Bird Woman: Power in Completion

In these quiet weeks, I am finding it hard to come back to the screen.  This screen, specifically.  Is it because the space where my knees sit is freezing cold?  (My hands are freezing right now, too) Or, because a pause midwinter makes sense from 1,000 perspectives? Or, maybe I have nothing to say (when has that stopped me before, you ask?!!).

An unexpected benefit to my neglect here, has been getting into a rhythm of finishing work.  Ironically, I had signed up to do a spring show and was DREADING the prospect of spending a season ONLY finishing things, but the moment I decided (for a host of reasons) NOT to participate, the finishing seemed to want to happen.   I have to ask myself:  WHY am I capitalizing words as if I am writing an article about the THRILL of orgasm for COSMO?!!  No.  Seriously, what is my deal about finishing?

Once Upon a Time, Bird Woman was born.  She emerged from scraps of embellished linen and pieces of a hideous 1970’s jacket, and some sequins that my cousin sent me at the time.  I put a small island of Victorian sequined black silk below her feet (that came from a friend for my birthday one year).  I made her wingtips look like flames, to make her a powerful bird.  I blanket stitched a full moon over one wing and she got even more powerful.  For her general environment, this creature was lucky enough to get one of the many woven cloths that I made during a Jude Hill class (it might be two combined, actually).  Then she went into hiding again.  I wondered where she was for awhile but I didn’t look for her.  She resurfaced, got some more stitching, then disappeared again.  I found her about two weeks ago, and now, apparently she is ready to be given a little more starry sky above her head, and some edges.


bird-woman-frayed-silk The blue silk  frayed like mad.  The NEXT time I used silk for a background, by the way, I ran a line of machine stitching along the side prone to giving off its threads.  The lost cloth here created a bit of a challenge – but not too bad.  Mostly, I was sorry to see so much of that Noxzema blue go.  After trimming the batting off, I auditioned backgrounds, with the idea that I would put the whole thing onto another cloth.
bird-four-backsI looked at these selections starting with upper left and going clockwise.  The purple velvet was nice, but I liked the burnt orange of my slippers (just visible on the frame’s edges) better.  The green and whites both fell completely flat.  But, orange?  Why, yes.  It makes the Bird Woman sing!  How can a single infusion of color do that?!!  But it does.  Orange makes Bird Woman sing!bird-woman-star-edgeHere you can see how I applied some tiny seed stitches and “X’s” to approximate stars.  bird-woman-stars-LThe upper edge slanted precipitously downward, and since I was loathe to lose anymore of that rich, blue silk, I tucked a kind of corny cotton printed with a night sky.  I will tuck something else on the left side to complete that edge.

This will be carefully stretched a bit before mounting onto its backing (which of course I had to piece because the orange swatch was not wide enough).   Stay tuned for the finished piece!!

What is your style of finishing a piece?  Do you run to it, with eager anticipation for the satisfaction of a job well-done? Or, do you resist? If you resist, how do you work with your resistance?

22 thoughts on “Bird Woman: Power in Completion

  1. Margo

    Completion feels so good, why then is it so hard to get started on it? I can dither about it with the best of the procrastinators. I tend to work in series when I machine quilt, and sometimes piece for weeks on end. Then on to something else, consequently a trunk full of tops and backs. A move, much smaller house, no storage made me get serious. I could machine quilt and bind one quilt a month, and still have plenty of time to work on my other passions. The large quilt in the hoop with all that yummy applique, work on it every morning as I drink my coffee, read that on Rice’s blog yesterday, one of the great perks of reading other creatives blogs.

    Oh and I agree orange does make the bird woman sing, I’m eager to see how you finish her.

  2. deedeemallon

    Funny you mention space, Margo. One of the primary reasons NOT to do a show right now is that the production would take over the entire first floor of my house – which is open. There’d be no escaping scraps, threads, and piles of fabrics (honestly, it’s bad enough when NOT in the throes of finishing!).

    Who is Rice?

    1. Margo

      Rice Freeman Zachary, her blog is The Voodoo Lounge. The house we live in now is open floor plan too, seperate studio space but 3 walls of windows make it too cold at night and some times too warm in the day. Life in the high desert.

  3. saskia

    oh I remember her, she inspired me to make my bird piece which became a bag. And yes how do I finish, the short answer is: deadlines!!
    be it an exhibit, a commission, a class.
    But usually it is difficult, for me, because the pieces change and I almost never have a definite idea in my head what the outcome will be…..however, what can work is when I’m busy with one thing, I’ll notice some other piece out of the corner of my eye and then suddenly see where to go with that one, I’m not sure if any of this clarifies anything!?
    love your bird

  4. Julie

    I love placing blues and oranges together, they resonate with each other and bring a piece to life just as your bird woman is zinging. I am a terrible finisher. I have several projects in a drawer waiting for that final touch. I think the only real thing that makes me work on the final finishing is a deadline or if I am making something as a gift. I don’t know why I can’t bring myself to do the finishing, maybe it’s too routine, too familiar? I often start the next project, or even two, before I have finished the current piece. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  5. Peggy

    I love this as in LOVE as in COSMO. It’s just wonderful, the orange is perfect. So great that you were drawn back to it. It holds a lot of power for me, I can’t even imagine the feeling of having made it. xo

  6. Julierose

    Your Bird Woman has come to life; I myself have a huge resistance to “finishing”–perhaps this comes from my piano background–in music nothing is EVER REALLY finished (there are those caps again!). Perhaps I try to be too perfectionist in my work–and yet, sometimes I find myself rushing to “get it over”–strange contradictory ways….I still have my Woven Wall Ladies languishing from Jude Hill’s online class I took…maybe I don’t want to let it go….or maybe afraid that I’ll mess it up!! Julierose

  7. deedeemallon

    I wish I could comment to each person the way others do on typepad blogs, but I just haven’t managed to figure out how to do this on wordpress.

