Canada Day 2015

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Happy Canada all!. After a wonderful walk in the valley this morning I am home now and ready for the final preparation for my Canada Day Party. This year is a smaller party but with much the same format. Friends gather in the afternoon to sit on the patio and we work on a craft. This year I have come up with a Canada bookmark. This is much easier than the wool wallhanging from two years ago that took two years to complete. It will be fun, with lots of embellishments to choose from. So a little embroidery, a little sangria, a lot of visiting.

Later some little people will come for a barbecue and some fun. This year I don’t think that any of my friends will stay to walk down to see the fireworks. They should be very good as there will be music synced to the lights on the High Level bridge which should be spectacular followed by the fireworks.

We are so fortunate to live in a democracy where we have a lot of individual freedom and lots of opportunity to help make Canada a better place to live for so many who are not so fortunate. Particularly today I am thinking of the First Nations women who are missing or disappeared. We need to support an inquiry – to look at the root causes in a detailed way and put a plan in place to change the root causes. So not just talk but action to make a difference.

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CQA Certified Judging Workshop

Monochromatic Study

Monochromatic Study

It is hard to believe that it has been a month since my last post.  When I reflect on all that has occurred in that month I am amazed.  However today is to continue on with that I said in my last post with the benefit of what I experienced and learned in the workshop in Lethbridge.
Part of the reason that I attended was I wanted to learn how to make objective critiques.  A clear focus was on doing just that.  When one comes onto the judging floor the entire focus is on the quilts in front of you.  There is simply no time to wonder who made them. The judge(s) look at each quilt first from a design standpoint, then workmanship and lastly construction and finishing.  Design is the biggest.  All need to come together to be a prize winner, especially in a juried show like Canadian Quilters Association (CQA) National Juried Show.
The biggest part of the judge’s work is to make positive, helpful critiques for the quilt maker. These critiques most often include a constructive way that the quilt could be strengthened or improved. This constructive feedback is what most quilters are looking for. For example –  is there something that I could have done better or differently to make my quilt better or stronger visually.
Most of our work in the class was becoming familiar with the process and especially how to word critiques so that they are objective and constructive. This was augmented by homework that gave us more time to practice analyzing quilts and making critiques.  Making these critiques objectively depends on knowing what the design elements and principles are.
The process is made a little easier by not  knowing who made the quilt.  Of course if you do recognize the quilt maker as a judge you must ignore that and follow the process.  Easier said than done when you recognize the maker and she is in the room.  That scenario happened to me at the judging workshop.  Luckily I was judging with another judge who did not know and so I was able (without revealing what I knew) to defer to her opinion.
That leads me to something else that I have become conscious of.  A quilt competition entrant will submit her best work and in a juried show only the very best work will reach the judging floor.  Many Canadian shows are not juried for various good reasons.  Each quilt must be treated with the respect you would want your quilt to be afforded.  Further if you are the judge then you must word your comments to display respect as well as objectivity.  Additionally the maker of any given quilt may be in the room as the judging is taking place. The pool of quilters submitting to a show are likely the same pool of volunteers who stage the quilt show.
Another role of a quilt judge is to select the ribbon winners.  I confess to often feeling let down about my outcomes in a quilt show when I know that I have submitted my best work and that I think it is outstanding.  So my personal learning is that I have blinders about my own work.  Hence the need for constructive critiques.  My biggest revelation was that how well my quilt does, (if design and workmanship are equal) depends on who is in the same category on any given day.  So in one show my quilt might not win but in another it might. This puts entering quilts into a show into perspective for me.  I now feel that I can list entry of a piece into a juried show as an accomplishment in its own right.
The workshop was the first step.  Then prospective judges mustwrite critiques for a certain number of  quilts and be evaluated to complete Part II.  If they are successful then they are examined by mock judging a number of quilts from CQA’s National Juried Show. The outcome for me of doing the prep work, attending the workshop and doing the work is that now I have passed Part I and am a CQA Apprentice Judge ready to undertake Part II.

