Sunday, December 18, 2005

letter to Mama (about quilt)

October 15, 1895

Dearest Mama,

I was so pleased to get your letter in the mail this morning. I look so forward to news of you and Papa at home. Some days I wonder how I could have left the East and come to this country called Oklahoma. I guess the promise of a different life with a man I love caused me to pick up my trunk and wave goodbye. But, I do miss you and especially our chats about needlework projects.

I have finished the quilt I mentioned in my last letter. It is so different from the other quilts the ladies make here but I thought it would be a good way to show my love for my new baby boy. I will hang it over his cradle so he can know that he has two mothers who love him. I will explain it to him when he is older. He seems so little to me! Thank you so much for making the long train ride here to help me. The scraps you brought from home are already in the quilt.

I decided to use the brown linen piece for the background. I know you wanted me to have it for a table topper for the living room table but linen is so impractical here on the prairie. I do not have the nice help you have in Boston. The rich brown color is perfect. It is surprising how quickly my white linens discolored here. I love them anyway so I put them in the quilt to preserve them.

Some of my friends found out I was making this special quilt and gave me some pieces to use. It really makes the quilt have so much more meaning. Do you remember Rian, the mayor’s wife? She came by with her cute Schnauzer, Riley, when we were having tea. She is so different from me, Mama! She was throwing out an old quilt. Can you imagine? I begged her for a little piece of the corner. I cut it into a heart for the corner of my quilt. I bought some tiny mother of pearl buttons from the dry goods store when I made the christening gown so I had a few extras to use. The teacher at school, Barbara, gave me a charm I sewed on the heart. She also saw my crazy quilt blocks from that sewing circle in Boston. She encouraged me to use some of the stitches again. She had some metallic thread she shared with me. When you go to town next, would you send me some silver threads, please?

One of the ladies from my stitching bee is very good with crazy quilting too. You should see her work, Mama! The Boston ladies would just swoon over her stitches. She had some pictures of the Virgin Mary and showed me how to glue the pictures to fabric. Her name is Allie and she is so accomplished. I think she will be leading the stitching bee next year. She thought I could probably cut the skirt off my taffeta dress and use strips for the pictures. I saved the buttons and sewed them on the patches too.

My neighbor, Joanne, the one who I read to on Tuesday afternoons gave me a very old piece of beading. She said she saved it from her mother’s ball gown when her mother was at the Governor’s Ball in Virginia. Joanne really wanted me to have the piece. I feel so honored. I am sure it is her way of saving Thank you for reading to her. Her eyes are beginning to fail her and it is a pity since she is young too.

I added the pocket from Wesley’s mother’s dress and a little appliqué from her wedding dress. He is so sentimental to have saved it for me. He knows I cherish these little tidbits of history. Maybe it is his way of helping me adjust to this life that is so different from Boston. He likes it here—he is working on the town’s design so he is happy. He comes home with news of oil in the land near us. I am not sure what we would do with oil but he is sure it would make us rich.

Let’s see. I also used a scrap from the couch in Boston. I still love the leaves on that linen fabric. I had that very old tatted lace from Grandmama and I sewed it down without cutting it. I had a few pieces that I tried to tat too. They are not as good as Grandmama’s piece but I used them anyway. I had some homespun left from my apron and a piece for a smock I didn’t make so I used them for the quilt.

Oh, Mama, you should see how this piece looks! You would be so happy to know I am becoming an accomplished stitcher like you. Those long hours in the parlor practicing my handsewing may become a real nice hobby here in Norman. The ladies do like to get together and sew, have tea and pretend we are back home in the East. Although this is home now, isn’t it?

Give my love to Papa. I will send a picture when Wesley takes me to the capitol in November for the monthly legislative meeting. Oklahoma City has some stores and a nice hotel. He promises I can go with him. He wants a family portrait taken with his new baby boy. I’ll sneak in the quilt too!

Warmest love,


(As you can see, I took some creative license here! Plus, Blogger didn't accept my handwriting font but you get the drift, I hope!)

Pictures of Our Lady of Unconditional Love

Our Lady of Unconditional Love
32 x 47 inches
collage quilt with photo transfer, machine embroidery, hand quilting, dyed and distressed linens & laces, various fabrics
October through December 2005
Debra Spincic

Our Lady of Unconditional Love
Our Lady of Unconditional Love

Lady Transfer
Main Madonna Photo Transfer with Gel Medium

Embroidery Stitches
Smaller Madonna Image with embroidery stitches

Detail of Linens

Heart Detail
Heart Detail with buttons and charm

Pocket Detail
Pocket Detail & Stamped Rose on Taffeta

Thursday, December 15, 2005

House of Gold, Pray for Us

House of Gold Pray for Us
Barbara Curiel

This piece evolved out of a stained silk tunic with elaborate beading that I wanted to find a new life for. I also wanted to make a gold Madonna piece with a lot of beading. The challenge to me in making this quilt was to use recycled elements, but to mask their origin and to integrate them into the piece as a whole.

I attached the beaded silk to a flannel foundation and added elements, including New York Beauty squares pieced from old brocade and metallic printed cotton, and some antique lace. The whole piece was beaded and sequined by hand. It was then sewn to Peltex, and the “roof” is Peltex covered with brocade. I had to think through the construction of the roof and the binding, and ended up attaching the roof and then applying a single-layer binding.

I added phrases taken from the Great Mary Litany, one of the most beautiful pieces of liturgical poetry, with machine embroidery around the edges. The phrases I used are from a series of poetic images which describe the Madonna in architectural terms: Tower of David,
Palace of Ivory,
House of Gold,
Ark of the Covenant,
Gate of Heaven,
Temple of the Divinity,
Throne of the Eternal King,
Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit,
Keeper of the portal. The whole prayer is beautiful, but these images expressed what I was trying to articulate with my work: that Mary is a refuge and a pillar of lasting strength.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Repeating Images

Bright Mary
As I have mentioned before, everything I sew begins with the
Trickle Down Theory. I try some technique out somewhere on something that I plan to use again on some more important project.

Saturday night was a night to experiment. I have an upcoming deadline for the ARTImage Challenge. One of my ideas was to use a new program called Kaleidoscope Kreator 2.0 to design the images for the piece. The ARTImage Challenge piece this month is by the dutch artist, M.C. Escher and it involves repeated background motifs in black and white. My new kaleidoscope software does a great job of capturing images to repeat. For the Escher piece I want to use Victorian women's images. At the tailend of saving those images, I decided to experiment with some Virgin images.

Hours later, I was still entralled. I can definitely see that my Spring Madonna piece will use some of these images. Just a few for your viewing pleasure:

Mary 2

Queen Mary