Monday, June 28, 2010

The Garden Abides

While I was away the garden grew.

Garlic scapes ready for harvest.

Feverfew is a "weed" here.

Bees love the borage. The flowers are nice in salad too, and apparently it is very lovely to freeze them in ice cubes for cooling cocktails. When my lifestyle includes time for languid afternoons on the porch, I will definitely give it a try.

And I have included a new link in the sidebar: Daintytime. Sherri Lynn Wood uses cloth in a marvelous, intuitive, healing way. Her Passages quilts are wonderful. Also see:this page for lots of photos of the process and finished quilted works.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Finally, Pictures

I'm still waiting for the original "in process" pictures that I took when starting this piece. But in the meantime...

I had been wanting to do a green man quilt for a awhile. But the traditional images always seemed to me a bit scary - I envisioned something gentler. So when I saw a green glass suncatcher in my sister-in-law's kitchen window, with a smiling sun face and entwined with ivy, I knew I had my beginning.

I did a sketch. The words are from a poem by Wallace Stevens.

Here's the underlayer, in progress. This was put together all from found fabrics and threads. There is much to do yet - working into the design, much more stitching, appliques of stems and ivy, beads, lettering and lots of spirally quilting.

And here is the fabulous green colour I managed to get from foxglove blossoms. Hope it shows up well on your screen - it's a lovely soft grayish green, and bonus, it smells like watermelon!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maybe the Goddess is Camera Shy

Ah, here they are. An early picture of the face of the goddess.

I sun-dyed cloth in bracken, wrapped in chicken wire, in this galvanized bucket.

Here is the foxglove dyebath.

And I floated the background cloth in the pond to un-Ikea-ize it.

I'm still experiencing technical difficulties with the pictures that I promised. Unfortunately my sister-in-law's camera has eaten all the batteries in the house, so it will be another day or three before there are new ones put in and JPEGs forwarded. I'll be back to my own camera in a day or two, so I'll definitely make up for the lack of images then.

Meanwhile, the Castaway quilt is coming along quite well. My rigorous plan to use only materials that were at hand hit a snag (albeit a very generous one) when a friend gave me a gift of her stash of green fabrics. Suddenly I went from virtual dearth to overabundance. I have tried to be restrained in my use of this bounty - it is amazing how critical I have become of this piece once I had more choices. There is actually something quite liberating about working with a limited palette. But then again, maybe working with what you've got means joyfully accepting gifts! And crates of oranges do sometimes wash up on the beach!

In the stash there was the perfect fabric for the leaves/rays that surround the face of the green goddess, and I used every scrap. Another hand-dyed piece will become the ivy that loops around her face.

I have also learned a few things so far in my process of "making do". 1) I now know that terry towel makes a lousy batting for handquilting - it is too hard and shifts around because of the pile. 2) I have also made use of those colour theory classes back in art school and created a variety of interesting colour mixtures from the four spools of orange, purple, yellow and green thread. 3) Coloured pencils come in handy to shift the tone of small areas of fabric. 4) Straight pins are a highly underrated invention. I discovered this after trying to use needles to hold layers of fabric together.

I promise, pictures very soon!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I realize I may have been hasty. My despairing feelings of the last few weeks have retreated, and I am experiencing a kind of euphoria. I don't know if it's the power of working on a new piece, leaving a very stressful situation, all the wonderful supportive messages from you or just the way normal people feel most of the time. I sure hope I haven't become manic, I never have been before so it's hard to know. I am seeing my doctor tomorrow so don't worry, it will all be sorted out.

Meanwhile, I have exciting information - no pictures yet, as the camera is with my brother and sister-in-law as they attend the graduation ceremony of their son and my nephew, Andrew. Given the importance of the day, I figured I couldn't beg to keep the camera just so I could take pictures of the wonderful colour I got from foxglove blossoms!

1 quart of purple foxglove blossoms, covered in water + 5ml alum and a large cotton and linen doily,
steeped for 1 day in the sun, then simmered for 20 minutes on the stove and allowed to cool in the dyebath overnight = the most gorgeous gray green.

The dye liquor was a beautiful magenta, and as I lifted the cloth from the pot it changed in front of my eyes, just like indigo.

You will have to imagine it for now, but I wanted to tell you because the foxgloves are out in droves right now and you might want to try it for yourself. I am on Bowen Island in the Gulf Islands (Pacific Northwest) so it would be interesting to see if different regions have similar results.

The piece of cloth will be used in my green goddess quilt, which I am putting together with a new process: the Desert Island Quilt (actually I think I might call it Castaway Cloth). Having arrived in this place without the bountiful stash, I have been working just with what I can gather and glean from my immediate surroundings. The last four dusty spools of thread from the drugstore, those tragic Tailorform needles from the general store, some drapery remnants and scraps from the recycling centre, and foxglove blossoms from the roadside.

It is a challenge as well as a metaphor for life: working with what you've got.

There will be pictures of this too.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Love for This Book

Once again, thank you for all the messages of kindness and support. I have surprised myself by starting a new piece, an embroidered, maybe quilted leafy spiraling green spirit. Maybe it will be restorative. I'll let you know.

In the meantime I came across this poem which seems to fit.

In these lonely regions I have been powerful
in the same way as a cheerful tool
or like untrammeled grass which lets loose its seed
or like a dog rolling around in the dew.

Matilde, time will pass wearing out and burning
another skin, other fingernails, other eyes, and then
the algae that lashed our wild rocks,
the waves that unceasingly construct their own whiteness,
all will be firm without us,
all will be ready for the new days,
which will not know our destiny.

What do we leave here but the lost cry
of the seabird, in the sand of winter, in the gusts of wind
that cut our faces and kept us
erect in the light of purity,
as in the heart of an illustrious star?

What do we leave, living like a nest
of surly birds, alive, among the thickets
or static, perched on the frigid cliffs?

So then, if living was nothing more than anticipating
the earth, this soil and its harshness,
deliver me, my love, from not doing my duty, and help me
return to my place beneath the hungry earth.

We asked the ocean for its rose,
its open star, its bitter contact,
and to the overburdened, to the fellow human being, to the wounded
we gave the freedom gathered in the wind.

It’s late now. Perhaps
it was only a long day the color of honey and blue,
perhaps only a night, like the eyelid
of a grave look that encompassed
the measure of the sea that surrounded us,
and in this territory we found only a kiss,
only ungraspable love that will remain here
wandering among the sea foam and roots.

From The House in the Sand by Pablo Neruda. Copyright © 1966, 2004 by Fundacion Pablo Neruda. Translation copyright © 1990, 2004 by Dennis Maloney and Clark Zlotchew.