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Well yet again my blog is late.  Good reason I think.  I just spent an intensive four days doing the exercises in Color and Compostion by Katy Pasquini Masopust.  Why? It is required reading for the Canadian Quilters Association Judging Certification Part I.  I had a lot of fun doing the exercises and it brought back to consciousness things I learned in University and have used in an intuitive way for years now.

If I am going to be the kind of judge I want to be it is necessary to be conscious about things like colour schemes, composition,  the elements that comprise a given quilt and the principles of design.  Again why do I need to be conscious of this?  So that I can provide quality objective feedback to the quilt maker whose work I am judging,

Why do individuals enter quilt competitions?  I can speak for my self as I have long entered quilt competitions.  I enter my local show to help make it a show with enough quilts so that it will present an enjoyable exhibition for those who come to see it.  Exhibited quilts aways draw people and we want to make something that will create a wonderful memory for them.   So much effort goes into this by all the volunteers and very quilt shown makes a contribution to this.

So why would I enter a competition to be judged.  I is rewarding to have a quilt accepted into a show.  It is rewarding to have it recognized by a ribbon.  I have discovered that is matters not whether we are very experienced or a relative beginner to receive that recognition.  Another reason is that I appreciate objective feedback on my work and some constructive criticism about how I might improve my quilt.  An example of what I mean comes from a show I judged a year ago.  In my feedback I noted that there were two elements in the quilt that didn’t seem to have any relation to the other.  I was shown the same quilt recently and the quilt maker had found a way to add something to her quilt that created a relationship between those two elements and in the process her quilt became a more arresting quilt to view.  To me as a judge that was very rewarding.

I  have been judging quilts for over 30 years.  So why undertake certification.  Judging has changed over time, systems vary and  criteria has evolved.  I believe that I will get the best, most up to date and objective information about judging available.  I believe that I owe it to other quilters.  Many times I have entered a show and my quilt is not an award winner and when I look at the feedback I get phrases that reflect a judges subjective opinion on my quilt.  I often get a constructive criticism that really doesn’t help me improve the quilt.  I  feel hurt and that the judge didn’t understand.  I feel strongly that those submitting their quilts for judging are entitled to comments that are objective and useful.  So I am undertaking the certification process so that I can use my education in a way that would benefit quilters  and improve my judging skills. I want to be able to provide fellow quilters with that useful objective feedback that they deserve when they submit their quilts to a judging process.  The curriculum, the pre-course work, the teachers indicate that this is will be an in-depth quality learning experience.
I highly recommend the exercises in “Color and Composition to all quilters.  It stretches and inspires creativity.  For me it has also taught me that in the words of a quilter in our guild – “just start”.  I was amazed at what I found within me.

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Alberta – An Experience in Democracy

