Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Maybe I should've waited until tomorrow

Why am I sad? I finished Adoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe today. It would seem that would be occasion to be happy but once again, I feel a sense of loss. She is in the mail winging her way to Santa Ana, CA. If she is chosen for the competition, I will not see her again for about a year (except for the Houston Show in October) Adoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe turned out to be one of the most embellished pieces that I have done. The same sadness came over me as I watched my Lexus drive off into the sunset just last week. Maybe I have had too many good-byes lately.

I will be ecstatic if she is chosen for the traveling show but I will be just as happy if she returns to her happy home. I am possessive about what is mine; ask my son or my husband. I want to keep whom I love close to me. Over the years, the Madonna has figured in my life and I have wanted "to do" something with her image for a long time. Now, I have done it & she is nothing like I thought she would become. I didn't know how she would mature for me; I just went with the energy that I felt.

And as devoted as I was to this piece, I am also fickle! I was out hunting new treasures yesterday. I managed to score some nice broken jewelry full of potential for the next Madonna--one based on the Sea with oodles of seashells.

Please visit my photo album for about 20 detailed pictures. The link is in the sidebar as Debra's pictures. ~~~Debra

Thursday, July 21, 2005

(Barbara's) Progress Report

I've been working in my own idiosyncratic way on my quilt. My preferred approach is to begin with a handful of elements that I like, and then to make decisions on the rest as I go along. For example, when I started "La Ofrenda" I knew I wanted a pieced background, and I wanted to use elements of the dresser-top altar, including real linens. I also wanted to include a cactus, echoing Weston's maguey photograph. I put my cactus in the center of my piece and made it 3-D. The stuffing was tedious, and I'm not sure it looks sufficiently unlike those dancing cactuses from a few years ago, so I'm thinking about that.

When I got through these elements, I had to think about what I wanted to add next. I chose to add a vase of flowers, and I cut my vase from a wonderful Nancy Crow fabric that looks like rattlesnake skin. The virgin of Guadalupe reflects the mixing of both European and Mesoamerican cultures. The snake is a symbol of life in Mesoamerica, and a goddess with a skirt made of serpents, Coatlicue, is one of the native sources for the image of Guadalupe.

I'm thinking about the position of each element I've included so far, and about what I want to include next. I went to the hardware store and bought a piece of flashing, thinking I'd cut out some picture frames for family photos. I also bought a cheap mirror. I'm going to have to decide what flowers will go in the vase.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Detailed Pictures

Central section----some of the larger areas will have silk flowers attached---milagro like charms are now on her cape.

Middle section---button cross, recycled earrings with medallion, harlequin diamonds with the Hoffman Challenge fabric.

Side section---gem stone cross with silver heart, conchos, beads on ribbon trim.

Side section--glass beads and rhinestone studs, glass crosses.

The Virgin gets Beaded

No matter how hard I try to do something a different way, I always manage to do it my way. I like arrangements of things; little groupings of stuff that reflect some idea or theme. I have them all over my house & now I have them all over my quilts.

This past year I have been developing a style of quilts that I refer to as "Collage Quilts". They are shapes of fabrics that I sew together as a canvas for photos, beads, buttons, tidbits and trivia. They just pour out of me naturally and until recently I didn't see them as anything significant until I realized that they are very much like the still life arrangements that I have all around me.

My Virgin of Guadalupe piece is one of my collages. Right now I am working on the embellishing. I am trying to develop 3 underlying themes to the piece. I want to show the common cultural images of the Mexican people and I chose fabrics, colors, flowers and some typical trinkets for that purpose. For the adoration the Mexican people show the Virgin of Guadalupe I chose to use golds, silvers, and bright gems. For the western look I chose conchos, turquioses and silvers and sewed some rickracks and beads. I want the folkloric style to be underneath the more glittery adoration.

At present I am over the halfway mark! I am using a good amount of supplies that I have had squirreled away for some future project. Part of me is a little sad because I know that I will not find many of these supplies again. Part of me is thrilled to be adoring the Virgin with my treasures. And as is my style, I love doing the arrangements.

