This is the back of the heart dedicated to Depayne Middleton Doctor. She was 49 when she was slain last June during a Bible study circle at the Emanuel AME in Charleston. She left behind four daughters. So many people came to her funeral, they had to set up televisions in an overflow room in order to accommodate another 150 people. According to “The Post and Courier”: ‘Middleton Doctor retired in 2005 as Charleston County director of the Community Block Grant Program. Last year, she began working for Southern Wesleyan University as admissions coordinator for the school’s Charleston learning center.’
The same article quotes a friend saying of Middleton Doctor’s singing voice: “So angelic it could move the very depth of your heart… How do you describe an angel?”
I made this heart and it was meant to capture a very rich personality, with some of the expansiveness of the heavens (the dotted dark cloths look like night skies to me).
Find out more about this remarkable woman and the family she left behind here.
To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”
To investigate this style of quilting more, please visit the inspiring and generous master quilter, Jude Hill at her blog“Spirit Cloth“
For my next commission — a wall quilt featuring Noah’s Ark — I purchased some stormy, raining fabric. It’s a beautiful silk chiffon, and I will double it to make the rain going in two directions, and to make the greys tend toward black.
I don’t often specifically buy fabric with a project in mind, but this time, I did. I think it will take a needle nicely, even doubled, so I look forward to quilting this. I will use the technique taught by Jude to secure the layers first — what she calls an ‘invisible baste’. I have learned that securing the layers as an initial matter makes the difference between enjoying all subsequent hand stitching, and not. I have an old plastic place mat from when the boys were little to put under the piece while I baste — this prevents stitching the quilt to one’s skirt and helps steady the layers until they are secured with thread. With hand-stitching in mind, I selected a high quality quilting cotton for the back. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s growing older (not wanting to stress already achy-thumbs). Maybe it’s a growing appreciation for the ENERGY of a thing. Whatever the reason, I find myself refusing to work with fabric that is icky in any way (I used to stockpile icky (free) fabric for the backs of quilts…). Almost anything that I have purchased at JoAnn’s is going into my give-away bin. The stuff they sell is crap. What do you think of, visually, when you think of Noah’s Ark? I think we tend to see the boat up on stilts, being built, or to imagine the procession of animals, marching two-by-two into the boat. I decided to depict the middle of the storm – think: Day 20 or 22 of the forty days and nights of rain. No cute beasts marching up a plank. No hopeful dove with a sprig of greenery in her beak. Initially, I wanted to surround the ocean/boat scene with animal prints, but no matter how I laid them out, they looked dopey. So I found a woven rectangle with watery colors, split it up and laid it out, and then wove another section to fill in the remaining areas. I am stitching this newly woven section this afternoon, and will cut it up later. I like how the woven sections add depth and complexity – very comparable to how certain spices or oils create depth of flavor in a stew. These sections take a considerable amount of time, but they have a defined beginning, middle, and end, which keeps them from becoming oppressive. And since I am planning this quilt out, no woven section will be laid on top of a section that is already three or four layers thick. Again, my goal is for the hand stitching to be easeful. I will lay some of the sheer silk chiffon on the ocean fabrics, to create a feeling of light or foam.
My hope is to ‘whip this up’ in such a way that I feel good about what I can charge for it. Price can never be the sole consideration, mind you, but it would be nice (for a change) if my aim to pursue an efficient design and construction actually panned out.
Yesterday, writing about this quilt (which is evolving through various stages of ‘mess’), I erroneously typed that as I worked on it, it was becoming ‘less of a quilt’ (when I meant ‘less of a mess’). It makes me wonder, if it was becoming LESS of a quilt, what WOULD it be on its way to becoming?
I was surprised at how receptive the velvet was to my needle. Because I find velvet to be completely unruly at the machine, this was a nice surprise.
This image (one quilt on my lap; the other a WIP on the coffee table) shows you how favored fabrics like to show up again and again. Here I refer to the paisley-esque black, brown, burnt umber cotton from Indonesia. I wonder how many quilts it is in, exactly. It must be at least eight.
How many boxes (or piles or drawers or envelopes or bins) of ‘precious scraps’ do YOU have?
I honestly don’t want to know how many I have nestled, stacked and waiting downstairs!! Just like I really don’t want to know EXACTLY how many hours go into creating any given quilt.
Just as nations have favored statuses, so do many fabrics. That yellow batik, above, is one, as is the rayon shirt underneath. These upcycled garments have a way of lasting, lasting, lasting – like the magical pot of stew in the fairy tale. Just when I think I MUST have used the last scrap, another little swatch will surface (one of the better benefits, I might add, of a ‘loosely organized’ studio).
