Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Saturday the littles and I ran errands while the middle 3 were at ski practice and the oldest was at Champs at Massanutten.  Sunday I decided I needed to be outside.

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8 AM & 40 degrees F,  but smiling!
So at 7:45 we dropped the middle 3 off at ski practice - and then I drove out of Wintergreen resort, right up the hill, and stopped at the AT trailhead there.  AT = Appalachian Trail via WikipediaVirginia has 550 miles (890 km) of the trail, including about 20 miles (32 km) along the West Virginia border.[56] With the climate, and the timing of northbound hikers, this section is wet and challenging because of the spring thaw and heavy spring rainfall.[57] Substantial portions closely parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway and, in Shenandoah National Park, the Skyline Drive. Parts of the trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive are often considered the best for beginner hikers. In the southwestern portion of the state, the trail goes within one half mile of the highest point in Virginia, Mount Rogers, which is a short side-hike from the AT.[56][dead link]

My Uncle Pete is said to have hiked the entire trail.
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love this view

This bit of the trail runs along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Parkway is closed right now.  I don't actually know if that is a permanent or temporary closure, or if it closes every winter?

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1 hr later, up high!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This old Chimney

When we leave Wintergreen and head towards Waynesboro Virginia, we take Mt. Torrey Rd.  And we pass this chimney.  And it fascinates me.
Why is it there?
What happened to the rest of the structure?
It looks like the remains of the floor of a structure are laid out in front of the chimney.
I love the pattern of the brick and the cement block and the tree growing around it.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Explaining - Why I wasn't excited that Helen Hunt was in H&M

Last night was the Oscars right?  I don't know- I drove home from the mountains and fell asleep.  But I have several friends who watch and who comment online.

One said:
LOVE that helen hunt is wearing a "green" dress by H&M!!!! she rocks!
I wrote back: No no no - read Cline's book - H&M is evil!

And as my recent blog posts will show - "fast-fashion" and "disposable clothes" are a topic on my mind.  And H&M is frequently implemented in this hysteria. Now, in researching Helen Hunt's dress I see that H&M is launching a "global garment recycling program."

However I am highly skeptical   There is no reconciliation between fast-fashion and sustainability.  H&M is offering to take those garments so they do not end up in the trash.  Awesome.  But where are they going?  Are they being recycled? Are they being recycled in an ethical manner?  Most clothes are made in countries that cannot or will not enforce good environmental practice in the making of the clothes, will they then enforce good environmental practice in the recycling of the clothes?

So to quote someone besides Cline, what happens to all that polyester and nylon and dye?

What happens to the pieces that don’t make the cut? Most of them end up in landfills—only about 15 percent of discarded clothing is recycled or reused, whether by individual or industry. Globally, we trash roughly 2 billion pounds of clothing and textiles a year. Piled onto a football field, the waste would stretch more than two miles high. The textile industry has hooked us so completely on the accelerated fashion cycle that we feel we find ourselves with more and more stuff and few options for ethically discarding it. via Ethical Style

And knowing that there is "Business" in your old clothes:

The U.N. estimates that the global used clothing trade generates about $1 billion annually. Rag cutters pay about 8 cents a pound for (preferably white) T-shirts with enough clean surface area to cut a 12-by-12 inch square. Remaining tattered or excessively printed clothing becomes what is called “shoddy” in a shredding process—companies pay the processors between 2 and 4 cents a pound for these goods that wind up in carpet pads, mattresses, or as insulation. But your used clothing is most valuable if it is fit to be reworn. Pricing varies, but select closet rejects can be bought for anywhere from 24 to 80 cents a pound. Processors sell them in bales from 500 to 1,000 pounds.
If your clothing is deemed ready to wear again, it’s categorized into one of 300 different groups to figure out where it’s most likely to find a new home somewhere around the world. Collectible items like vintage denim and Disney T-shirts are typically sold to Japan. Winter coats and other heavy winter items are shipped to Eastern Europe or South America. But the bulk—up to 80 percent—of reusable clothing winds up on ships to Africa. Middlemen there buy heaps of clothing from U.S. processors, then resell them to local market stall owners or straight to the costumer in their own retail outlets. In Africa, demand is high for these goods—in 2007, second-hand clothing placed in the top 10 import categories for 15 African countries. In Namibia and Uganda, our secondhand clothing becomes sought-after fashion apparel once it reaches the market. A well-fitting T-shirt can go for $1.20, and a durable coat can cost well over $4, even if the Goodwill tag in the back reads just $1. via Ethical Style
Is H&M actually recycling them or selling them and simply stealing the business from the rag-pickers?
Regarding clothing dye: this was written in January of this year (2013):