Here are a few detail pictures of my work at present. ~~~Debra

Thursday, July 14, 2005

La Ofrenda

I received my Virgin of Guadalupe fabric from Debra this week, so now I'm working on my piece in earnest. The working title, "La Ofrenda" refers to the home altars in Mexican Catholic homes. My objective is to replicate the altars that women in my family: my mom, my grandmother, my aunts, kept (and keep) on their dresser tops. I'm also including a reference to Edward Weston's 1926 black and white photo "Maguey: Mexico," which is the inspiration for my summer Artimage Challenge piece. A scaled-down maguey plant (it looks an aloe vera) will be a potted plant on the dresser. Yes, this quilt will serve as both my summer Artimage Challenge piece and as my summer Madonna.

So far, I've pieced the top of the back ground and now I'm auditioning fabrics for the dresser top. Here are some that I liked from the many that I considered. If I use the linen towel with the big flowers, I think I'll cut the bottom edge to match the outline of the flowers. I like both the white doily and the small yellow doilies against the pink as they seem to identify the image as an ofrenda. --Barbara

Old Earrings Resurface--You wore those??

Who would have thought those tacky old earrings would lead a double life embellishing my precious Madonna?

I am making some headway--thankfully with rhinestone studs and beads on a thread that I can sew on by machine. Kudos to the person who invented those & the foot attachment to use with them.

I want everyone to know that I can do asymmetrical arrangements but this one just screams, "Balance me!" So, when that message is so loud (& easy) why fight it?? I am feeling more optimistic today!
I can see that I will have numerous days next week handsewing little beads; but, the next couple of days, I am trying to get as much machine work done first.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Don't let the Gold Blind You!

Here's the progress on the focal point of The Lady!

I thought that gold rickrack was so bold. I am having second thoughts now. I see a lot of sequins in my future. great.

Go Ahead and Cut the Ribbon!

I am not being bold enough. . . the glitz is not showing. Rats!

This is hard----should I add more? open those reels of ribbon and actually cut them?? Oh, please! really?

I always have trouble at this stage--adding the "stuff". I should have more abandon but I don't have it Yet.

Everything I bought matches the background colors---that wasn't supposed to happen. Sheesh.

Well, check out the flower ideas I have laid out from other parts. I like these!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Are those Flowers Real?

well, not hardly!

But, the quilting is really good and I wanted to share it! I love the big floral piece. It reminds me of the beautiful flowers that I often see adorning the feet of a Madonna; just perfect to include in my summer piece.

So, if your garden flowers are not as perky as they could be---enjoy the flowers here!

A Sunflower for The Lady!

The Sunflower
a detail of the quilting from The Lady!

Debra's The Lady!

I would have to say Hands Down that the Sunflower is my favorite flower. I feel about the average Sunflower much like I feel about the Madonna--I don't know why I like it but I do. So, it is the first flower that I picked for representing the summer Madonna that will be entered in the Hoffman Challenge.

I want my piece to represent the images of Mexico and the passion that the Mexican people feel towards the Virgin of Guadalupe. My fabric choices were based on that impression. I want the piece to show the energy, the love and the cheerfulness that vibrant colors spark within me too.

While I struggled with the first Hoffman Challenge piece I tried and ditched, this piece came together quickly and intuitively. I often debate myself with the question, "Could it be this easy?". I always have to make projects I do harder than they need to be---what's with that? It's not good unless you struggled?? Someone tell me to take a break!

I sent my piece off to be quilted. In some remote part of my brain, I would like to think of myself as a Risktaker but truth be known, I am no Risktaker; at least not in the grand scheme of things. But, I did risk sending my quilt to Deb to be quilted. I totally trust Deb with my quilts but if I am no Risktaker, she is even less of one. She even told me that she prefers to see the finished design first with her quilting. I am a little riskier than that--but I don't like surprise--not in that sense. So, I was surprised when the little piece returned to me and the Quilting was Lovely! Deb really moved out of her comfort zone to quilt My Lady! for me. (And, wrote me to say that this piece was a pain with all the thread color changes too. oops.)

