Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quilter's view of Capri

We are back from our vacation to the Bay of Naples/Sorrentine peninsula/Amalfi coast area of Italy. The weather was sunny and warm, and my husband had a great time riding his bicycle with other St. Louis Cycling Club members. I got to see the sights, eat delicious food, and take pictures, of course. I explored the Island of Capri, the ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, the archeological museum in Naples, and saw the stunning Amalfi coast from the bus windows. Thank goodness public transportation—boat, bus, train, and taxi—was available everywhere, because the roads were truly those “European roads” you hear about: narrow, clinging to the side of a cliff, no room for error. And yes, the drivers were crazy.

I tried to take pictures not only of the scenery, but of patterns and colors that might inspire my quilting when I came back home. I will post pictures over several days, starting with the Island of Capri ….

This view of the Sorrentine peninsula was taken from the Island of Capri. If you drive down the right side of this point (on roads you cannot see here), you reach the city of Amalfi. The left takes you into the town of Sorrento, where we stayed, and around the Bay of Naples to Pompeii and eventually Naples.

An interior view of Villa Jovis, the palace of the Roman emperor on the Island of Capri. The walls seemed to be constructed of a jumble of stones between layers of bricks. In fact, those stones must have been carefully placed, since they’ve lasted for 2,000 years.

A view of Mt. Vesuvius from the ruins of Villa Jovis. Can you believe Vesuvius was THREE TIMES this size before it blew up in 79 AD? That’s a lot of mountain that rained down on Pompeii and Herculaneum. This wood railing separates you from the edge of a sheer cliff.

It’s very difficult to get a picture that shows just how far it is down to this gorgeous blue water. I think blue is going to show up in my quilts for a long time to come. That little white blip you see here is a boat. You can see a few tiny whitecaps on the water, too. We did not get to go into the famous Blue Grotto on Capri because the water was too choppy. You go in by rowboat, but the opening is only about 3 feet high, and you have to lay down in the boat! So choppy water closes down the rowboat business. The blue glow inside the cave is caused by sunlight filtering down through the water, then up into the cave. Next time ….

This is a street on Capri. No kidding. There is just room enough for a tiny electric vehicle and maybe one pedestrian. Several times we had to flatten ourselves against the walls so a vehicle could pass. Even the garbage trucks and ambulances are tiny. We made the trek from the town of Capri to the Villa Jovis along streets like this, looking into people’s gates and gardens.

This is the gate to a villa on Capri. The gate itself is unremarkable (we saw many that were prettier), but you can see the ceramic house number 7 set into the wall on the left, and a picture of the entrance itself done in ceramic tiles and set into the wall on the right. Every house had a ceramic tile with its number and sometimes the name of the home. The street names were also written on tiles and set into the sides of buildings.

We passed a shrine to the Virgin Mary on one street. I looked down and saw these colorful tile fragments set into the floor. Very quilterly, no?

More ceramic tile at Giardini Augusto, a public garden. Very colorful.

More unbelievably blue water and the houses of Capri perched on the hillside.

Next: Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Art quilt: Roman ruin

For inspiration for a portable hand-quilting project, I looked back at my pictures taken two years ago in northern Italy. I visited the ruin of a Roman villa on the south end of Lake Garda. This villa would have had several levels, with columns and stone arches looking out over the lake, and awnings set up as shade on the top level.

This is a portion of a brick floor that remains, and the herringbone pattern is still beautiful after 2,000 years:

This gives you a sense of the different levels that made up the villa. The building in the distance is a hotel in the modern town near the ruin.

Although the day I visited was overcast and wet, you could still see across the lake pretty well.

I used these photos for inspiration and came up with some log-cabin type blocks that remind me of the villa. The images of the doorways and walls are pretty graphic. I used my stash of hand-dyed Cherrywood fabrics. See the Cherrywood website here: The blocks are kind of a creative wreck, aren’t they? Like the ruins. Here are the blocks before I squared them up and arranged them:

Originally I intended to surround each block in the same blue, but I thought it looked more like the ruin itself with the blocks sewn right next to each other and blue for the border. I added a few filler strips, but not many. It's about 27 x 27 inches.

I call it “Roman Ruin at Lake Garda.” Now I am headed back to Italy, with my little art quilt to work on, my camera, and a sketchbook. I am not taking my computer, so this blog is also on vacation! By Tuesday I will be eating the real Neapolitan pizza and sleeping within exploding distance of Mt. Vesuvius. Arrivederci for a little while.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Doll quilt

I almost spoke too soon about the chocolate cure for my daughter. On Thursday I had just mailed off the new doll quilt for my granddaughter when we got a bad-news phone call. My daughter had bowel obstruction-like pains in her gut and had to go to the ER. But this time, thank goodness, there was no bowel obstruction. “Just” a virus, probably, but the hospital in Tennessee is keeping her for two nights to give her IV fluids. A wise decision, considering she has no large bowel and a liver transplant.

The new doll quilt is going into my granddaughter’s lovely BIG Easter basket that I left in Tennessee for her. I picked up a mega-basket for $5 at an antique store in Southern Illinois and bought that nasty plastic grass at Kroger’s, plus the usual chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs, and jelly beans. I tried to go easy on the candy—really, I did, but I wanted to make sure there was enough so that my daughter could sneak some bites, too! I also found a Little Golden Book that I think Danica can read, and some hot pink flip-flops. The doll quilt will be the icing on the cake. Here it is:

I made it from the leftover 2½” squares from the 3-D Bow tie—6 squares across and 7 squares down, alternating prints and muslin—and added a border on the left and bottom (cut 3¼” wide), and a final outer border all around (cut 3¾” wide). The applique was fun. I drew some flowers and leaves, fused the fabric to Heat ‘n’ Bond Lite, traced the leaves, and let Danica help me cut them out. She calls the appliques “stick-ons.” I ironed on the flowers and leaves, machine stitched the edges in a shallow zig-zag stitch, and quilted around the edges of the applique and in a grid pattern over the rest of the quilt. It went together pretty easily.

This week I also took a look at some pictures I took in northern Italy two years ago for inspiration for an art quilt. I wanted to put together a small, very portable hand-quilting project for my next trip. My husband and I have had a highly stressful year and have been looking forward to a vacation for a long time—the bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, cycling with the St. Louis Cycling Club. (Him, not me. I plan to visit museums and see Pompeii.) I wanted something bright, cheerful, and modern to take along to quilt. I’ll be spending a lot of time in airports and on planes. What do you think I came up with from this mess?