    I’ve been to the Voodoo Lounge – she’s hilarious! But thanks, Margo, for the reminder to go back.

    Saskia – hi – the ‘corner of the eye’ thing works for me, too… it’s why stuff I’m working on hangs all over the place. I think that half-attention lets a different part of the mind work, don’t you?

    Mo Crow – if YOU love her, then she passes!

    Hi Julie – I think there IS a something boring about finishing… It usually means finding long enough strips, creating some kind of uniformity (less of this lately), making two identical-sized plackets if I’m adding a dowel sleeve. ugh and ugh. I wonder if super-precise people mind it less.

    Peggy – glad to hear. Glad the orange works to your eye, too.

    I share your sense, Julierose, that it is comforting to know one isn’t alone with this finishing business. Part of what has been different about this piece, is listening to its tempo – that story wasn’t just whimsy. I feel like the quilt is dictating its own rhythm… this might be one of my biggest ‘take aways’ from Jude’s approach.

  8. deedeemallon

    thanks, ali! one of my inspirations was a wedding vest for a fisherman made in the 1800’s… If I can find the picture again, I’ll share…

  9. Chris Gray

    Bird Woman speaks to me…love her movement…wouldn’t worry about the edges, they’re part of her story.

    I tend to work on many pieces at once…so have lots of things unfinished at any given time…but it’s a great feeling to have so many coming to completion within days of each other….THAT is what makes me do it…and the thought of what’s coming next 🙂

  10. deedeemallon

    Hi Chris – I also work on many pieces at once, which is a necessity, I accept that that’s how it goes. But one downside of that method is you can lose sight of progress. And re: the edges – I just want to support what’s there, really.

  11. Ginny

    I don’t remember if I wrote this the last time I saw this wonderful bird, but she so reminds me of the Australian Emu Constellation – something that is intriguing to me because it is not created by the linking of stars but by the darkness created within them. (Here is a link about it So very cool, both this piece and the emu, which are so feminine, aboriginal, and complex.

    As far as finishing things, the closer to the end, the harder it gets for me too. Not sure why, but I have always found it to be so. I personally love the middle portion of working on a piece so much I sometimes think I drag it out just to stay safe in the water. Maybe it is about a fear of commitment? Not sure. Sometimes too, the end point may not be so obvious and a little distance is needed to see it through. Maybe?

  12. deedeemallon

    Amazing site, Ginny – as much for the technical challenges met by the photographers as for the revelations about Aboriginal culture. Did you see any of the Sacred art carvings referred to when you were there? I like thinking, too, about how differently a mind must work to create the picture out of the spaces between, rather than by connecting the dots.

    I never thought about how the finishing of a piece might relate back to the process of working on the middle… food for thought, there!

  13. Mo Crow

    Hi again Dee thinking about finishing things I like to give myself a loose framework so I can actually get things finished in this lifetime but with no pressure. An illuminated Book of Cats took 7 years all up but 3 of those years was only doing one drawing per year, I realized at that rate I wouldn’t get it done in this lifetime so I stepped up the pace to work with the moon’s cycle and have found that works really well for me- dreaming up the roughs sketches for the drawing with the dark moon then getting it all down on the good paper up to the Full Moon & letting it go with the finishing details during the waning moon. If the drawing is finished early like this latest one has that gives me time to work on whatever the side project is, 2011 was the year of the Bandaged Hearts, 2012 was the Hopeful Things with Feathers, this year is a Circle of the Seasons scarf. Also I use the stitching to get the hand eye coordination together before moving into the drawings each morning. oh and I work from 2am to 9am every day before we go out gardening and spend most of the weekends doing 12 -14 hour days in the studio because I want to get the illustrated Lyrics of Old Man Crow finished by 2016 x fingers the band will still be together so they can play at the launch (the gallery is already booked)

  14. deedeemallon

    Ginny, may I share that amazing poem in a future post? It is compelling, moving and textured. I love it.

    Mo, you are such a power house. I KNOW how detailed and inventive and beautifully drawn those cards are – so the schedule outlined seems daunting. But a theme is emerging in this Jan. 2013 – that if you want to create something, do what it takes – I can’t wait to see what your “Circle of Seasons” turns into. Do you sleep?!!

  15. Mo Crow

    sleep? Ariel P. Cat has taught me to enjoy little cat naps in the afternoons especially if I am going out at night & am often sound asleep after reading one page of whatever book is on the night table straight after dinner!

  16. handstories

    oh! she is in flight! just wonderful. your “noxema blue” comment made me laugh. I am in a “finishing” phase right now, too. probably because there are other things I should be working on….


Leave a Reply