Editing cloth and prose

The base. Pieced. Bottom left sea green patch bugs me and presents itself as a problem to be solved.

What if I go back to my hybrid method of quilting? I used to combine piecing and appliqué in a somewhat slapdash way that embarrasses me a little now. It sent me into a purist phase — everything must be pieced! What if I now consider some of those “nice” purely pieced quilts as unfinished — or at least, as potential canvases?

How much fun to defy the lines of the seams and extend patterning in a spirit of play?

And, as always, how about adding more houses? The pinned one on the left, believe it or not, is a “discovered” house, fussy cut from a rayon blouse. The green house to the right was made by simply topping a vertical rectangle with a roof.

There are so many more pictures of Italy to share but they already feel like old news. But I will be sharing more, if you don’t mind… along with a half dozen mini book reviews. They’re piling up! Turning into homework (ugh!)

One Assisi insight (not profound at all but hear me out): when you’re not walking the dog, cleaning the house, watching two MSNBC news programs a day, cooking dinner most nights, and tending a demanding mentally and physically ill sibling, a charge whose hours of attention are preceded by dread and followed by a period of demoralized recovery — there are a lot of hours in the day! In Italy, I had soooo much time! Time to wander the streets. Time to drink Caffè machiatto at the bar with the old men. Time to light candles for my sister all over the city. Time to read and write and quilt.

(My street — San Rufino Ave).

I am watching how I vacuum and scrub and now garden (yes!) to avoid the page.

It’s a process. And I miss my sister more here than I did there, particularly (and ironically because it was a place of ongoing tension), whenever the phone rings. It rings and I think: it will never again be her.

But you’ll be happy to know that of the 200+ chapters in my manuscript (Blood and Indigo), all but a handful have received a hard edit. One of the best things I did in Italy at the advice of fellow-writing-resident– the supremely lovely, warm, insightful and generous Argentinian writer, Elena Bossi — was to chop a lot of dull descriptions of interior crap and replace them with dialogue. What a good piece of advice that was!

Maybe that was one of the reasons I was so taken with the statute of David at the Cathedral of San Rufino — the dynamism of his raised arm, about to strike! I deleted two entire chapters while I was at it. Highlight, click! Highlight, click!

And what a pleasure to come home to a world exploding with the extravagance of spring.

16 thoughts on “Editing cloth and prose

  1. snicklefritzin43

    Seeing your composition process develop and unfold
    In photos is definitely a delight. Your “houses , to me,
    to be a “statement “ form in your work. Your photos also often carry a look at dwelling places and that connection gives me a strong sense of your design essence.
    Combining piecing and appliqué work well for me and looking at your sample pieces today, there appear some places where that might work well.

    Best, Kristin

    1. deemallon Post author

      I do go back to the house form again and again not even necessarily wanting to. So yeah I guess it’s a statement. I was inspired by one of Jude’s “what if” segments where she was adding cloth to the top patchwork. I’ve done so all along, but seeing her do it triggered something.

      1. snicklefritzin43

        Dee, So often watching, hearing, listening to another creative will give me a push, an “aha”, or just new energy to explore and expand my me. Jude is definitely one of my inspirational folks. Years ago I studied with Constance Howard from Goldsmiths College each summer for many years in a small workshop learning setting in San Francisco. I still refer to her books and my notes, now 45 years later. Jude impacts my creative self in that same way.
        I so enjoy your blog posts, even when I don’t have time to post.

        1. deemallon Post author

          Thanks Kristin. I have enjoyed having dialogue with you and just recently incorporated a piece of cloth you gave me into something and thought of you fondly. I don’t know Constance Howard. Perhaps I should look her up?

  2. snicklefritzin43

    Constance is well worth knowing. She dyed her hair green and taught outside of the box for years. She has passed on, her books still available, and this next winter when my big project in downsizing is to get my notes from classes in one place, there are some notes from her that a group of ten textile artists in Orange County CA used to guide our study group for two years before I moved up to Port Townsend WA. You would appreciate them, I am sure.

  3. Michael

    Pictures look great Dee! Love learning more about your composition process, and so glad to see you’ve had the chance to tighten up your manuscript while enjoying Italy in spring.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Thanks, Michael. Also because of your recent book review, I read John Boyne’s “The Heart’s Invisible Furies.” It was what I might call a “chatty” novel — is that what people mean when they say Dickensian, I wonder. I thought the humor worked and didn’t find it as subtractive as you did. The adoptive parents’ constant repetition of “adopted” got really old, though, and wasn’t needed to get across the cold neglect that marked Cyril Avery’s childhood. Anyway, thanks for the review! Reading the novel in Assisi during Easter week was an awful lot of Catholicism, I have to say!

      1. Michael

        Ah, happy you enjoyed the novel! Personally I like “chatty” much better than Dickensian but both seem apt; it was so dialogue heavy, which I normally dislike, but I thought it worked well for the storyline. I wasn’t sure what to make of the “adoption” repetition either, or what reaction Boyne was trying to elicit (sympathy? humor?).

  4. Nancy

    Dee~ I so love this post for the pure real life of it! I chuckled at the clicking delete 🙂 I did that recently, for different reasons, mine more frantic, to my old emails….deleted tons of highlighted groups, without even reading them! So long! Woosh! These photos are great. The little dog made me laugh and the water colored door of photo #8 is so beautiful. As for the cloth, what an interesting exercise. Your red circling helps me see why your compositions work so well! I noticed the little checked fabric, tucked in at odd angles like a little hobbit house 🙂 And your sister, yes. Missing her at home makes sense as that is where the two of you shared your lives. I am glad you were able to take her on the trip with you, in a way, as a part of the grief and healing. Light another candle, here at home perhaps. xo

    1. deemallon Post author

      Lighting a candle here is such a good idea. Thanks Nancy. So different to have to get in the car and drive cross town to get to a church! There is something very satisfying about batch deleting email. I like to go 80 to 100 at a time!

  5. Joanne

    I think I saw your houses-one time–and have been coming back since then. I.too, draw or make houses. My childhood was unhappy. Am I trying to make a happier home memory?? You had bird fabric in one recent piece for your sister? And in a shop I saw it and had to buy a small piece. I love that you appliqué and piece. I love adding appliqué.

  6. Sue Batterham

    I love your photos of Italy, they give me a funny feeling in the tummy! Bringing back so many memories of the 3 times we have been there. Your red circles are great and I must try that instead of fiddling around so much adding, subtracting and moving scraps of fabric. Maybe it will give me a clearer picture of what I want. Like you, I’m not happy if something “jars”. Love your houses, so hard not to copy!

  7. Michelle Slater

    Being without the usual distractions is liberating. When is one actually just exactly where one is and free to wander, to experience what is right now…especially in a city with such structure and awesome views. Well, I was relieved to be without the need of returning to this virtual page for seven days while away. Your Sister! Your Manuscript, Your family, The quilts and collages, the tasks and creations. Exhausting. I only wish the world I see and experience would slow down, but only I can do that. Bravo to you for all you do even though it seems corny.

  8. Liz A

    the word “homework” stuck with me, both on a first reading and coming back today … letting go of onerous tasks seems of a piece with mass email deletes (something I did yesterday)

  9. RainSluice

    I love the zoom-in circles on your quilts. and hearing about everything. the dog photo is a killer. all lovely. having time to drink coffee with the old men, nearly blasphemous 🙂


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