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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Doctor Was In!

Even after temperatures in the teens, this shrub rose continues
to bloom sporadically. I'm ready for an early spring.

Sometimes I just feel I must protect my dear readers from a few of the more personal aspects of my life. For instance, do you really want to know that, due to breathing problems, I've been attempting to sleep sitting upright in a wing chair since just before Christmas?!? I've been just about ready to commit hari kari! Luckily I was able to get a work-in visit with my allergist this morning. After a thorough exam (I'll spare you the details) I was told my severe nasal congestion is due to clusters of nasal polyps! Good grief - not a comforting thought at all, especially since I also have stress-induced asthma. And why is it doctors always want to show you illustrations and offer in-depth descriptions? I told him "Put those things away! I'm freaked out enough already. If my body is going to grow stuff, why can't it grow longer legs???"

I left his office with a an Rx for an eight-day high dose prednisone regime which I've begun. Fair warning...whenever I'm on steroids, I become really hyper. During my last event several years ago, my DH woke up about midnight to ask me, "What the ............are you doing at this hour?" I told him "Just go back to sleep, dear. I'm vacuuming out your sock drawer."

BTW - my allergist is a huge fan of the Neti pot, about which I've still not written. Maybe tomorrow depending on how my night goes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stamp Your Art Out

Dream Box was created from fabrics I hand-dyed. The real fun
from stamping and bead embellishment. In the
background are fabrics created using Shibori
and other surface-design methods.

This morning I've been gathering samples for Stamp Your Art Out, a stamping/surface design class I'll be doing April 5. I'm excited about returning to the Piedmont Quilters' Guild in Greensboro. Using the spacious classroom at my friend Randy Squires' quilt shop www.randysquiltshop.com will be an added bonus - not to mention the retail therapy opportunities!

A portion of our class time will be devoted to creating fabrics - using simple surface design techniques - which will then be further altered by stamping. It will be a stress-free and liberating day. For further info on Stamp Your Art Out, contact Linda at lindaincarolina@aol.com or go to www.piedmontquilts.org and click on Workshops.

Splish Splash
Several surface design methods, such as dyeing, painting, sponging, stamping and resist dyeing were used to create the fabrics for this piece. I then made my version of the traditional log cabin quilt. Click on the photo to see that even the blocks used in the border are sewn as log cabins.

The watery looking fabrics in Tranquility were air-brushed with Deka Silk paint. I used a very inexpensive muslin - you may remember this fabric for 39 cents a yard from the flat-folds table at Hancock's - which was then painted directly out of the washing machine - wrinkled and wet. The result was a wonderful, unexpected surprise. If I'd taken time to dry and iron the fabric before painting, I'm sure the affect would not have been nearly as interesting.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Just inside our front door hang two works of art by Thomas Connally Guerrant, Jr. known to friends as TC and to members of our family as Granddaddy.

My father-in-law's oil painting Whale Boat has always been one of my favorites. Shown beneath it is an incredible half-model he did of the Privateer Snap Dragon.

Click on image for a closer view of Whale Boat

On what would have been his 97th birthday, our thoughts today have been about this amazing man. He was a true southerner and the best story teller I've ever met - probably due in part to the fact his mother, Ada Edmonds Mapp Guerrant, was a published poet and writer.

Although he possessed an incredibly quick wit and great sense of humor, Granddaddy was also extremely tender-hearted. He felt things very deeply and with great gentleness.

Physical reminders of Granddaddy are everywhere in our home - from the masterful furniture he built, the decoys he carved, the sculpture and paintings he created to the stunningly beautiful photographs he took of his children when they were little. We treasure them all.

As well as being a member of the American Society of Marine Artists, this Navy veteran was a lover of water and sailing. Over his lifetime, he built six wooden boats.

Granddaddy sails one of the six boats he built.

Granddaddy also served as keeper and protector of family history. His children, Betsey, Tom and my husband Bill have been able to gain much insight by reading correspondence exchanged between their parents during WWII while TC served in the Navy. These letters, scrapbooks and photo albums are irreplaceable. In this cyber age, I wonder how much history is being lost because the written word is being so easily erased.

Frying Pan Shoals
Collection of Matthew and Suzie Guerrant

Thomas Connally Guerrant, Jr.
January 26, 1911 - August 5, 2002

Granddaddy had a profound effect on all who knew him. He was loved and is missed. I was blessed to have known Granddaddy for over 30 years. My life was so enriched because of him.

We salute you, sir.

Photo Credit: Bill Guerrant

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Grateful Heart

A Grateful Heart
by Joannell Connolly

I purchased this wonderful quilt from the now ended Keiko and Friends Art Quilts exhibit. http://www.artfabrik.com/gallerykeiko.htm
The imagery and title made it the perfect gift for Matthew (and Suzie).

We spent yesterday celebrating Matthew's 15th New Heart birthday with him in Greensboro. Suzie joined us for lunch at a great Thai restaurant - Thai Bangkok. The food was delicious and the hot jasmine tea soothing, as Greensboro was very cold with snow still on the ground.

