Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Trip Report - Eastern Caribbean - March 2015 - San Diego to San Juan

This vacation's core was Patti Culea's "Last Doll Making Cruise Reunion." This was a cruise on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan. I had never been able to go on one of her cruises before, so I figured this was my last chance.

 It was also a chance to see Puerto Rico and San Juan. We had been there in July 2004 on the way back from a wedding, but since we were flying standby, we never got out of the airport.

As part of the cruise the travel agent had booked us at Embassy Suites, a Hilton property that is a few blocks from the beaches of Isla Verde, but not too close to anything else. This was a beautiful hotel, but the rooms had poor ventilation and I believe that my allergies were affected by the bleach being used to clean.
Orchids in hotel 

From under hotel waterfall

We took at taxi into Old San Juan and walked around, looking for a place to eat. We spotted a banner saying "House of the Ribs" which turned out to be for Monditos.  I had tamarind glazed BBQ chicken with fufu* cubano. It didn't look too appetizing, but it was delicious. I took a picture of the decor, instead.
Frog as a hill

*"fufu" ( 'foo foo') In the Caribbean is made of ripe plantains or yams which are mashed with other ingredients. It is sweeter than mofongo, which I am told is made with green plantains mashed with broth, garlic, and olive oil. Both fufu and mofongo are the base for many different dishes.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Going to the Floral Follies - 
February 2015

The original doll making conference was held in 2013, in Australia. At that event Gloria McKinnon invited elinor peace bailey, Patti Culea, Barbara Willis, Betts Vidal and Sally Lampi to give classes on doll making techniques. This time the event was held in Costa Mesa. All the original teachers (except Sally Lampi, who was recovering from a serious accident) were able to attend, and I was lucky enough to be a student.

This time the event was held at Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, California. The Floral Follies, with 45 students, was apparently the largest event they have hosted so far.

I believe the original conference had allowed each student a day with each instructor. This time each instructor had only half a day. The challenge for the teachers was to create an original doll that could be put together by their students in the 3-½ hour class. It was also decided that there wouldn’t be time for the students to draw a face from scratch, so each kit included a pre-drawn face.

The introduction was held the evening before in a big tent outside the store The walls of the tent had been covered with beautiful handmade quilts and the room was decorated with antiques. At the first meeting each teacher was introduced and talked a little bit about herself, and then showed us the dolls we were going to make. Only Gloria McKinnon was not able to speak, as she was getting over a cold, but her friend talked about her (nicely). Sally Lampi's doll was introduced by a teaching team. There were tables set up with samples of the projects and related merchandise. Piecemaker's staff supplied a light supper and door prizes, and gave everyone a packet of Piecemakers doll-making needles.

The students were divided into six groups, and each group took turns going from teacher to teacher.

Piecemaker's provided lunches and door prizes each day, and we all had time to shop at the Piecemaker's Country Store, which is full of tempting supplies for embroidery, quilt making, knitting, crochet, needle tatting, doll making, cooking, bead work, and other arts and crafts. There were also special demonstrations from outside artists during the noon break. Tripadvisor might not agree, but I consider Piecemaker's a store worth going out of the way to visit if you are interested in fiber arts.

I really enjoyed meeting the teachers and talking to fellow doll-makers. I met people from California, Australia, Hawaii, Oregon, and Colorado. Even though I haven’t finished all the dolls, I think I learned a lot.

We had been given a list of supplies to bring, but each teacher also supplied a package of special items needed to make the doll they were teaching. Each instructor had her own way of doing things. For example, although four of the dolls had cloth faces that were cut out and wrapped around a separate base, each teacher did that differently. I also ended up using five different kinds of fabric glue.
Patti Culea taught us a doll called “Dahlia”, a small traditional cloth doll with tiny arms and legs.

Sally Lampi was not able to attend, but Di & Donna taught her “Eukie the Gumnut” doll which had a simple cloth body in an organza sheath, crepe paper for hair, and a fabric seed pod.



elinor peace bailey taught a doll she called “Bleeding Heart”. This was an unusual doll with an pre-made elaborate wire frame that that we transformed.
Bleeding Heart

I haven't finished the last three dolls, which were all "flat" dolls. This is not the kind of doll I usually make, but making them introduced me to several new techniques. 

Gloria McKinnon is known for her ribbon embroidery and beadwork, so her doll was a flat doll with ribbon embroidery and beadwork. I hadn’t done much ribbon embroidery before, so this was a good learning experience.

Gloria McKinnon's doll, in progress

Barbara Willis taught a doll called “Primrose”. It is a flat doll, but has a lightly stuffed canvas body to make it more three-dimensional.
Primrose with picture of finished doll

Betts Vidal taught us how to make a “Queen Anne’s Lace” flat doll. She also made a beautiful name badge holder for each person in my group. 

Name Badge for Queen Anne's Lace Group
Queen Anne's Lace flat doll


(Some of this material previously published in Stipple, an APA publication.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Trip Report - Our Big Trip - August 18th and 19th - Around London

We had a little time after the convention to do some more sightseeing. One day we went to Tower Bridge and walked around looking at famous landmarks like the Tower of London and St. Paul's.

Another day we went to the Exo Center and took a sky tram across the river.
View of the Exo (Hedgehog) from the Sky Tram

The end of the audio spiel was "Thank you for
flying Emirates!"

Crabbie's Ginger Beer at Nicholson's
On a pedestrian bridge, an artist was adding
designs using chewing gum.
Looking back towards the bridge.
We saw several "book benches" - this was one of my favorites.
Pub lunch

The last meal of mushrooms and black pudding.

Home again. Now that I've finished this trip report I guess the vacation is over. Darn.

Trip Report - Our Big Trip - August 14th to August 17th - WorldCon

I was very glad that we had picked up our registration packets for the World Science Fiction Convention the day before, because this is a photo of the registration line on the first day.

World Science Fiction Conventions" or "WorldCons" are held every year, but because they are run by volunteers, and in a different location each year, the content may vary. Usually there are many panels and events, although sometimes the big thing is just getting together with other fans. Last year's "LonCon" had a final attendance of 7,951, which is more than usual. Many new conventions are starting up each years, and there are complaints that we WorldCon attendees are getting old and stodgy. That's fine with me.

This convention had some great fan exhibits, panels, and demonstrations.  

Ball jointed dolls from Max Chamberlain's collection
A display of childrens' art

A line-up of samples for the Chocolate tasting panel
A snack at one of the many bid parties.