ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coming Up

There's another 10 meters of fabric in the dyepots ... some colours that were popular in Yellowknife ... I figured I better have enough for this weekend's show!  Which is why I am writing.  I will be selling my luscious hand-dyed fabrics this weekend here in Ottawa at "Quilts for All Seasons", a show and sale by members of the Quilt Co. Quilt Guild.  They hold a show of their work every three years.  The show runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday at the Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Ave at Lyon St. S.  There will be a total of 11 vendors at the show.  Visit the website for a list.

A big thank you today to Lynn Wolf, the curator of the St. Jacobs Quilt Gallery who shipped my quilt Standing Ovation back to me so I can send it off to the Quilts=Art=Quilts show at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center.  Whew!  This meant I didn't have to drive to St. Jacobs this week to pick the quilt up before my show ends this weekend.

I'm happy to announce that my new class "Dye Another Day" will run for the first time here in Ottawa at Dragonfly Fabrics on Monday, November 19.  To see what you will do in the class, visit my blog post "Fun with the Yellowknife Quilters and Dyers".  Of course there won't be a bathtub to sit in at our class at Dragonfly ;-))

There are still a couple of spaces left in my two-day "In Full Bloom" class which runs at Dragonfly Fabrics on October 13 and November 10.  In this class you will learn how to design your own up-close floral quilt from your own photo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Goodbye Yellowknife

Back home in the suburbs of Ottawa, I miss the beautiful views we enjoyed of Great Slave Lake while staying in a 10th floor apartment in Yellowknife.  No matter the weather, we always had a great view.  When I visited Yellowknife back in January, this lake had a steady stream of cars and trucks crossing it on the ice road.
Here's a view of Yellowknife taken near our apartment.  You can see there is lots of that rugged Canadian Shield encircling the lake.
We always had a view of the charming houseboats that some locals live in both winter and summer.  My zoom lens brought these closer.

This amazing sunset was photographed by my husband in front of our apartment just before we went for dinner on our last night in Yellowknife.  I think I might have to dye a piece of fabric with these colours!
I took these shots as we were flying out of Yellowknife.  There's the city, the Lake, and lots of golden birches and poplars growing on rocky shield.
Further up it all becomes about the colour and pattern.  The wonderful weather that day made it very bittersweet to leave.
Flying into Alberta, close to Calgary (where we made our connection to Ottawa), I captured a photo of these golden parcels of land.  Easy to see why some artists are inspired by topography and aerial views.
Back to reality.  I'll post soon on what's coming up!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ragged Ass Road

This blog post takes you to Ragged Ass Road, Yellowknife.  It got its name because of the dirt poor folks that lived there during gold mining days.  The street sign is so popular that they've had to bolt it to a rock to keep it from getting stolen.  That's me posing.
What a strange mix of sights on this street!  You just never know what is waiting around the corner that might make a stunning photo.  Today $800,000 homes (real estate in Yellowknife is as pricy as Toronto and Vancouver) sit next to historic shacks and eclectic collections of memorabilia.  Someone is keeping the history of Ragged Ass Road alive. 
An abandoned Ford truck, rusting beneath the autumn trees.
A collection of snowshoes displayed along the wall of one of the wealthier homes.
An old wooden chair abandoned in the brush.
Some of the older shacks seem to have interesting decor added, like the red door on this one, and often there is a dog house outside.
Not too far away, in Old Town, my husband shot this colourful picture of float planes.  We watched them take off and land from our balcony.  Float planes are a very important part of life in the North. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Bird in Hand

On the first sunny day in Yellowknife, we drove out the Ingraham Trail and hiked out to Cameron Falls.  We are talking on the edge of wilderness here, so I carried my bear bell!  With my bad knees, the climb up and down Canadian Shield was extremely difficult, but well worth it!  On the way to the Falls my husband shared a bit of his granola bar with a very friendly "Whiskey Jack" (also known by the name "Grey Jay").  Eventually he decided to up the ante and offered more granola bar from his open hand.  The bird took the bait, we had an amazing experience and I managed to catch a couple of photos.  This is one of those special experiences one is not soon to forget! 

