such as this charming bust.


Of course, there was a copy of “The Burghers of Calais,” like the one we had already seen in Calais. In addition, however, out in the sculpture garden we could view both nude and clothed studies of the individual figures.

When they are grouped together, it is difficult to see each one from all angles.  But there in the garden, it was very easy to get a very close look at each one and see the expressiveness Rodin had imbued.

Besides the facial expressions of Rodin’s sculptures, I also took note of how he portrayed hands. I have read that hands are challenging to draw or paint. I don’t know to what extent this is true in three-dimensional art. But this awareness prompts me to often pay particular attention to how an artist renders hands.


In Rodin’s case, sometimes that was all there was.




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