Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Stay Tuned!

I am getting my quilt piece finished for the ARTImage Challenge. While I am handquilting, I am thinking about the next Madonna piece about to be started. Stay tuned for my ideas & photos of supplies. It's beginning to take some real shape.

Join us at the ARTImage Challenge Reveal! It has started this week and some wonderful pieces have been shown. You will enjoy the view!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Yes, I'm STILL beading...

So I've decided to show you some of the other projects I've been working on lately. I've added these and other photos to my webshots, which you can access through the link on the right.
First, I recently finished a new scrap quilt, and here's a peek:

Scrap quilts really are my favorites. I love seeing how they unfold as you go along.

I've also added a new album to my photos called Recyled Fashion. In it I'm showing a few projects that, in the vein of scrap quilting, are meant to use up things that are more or less at hand, or which give new life to otherwise tired objects. Here's two handbags:

I'v also jumped in on the skirt bandwagon and recyled a skirt of my own, though it's not as fancy as Debra's. Here's my finished skirt.

I show the steps for the skirt in my webshots, as well as comments on all of the projects here, in my photo album.

I know Debra has ideas she'll be showing soon for her next Madonna quilt, and I do too. In the meantime, I'll be beading...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Little Miracles

"Milagritos," literally "little miracles" are charms that people put on a saint's image to show that a favor was granted, often some kind of healing. The charms are frequently body parts: arms, legs, hearts, eyes, whole bodies, or animals or houses or other objects. In this age of electronic commerce, I found mine on Ebay and put them both on the Virgin's robe (like Debra did on her quilt) and also in the inner border.

I'm also showing the whole composition at this point.

I'm going to bead the gold half-square triangles in the inner border, and I'm probably going to add a couple of more things to the doily area.

I used photo transfer to add pictures of my kids. They're my Big Miracles. In my son's picture, he's sporting his summer Mohawk hairdo. In my daughter's picture she's wearing her prom dress.--Barbara

Saturday, August 20, 2005

"Her Clothing Appeared Like the Sun"

I just finished Virgil Elizondo's inspring book, Guadalupe: Mother of the New Creation. It's a combination of a meditation on the Virgin of Guadalupe, and a discussion of the forced Christianization of Mexico after its bloody conquest by Spain in the 1500s. During this period of violent loss by the native peoples of the continent, the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego, an Indian of low social status, and spoke to him as an equal in his own language (Nahuatl). Elizondo provides a new English translation of the Nican Mopohua, the narrative of her apparitions, a poetic and mystical text, and he interprets the native imagery in the account, and in the iconography of the Virgin herself. In one of my favorite passages of the Nican Mopohua, the Virgin asks Juan Diego: “Am I not here, your mother? Are you not under my shadow and my protection? Am I not your source of life? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle where I cross my arms?” (Elizondo, 16)

In the Nican Mopohua the description of the place where the Virgin appears is equally poetic: “When he arrived in her presence, he marveled at her perfect beauty. Her clothing appeared like the sun, and it gave forth rays. And the rock and the cliffs where she was standing… appeared like precious emeralds, appeared like jewels….The mesquites, the cacti, and the weeds and the stems all looked like turquoise; the branches, the foliage, and even the thorns sparkled like gold.” (7)

Elizondo speaks of the Virgin as an egalitarian figure who recognizes the humanity of all of us regardless of status. He says her image …”is her living presence….In her eyes, we find recognition, acceptance, respect and confidence.” (135)

I’m finding that as I create this quilt that I want to render this aura of loving acceptance and of dignity.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Spiritual Bouquet

I'm adding embellishments, beginning with the bouquet of flowers. The flowers on the home altar remind me of the notion of "spiritual bouquet" which I learned in Catholic school. A "spiritual bouquet" is an offering of prayers or sacrifices that one makes for another person or for an intention. In this case, the flowers, and the whole quilt, are an offering to the virgin for the welfare of my children, whose photos I'm going to incorporate into the quilt. I found that I didn't have nearly as many matching buttons as I'd thought, but I did quite nicely with what I had. I made the large dark red yo-yos, but the others I had put away for about 10 years, and I was glad they finally made themselves useful.