My last post was a month ago. I have been participating in the Alberta election campaign 2015. It has been 28 days of a most intense experience. Before the 28 days there was getting ready, not knowing for sure whether or when an election might be called but anticipating it and getting ready based on that speculation. When there isn’t a fixed election date then the opposition parties can only guess and take a chance. If you are wrong then it is an expensive misstep for contributors and even if not sure you try reading signals and guessing correctly and preparing while trying to be careful with the resources available to a constituency. This post is a tale of one Alberta constituency’s journey through an election campaign from the point of view of me – who served my MLA’s campaign office manager.
This was a lot of work. However the work fits the following definition of happiness Charles Murray named four criteria as necessary for happiness in his “Happiness of the People” speech. To be the source of deep satisfaction a human activity must be: important – not trivial, require effort – doesn’t come easily, hold you responsible for the consequences – give your your very best effort, and stretch your abilities – pull you to a higher achievement. So at the end I am happy with my participation and contribution.
An election campaign for an individual MLA begins right after the last one ends with fundraising so that one can do it again. My constituency works hard at this, and this time we had a year less to do it than we expected. About a year ahead, in this case 88 days out our association transforms into a planning committee. We plan to start calling constituents asking them to volunteer, we find a location for our campaign. This is a space that will house the volunteers and the staff as they undertake their work which will culminate, you hope in the election of your candidate. As you are doing that you search for staff and volunteers to fill the various positions needed. The party I support if fuelled mainly by volunteers. I call this grassroots community development with individuals coming together as a team to live the values they hold and to help translate those ideals into the election of a person who can support them in the legislature.
Once an office is found then you go shopping. Shopping consists of finding and borrowing what is needed to set up an office. I find this a great fun project because it challenges my ingenuity and creativeness. Most things are second hand or if new must be very inexpensive. Out of this must come a functional space that is welcoming. One delightful addition to our office this time was some Fiestaware dishes a constituency exec member and I found at the Army and Navy in our party’s colours. This provided amusement for all who used them. We even managed to find a place to store them for next time, although I don’t think our MLA knows that we are going to use the loft in her garage this way.
In the days leading up to the election computers, photocopiers and phones are installed. Forms are developed and photocopied; phoning for volunteers increases to a fever pitch. The campaign manager and voter contact staff start to work out strategies to contact voters and get their commitment to support our candidate.
The writ is dropped! Volunteers start to appear to put up signs, to person the phone banks, to door knock, to do office tasks, to answer calls coming into the office and to greet people who walk in, to to make meals, to keep the office clean. The office is a cross between an office and a home for a brief time. In our constituency there is a history of feeding both staff and volunteers. It helps keep people healthy during very long days and it creates a welcoming atmosphere where volunteers can chat, discuss ideas and meet like minded folk. People come from all walks of life, every person is valued for their contribution to the team no matter how big or small, whether the contribution istime or money. What is held in common is a commitment to a goal. Work is found for everyone who comes to volunteer and each is recognized for what they do. This common purpose develops a sense of camaraderie. There is fun and laughter and progress is noted in the number of signs in the community and the number of people committing to support our candidate. We gave certificates for making the most buttons in a day and for dedication to data entry. One constituent wrote a poem. There are unexpected treats that come through the door, a chocolate cake, some awesome banana chocolate muffins, ice cream, homemade chocolate chip cookies. Food is a good fuel along with lots of coffee and tea. The homemade treats disappear. Creative recipes for a crowd and made in a crockpot are sought after. Then one waits and hopes that these experiments will be enjoyed. I can see what a chef might feel like as they wait for the outcome of their efforts.
This election campaign was unique for our constituency as our candidate was also leader of the party. Calls came to our number and our e-mail from all over the province. People wanted signs all over the province. People called to say that they were changing party allegiance, there were questions on policy and advice on how to get elected. It was a bustling office where we all worked hard and had good fun. Fun included going to rallies and one of the best was standing outside Global studios before the debate to welcome our leader. Indeed members from the various parties stood together waving their signs. For me this was one of the best displays of democracy I have ever seen. Each person’s right to their views and to support whom ever they wish respected. Coffee was brought by one party and shared with all the participants regardless of party affiliation.
On election night we tallied the reports from our inside scrutineers. We were confident that our MLA would be re-elected. There was a bonus this election – my effort as part of a much larger team helped achieve an outcome that many of us had only dreamed of. In my case for a lifetime. 53 MLA’s were elected and our MLA became Premier of Alberta. Five days later I still feel shivers running up and down my spine with the excitement of this moment. History was made last Tuesday in Alberta and it is being made as each day passes. A number of factors have come together to elect a pragmatic, analytical, down-to-earth, warm caring woman who can see clearly the big picture as well as attend to details. Here’s to Rachel Notley a leader who is up for the monumental task along with her MLA’s of helping Albertans become their potential in empowering ways.
I don’t usually include photographs of others in my blog however as this picture appeared on Facebook I am making an exception. This photograph includes the staff and some of the volunteers from Edmonton Strathcona with our new Premier elect Rachel Notley.

Notley's Edmonton Strathcona Crue

Notley’s Edmonton Strathcona Crue



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Colour & Line & Pattern

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Some of my New York photos were taken because the combination of colour with lines creating patterns spoke to me. These photographs especially created bright spots in a grey New York  (I can see where the images of Gotham come from.)  The photographs are shared here in the hopes that readers will find inspiration in them and or just enjoy the colours.