Green Curry - notice the 'cone' of rice on the right.

Sweet and Sour - YUM!
Cell phone photos by mbg.

Matthew demonstrates his new Flight Simulator computer game.
He'd love to fly if he could, and would make a great pilot.

Keiko Goke is one of my favorite quilt artists. This piece, with the three hearts, seems so symbolic of my family's experiences over the past 15 years.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Matthew - Photo credit: Suzie Stalter Guerrant

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not grow weary, and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:13

Our son was just like every other normal kid for most of his childhood. When 13, he was suddenly stricken with cardiomyopathy which changed his and our lives forever. Today, on the fifteenth anniversary of his life-saving heart transplant, I wanted to share some photos and thoughts.

This post is a tribute to the incredible strength and courage Matthew has shown everyone whose life he's touched. He is indeed our BRAVEHEART!

Playing soccer - Age 6.
Hiking in the High Tatras along the border of Poland and the Czech Republic - August, 1992

Steady as a rock, Matthew listens intently as Dr. Craig Greene explains the heart transplant procedure he is about to undergo - January 20, 1993. Matthew then said, "Lets do it."

Once released from the CVU intensive care, Matthew had many wonderful visitors. Here Hugo, the Charlotte Hornets mascot, presents Matthew with an autographed basketball and other momentoes. Matthew was also visited by player Alonzo Mourning who ironically underwent a kidney transplant some years later.

Atlanta Braves players Mark Wohlers and Melvin Nievens, as well as the team mascot,
stopped by to brighten Matthew's day.

After nine days, Matthew was finally able to return home! After a few weeks, he was well enough to return to school and once again take up biking, hiking, photography and drawing.

My DH made sure Matthew began learning photography at an early age. Here he is in the
darkroom at about age 9.

Matthew studied photography under the incredible Byron Baldwin. Here they are viewing the shots for which Matthew won Gold and Silver Key Awards at the Scholastic Art Competition while in high school.

Matthew continued his photo studies in college, earning a degree in commercial photography.
Photo credit: Scott Holloway

Sometimes I think my son was born with a drawing pencil in his hand. From the time he was little, he's been drawing. He's shown above in a gallery at Spirit Square alongside his art.

The exhibited drawing is shown here. Click on the image for a closer view.
Copyright Matthew Guerrant

This drawing is another personal favorite of mine. It was completed in an honors art class in which students had to study and replicate the art of another. Matthew's inspiration was a photograph by a well-known artist. Copyright Matthew Guerrant

The love of Matthew's life - his bride Suzie. We've all been so happy to have her in our lives. She is a smart, funny, talented and strong woman and we love her very much.
Photo credit: Matthew Guerrant

Hold on My Heart........Throw Me a Lifeline

This is the healing quilt I created following our son's transplant. Three broken hearts, representing Matthew, my husband and me, are symbolized by three different colors: cool blue for Bill who always kept his cool, majestic purple for Matthew and a tiny slice of red for me, as that's all I felt was left of me at that time. Matthew's perfect new heart is shown in the center of the quilt. Images of hands of the cardiologists involved in Matthew's care are hand quilted over the surface of the quilt, with Dr. Mark Stiegel's (the transplant surgeon) being placed on the transplanted heart image. The fabric with the weight-lifter (bottom left) symbolizes the strength Matthew has shown every step of the way.

We are grateful and thankful beyond words for the gift of life given our son. For more information on organ and tissue donation go to:



Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Very Special Birthday

My DH took this photo of our nephew Tom in 1969.
Cherry Grove SC

Today, Tom is 40. Happy Birthday and much love from
Auntie Ellen, Uncle Bill,
Matthew, Suzie, Numa and Darby.
You are very special to us.

Tom takes a moment from fishing to visit with my DH at our last family gathering.
Now married, Tom and his wonderful wife April are the parents of two amazing young boys.

Winter Wonderland - But Just for a Minute

There was just a wee bit of snow left on our rosemary bush this afternoon.

I found an internet site containing photos of last night's brief snowfall. This wonderful shot was taken by Mike Fox in nearby Belmont NC.

Night owl that I am, I witnessed last night's rare snowfall. It began just after midnight. By 2:30, everything was a fairyland. But did I go out in my nightie to take photos? Unfortunately, no. The snow turned to rain early this morning, quickly melting our winter wonderland.

Hopefully we'll have a bit more snow before winter's end. More prone to get ice than snow, Charlotte's biggest snowfalls usually occur in March - after the daffodils bloom!

For more Charlotte snow shots go to:


and click through the images.
You'll see just how little snow it takes to get us excited!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where Have I Been?

