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This is what you should be doing today...

Is the weather beautiful where you are?   Then this is what you should be doing.  Mindless people watching, coffee drinking, while smiling in the sun.

Cafe in Philadelphia

Cafe in Moscow

Cafe in Italy
Cafe in Turkey
Cafe in Paris
Cafe in Sweden

Cafe in New York
Cafe in Tel Aviv


Special spots in a special town..

The Dream Garden
When you are visiting Philadelphia for ANG this August, you might find yourself wanting to branch out from the Convention Center neighborhood and get to a few gems that are tucked away, hidden from tourists eyes! So I've put together a few wonderful and unusual spots that might whet your appetite for all things Philly!

The first one is the unbelievable mosaic Dream Garden. It was created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1916 to grace the lobby of The Saturday Evening Post at 601 Walnut Street.  At 15 x 49 feet this enormous rendition of a Maxfield Parrish painting was created entirely with pieces of Favrile glass, an iridescent glass that was a patented look for Tiffany Lamp Co. The piece was bought by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1998 when casino mogul Steve Wynn attempted to scoop it up and cart it off to Vegas!

Tria Cafe

In the eats department, if you love your wine and cheese, you may want to head over to Tria, the wine, beer and cheese restaurant in Rittenhouse Square. Whatever you like -- a Pinot with a beautiful Maytag Bleu, or a Gerwurtztraminer with a lovely Queso Gallego -- this place has what you are looking for.  While not a Cheap eats destination, it's great for a snack and a rest! Located on the corner of 18th and Sansom, it's a treat for any visiting cheesophile!

In addition to discovering electricity, forming the first public library, and the first fire department, did you know Ben Franklin was a Freemason? The Masons are a mysterious secret fraternity, and much has been written and hypothesized about who they are and what they do. Well, wonder no more--the Masons here in Philadelphia have opened their doors to the world, with guided, $8 tours of 8 of their largest halls. Visit the "Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons", and grand halls done in eclectic and, sometimes bizarre style, from Asian to Egyptian and everything in between. 

What We Do

And then there is the amazing world of bahdeebahdu.  If you are in the market for a chandelier, and wanted something "a little different" have I got a chandelier for you! The showroom for this company is located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. They do all sorts of interior work, but their signature sculpture chandeliers, made entirely of, well, junk, are a sight to behold!  The artist Warren Muller creates these amazing bits of bright confusion out of recycled and salvaged objects. His commissions include The Westin Hotel for it's recent makeover, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.  If you have a chance to check out his unusual showroom, it is well worth the trouble!

Just when you had us pegged for a cobblestone colonial town! I will be doing more great spots in Philly, so be sure and check back!


I kept noticing this "T" everywhere, and then I found it!

   Artist Jacob Magraw-Mickelson set aside his paints and took up a needle.

In a recent interview with the NY Times (it's no coincidence that this is their signature "T"), Magraw says he was drawn to embroidery by "the layers of intention that can gather in such a slow process". This really spoke to me, as a fiber artist. The idea of layered intention is really everything that needlepoint is about. He goes on to talk about how we interact with stitching every day, in "mundane but essential ways..." This T of his is starting to pop up on Pintrest and Facebook---and I am sure we will be seeing more of this artists work in future!


A little Alphabet anyone?

Look Closer......

Alphabet Topography wood typography design

Closer still.....

Alphabet Topography wood typography design

How was this made?

Alphabet Topography wood typography design

What does it mean?

Alphabet Topography wood typography design

Created by Yale grads Casper Lam and YuJune Park at Synoptic Office it is a veritable typographic topography of how we use our letters.  "The physical form of language is a record of collective memory.In this monotype typeface, the height of the letterforms is determined by how often a letter is used. This typeface maps the rhythmic ebb and flow of English.Each letter sits in a 6 x 6 inch square, allowing for any combination of letters to run seamlessly both vertically and horizontally."

It's so amazing, I just want to run my hands over it. Each letter is constructed to fit every other letter, so you can get the topography of any word, just by lining it up!


I am so proud!

I could not be more proud and pleased with the entries for the color competition
Thank you for making the effort and bringing out your creativity for all to see!  What a joy!

