The Grasslands Bakery in Sonoita, Arizona Is Now Closed

Well, it’s official: the Grasslands Bakery and Cafe in Sonoita, Arizona, is closed for business as of today. My parents have been trying to sell the property for a while now; and just very recently,  a buyer came forward who purchased the building and the liquor license.

It all happened quite quickly, as these things do.

Some of you may remember me posting early last year that the Grasslands was closing (read about it here). And back then, it did for  nearly 7 months; but for various complex reasons, it had to be re-opened.

This time, it’s for real.

I’m sure some folks reading this will be saddened; but it’s great news for my parents, who have been working way too long and who are long past retirement age.

Here’s one of the last lunch tables; my brother John is on the right, he came in from Boston to help with closing down the restaurant:

Just a few hours later, all those paintings and quilts came down, down, down.

Below, my mom making lunches one last time; the Grasslands has been around since January 1996, and I worked there all the time the first 6 years: I know how hard it is to churn out lots of beautiful lunch plates, it’s not exactly a leisurely activity!

Of course, the Hobart mixer was a big behind-the-scenes player in the success of the Grasslands…

…as was the Blodgett oven…

I was very happy to see that one of the few real old-timers in the area, Sonny McQuiston, made it in one last time for a bag full of danish; I remember selling him danish 20 years ago when our family had the Ovens of Patagonia and the McQuistons lived out in the San Rafael valley on their ranch.  A diet that regularly includes cheese danish clearly has health benefits. Here he is with my mom:

Once the doors were locked up for the day,we had a very short break before starting to clean up and move out. That’s Eric and Frank in the back; Frank came in from Madison, Wisconsin to help close down:

And once I’d packed up my quilts, I headed back to Tucson; here’s one last view of the Grasslands:

RIP Grasslands: a lovely place enjoyed by many for 16 years.

Fabric Auditions

I dyed some fabric after work today; my goal was to get a good yellow for the border of the Desert Marigold quilt, and a good fuschia for the penstemon quilt.

The penstemon fabric turned out better; this is what I think of as a good audition. The fabric on the left with the gray turned out very cool:

The yellow turned out….not so cool:

I was trying for a pale-ish yellow, but it got too pale; if I have time, I’ll over dye these fabrics tomorrow. I used lemon yellow, but may use a gold yellow for the next go around.

Presenting…My Newest Laminations

Here are the finished silk/paper lamination collages: my camera flash reflects a bit of glare from the center of each piece. I use a matte gel medium for the lamination, but even a matte finish seems to generate some reflection.

Now…time to piece on a border and quilt. But I’m going to have to dye some fabric first. These are #3 and #4 in a series, and I want each piece to have a slightly different color border. Not necessarily an easy task; most desert wildflowers (at least, the ones in my yard that I photographed!) are on the yellow or pink spectrum.

There are a few violet wildflower outliers, like my favorite desert lupine (a dwarf lupine compared to lupines from more lush climates)…but they aren’t as common in my neighborhood in the spring. I’ve seen acres of them out west on the Tohono O’odham reservation, but in my own backyard I see maybe one every other year.

So. I’ll need some variety in my yellow and pink borders for this series. I think maybe I’ll dye the yellow and pink fabric for these pieces with a bit of gray shot through, to pick up on the black-and-white photocopies in the background.


Silk Scrub-a-thon

Today I laminated the collages it’s taken me all summer to make. Clearly, the long, hot days really got to me this year!

Here are the Desert Marigold and Penstemon collages, with silk organza pinned very tightly on top.   I silk-screened each piece with acrylic gel medium. You can see pics of this process elsewhere on this blog.

Once the gel medium is applied, you need to let the silk/paper set just a bit, 10 minutes max, and then quickly take out the pins and pull the pieces off, otherwise everything gets stuck: the gel medium is strong and dries super fast. It’s easy to rip silk organza if you have to exert too much force pulling it away.

I got rust-proof pins last time Joanne’s had a half-price notions sale: this way I can take the pins out, put them in a small tub of water to get the gel medium off, and drain.

Once dry, each silk/paper piece needs to be ironed on the hottest setting, slowly, with baking parchment. That’s Bruce Bochy walking out to the mound.

Then you have to soak in cool water for about 15 minutes….

…and then you first pull, rub and then scour all the paper off.

This is the wet paper I pulled off; it’s the size of a baseball:

How do they look? I need to press them; but not now! You’ll have to check in later tomorrow to see, but the results are pretty good this time. 🙂

(Desert) Marigold Madness

The picky shredding and ripping of paper continues at my dining room table; these are my most recent results, the product of 2 re-runs of The Closer and a few major league ball games:

It is a bit tedious and I’m getting a bit tired of the limited color palate. I figure I need a couple more ball games (about 6 leisurely hours) and I’ll be done.