Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Windmills of Your Mind Quilt

Windmills of Your Mind Quilt (37 1/2" by 67")
by jojo sabalvaro-tan, 2011

I finally finished this quilt that I have been working off and on for about five years. I was pretty sure it was destined to be one of those UFOs (UnFinished Objects). It was the first time I stepped away from the so-called traditional quilts into a more artsy piece. I've made several small art quilts at the same time I was working on this, but I must admit that I am partial to the traditional quilt designs. As I was working on this project, this quote kept running through my head, "You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star." It is by German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche(1844-1900), I almost gave the quilt his name. Instead, I chose the name 'Windmills of Your Mind' inspired by the song with the same name (see note below) since to me the quilt represented the chaotic swirling that you have in your brain when the world seems out of sorts. When I started this particular quilt, I had several friends who were going through some difficult transitions in their lives and I used the process of making the quilt as a way to think about and pray for them. It became very meditative, a sort of prayer quilt.

Circle detail

New York Beauty block template

The Windmills of Your Mind quilt featured circles made from the convex section of the New York Beauty blocks. I paper pieced the block using templates adapted from the book Karen K. Stone Quilts and took four of the fan-shaped components of the NY Beauty block and made them into circles. I did not remove the paper templates until I had the circles put together to ensure a flat surface since I am working with curves. To learn more the paper piecing method, please visit Start Quilting.

More detail, showing lettering

The fabrics I used on the circles were mostly brightly colored polka dot prints drawing on the circle theme. Bright colors were chosen to symbolize hope. The background is a dark batik. I machine-appliquéd the completed circles to the background using invisible thread and used variegated thread for the decorative machine stitches around the circles. To remove bulk, I trimmed the background fabric covered by the circles. Using extracted lyrics from the song "Windmills of Your Mind", letters were hand-appliquéd on the quilt for additional embellishment.

The backing fabric is a multicolored polka dot print against a green background. I hand-quilted spirals all over using Sulky brand multicolored variegated thread, the ends of which I purposely left hanging as another decorative element. I am sure there are plenty more I can do to embellish this quilt but for now, I declare it FINISHED! But then again, wouldn't some beading look good on it...hmmm.

Full View

"The Windmills of Your Mind"(press on song title to listen) ("Les moulins de mon cœur") is a song from the movie The Thomas Crown Affair (1968, re-made in 1999). The original was performed by Noel Harrison. Michel Legrand wrote the music. The English lyrics were written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman and the French lyrics were by Eddy Marnay.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jewelry Making

My First Jewelry-Making Project
One of my hobbies is jewelry making. Again, I think it is triggered by my love affair with color. I get to play with beads of different colors and shapes and put them together into something pleasing and wearable. I got started with jewelry making on a trip to Mexico with some of my high school classmates. It was to be a mini reunion hosted by a classmate whose husband's expertise landed him a job playing with corn and wheat genetics at CIMMYT, a facility whose goal is to sustain the productivity of wheat and corn to ensure global food security and avoid poverty. We were lucky enough to tour the facility and visit the vault where we saw the world's largest wheat and corn germplasm bank, which are studied, used and shared with every country. It was truly mind boggling for someone like me who started out in college with a goal that my studies would somehow help feed the poor all over the world - a lofty goal that I was not destined to fulfill. So, I do have great admiration for my classmate's husband and this company's mission and work. To learn more about CIMMYT, please visit  www.cimmyt.org/

Bazaar Sabado Scene in Mexico City

I digress again, as this post is about jewelry making. One of the areas we toured was the Bazaar Sabado in Mexico City, which featured arts and crafts produced in Mexico. There were paintings, paper, glass, wood and metal work, woven and embroidered fabrics, jewelry and sculptures, among many many more varieties of items. It was a riot of color. We stopped by a booth selling all kinds of beads many of them made from natural semi-precious stones and decided to purchase some items, dreaming of the beautiful pieces we could make out of them but not really knowing how to start.

Painting from my Watercolor Travel Journal 

On this trip, we also visited the hill town of Taxco, the silver capital of Mexico on our way back from enjoying the beaches of Acapulco. Here we were exposed to silver findings to go with the beads we bought in Mexico City. Of course some stores also carried beads and semi-precious stones that can be fashioned into pendants. Door after door in the small town featured outstanding handmade artifacts and jewelry made of silver.

When we got home, I had all this jewelry making stuff and was not sure how to proceed so they sat for a while in the corner of my craft room. One Saturday, my husband and I were window shopping in a the town of Geneva, Illinois which featured small boutique shops. We happened upon a bead shop. I told the owner about my trip to Mexico and not knowing what to do with all these beads I have sitting at home. She sat me down on the table in the store, had me select some beads and findings, I chose some silver beads to accent the onyx beads I selected. She then gave me some wire, silver crimping beads and a crimping tool and got me started making a necklace. I finished the necklace in the store and now knew exactly what I needed to work on the supplies I had at home. I also found that crafts stores nowadays had a myriad of supplies for jewelry making. For my basic supplies, I bought wire, crimping beads, Swarovski crystal beads, some jeweler's pliers, a crimper and a design board. And of course, I also had to purchase all kinds of storage containers for my ever growing stash of beads and findings, There are also several online sources, one of my favorites is Fire Mountain Gems at www.firemountaingems.com 

Ever since that reunion trip to Mexico, I began to pickup jewelry-making items wherever I travel. Here are some of the necklaces I have made over the years from beads and findings I have collected during my travels.

With beads I purchased in the Czech Republic and religious medals I purchased in Puerto Vallarta

Multicolored glass beads purchased in California

Made with fresh water pearls I purchased in the Philippines, heishi beads and mother -of-pearl discs.

The Beads were purchased in the Czech Republic and pendant in Murano, Italy.

The Chinese pendant was purchased in Beijing

The Cross pendant was purchased in Cozumel, Mexico

One of the necklaces made from my original purchase in Mexico City. SurprisinglyThe Chinese jade pendant was bought there too.
More beads purchased during a trip to the Czech Republic, the glass pendant is from there, too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Vanishing Man

I am featuring two paintings I did for my watercolor painting class. The objective is to do portraiture and textures in watercolor. The instructor provided a reference photo of an African medicine man. Here is how my painting turned out. 

African Medicine Man by jojo sabalvaro tan 2010
Watercolor on paper 9 1/2" by 7 1/2"

After painting the African Medicine Man, I was inspired to do another painting with a similar theme. This one is of a native tribesman from the Mountain Province of the Philippines.This man belongs to the Ifugao group who were the principal architects of the most famous rice terraces in the world. Constructed on steep mountain sides between 2000 and 3000 years ago and encompassing 100 square miles, these terraces have been called one of the wonders of the ancient world. This is my tribute to one of the vanishing breeds of Filipinos.
The Vanishing Breed by jojo sabalvaro tan 2010
Watercolor on paper 8 1/4" by 7 1/2"

From Wikipedea:

The Banaue Rice Terraces (TagalogHagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe) also called Payew, are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains ofIfugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".] It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.
Locals to this day still plant rice and vegetables on the terraces, although more and more younger Ifugaos do not find farming appealing, often opting for the more lucrative hospitality industry generated by the Rice Terraces.

Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao Province, Philippines
from Wikipedea