Thursday, April 17, 2014
Wooden spools haven't been made for at least 30 years, so the thread is mostly too weak to use. Cotton perishes over time, especially if stored near heat or light. I tested its strength as I unwound the dusty outer layer, revealing the pure colour beneath. Some broke easily, while other threads were still strong.
Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass finally arrived from the library, and I am loving it, as Jean predicted. Such beautiful writing, and such an illuminating perspective on life. It inspires me to think more carefully about the relationships between humans and all the other beings in this world, and to keep an open heart.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Later yesterday evening, I undid the hem for the third time, and also removed the inner crinoline, which was just getting in the way when it wasn't wrapped around the middle of the dress like a gigantic poufy bandage. You will be relieved to know that, even though I sewed the hem for a third time, and it still ended up resembling a satin Moebius strip, I stayed calm. (Well, calm-ish.) I went for a walk to look at the lunar eclipse with my friend Ranza and the dogs, came home, ripped out the hem yet again, and began stitching once more. This time I just did the back section, and it seems okay. I'll try doing the shorter front section this morning, after my second cup of tea. And then I'll put the crinoline back in.
But I think some sort of cleansing ceremony must be performed so the dress doesn't carry all the negative energy I have invested in it into the poor bride's future. In fact, now that I think of it, she did find the gown at Value Village. Maybe it came already cursed - how else would such a lovely pure silk satin dress, with the original $2000 price tag still on it end up at a thrift store? Unloved and unwanted. I'll have to smudge it with sweetgrass, have it blessed by the local priest, AND invoke the great Goddess, calling upon her to cleanse it of sorrow.
And since the wedding will take place barefoot on the beach in Uclulet, on the farthest western shore of Vancouver Island, maybe the dress will be happy again.
There is a second dress however. For dancing in after the ceremony. Strapless silk chiffon, with boning in the bodice. That one needs to be shortened and taken in at the sides. I promise to hold my tongue. Blogger only allows one rant per year.
Monday, April 14, 2014
|This may look like an ordinary wedding dress, but it actually exists in a different universe.|
Several hours and much foul language later, not to mention my sudden realization that my loved one spends his days sitting on the couch with his computer looking at cute cat videos*, I admit defeat. The wedding dress, which had a shaped hem requiring a seam on the edge of the hem, has not just a lining but a crinoline, and it does not seem possible given the limits of the known universe to hem such a thing without it suddenly becoming a theoretical object that exists in only two (or maybe four) dimensions. I opened up a side seam to turn it inside out and suddenly all laws of physics were open for discussion.
The first time this happened ( yes, I tried it more than once), I simply grabbed the seam ripper and undid the twelve yards of hem, repositioned the layers, and tried again. The second time, my head exploded. I'm now nursing a dry cider and weeping. I chose, at the last minute, not to attend a very important protest against Metro Vancouver barging its garbage across the Georgia Straight and burning it in an incinerator a kilometer from my home. I didn't trust myself to stay polite. There may have been headlines: "Middle-Aged Woman Throttles Nanaimo Mayor, Shouting "Breathe This, M*!#%$%^&er."
Thank you for listening. I feel a bit better now. But I have told James that if any one calls, asking for alterations, tell them to go away. Quickly and quietly. It's safer that way.
* I have been corrected. Apparently he was just watching a single cute cat video, he says that he doesn't make a habit of it.
P.S. Nanaimo City Council voted unanimously to say "No" to Vancouver's garbage! Hooray! Things are looking up!
Sunday, April 13, 2014
|Pascals' Wager, 2014. Hand embroidery, cotton on found linen cloth, 18" square.|
|Detail showing three dimensionality of stitch.|
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
|For scale only.|
And yesterday I got word that I had been selected to participate in the Field Trip Project at the Maritime Museum in Victoria. It should be fun - I am one of ten West Coast artists asked to alter/modify/transform a Japanese child-sized backpack that was used in the Fukashima emergency relief efforts. Here is my proposal:
I envision covering the hard plastic shell of the backpack with a layer of stitched, patched and embroidered Japanese cotton fabric. Called “boro” cloth, which literally means “trash”, this distinctive cloth has become highly collectable in North America. Made with handwoven, indigo-dyed cotton that shows the evidence of its history and retains the mark of the human hand, boro bears witness to a time (post W.W. II era) where cloth was precious and every scrap was mended and reinforced to extend its life.
As well, I will include a child sized quilt, similarly made from discarded, mended and patched cloth. This quilt will be revealed when the backpack is opened out.
The deadline is the beginning of June, so I must hop to it! (Here's a link to a photo set from the Cambridge Galleries edition of the project. )I will produce the backpack cover and quilt from cloth sourced from my personal collection of antique Japanese and vintage North American cloth, and will further stitch and embellish it with maps of the North Pacific Gyre – the body of water that lies between Japan and North America that will eventually bring debris from the tsunami to our shores. The currents that form the Gyre have resulted in a huge floating garbage patch consisting mostly of plastic. This is an international concern, and a shared responsibility, as all Pacific Rim countries have contributed to it.
Thursday, April 03, 2014
|Source: Gilcrease Museum|
© Public Domain. Courtesy of the Gilcrease Museum of Tulsa, OK.
Which left me with a big open centre. I thought of various things, a plant perhaps, but soon came to the coiled snake, from another of Nicolas's drawings, which I also had in the pile of images I wanted to work with. I think the snake works perfectly, on many levels. The spiral shape is elemental and dynamic. Both the snake and the rodents are sometimes considered base creatures, of the lower realms, and they have a bit of an "ick" factor. The snake is important symbolically in many cultures, and of course has huge theological baggage in the Christian tradition. But both the rodents and the snake are part of God's creation, and contain sparks, as we all do, of the emanation of the divine. And, thinking of what is edible, as Nicolas was always commenting about, the rodents would be the prey of the snake, so it puts the frenzied expressions of the little critters into a different context, that of hunter and hunted.
I'm not sure yet if I will add another ring of creatures - probably not, as there is plenty going on. I may add some text, or a border of some sort. First I am going to enlarge the layout 200% on the photocopier, which will make the embroidery more feasible, and produce a good size - about three feet square.
P.S. I just realized that in Louis Nicolas's original, he put a bit of red on the critters's eyes and tongues. Whoo hoo! Colour!
Saturday, March 29, 2014
|Mischa decided to hop on the quilt as I was trying to photograph it.|
Which, if I was trying to sell it for $450 wouldn't even give me minimum wage. It's a good thing I do it for love.
I decided last night, as James and I celebrated one year from the day we first met, that I would give it to us, in honour of our relationship. When I first started making the blocks, a couple of years ago, I was thinking they would become a wedding chuppah for a friend. I remember being a little peeved that the bride thought it would be too folksy, and that's probably when it went into the UFO closet, where it sat quietly gathering energy until it decided it was time to emerge.
James has promised a good photo of the whole thing, once we get the doggie off it.