The Qiantang River is the most important river in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, one of the country’s most developed regions. On its banks, textiles plants work to supply fashion labels around the world. But they are polluting the environment in the process. A Greenpeace report published in October revealed that two industrial zones in the cities of Hangzhou and Shaoxing have long been dumping toxic waste into the Qiantang. via China Dialogue

For me it comes down to this.  Americans love a "feel good moment" but we refuse to take personal responsibility   Don't buy clothes that are made cheaply.  Don't buy clothes that are killing your world, then dump them in a matter of weeks or even months and go buy more.  Put on your big girl pants and buy something that will work for the next 10 years.  And don't even get me started on the Helen Hunt's lost opportunity to show case the work of an American designer/artist.
Walk through any crowded city anywhere in the world and you’ll see pink: this pleasing shade of pale red is the predominant hue for girl’s and women’s clothing. What’s not so pleasing (and less well-known) is that cute clothing gets its tint from harsh chemical dyes that are expensive to filter from waste water at textile plants. Check the label on your pink blouse – you can be fairly sure that where it’s made, a pink river runs through it.

I invite your comments.

"The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes"

Chapter 5 of Over-dressed

Elizabeth Cline goes to the Quincy Street Salvation Army, shares some sobering facts about the waste produced by our current shopping habits, etc:

pg 122: Every year, Americans throw away 12.7 million tons, or 68 pounds of textiles per person, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which also estimates that 1.6 million tons of this waste could be recycled or reused.

did you get that?  per person in the USA - 68 pounds of clothes a year in the trash.

That is embarrassing (and I don't throw away clothes.)

And you wouldn't believe what happens to the clothes we donate.

At the Quincy Street Salvation Army, a distribution center serving eight Salvation Army locations in Brooklyn and Queens, Elizabeth Cline learns that they process an average of five tons of outcast clothing every single day of the year.  Sorters pull 11,200 garments a day of that 5 tons to distribute.
Also at the distribution center Elizabeth Cline is shown the "rag-out" room.  Clothing that is out of season, stained, been on the rack too long without getting sold, etc are placed in this room.  Cline describes 2 men pushing the clothes into a giant compressor that squeezes out cubs of rejected clothing that weigh 1/2 a ton each. (I image giant cloth hay bales)

The Quincy Street Salvation Army builds a wall of unwanted clothes every 3 days (18 tons/36 bales). 18 tons of clothes in 3 days!
 pg 132 Goodwill executives told the Washington Post in 2002 that the organization had spent $500,000 that year alone hauling away worthless rubbish, including soiled clothing that couldn't be resold.
(that quote really gets my attention.  I believed that old cotton- socks, underpants- that couldn't be sold as clothes were sold to rag pickers.  I don't want Goodwill to pay to haul out my trash!)

Too keep all those clothes out of landfills created opportunity for businesses that are called rag graders and textile recyclers.

pg 128 "The rag graders came along and figured to how to separate clothes and find markets around the world that'd be interested in buying it." says Paben.  John Paben is co-owner of used clothing processer Mid-West Textile. "Gradually you had fewer and fewer good going to the landfill."  Today textile graders find use for most of our donated clothing.

pg 130 According to the rade organization Secondary materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) less than half of the clothing processed by textile recyclers is of a high enough quality to continue as clothing.
20 % is sold to fiber buyers and reused as insulation, carpet padding, building materials
30% is sold to the industrial wiping-rag industry
approximately 5% is thrown away

Interestingly - since most of the clothes that are bought today are cheaply made and do not last, resulting in most of the donation being cheaply made, there is a premium on Vintage Clothing.  Anything made pre-1990 is most likely "better made."

pg 133 Textile graders are raising vintage prices in order to offset the declining in value of other clothing they process. Vintage clothing, like designer clothing, is in danger of becoming a rich person's sport.