Thank you to Heather M. who presented two compositions.  Looking closely at all that she collected and at the way she displayed the items, I'm floored.  And the lit candles, genius!
Heather's entry

The shades of purple are wonderful and complex.  Love the umbrella.  Through the folds of the fabric you see so many shades of purple.
another Heather entry
Jocelyn from New Zealand ...  treated us to a red party.  
Love her spices and how she displayed the ribbons. 
Jocelyn's Reds

Even better is what she had to say: 

Hi Orna
Woohoo - a competition about colour!
"Do you like a certain color and realize it's around you everywhere?" you ask .....   let me think .....   difficult choice ...........
Well no - actually it's pretty easy for me - RED!
The hardest part was deciding what to leave out.  I tried all sorts of combinations, trying to cram as much into the frame as I could, then decided that 'less is more' as they say. 
I thought about trying to position everything on the windowsill, so you could see my red car in the background.
Then I thought about positioning a mirror so you could see my red shirt.
But I thought they might be going a bit far, LOL.
So, here's my entry. My list of RED, featuring:
1. candles
2. a bowl
3. ribbon
4. a dish
5. threads
6, pens
7. beads
8. spice jars
9. santa
10. a cup with my Mother's name on it, made for her when she was born in 1926
all positioned on
11. a towel
Thanks for the fun competition. Now for the not-so-fun bit ...  putting it all away!
So congratulations to Heather and Jocelyn for your great color sense and creativity!  Fiber skeins are on their way to you!


I'm Teaching for the Pomegranate Guild!

(From Wikipedia)   The pomegranate Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.

The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably the Book of Exodus, the Homeric Hymns and the Qur'an.  In recent years, it has reached mainstream prominence in the commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere.

Pomegranates were known in Ancient Israel as the fruits which the scouts brought to Moses to demonstrate the fertility of the "promised land".
It is traditional to consume pomegranates on Rosh Hashana, because the pomegranate, with its numerous seeds, symbolizes fruitfulness. Also, it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 Mitzvot or commandments of the Torah.

This weekend I am teaching a class for The Pomegranate Guild of New Jersey. I am really excited to meet this group, I have my kits ready, and my supplies packed!

The Pomegranate Guild, is carrying on the long tradition of Judaic Needlework. They study the history of Judaic textiles, and learn about the symbols and motifs that have become such a touchstone of our culture. They create ceremonial objects and heirloom pieces, all with their heritage in mind. Meetings are "a rich blend of needlework, culture, tradition and religious practice."

The Shalom Card which can be used for any occasion or for any of the Jewish Holidays.

For my class, we will be stitching "A Year in Cards"which combines stitch work with papercraft. I am really looking forward to meeting everyone and having a great afternoon of stitching!


New Colorways!

I was preparing for the Pomegranate Guild Workshop a few weeks back and found myself going through some of my designs. I came across a favorite: Midnight Garden. As I looked at this beautiful Sampler it occurred to me that I should do another colorway for it, a Midday Garden! I pulled the threads, and found a daytime lavender canvas, and made it happen.

Also this week, the fourth colorway of Contemporary Tartan arrived to the website. It's an elegant mix of blues, greens and teal with a hint of orange! I am so happy with this piece! Primarily silks, with a little wool and ribbon thrown in, it is a design with true challenges for every level of stitcher!


And last but not least--The Beader's Toolbox! With each scrumptious  hue, you get glass vials full of beads and embellishments, as well as a collection of needles in various sizes. Three Floss skeins, and two rolls of coordinated vintage thread spools, and you have everything you need to go to town.


Blue Beaders ToolBox

Red Beader's Toolbox

Teal Beader's Toolbox

Yellow Beader's Toolbox
I am so happy with the new colorways and this new toolbox, the colors are so amazing! I hope they brighten your day as much as they did mine!


Needle Pointers of May 2012

PS -  I know, PS should come at the end but I wanted to get noticed;-)
I didn't add a photo of the piece I'm raving about because I need to get permission.  Hope to have it sometime today.

I was ready to write to you about what I'm doing this weekend, but I'm going to put that off till tomorrow.  I realized today, when I saw my new Needle Pointers magazine issue, that I don't write enough about other needlepoint designers.  Why did I realize that?  Because the cover of the magazine just grabbed me in the stomach.  I love this piece, I love the colors, the little do-dads at the corners, I love the textures and the beads.  It's flirty and regal all at once.

Jeanne Polzin, thank you for your design Mulberry & Lime

Do you know Jeanne?  Please tell her I'm grateful for her beautiful piece.


PS... these are the colors of her piece...


Creating and Subtracting

Sculpting with fiber can mean many things. It can mean knotted or snarled, knitted and woven. Fibers can form panels that are as tough as wood, or they can be draped and gauzy. The world or fiber sculpture has opened up it's definitions of what can be. And as an accessible, easy to use material, more and more artists are finding innovative ways to play with fiber.

 But how about the act of removing fibers to create art? Sculptor Seung Mo Park does just that: subtract from the whole to create extraordinary figurative portraits. His wonderful method of layering swathes of wire mesh and pulling select strands out, create these ephemeral, 3 dimensional images.

His most recent show, MAYA, just closed at New York's Blank Space Gallery in Chelsea.  These dream-like images begin as photos the artist takes. These are projected onto the mesh, and then the artist uses his best surgeons hands to cut and pull. The effect is ethereal and dream-like, luminous and otherworldly.


For more of Park's works, check out the Blank Space Gallery website.


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©Orna Willis
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