At the end of the trail we came to the spectacular falls.  Unfortunately I had only brought my zoom lens with me, which resulted in a great photo of Whiskey Jack, but prevented me from getting a nice wide-angle shot of the Falls.  The area depicted below, just left of the Falls, reminds me of a scene I've seen in a movie (A River Runs Through it??).  I sat on the bench for a while.
I captured a bit of the falls 
 as it rushed by behind this tree.
 The changing leaves added to a beautiful experience.
And Whiskey Jack landed several times for more granola bar! 

Attention: Wood Bison

One of the most memorable days of our trip to the Northwest Territories was the day we travelled with our Dene guide, Joe, from North Star Adventures for a wood bison viewing tour.  The Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary runs along the Mackenzie Highway from about an hour south of Yellowknife all the way to Fort Providence (about 200 km).  That's my husband you see pointing to the sign warning of bison. He is entertaining thoughts of writing "No Bull" on this photo and hanging it on his office door at work.  
The bison are HUGE, some weigh more than 2,000 lbs, so you do not want to run into one with your vehicle.  They do spend a fair bit of time on the highway stopping traffic.  They didn't seem particularly bothered by our vehicle, but they did switch back and forth between the left and right sides of the road several times while we watched them for at least an hour. 
 This one is a massive male, probably a few years old.
Their heads alone may weigh as much as you or I!
Check out this bison, lying on a carpet of mud/dirt.  My husband actually filmed a brief video of several bison taking turns having a mud bath.  Each walked up, kicked up a bit of dirt with a front hoof, and then proceeded to roll in the mud.  It looked like they felt pretty groovy doing it too.  I've posted this video, along with another of two bison sparring, on my Facebook page.  If you are friends with me there you can access these videos on my FB page.
You can see in this photo that the bison are constantly plagued by a swarm of small flies.  My husband was also being bothered by flies, which were particularly plentiful in Fort Providence.  When I am with him I don't need to worry about flies or insects because they find him to be the juicier morsel and generally leave me alone.
There were lots of beautiful views along the way.
A very special thing happened to us on this tour.  While having lunch at a restaurant in Benchoko, one of the most important first-nations towns in the Northwest Territories, we met Grand Chief Edward Erasmus of the Tlicho Government, who invited us back to his office.  Chief Erasmus presides over the Behchokǫ̀, Gamètì, Whatì, Wekweètì tribes.  He has been instrumental in negotiating land-claim agreements with the Government of Canada.  In fact, he gifted my husband with a copy of the land-claim agreement for a major portion of land owned by first nations communities in the Northwest Territories.  We all got our photos taken with him.  Here's mine! 
We were all gifted with a cap with the group's logo on it.  Here we are wearing them.  That's my friend Donna from Yellowknife on the left of me, and Joe, our guide on the right.
On our way out, we met this adorable boy, whose father encouraged him to pose for a picture.

What a memorable day! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Amazing Aurora Borealis

On most nights, excerpt those that it either rained or was cloudy, we drove to Prosperous Lake, about 20 kilometers outside of Yellowknife to look for the aurora borealis.  This takes you far away enough from the light pollution of the city of Yellowknife (population about 21,000), where you can see the drama of the aurora borealis at its best.  We saw aurora a total of four nights, two of which were quite spectacular.  We took probably hundreds of photos.  Since we are new to night-time photography, many of them are not that great.  Below I share our best.

The wonderful thing about photographing aurora in September is that you get wonderful reflections off water if you photograph near a lake.  
One night we even had a spectacular show that was visible from the balcony of our tenth floor apartment.  This apartment also afforded a wonderful view of Great Slave Lake, even on days when the weather was less than optimal.
Why is the Yellowknife area one of the best places in the world to view aurora?  Because it is located directly beneath an aurora oval.  The aurora oval is a halo-like band located around both magnetic poles of the earth. The cities located under the northern oval include Yellowknife, Canada; Fairbanks, Alaska and Lapland, Norway.  Yellowknife has the least geographical obstructions, such as mountains, to provide a high percentage of clear weather that results in a high viewing probability.
The stars were pretty spectacular too!