What clothing isn't sold to vintage shops, sold out of Goodwill, or sold to be turned into industrial material is sold overseas.  This part of this chapter was particularly enlightening to me.  As I mentioned, I had heard that some clothes could be sold for industrial rag but I didn't know it was sent abroad.

I feel like I am plagarizing (I'm not- I have noted all the quotes from the book, it is a list of quotes) so I'm going to end here with some of her sources.

Jaqueline L. Salmon "Goodwill Shutting Down Some Area Thrift Shops: Sinking Quality Hurting Bottom Line" Washington Post, April 12, 2002
Hansen "Secondhand Clothing"
Jana Hawley "Economic Impact of Textile and Clothing Recycling"

more thoughts on "Overdressed"

I mentioned previously on my blog that I was reading Elizabeth Cline's "Over-dressed."

I still am.  Fitting it in around a million other things.  But I want this to really sink in so I'm taking my time.  I wish I could challenge all the women I know to read this.  I also wish I could challenge Michelle Obama to read it.  Every one has made such a to-do about her dressing like "every woman."

She spends quite a bit of time talking about the history of fashion, of fast-fashion, the current culture of fashion blogging and fashion you-tube channels.  And how all of this has contributed to a fashion culture that is ever about new trends and no longer even about styles (the styles are changing so fast) and a current culture of "disposable fashion."

a few highlights on "fast-fashion:"

pg. 116 "The pace of fashion is also making quality and craftmanship obsolete.  A 2006 report on fast fashion by researchers at the UK's Manchester Metropolitan University found that fast-fashion companies are indeed eliminating product development and quality control.  The researchers interviewed one fast-fashion designer anonymously, who admitted: We sometimes have huge quality issues with garments that have maybe skipped a test or fit session to get into the shops quicker as the lead times we have been given are very tight."

pg 117 A reply to Cline from H&M "We do not believe that low prices can be equated with a throwaway society, because price and the life span of a garment are not related to each other"

pg 115 In 1904 German sociologist George Simmel wrote "Fashion" for The American Journal of Sociology.  In it he laid out a very clear view on how price and the pace of fashion are tied: "The more an article becomes subject to rapid changes of fashion, the greater the demand for cheap products of its kind"

pg 118 she compares her father's views on clothes to her own experience: "He bought a three piece suit for the high school prom in 1965 and wore the vest until the mid-1980s, and it never looked dated.  In my experience, if I pay less than $30 for a garment, I'm not likely to return it if I am not satisfied.  I'm probably not going to take food care of it either."

pg 118 Sean Cormier, the FIT marketing professor and quality-control expert, says in the industry quality is simply defined by customer satisfaction.  If we do not return a garment to the store, it has met the quality standard.

pg 122 DulceCandy of YouTube "I like fast fashion.  I like things that are disposable.  So I can wear this shirt two times and then throw it away."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ski House - more upstairs

The other bedroom:
This is K's and the guest room (well, I keep telling the kids that all the rooms are potentially guest rooms but this is the first option)
K is the one who wants a mountainy room.  And she is particularly fond of bears.  So we'll be adding some bears here and there as we go.

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I was in this room several times trying to get a decent photo - the lighting was just not working for me!  But this the idea:
So this is another headboard out of Grandma French's house.  The little dresser on the side was a find at the Rockfish Gap Country Store.  Tim fussed because the marble wasn't a "real top" and was just cut and placed on the dresser.  Whatever.  It isn't cut exact but I like the way the wood works with the bed.  And K likes the marble. Or fake marble, or whatever it is.

The sheets are flannel from the Vermont Country Store (online) and are *fabulous!* possibly the best in the house.  I found the comforter cover at Overstocks and was a little suspicious but it'll do.  The curtains are from Orvis and have lining to help with temperature regulation.  Wonderful.

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This is K's first art purchase.  She bought it in the Wintergreen area last year with our friend Brigid.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ski House -

So I have in my head a ski house that looks like its been in the family forever - and my daughter wants one that is all mountainy (buffalo plaid and howling wolves) - and my husband, well actually I don't know what he wants.  And the rest of the kids haven't really said much either...