How often have we heard about some slob (from delicate appellation to all-out condemnation!) that they can ‘lay their hands immediately’ on whatever it is they need? Alas, I cannot. Sometimes this drags. You know, when I really want one of the gold spirals from an African print dress that I cut up and put who knows where?!! But the silver lining of a less-tended approach is what I’ll call (not euphemistically, mind) – the pleasures of the archeological dig.
Taking time regularly (this is key) to root around in one’s stacks, piles, stacks of piles – is a process of discovery that invariably yields treasure. I like to think that I put my hands on certain long forgotten half-cut or half-assembled scraps JUST as it is time to use it. This happens more often than I can tell.
While we are on the subject of ORGANIZATION, though, this being my birthday week, and the time that I thought I might reflect a little on last year (New Year’s did not turn out to be the time to do so) — let me say that 2011 was a turning point. I have a new hero whose name is Sandra Felton. She has written numerous books about people like me, people she affectionately and without judgment refers to as ‘the Messies’. Her tone is humorous and encourages acceptance. Her tips can work magic. Look her up.
There were many suggestions of hers that I implemented last year, but some of the most dramatic were: 1) organizing my closet by purchasing plastic hangars and ridding myself nearly completely of wire hangars; 2) organizing my clothes in that closet by color (an amazing time saver!!!); 3) upgrading containers in my closet from ugly, ill-fitting cardboard boxes to snazzy, bright green bins from The Christmas Tree shop; 4) purchasing containers for medical supplies (baking tins turned out to be the right size and price) and then organizing supplies by use (i.e. ‘travel supplies’, ‘cold and flu supplies’, ‘first aid’, and ‘muscle aches and pains’); and 5) making my bed. I have NEVER been a bedmaker, and now I am (it helps that my iPhone App ‘Tap & Track’ gives a caloric discount for ‘making the bed’ – I kid you not!!).
The other big thing I have done this year (this time I need to thank my office job of 2010/11), is to create a series of excel lists that I keep shortcuts to on my desktop, one of which is a HOUSEHOLD INVENTORY. You cannot believe what a helpful, time saver this is. When a major run of the “where’s my?”s occured in advance of a hiking trip for C. recently, I knew where EVERYTHING was!!
Have a great Sunday!! I will be making Buffalo Wings in a few hours and heading over to a neighbor’s for a SuperBowl Party… believe it or not, I can’t wait! No Tarot Readings by Madame Mallon in the kitchen this year! We will all be glued to the screen.
Now, the cold is here. Just when I should be walking the dog, I am curling up with a heating pad and quilt, instead. Hard to get motivated to do much of anything. “It’s Sunday,” I tell myself.
Yesterday, took my sister grocery shopping and the place was an absolute mob scene – supposedly because of the football playoff game that would be aired later (Okay, Mr. Pious, kneel down and thank god for THAT!). It took me the rest of the afternoon to recover. I hadn’t planned to sit with K. and watch the game, but he lit a fire and I had my fat, fat novel to read (“1Q84”) and so, it was nice.
And today? It’s one of those days where I can’t remember WHAT I’ve done, or even, if I’ve done anything at all. Crossword puzzle. Drug store run. Pages. Prep for Thursday’s class. Wandering around studio looking for something. Somehow, it feels like a whole lot of nothing. Perhaps if I make the chicken stew I have on the menu for tonight, and the ‘Wellesley Chocolate Cake’ recipe I picked out, there will be something more tangible (and delicious, hopefully!) to point to.
I HAVE been making some of the world’s most delicious winter salads. Really. What makes a good winter salad, in my humble opinion? Some crunch (cabbage shreds, radish slices, celery, for example), some bitter greens (frisee, arugula, to name two), something onion-y (diced shallots, if you’re feeling fancy, or diced red onion or chopped scallions) and then your filler (usually, chopped romaine in this house) all dressed with a super-tangy vinaigrette (I have long been a fan of 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 acid — lately, I mostly use white vinegar — and then of course, garlic, mustard, and S&P). One night, I added sunflower seeds (raw), along with dried cranberries and Granny Smith chunks (heavenly!). So, so, good. Last night, with both boys out and having had a heavy (but delicious) tortilla pie for lunch, K & I had a Winter Salad, Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans and Brussel Sprouts for dinner — yummmmmm.
Well, maybe that’s all the day needed – to talk about food for a minute. Definitely perked me up!
I am reminded, posting a drawing, that this time last year we were bombed by a snowstorm, and I spent Martin Luther King Jr. day getting my Sketchbook Project well underway. I can’t imagine having that kind of energy tomorrow, nor can I imagine being bombed by a snowstorm. I can hope, right?