I love this photo of my son Matthew and his bride Suzie. This is a self-portrait they took of themselves at sunset in our beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. Photo credit: Matthew/Suzie Guerrant

Hello, dear readers. You may wonder where I've been these past two weeks. Staying close to my Puffs tissues (in the cheery polka dot box) and my latest purchase - the Neti pot! (More about that later.) For some reason, I went into a horrible allergy/asthma attack which necessitated REAL drugs. My DH decided we needed an air purifier - I am allergic to dogs after all - and a vaporizer/ mister with meds. I was so hoping for a Merry Maids intervention! I've really missed blogging!

I'm finally on the mend and will hopefully post pix soon of the progress I've made in the studio.

'Til then, take care, stay warm and stay well! Love, PEACE and Blessings - Ellen. xoxoxox

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Digital Photos on Silk

The original digital sunrise shot.

The photo I took of the printed silk - indoors, no flash.

The photo of the silk print my DH took in natural light with his Nikon D80.

Last but not least, newlyweds Suzie and Matthew take a romp in the Atlantic Ocean.

Epiphany usually marks a deadline for me. I want the Christmas tree to be out of the house and all decorations stored away, and I want to be squirreled away in the studio hard at work.

I have wanted to change the focus of my work for quite some time, to incorporate more digital images, photography and surface design.

I kept looking at the sunrise shot used on my last blog entry. It was taken at Emerald Isle the morning of our son's wedding. As the morning light filled the sky, I reflected on our son's life, the incredibly overwhelming odds he'd faced, and the fact that he was alive and well and actually being married. To say my heart was full is an understatment.

This morning, using Jacquard Inkjet Printing Silk and my Epson Stylus Photo RX500, I printed images of several shots I'd taken as the sun came up Nov. 11, 2006. Not only did the prints come out perfectly but had the added surprise of a color change. The silk prints have a wonderful rosy pink glow instead of the original yellow sun! Why? I do not know, but am guessing it occurred because the yellow ink cartridge was quite low.

This project was so much fun and super easy for my first attempt. I've been debating purchasing a new printer and will seriously check the ones with formats larger than 8 1/2 x 11. I'm open to suggestions, so please comment on my blog.

Shown above are the original shot, two silk prints which really are identical. One was photographed indoors, the other outside today when it was very foggy. Also shown is the packaging for the silk fabric sheets used. Each comes with a paper backing and can also be purchased on 10' rolls. I purchased mine from Dharma Trading Company in San Rafael CA. They can also be ordered from Dharma Trading on line.

Jacquard Inkjet Silk Printing Sheets. The package comes in packs of ten 8 1/2 x 11 sheets
Item # JAC9702 www.jacquardproducts.com 1.800.442.0455

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's a New Day, a New Year

Sunrise on the Outer Banks - Emerald Isle, North Carolina

I no longer make resolutions. I set goals, both long and short term. Having a structured to do list in my mind helps me stay on track. I'm a big list maker, but not a big list sharer. We can waste a lot of time telling people what we're going to do, while others are off doing it. The ultimate quilt artist, Nancy Crow, has just one word pinned to her design wall. It is: FOCUS!

I recently ran across a manila envelope of my report cards from kindergarten through high school. Reading my teachers' comments was both enlightening and disarming. The strong points I had as a 5-year old have stuck with me, while some of my less-than-desirable traits also remain. I'm still struggling with too many irons in the fire - known today as grasshopper brain.

Although I have many projects going at once, I do finish them. Discipline demands I complete my last two big quilts, both for people I love dearly, early this year. Then I'll tackle all these ideas running through my head.

My goal has never been to make lots and lots of quilts. I want to make fewer quilts which mean more. It's all about the journey for me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Years Day in the South

Before I moved to North Carolina, I hadn't heard of the traditional southern New Year's Day foods. Early on, I noticed shoppers in the grocery who were buying almost identical things for their January 1st meal: ham, collard greens and fresh black-eyed peas. The shoppers got a chuckle out of my not knowing what the large green leafed vegetable or the little peas were or how to prepare them. After they had given me a short lesson on the how-to's for greens and the peas, I'm sure they walked away saying knowingly to one another, "Well bless her heart."

Many southerners, including my husband, believe eating these foods on New Years Day will bring good fortune for the coming year. Black-eyed peas are symbolic of little coins, collard greens are the greenbacks, both signs of wealth, while cornbread indicates gold. Some believe pork is eaten because the pig can only look forward, not back.

Our dinner was a tad different this year, as we had hopping john instead of just black-eyed peas, and rolls instead of cornbread. (Our favorite cornbread recipe calls for buttermilk and none was to be found.) We enjoyed pork chops as we'd just had ham for Christmas.

My DH found a recipe for hopping john in Charleston Receipts, a book we bought there on our honeymoon nearly 36 years ago. I love this quaint book because stories are included with many of the recipes.

Charleston Receipts is full of old southern stories and recipes.

It is where we found this recipe for Hopping John.

Our meal included pork, sweet potatoes, collard greens, hopping john and rolls.

If I were still living in the midwest, you know this meal would have been topped off by coffee and a decent piece of pie - preferably coconut cream.