Now The Lady! is waiting for her crown. The final stages are upon us. It is time for embellishing. I've gathered the supplies--felt compelled to run around looking for new doodads and geegaws knowing full well that I had enough in my larder already. But, I had looked at all those beads sooo many times. I just needed some new ones.

This week is dedicated to finishing The Lady! If the first part was easy then this part is tedious & boring. After the first rush of deciding where everything will be placed, it's nothing but handsewing those buggers on. But, The Lady! deserves the attention and as I sit in my studio surrounded by my other Madonnas I can reflect on the thought that this Madonna took 10 years to design in my head and a few weeks to design in life---hmmm, easy? well, maybe not! ~~~Debra

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Barbara Digresses and Posts a Digital Bouquet

I'm waiting for the Alexander Henry fabric to arrive from Debra. She generously offered to send me some, since I couldn't find it locally. I can't wait, but our mail delivery can be slow, so in the meantime, I'm practicing on my new digital camera. Now, technology is not generally my friend. New things appeal to me, but I don't relish the idea of figuring out how they work. I prefer that someone just give me the highpoints. This is where teenagers come in handy, and I have two roaming the halls of my house, eating at all hours, needing rides and playing loud music through their headphones, so occasionally, I can get them to help me with these things, after, of course, the obligatory eye-roll and "Oh, moooom!"

But the digital camera was very easy to figure out. The Canon people have a very nice poster-sized directions sheet that gives you all the quick and dirty info you need to get started. There was no eye-rolling. I started taking pictures right away, and never got confused. Now with my rechargeable batteries and ridiculously large memory card, I feel armed to take pictures of everything around me, especially of the Madonna project.

But in the meantime, I'm practicing on things in my world. Here are some flowers--the white one is from my garden. The Madonna is associated with roses, but in this digital bouquet we have: an oriental poppy and a huge (6-8" across ) pink lily from the local nursery.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Virgin of Guadalupe Fabric

The fabric that Barbara and I will use on our summer piece. It is from the 2003 Alexander Henry Collection.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Two Women who can Agree

Barbara & I have been able to format our collaboration in fine style. We are planning to do 4 individual wallhangings centered around the 4 seasons & one general wallhanging that we work on together. Each of us will do our own seasonal piece but we will have a common element that we both use in that piece. Our plan will be to make 9 wallhangings, maintain this blog as a journal and possibly delve into some shared Madonna journals and retablos. We plan to have a public showing when all the pieces are finished sometime during the Summer of 2006.

The summer piece will be our first piece(s) and it is the result of the Hoffman Challenge. I would not even be here if it weren't for a mutual friend of both Barbara and me, Rian (see Rian's Pages in our favorite blog/sidebar). She inspired me to grab that ugly Hoffman fabric and do something with it! My first effort was less than special and so I began playing with some favorite fabrics & the Alexander Henry printed Virgin of Guadalupe to produce what is now my Hoffman Challenge entry.

Once Barbara saw the preliminary piece, she was eager to try some of her Madonna ideas. And with that, the Madonna Idea was born.

My piece is currently winging its way home from the machine quilter, Debra Freese. She has just moved to Kansas but her work is such that I am willing to send my pieces to her to quilt. We talked on the phone & I am expecting The Lady! to arrive by Wednesday. Then, it will be fast and furious embellishing to get her done for the August 1st deadline.

Progress reports and pictures to follow! ~~~Debra

Barbara's Gold Madonna

Here's another Madonna I made as part of a series of icons that included Frida Kahlo and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I love this Madonna because she has such a sweet and modern face, and she also is a dead ringer for my cousin Dina. The baby Jesus, on the other hand reminds me of my nephew Nick when he was a baby. He is now a strapping young adult with size 13 feet. I made this icon for my mom, who loves religious art. She took it to get blessed by her parish priest, and keeps it in her room.

One challenge to working with these existing images is to do more than make frames for them, which is what I did here just to get a feel for things. Although I love the gold brocade frame, which I cut from a special piece of fabric given to me by a family friend many years ago, I want to look for ways to say new things about these icons.