ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer Found in Brighton, Ontario

It's Victoria Day in Canada, meaning that it is a national holiday. It is cloudy and drizzly, but I did manage to find an Ontario summer teaching this past week in Brighton, Ontario. Brighton is a town of about 11,000 people on the shore of Lake Ontario, between Trenton and Cobourg, both not too far from Belleville.

I am a lover of good coffee, so before I departed for Brighton, I researched where the good coffee shop is. It turns out to be Lola's. She also serves some lovely, made-from-scratch food. On my way into town (I arrived a bit early) I grabbed a quick lunch. Check out the lovely garnish of tiny pansies on my quiche. We call them Johnny Jump Ups, because they jump up everywhere. I didn't actually eat them but I know they are edible, and they did make my lunch feel very elegant. By the way, the coffee is pretty darned good too.

I've passed the exit for Brighton many times when driving along the 401, but this was my first foray into Brighton. Why did I wait so long? There's a lovely harbour and boat launch and restaurant/s along the waterfront.

Sadly the part of Ontario has experienced a fair bit of flooding this spring. We wish them a quick recovery.


I gave an early-afternoon lecture at the community centre. This is a fairly large guild of about 150 quilters, drawing from several communities in the area. The vibrant colours of my hand-dyed fabrics drew a lot of interest.

I had 16 students in my In Full Bloom class the next day, and they made a great start on their floral projects.These are very friendly and welcoming quilters and they are keen! My kits were a hit, and students put their noses to the grindstone immediately. I've received several lovely emails from students after returning home, and I am happy to hear that many students are finishing their pieces fairly quickly.

We stopped for a group photo before the class finished. It is officially spring ... I've hauled out my white jeans.

There is a wonderful Antique Emporium on Main St. I haven't seen so many apothecary cabinets in one store ever! I seriously love these cabinets. The shop has a lot of interesting and unique items that were used in businesses in the towns of Ontario's past, including Coca Cola chairs.

That turquoise blanket box you see in the lower right also caught my eye, but it is too big for my little house.

They even have a coffee and snack shop right inside the antique store. 

Ms. Peekaboo (aka Peekableu because of her blue eyes) greeted me when I got home and we've had lots of great moments over this weekend.

There's also good news on the robin front! A robin (I am not sure if it is the same one that lost her eggs a few weeks ago) has taken up residence in the abandoned bird feeder. This time we have three eggs. I am hopeful we will experience a better outcome this time.

I had to stretch to get this photo, and I had to hurry, because I knew mama robin would be back any moment, so these aren't the best photos.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lethbridge, Part 3

After my workshops, I stayed on in Lethbridge for two more days to see some of the sights. I could not have asked for better weather for a trip to Waterton Lakes National Park. The lakes are a beautiful blue colour, and the water appears very pristine. The Park is in the southwest corner of Alberta, near the US border.

Kathy, who is the person that gets credit for bringing me to Alberta, accompanied me and served as my informal tour guide.

Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park (on the US side), form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. There is a plaque commemorating the formation of the International Peace Park in 1936 and the peaceful relationship between Canada and the US.

I found this Big Horn Sheep wandering around the big hotel outside the town. He wasn't too bothered by me but did keep an eye on me to make sure I didn't come too close. Eventually he joined two other friends in the distance.

Kathy and I stopped off at the beautiful Cameron Falls,

which is where I shot this photo of a chipmunk.

The next morning Judy (whose photo appears in my previous blog post) arranged for me to accompany her to a Hutterite Colony. The Hutterites are an Anabaptist sect (much like the Amish and Mennonites). Anabaptists are opposed to infant baptism. All of these groups found a safe haven in Canada where they were not persecuted for their beliefs and refusal to go to war for their country (pacifism). The way that Hutterites differ from Amish and Mennonites is that they live in colonies. The one we visited holds about 110 people. I was allowed to take photographs of anything I wanted except the people that live there. It is forbidden by their religion. A quick google for Hutterites will get you to images quickly, and you will see that they dress in plain home-made clothing, with women wearing a kerchief on their heads. Two young women, perhaps in their late teens, took us around and explained everything.