Fun with the Yellowknife Dyers and Quilters

We arrived home from Yellowknife in the wee hours of Friday morning. I had to shift gears quickly because I needed to be ready to teach the first part of my Uncommon & Unforgettable Threads class at Dragonfly Fabrics on Saturday. Too bad I didn't take my camera because the students in this class turned out some great work. I will try to get pics at our next class in October.
Instead I'll be blogging tonight about the fun I had with the Yellowknife dyers and quilters.  From the photo below, it would appear that some of this fun took place in a bathtub!  
I found it rather amusing that the Yellowknife Guild of Arts and Crafts has a bathtub installed in their studio!  I dared Donna to pose for me, and she willingly did, all decked out in her mask and gloves, and showing a plate of fabric.
At Donna's request, I put together a new class called "Dye Another Day", which provided instruction on how I dye many of my multi-colour combinations, as well as how I dye the velvet, organza, dupioni and cheesecloth in my Textile Temptation Packs.  This class will join my roster of available classes for any groups that are interested.  I'm sure there will be one at Dragonfly Fabrics in Ottawa soon.
Below you can see Pat (in rear) and Shona (at front) intently pouring a variety of colours of dyes, using a variety of techniques, on their fat quarters.  Shona flew in from Inuvik to take this class.  
Later in the week, Donna came to our apartment to show me her fabrics after they had been washed.  In this pile you can see the wonderful multi-colours she dyed.
This photo shows five different fabrics in each colour that were dyed using the same dye mix.
My other class, "Liberated Strip Piecing", was held at the Quilted Raven Quilt Shop. 
Here Shona contemplates how she will form her units into a design.  Those who know me well know just how much I love this chartreuse and purple combination!  Below is how the piece was looking by the end of the day.
Christine also finished her piece (except for quilting of course), and what a luscious colour combination, reminiscent of a summer sunset.

Lilian's piece was coming together very quickly with just a few units.  BTW, she made the quilt to her left as well!

Donna and Hazel contemplate Donna's design below.
Love the addition of just a little bit of orange to the blue and brown combination (from my "Winter on the River" hand-dyed fabric bundle.  
My next post will share some of the amazing creatures and natural phenemona I saw in the Northwest Territories.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

While I was Away

Greetings from the wild and beautiful Northwest Territories!  The skies are back to blue (we had a few days of rain) and the birches and poplars are shimmering gold.  The aurora have been awfully amazing too, but I'll post about that and more of my adventures when I get home and have a chance to sort through a bazillion photographs.  I taught a couple of classes while here, which I will also post about when I get home too.
While my little SAQA auction quilt went up for sale on Monday, we were stalking a herd of wood buffalo along the Mackenzie Highway. 
I was delighted to learn that night when I checked my email that Red Stool II (pictured below) sold on day one for $750.
On the same day I learned that Standing Ovation, pictured below, was one of 77 art quilts out of a total of 331 entered, to be selected for this years Quilts=Art=Quilts show at the Schweinfurth Memorial Arts Center in Auburn, New York.  My other entry, Red Stool, was declined.
I was really hoping, and kind of expecting, that Red Stool would make it in over Standing Ovation.  Now I have a challenge on my hands: getting Standing Ovation back from my solo show in St. Jacobs, Ontario, in time to ship to Auburn, NY for their "receive by" date of October 2.  Anyone in Southern Ontario planning a trip to Ottawa in the next week?  I may have to pull a fast trip.  I wasn't planning to pick up my show until October 5.
The colours in the sub-arctic boreal forest of Northwest Territories are just glorious at this time of year!

I also had the honour last night of meeting Shawna Lampi-Legaree, a well-known artist from Yellowknife.  We missed connecting when I was here in January.  We had a lovely visit to her home and studio (Dancing Raven Studio) last night.  Her latest work in progress is pictured on the wall between us.
More to come soon!