The white buttons were recycled from my aforementioned stash of plaid shirts that are awaiting a new life as a quilt. I love this yellow and red color scheme. I feel like it reminds me of something from my childhood that I can't quite put my finger on.

I freemotion quilted the whole piece before starting the embellishment.--Barbara

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Stashing with Dorothy and Rochelle

Debra's posts about thrift store shopping have made me think a lot about collecting and recycling. Crafters and artists seem to be drawn to collect things we can't always think up a use for. We recognize the potential in all kinds of seemingly mundane things. For example, I now have a collection of cotton plaid shirts which I'm saving for the day when I'll make them into a quilt. I'm also currently making a quilt from discontinued home dec fabric samples, which I had to pry from their display books. Now that I'm at the embellishing stage of my Madonna quilt, I'm looking through my stash of buttons and doo-dads and remembering that I "inherited" some of my best stash from two women, Dorothy and Rochelle, who are now in Crafting Heaven, and who died, as I guess all crafters and artists must, without using up all the things they had collected.

Dorothy was my sister-in-law Diane's mother. I never knew her, but when she died, my brother and Diane had to clear out the house where she had lived, and sewn for decades. Neither Diane nor her sister sew or craft, so Dorothy's' considerable stash meant nothing to them. However, my mother, who although she is not a crafter nor a sewer, but who hates to see anything go to waste, got the chance to rescue a bunch of stuff, which she saved for me, because she knew I'd think of something to do with these odds and ends (eventually). Dorothy's bark cloth drapes are the source for the outer border of my Madonna quilt. I love the way they locate the quilt in a nostalgic moment in the past. These are exactly the kinds of drapes my maternal grandmother and my aunts would've had in the 50s. I also have Dorothy's collection of thimbles: one looks like its Bakelite and another is a souvenir of the 1939 New York World's Fair (those are the two on their sides). I also have several containers of buttons which she had sorted by kind into bouillon bottles. I have a big collection of metal buttons that were Dorothy's, some look like they came from military or police uniforms.

In addition, I have enough bias and hem tape to last me until the end of time.

Rochelle, the other major source for my stash, and her husband Felix were my parent's neighbors. They never had any children, so when Felix died, my parents kept an eye out for Rochelle until she couldn't manage on her own anymore, and a nephew moved her near him. She died soon after the move. When the nephew cleaned out Rochelle's house to move her, again my mother collected a lot of her crafting supplies that otherwise, would've gone into the dumpster. If this arts and crafts thing were an addiction, my mother would be my connection. Although Rochelle had been blind during her later years, she had a considerable collection of crafting books, yarn, beads, and a ton of suit samples, mostly wool, but also silk, and that indestructible polyester, that she'd gotten from a relative who'd worked in a men's store. I've made two wool quilts, and one polyester and corduroy one (for the car) and I still have two large tubs full of fabric. I also have enough fine wool yarn for a sweater, but it's, unfortunately, an orange-red that should be against the law--so that's put away, ripening for some future unimagined use.

I think these broken pearl necklaces were from both of them.

I hope by using Rochelle and Dorothy's supplies, that some part of them gets wrapped up in my work. I love old things. They seem to carry with them the spirit of people who admired them, and the creative impusle that kept them in the artist's stash. --Barbara

Monday, August 08, 2005

Mary with the Broken Fingers

I've been curious about Mary since I first began noticing her in shops in the mid '90s. As a Presbyterian, we don't mention Mary much in our religious thinkings so I don't have the wonderful lessons and history that other denominations have about her. She has always held a fascination for me. While I lived in Chicago, I was an accomplished thrift store shopper. It was a thrift store mecca with some very fine goods passing through the doors of even the grungiest places. I could spot "creativity" on a dime. Mary would often show up in the Housewares Department--often in pristine condition, sometimes with broken parts. I always opted for the pristine ones & before long I had a growing collection of Mary figurines. You can easily see that my studio is filled with Mary and her presence.

Last week was a gathering week. I had finished the Adoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe & I was not quite ready to begin another project. I knew I had some ideas and deadlines looming but I needed to get out into the world to see what was going on. When I have that kind of urge I often head for the thrift stores or "make my rounds" as I am fond of saying.