I was quite taken by the parquet flooring in Stella McCartney. The colours changes subtly from one area of the store to another. The stairs create an optical illusion that is has an interesting possibility for a quilt I think. In Kate Spade the whole store bloomed with colour and the displays of merchandise were colour blocked with the books along the ceiling shelves signalling the movement of the merchandise colours. The walls in certain areas combined the colours to create a saturated environment for the bags, shoes and other merchandise. Gundrun Sjoden featured rugs and light fixtures that echoed the brightness of the clothing. The feeling was of being in a garden. Mood fabric had the rolls organized by fibre content with a riot of colour in each section.

This is a very short post again as the Alberta election was called last Tuesday and I am devoting my days to my MLA’s reelection campaign.  It is a wonderful time, as the Office Manager I get to meet so very many interesting people on the phone or who drop in for signs or to volunteer or tell us of their support.  It is an intense learning experience and my horizons have expanded.  I highly recommend it.

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Easter 2015

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Happy Easter! I had a few minutes on Friday and it was sunny so out to my garden I went with camera in hand.  I found purple and yellow crocus’  blooming.  Daffodils are poking through the  soil and some tulips are coming up.

This is a brief post to say that my regular posts each Sunday may vary in the next month or so.  I have been volunteering for my MLA as we ready for a Spring election.   As soon as the election is called (which I have reason to think will be soon) I will disappear into the campaign office.

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Anatomy of a Quilt

Tumbleweed 2015

Tumbleweed 2015

Earlier this year I posted about receiving the package of fabrics for the Trend-Tex challenge from the Canadian Quilters Association. The fabric was full of possibilities. So now the piece is completed and mailed off.  This morning’s  blog will analyse the creation of the quilt.
This analysis will be a look back to my design (plan) based on the design elements and principles. Different publications divide the elements and principles in different ways.  However the words are the same.  I chose to  use the Canadian Quilters Association categories. Their standards show under elements: line,shape, pattern, texture, colour. Principles of design include balance, rhythm, harmony emphasis and proportion.
Part of my design was a given. The colours of the package were determined. Thus design development began there.  The colours are: navy blue, marsala (red), yellow rust print, a floral print incorporating marsala, gold/yellow with a grey background and last of all a grey print. So eliminating the grey, not a colour that leaves blue, red and yellow or the three primary colours thus a Triadic colour scheme. I view the colours as tones with the addition of grey to each one. The colours taken together are harmonious (principle), i.e. working together in a pleasing way.
I set the fabric out and put the design problem in my mind. As I pass it, I think about the title of the Trend-Tex challenge “Blowin’ in the Wind”. I also think about Lethbridge. The wind blows incessantly in Lethbridge (at least on the occasions when I have been there). Lethbridge is arid prairie and there are portions of spectacular cliffs exposing the strata of the earth below. So my mind evolves to a landscape that will incorporate the sense of wind i through some of the quilting and the embellishment. The piece will be horizontally oriented and the lines and shape (elements) will echo the topography of the location. Consideration has to be given to how I can get the horizontal length of fabric to provide the emphasis (principle) that will tell the viewer that this is a Lethbridge area landscape.
To construct the piecing of the wall hanging I refer to “Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts” by Rayna Gillan. She provides the details for free-hand cutting and sewing. I find them a wonderful review and as I often have a visual problem understanding this technique I took notes and made a sample that I can keep. This book opens me to all kind of ideas for abstract quilts but due to time I limit my enthusiasm and keep focused.
As the top evolves from  the fabric I am concerned about the balance (principle) between earth and sky. As I am thinking about the line between earth and sky. I also consider the weight of each fabric. Certainly the yellow is the most dominant. However the marsala and the navy blue balance are used to balance out the amount of yellow. l decide to make the earth ⅔’s of the piece and the sky and sunset ⅓. This achieves a horizontal balance.