But I've been shopping around Williamsburg and up here in the mountains and little pieces and corners are coming along...

A peek at the upstairs room with twin beds:

The bedframe is out of Tim's Grandmother's attic.  There are definte benefits to there being so few grandchildren on that side of the family, and him being a. the closest and b. the one with a home.

I found the sheets at Garnet Hill.  I bought a set of flannel sheets from Garnet Hill over 12 years ago (I know it was at least that long because they are on the bed in the infant photos of my now 12 year old son) They lasted beautifully - are so cozy - and I love them.  So even though its been a while, Garnet Hill gets my bedding business.

I was shopping with my mom at the Velvet Shoestring in Williamsburg and she saw the comforter set.  That was a steal at $30.00.  I am not using the side with gorgeous magnolia pattern as it is too busy with the sheets (and I'd already bought the sheets) but I love the colors in the stripes on the reverse.  I am using the sham, and I found another pair of shams at Charlie's Antiques on Richmond Rd. Williamsburg.  I am so pleased with how they all go together! (incidentally - I am not bothered by consignment shopping for bedding, it was all dry cleaned before going on the bed an in excellent condition when I purchased it.)

The room needs painting and we will get to that - and I'm on the look out for a small white desk top for my artist to have - though I've warned her it won't be for "stacking things."  She is her momma's daughter and piles stuff all over the place.  And window treatments.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Purple Sage's Photos

So it is nearly the end of the SARA Ski Season.  High School & Masters ski champs at Massanutten this weekend.  The U-14, U-12 and maybe U-10 (?) Champs are at Bryce the weekend after that, and then we send K up to Cannon NH for the High School team events.

Our team "photographer" he is one of the dad's - makes a slide show each year of the season's photos.

From SmugMug - Purplesage

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Our home mountain is Wintergreen, in Virginia.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Snowy Adventures

Saturday I went shopping out near Nelson County for furniture for the new place.  I found the most lovely store:

It is called "Greenwood Antiques and Uniques" and it is filled with the most wonderful finds.  It's sister store is "The Rockfish Gap Country Store."

Some ideas regarding what was inside:

I found a pine dresser drawers, a side table with drawers that looked like it might be walnut, and a refurnished tall dresser.  I wanted the tall dresser to go into the closet in the room with the twin beds.  With both beds in that room there isn't enough room for a dresser, and the little girls will use that room so they need drawers.  The side table with drawers is for the guest room which is also K's room.  It goes nicely with the bed that we pulled from grandma's attic.  And the pine dresser was to be in my room.  But Tim hated it.  (Actually I don't think he cared for any of it, but I would only agree to return the pine dresser.) Luckily for me they accepted the return without any fuss.

The shops closed at 5 PM and I started on my way back.  Tim called to tell me it was snowing by him and that I ought to be careful.  I was driving the big sprinter and last time he drove it up in snow it had slipped.  I thought he was being sweet, but really there wasn't a snowflake in sight and I wasn't worried.  Hah.  I made it along HWY 151 and turned towards Wintergreen and there was snow and by the time I was inside Wintergreen Resort there was heavy snow.  And the truck in front of me was moving slowly and I was relying on speed for traction.  I slipped once and pulled off at the next available spot, which happened to be the parking lot for the road maintenance vehicles.  

look at all that snow!