The particular colony we visited is named "Spring Valley Colony". Essentially they are farmers and trades/crafts people.

Every skill they have acquired is practiced in volume. So you can see the size of the greenhouse. They have to feed 110 people from these tomato plants. In addition, they sell their products.

The women sew colourful rugs.

Like most farms, there are dogs and cats. The dogs are probably working dogs, used to herd sheep and cattle.

The milk house is very high tech. Machinery measures the milk output for each cow over time.

The pink paint on the cow heads below indicates that they have been seen by a vet. At this time of year there were numerous young calves as well.

Spring also brings many lambs.

There is a leatherwork shop where boots, shoes and moccasins are made.

There is a sizable woodworking shop where furniture, clocks and other decorative boards are created.

The Hutterites keep bees and make honey, both to eat and to sell.

The kitchen is fitted with top quality industrial style cooking equipment.

The men and women eat in separate dining rooms.

I was able to purchase some of these delicious dinner rolls before I left.

On Saturday I flew home. The first flight from Lethbridge to Calgary involves a quite small plane with only about 18 seats. I think it is probably the smallest plane I have traveled on. We flew so low that for much of the time we were able to pick up a Wifi signal.

Did you notice the colour of the plane I flew out on? It is strikingly similar to the robin eggs that were waiting at home in the nest on our front porch. In my last post, before leaving home, I mentioned that robins had built a nest on our front porch. The evening after I left home my husband photographed the eggs while the robins were out. Mama robin sat on those eggs for days, but sadly a week later the eggs went missing and the robins abandoned the nest. Likely another animal or bird, needing food, took the eggs. The cycle of life and death. The robins will try again elsewhere I'm sure.

A huge thank you to the Lethbridge Centennial Quilt Guild and the Textile Surface Design Group Lethbridge for inviting me to their city, for their warm welcome, and for taking such great care of me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lethbridge, Part 2

After my 3 day workshop for the Lethbridge Centennial Quilters' Guild, I took a day off before my dyeing workshop with the Textile Surface Design Guild. I spent a quiet day on my own taking an excursion about 45 minutes outside of Lethbridge. I've always wanted to visit "Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump". It's a UNESCO world heritage site and a cultural site older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. 

Indigenous people used to drive herds of buffalo off the cliff to obtain their meat supply. There is archeological evidence of this as far back as 6000 years ago. I watched the 15 minute film in the excellent Interpretive Centre, and am very glad I did. It made the experience all the more meaningful. These hunters had well-thought-out hunting strategies based on an excellent understanding of the regional topography and buffalo behaviour. You can read more and learn more here.

On my drive I kept my eyes open for interesting landscapes and sights to photograph. This wonderful rusty old truck presented itself.

What an amazing dye studio the Textile Surface Design Group Lethbridge has access to! It is located in their interdisciplinary, community arts centre known as Casa. I haven't seen anything quite like it in any place I've taught in Canada. It has both a dry room (as you can see below) and also a wet room, which you will see in subsequent photos. In the dry room meetings and instruction can take place, fabric can be ripped and prepared.

The wet room has at least 3 deep stainless steel sinks, deep enough to fit tall pails and fill with water. 

There are several stainless steel tables with shelving underneath, a fridge to store mixed dyes, microwaves for processes requiring heat, a silk steamer, mixing box, and lots of storage space.

I really enjoyed looking at the pottery for sale during the Casa sale, prior to class. Casa is a beehive of creativity. I heard music and drumming, and saw other groups at work in other mediums.

Here's a photo of Judy with her finished fabric two days later, just before she took me on a tour of a Hutterite colony (I'll share this in my next post). 

Mary sent me photos of her fabric after my return home. The class I taught is called "Dye Another Day". In this class students learn several processes I use to create the multi-coloured fabrics I dye and sell.

They also each get to dye a Textile Temptation Pack that contains velvet, cotton, silk dupioni, silk organza and cheesecloth.

Here's a photo Connie sent me of her Textile Temptation pack.