Lines in the quilting are used to support the horizontal design of the quilt. The earth echoes the strata of the earth while the sky quilting lines  are slightly modified to give a sense of movement in the clouds and still maintain the horizontal image. The middle section representing the surface of the earth is quilted with long diagonal sweeping quilting lines to emphasize (principle) the blowing wind.
Now for the focal point (emphasis). This is created by a series of hand painted loosely interpreted tumbleweeds across the earth surface of the wall hanging.
I felt that the quilt needed a boundary but a minimal one, in proportion (scale) to the piece. I chose using the 4 different strip method I learned from Yvonne Porcella some years ago. They form a narrow binding and minimally contain the piece. I could have chosen a piece without a visual binding but felt that the binding was needed to complete the piece.



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Art or Craft


This week there have been three hits to my perception  concerning art and craft. The first one actually goes back to an exhibition I saw in New York at the Modern Museum of Art. There were a number of textile pieces in this exhibition. The one that particularly drew my attention looked like a painting except it was a textile, mounted on stretcher bars so that from a distance it looked like a painting, abiet a very dark piece. When you were nearly touching it you could see that that it was knit, machine knit in dark brown with some green lettering through it. Unremarkable except for the card beside it raising the issue that Painting is at the top of the hierarchy and art and knitting, quilting craft and therefore at the bottom. She also references male vs female within that hierarchy.
Tracy Chevalier (via Anna Hergert) writes that she thinks quilts should be art. She comes to this by saying that “Art is not defined by how it is made, but by what it does to us.” Tracy goes on to say that to her “craft is something made to be admired and used, while art is made to get a response, to make us think or feel. ” That leads me to wonder then are large functional quilts intended as bed coverings craft and wall hangings art?
The third note came from Loraine Torrence’s introduction to “The Quilter’s Guide to Design Essentials. In it she asks “Are quilts art or craft?” “Should quiltmakers be considered artists? Should wall quilts demand the same prices as paintings, sculptures ad other works traditionally accepted as “fine art”.”
I think that many of us who create wall hangings or “art quilts” and  and more mixed media creations would like to be recognized as artists. We certainly are in our own minds. I also think that we would like the recognition from others that our pieces can hang in public and private spaces and be granted shows in mainstream galleries. Part of that recognition is that our work command the prices that current works of art bring.  I look forward to your thoughts on this.


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New York – Fibre & Fashion Fusion

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This post brings together two passions of mine, fashion and fibre. My love of texture and colour began by creating clothes.  Then I discovered an enlarged canvas  with quilts and my passion modified.  Now my world has a new window.  I am seeing how I can combine my love of creating clothes with many of the techniques and embellishments that I use in my quilting. I’m not an early adopter.  We are seeing that trend in many places.
At least one designer Kees van den Aker has been combining layering and quilting techniques for a while. I have tried a couple of his Vogue patterns and with mixed results. He combines colour and texture, my reason for working in fibre. His clothes are definitely collage.
We travelled to his boutique: Koos & Co in New York. It was tiny and delightful. I tried on several items to get a sense of what the shapes looked like on me. More attention was paid to the fabric combinations. One that resonated with me was a jacket that of cotton plaid on one side and the other was a heavy lace. The cotton plaid was slashed to show the lace on the other side.
Other designers are joining the quilted, collage, embellished trend. Most of these clothes are not for the faint of heart. Neither are the designs like the original quilted garments that were stiff and often looked like the wearer was a bulls eye target. To be successful in adventuring down this road it takes a good eye for design and use of colour. When I look at the garments I am reminded of Miss Piggy saying “more is more”. That is definitely the case and at the same time sometimes more can be overwhelming.