Tried to call Tim but I was in a dead spot and didn't have any cell service, so... I hopped out of the van and knocked on the door.  Nobody answered so I went inside.  I called "hello" and still nobody answered.  I was feeling a bit like Goldilocks.  After several minutes of looking around I decided to "borrow" a phone.  But got a busy signal.  So at this point (please imagine this with me) I started taking phones off a desks and dialing.  Just walking into one office after another.  No luck.  I was probably inside 15 to 20 minutes when I saw a truck pull in and go over to the big back hoe in the corner by the sand.  It was loading sand (or maybe salt) into the back of a truck so I headed over there.  The gentleman driving immediately brought me back inside, told me to use the phone I needed to dial 6, and showed me where the coffee pot was and the hot chocolate and the ladies room.  He showed me the coffee pot 3 or 4 times.  Then he went back to work.  I dialed 6 and called my husband.  Then I made coffee.  I could hear the dispatchers on the radios, the "down" side of the road was backed up and they couldn't plow or sand it because the cars were in the way.  After another 15 or 20 minutes of that nonsense they blocked off the "up" side, moved everybody down, and plowed the road.  Listening to all the chatter I knew it would be a while before my husband could get through in the pickup tuck.  So I just waited and drank coffee.  Occasionally one of the men working the road would stop in and look at me with surprise.  I think I was there nearly an hour by the time my husband was able to get to me.  His friend drove him - there are chains in the van for the tires but I've never put chains on tires in my life and didn't have a clue how.  By the time they got to me though the salt and sand on the road had done its job and we didn't need chains.  Funny though, my husband was more than happy to drive the van up  to the house and once we made the turn onto Devil's Knob Rd we did loose traction and start slideing backwards for a minute.  But I turned off the traction control and he revved it and we made it up.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bragging Rights

K is my oldest - she's 14 and has been skiing since she was 4. She has been on a ski team since she was 10 and we ski as much as we can - which for our part of Virginia is a big deal. I mean, I live in Tidewater- lots of golf, lots of river, no mountains and if we get enough snow to make the street turn white (like once a year) the entire town shuts down. Seriously.  Despite all that skiing - and her focus on technique - she usually runs in the middle of the pack and doesn't usually place.

So this is exciting:

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The little one on the right with the long hair is mine -
bringing home medals.
Yay for my girl!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Over-Dressed - by Elizabeth Cline

I heard about this book via a blog via twitter: @trishgrier
the actual blog post is this one:
Fast Fashion is not good for you, your wardrobe, or the planet
and that lead me to read "Over-Dressed, The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" by Elizabeth Cline.
While not a "Made In America" evangelist until recently - I do remember saying to my husband when we lived in Fond du Lac Wisconsin (where much of the town derived its income from a manufacturing plant for outboard motor engines and a smaller plant for industrial machinery and an even smaller dairy plant) "these people are buying their way out of a job!  You can't complain about cheaper boat engines being made by companies that outsource to cheap labor markets and then turn around and by everything you own at Walmart."  Now I'll admit that they may be a huge generalization and injustice to Walmart, I have no idea where the majority of their items are sourced, but I'd hazard the guess that you can't make stuff that cheap in the USA.

Ms. Cline begins her book with stories about the American addiction to cheap buys - and the "disposable" attitude that as a nation we take towards goods.  In this book specifically clothing.  And it is making me really think.  I don't think I was expecting this book to have this big of an impact on me.  But it is.

For example, I needed slacks.  I've needed some for quite some time.  And this book (and I'm only 1/3 of the way through it) inspired me to stop by Binns of Williamsburg, where my grandmother used to shop.  Inside Binns you'll find rather nice clothing, and real salespeople.  And lucky me, the winter items were marked down to make room for spring.  So I found 3 pairs of slacks and tried them on while Lori (the saleswoman) took Little Hawk on a hunt through the store for stuffed animals and allowed him to "drive" a toy car...  One brand was indeed made in the United States, VIZCAINO, which made me that much more pleased with myself.  They were pricey - even marked down they were at the top of my budget scale, but that is one of the things that Ms. Cline discusses in her book; the actually cost of creating a piece of clothing.  And since I've always been one to take a long term view of my purchases (I have boots that are as old as my 12 year old son, and I love them and wear them often) I am able to validate the amount, knowing I'll buy fewer items but wear them longer.  Though I did say to the salesperson, Lori, when she showed me a very trendy cardigan "I know it's 'the thing' but I wear clothes for 10 years."  And you know - she looked at me with respect not pity or contempt.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Ski House!

Last week Monday we closed on a house in Wintergreen, Virginia.  Yay us!  As mentioned in previous posts my husband is a coach with the Wintergreen Alpine Racing Team, and my kids are SARA racers.  And for 2 years we have bummed off of friends for a place to stay.  Our friends are most gracious!  But we have diligently looked for our own weekend place and are so excited to have found a house that suits our family and our budget.  Sadly it was a foreclosure and I hate that.  But it what it is.  And it is a lovely house.  I was really lucky in that the day we closed, my husband and some of the guys he works with drove up there.  They put in the appliances (the house didn't have any) moved in beds, patched walls, redid plumbing in the utility room and a host of other things before I arrived with the kids on the weekend.  They did a lot of work.  I'm very grateful.