Mary appeared to me twice last week while making my rounds. I buzzed into Barnes and Nobles to pick up the latest issue of Quilting Arts for the Yvonne Porcella challenge that Teri is using for her guild. Something told me to stay and browse a minute and there in the bargain section was Mary waiting for me. The book, Mary, Queen of Angels is a small book by Janice T. Connell but it is packed with beautiful, understandable Answers to Universal Questions. It has the format that I love and I am humbled when I take it out to read. Like chocolate, I am savoring every word and carefully unwrapping each morsel of knowledge. Maybe this will be the answer to my questions about Mary.

Mary appeared to me at the Junior Assistance League Thrift Shop in Conroe too. There sitting amongst the cups and crockpots was Mary with two broken but mended fingers. I picked her up & looked at her delicateness. What a shame she has broken fingers, I thought. And I moved to return her to the shelf but she would not go back. And so now, Mary with the Broken Fingers, lives with me on my studio table holding pencils, reminding me that even the broken can be creative again.

Allison, in an email to me, asked me if I felt any special emotions while working on my Adoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe quilt. She is beginning a quilt that will have the figure of Jesus in it. I can say that working on the Adoration was not hard. It kept calling me--maybe Mary was speaking to me, telling me how important it was for me to speak to her. Adoration was the piece that I have been designing in my head for years. Doing and then finishing Adoration liberates me to do more quiltwork about Mary. And, to find out about her and her powers. That is very strong motivation. So, yes, I guess to answer your question, Allison, Mary did speak to me while sewing and she continues to speak to me. ~~~Debra

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Oh no, there's a skull in my coffee!

I thought those corners were too distracting too, so I decided to make a little extra expresso this morning and voilá, the perfect colors. I'm hoping to finish piecing the whole thing tomorrow. --Barbara

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Collaborative Process Works

Something Debra said has helped me sort out my border dilemma. She observed that the green half-square triangles in one of my earlier versions of the quilt echoed the rays radiating from the Virgin. "Aha!" I said. "This is my way out of the border tangle: find repeating elements that tie the center and the border." So I repeated both colors common to both sections, and the fortuitous half-square triangles/rays. Now I'm excited about how the quilt is shaping up.

I also found another Alexander Henry fabric that I've fallen in love with even though I tend to avoid white. It's a replica of Mexican papel picado: tissue paper cut-outs that can be quite intricate. This is going to be fun to find ways to use.

I'm toying with placing small squares of this fabric in the corners of this quilt. There is a colonial-era stone cross that I saw in central Mexico many years ago with the goddess Cuatlicue in the center standing on skulls. I like tucking in this little reminder of Guadalupe's indigenous foundations, but the white still gives me a twinge when I see it.

I feel much more confident about this quilt. I feel like I've found a direction and I like where it's taking me.--Barbara

Monday, August 01, 2005

Border Options

I've got the main elements sewn down for this quilt. Everything else will be embellishments added after the quilting. As you can see, I used Rian's suggestion and photographed a burning votive, and I think it came out nicely. I used iron-on phototransfer sheets, so the image is kind of shiny, which I like.

Now that I reached this stage, I realized that I have to decide about borders. This is always the hardest part for me: to choose borders that compliment without overpowering the central section. The quilt feels a little plain without borders, so I want to add something that will make the quilt "pop" more. I plan to extend the flowers from the bouquet onto the border.

The first couple of options are in blues and greens, but the white in the ribbon and in the half-square triangles, I think, are too light.

I also pulled out this really wierd fabric with big photographic images of roses. the colors blend well, and thematically it fits, since one of the miracles of the Virgen of Guadalupe was that she made roses appear in the winter.

I was thinking of piecing some 2" blue squares into a border. One of the fabrics is blue with yellow stars.

This last one is my most recent favorite. The border is a vintage bark cloth. Okay, they were once my sister-in-law's mom's drapes. I like the giant flowers.

So now I need feedback. How do these look to you?--Barbara

Safe Arrival--Time to Wait

Note in my mailbox from the curator of the Hoffman Challenge that my piece had arrived. And, No, she did not comment that when the box fell on her foot, she broke her toe!

Now all we can do is . . . .Wait! I can do that--I grew up in the Army, whose slogan is "Hurry Up and Wait!" Second nature here. I just hope My Lady is getting to know the other ladies and recognizes Rian's Flamenco! and goes over for a chat. I'm sure she will. . . .:-)