When I look at a piece I try to analyze what works and why. For example In the February Vogue I saw a beautiful long coat that was a simple patchwork. The unit was a parallelogram and the piecing followed the long lines of the coat. I read it as a split complementary colorway with a riot of prints of similar value. There is sone variation of scale but mainly they are medium in size and work together as a whole. It would take a certain joie de vie to carry if off but fun. It is a Prada design. I welcome some feedback on my analysis.
If you want to try either a garment collage or a fabric collage New York is the place to get the supplies. Ovewhelming variety! That is the best way I can describe what we found in the New York Fashion District. Some cotton plaid perhaps for an attempt on a Koos design came from a shop called Mood Fabrics.  Just to get their e-ads provides inspiration each time they come into my inbox. Often the fabrics are the last bolt of a designer’r run and unique. As you can see from the slide above there is bolt after bolt. I am not often overwhelmed but I hardly knew where to begin. Fortunately I went in with a list. I didn’t find everything on my list but did come home with a couple of things.
Also in the fashion district we found several shops with ribbon, button and other embellishments. Because I couldn’t figure out where to start it was easy not to get carried away. I did however bring home some ribbon from Mokuba.  It was a unique shop, just ribbon, thousands and thousands of rolls.
As we were in New York during Fashion Week in February it was a treat to see the garment racks being pushed along the street. Thngs I had only seen on TV or the internet previously.  We were close to the Fashion Institute of Technology  so made the trek to their Museum.  We saw an exhibit of Yves Saint Laurent and Halston.  I enjoyed seeing the “70’s clothing.  Some of the influences can be seen in current fashion, other pieces seemed dated and still others are timeless.   We also saw an exhibition entitled “Faking It”, comparing originals, copies and counterfeits.  It used to be that new collections were closely guarded secrets so that knock-off’s couldn’t be on the street before the new collection could be unveiled.  Originals were sold in order to create listened copies.  Designers also used the originals to create their own licences copies to get their designs to more mass markets.  Today there are people who see the designs somewhat after the fact and “interpret the designs” for a particular market.  Still others just copy the designs.  I have seen this in handbags.  Of course they are no where near the quality of the originals or the licensed copies but they are out there and popular.

To live in New York, conceive of a design either for a quilt or a garment and then go shopping would be a dream come true.

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New York – from 5th Avenue to Soho

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When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.  Even though when we went outside any distance the tears ran down our faces due to the cold and wind – what’s a girl to do?  How can you be in New York and not go shopping?  Of course we did.  The time was short, but we did our considerable best.   First stop  – 5th Avenue. One essential place for me to go was Tiffany’s.  The whole store was – well dazzling!  There are interesting designs by well known designers, that I admired,  particularly Paloma Picasso.    For me there has always been nothing better than a Tiffany’s diamond – solitaire setting originally but now there are so many beautiful contemporary designs.  I just admired.  I have decided that diamonds are the best of any precious stone because they catch the light and add sparkle to any day.

From there we went across the corner to Bergdorf Goodman.  The 5th floor displays went from one perfect diorama to another.  Each one was chock full of beautiful objects ‘d art.  There was only time to get an impression.  The whole store was a sensory delight.  No one who knows me all will believe it when I say that was all of the department stores on 5th Avenue that I saw.  However I swear that it is true,

I wanted to explore other parts of New York shopping while we had a knowledgable guide.   We went to Soho which turned out to be lots of fun.  We started at Kate Spade and the colours of the clothes ,bags accessories and the shop arrangement was spectacular.  We were warmed by this delightful store.  Because that is where we started one morning we intended to make it back.  However there were so many other temptations that we didn’t get back.

We went to Stella McCartney and again the colours of spring, particularly a soft yellow caught my attention.  The clothes were creative and appealing.  We found shop with very contemporary minimalist design clothes of wonderful natural fibres called IF.

The shop we spent the most time in is unique to New York and the Gudrun Sjoden  shop in Soho is he only North American shop of this Swedish designer. It was so colourful.  Her design inspirations come mostly from nature and bright colours abound in nature and in Gudrum’s clothes.  We had so much fun in the store.  There were 5 of us and everyone tried on and on and on.  It was one of those stores that cause me a lot of trouble because the easy way to deal with it is to choose one of everything.  I managed to narrow it down and don’t think that there was anything that wouldn’t have been great.  Each time I came out of the dressing room I saw something else.  No one left empty handed and now that we know our sizes the online catalogue will be a source of inspiration,  The designs themselves are simple.  It is the patterns and colour combinations that are the most fun.

New York shopping could be a career path in itself.  The slideshow in this blog is mostly about colour and pattern.  I find it inspiration for pieces that may be part of a New York collection at some time.


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