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In a previous post I had shared that I'm braiding a rag rug for my ski house.  And I had also shared that my husband had teased me about how long it was going to take to make it.  And that we were buying rugs from LLBean as well.  Well obviously I do not intend to make rugs for the entire house.  That would take forever!  And as I mentioned in the previous post, LLBean goes so far as to sell rugs made in the United States.  How cool is that?  We like the all weather rugs as we expect a fair amount of dirt and snow (despite our best efforts) with 6 kids and the dogs.

Also in the previous post I had mentioned that the husband plans on making a table, and we were borrowing a folding table from his parents until further notice.

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So there it is, hiding under a lovely table cloth by April Cornell.  I've had the best time with pinterest in organizing what I wish to purchase.  It is a great way to window shop, and catalog ideas and items, and then finally get around to purchasing them.

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A REALLY dark photo of the kitchen.  All of these were taken with my iphone.  But as I get going I'll get the good camera out.  I'm really excited about this house.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More Chihuly

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Southwest room

I *loved* this room.  Again, I came into the room and sat in a corner and just took in the room.  Who thinks about what to put on the wall behind their glass art!?! What a fabulous display! What a fabulous way to show us the thought process and the connection.  I LOVED this.  And I loved the art prints.  I loved that the photos and the blankets are displayed as one unit, one unit of photos, one unit of blankets.  This had a huge impact on me.  I wish I could meet Dale Chihuly and just listen to him and watch this process in action.  I'm fascinated.  In the store at the end of the exhibit there were actually books on the Pendelton Blanket collection.  Another book on the Native American Portrait collection.  

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"baskets and pottery"
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From the store:
Chihuly Pendeltons

Item Number: 1031281
Description: The book's foreword, written by historian Charles J. Lohrmann, renders a compelling account of the economic and human history of the blankets. Chihuly's Pendletons provides a rare opportunity to view both the artist's exquisite creations and the inspiration behind them.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Boats and Glass

My favorite glass piece from the Chihuly exhibit at the VMFA

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Chihuly - boat with glass spheres

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Chihuly - boat with flora forms

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My reactions to this exhibit interest me greatly because they were so strong and defined and rather surprised me.  I loved the boats, and especially the use of reflection in displaying the boats.  But I was struck that I reacted so strongly to the spheres, I loved Chihuly's spheres especially as displayed in the boats.  I appreciate and enjoy the botanical forms, but I love the spheres.  This particularly interested me because I think I am more likely to draw/paint or otherwise represent floral forms than spheres.  But I love the spheres.

I'm linking this up to Smiling Sally's Blue Monday

Chihuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art

Virginia Museum of Fine Art
this exhibit is closing - Feb 10th I believe - but I finally made it to Richmond on Thursday.

Dale Chihuly is a glass artist. I love his love of color.  His understanding of light.  His use of reflections.  This is a great exhibit.

But myself, I responded the most strongly to his Drawing Wall.  Possibly because I work in two dimensional art.  Possibly because of the depth and texture of his drawings.  I spent a good 10 minutes on the drawing wall.  Looking at the paint he used, the texture to the paint, the reflections in the paint.  It looks like there might be pieces of sand or glass or some other gritty yet reflective substance in the paint and it was put on in such a painterly manner.  I found it very seductive.

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Chihuly at the VMFA, Drawing Wall photo 283b948c-f913-45e9-97e8-05a265e5e316_zps45067c9d.jpg

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Also interesting to me was the way that these pieces were framed and displayed.  I also found myself thinking that I could never work in this way and recognize it as art, even though I was responding so strongly to these pieces.  I think because they are so free form and I always want my work to "be" something or resemble something.

My mother has been to see this exhibit numerous times.  She took my two older sons to see it a week ago, and my oldest daughter last fall when it opened and my middle daughter at a different time.  My oldest down loaded the Chihuly phone app while she was at the museum.  That is really fun.