Tag Archives: gardening

Faith in Simple Things

12" x 13"

12" x 13"

I have faith in simple things — the turning of the seasons, the growth that follows dormancy, that I will be fed.  The self talk that went:  ‘I have no faith and therefore I cannot finish a quilt on the topic’ was refreshingly updated and reframed as I worked on this piece.

fabric/paper collage photo-transferred onto fabric, collaged again

Here is the doorway image that evokes passage & transformation, for me.  The lettuces tempted me to make a stupid visual pun about “lettuce pray”, but that did not quite materialize.  Instead, the lettuce leaves represent fresh bounty that is simple and wholesome and nourishing.

There were other issues with finishing this little quilt.  As a puruser of all kinds of craft magazines and blogs, I am disdainful of certain words that have been used to death.  For a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to join the legions of crafters who insert one of THOSE words (e.g., BELIEVE, DREAM, INSPIRE) (the cynic asks, ‘how about VOMIT, DOUBT, CRUSHED HOPE’?!!).  But, here is mine.

Also, after transferring a fabric/paper collage back onto fabric, quilting it, embellishing it with onion nets and fabric chips, I ‘ruined’ it with sharpie.  One of the challenges was how to cover up enough of the sharpie without losing all the previous detailing.

This figure sowing seedlings, cut from a weird, upcycled (and giant) blouse, is an answer of sorts to the Journal Quilt I made where the harvesting figure on some decorator toile turned into the Grim Reaper.  It took me a long time to ‘correct’ the way the bar of white from the blouse upset the design of the quilt… a little aqua sheer (also an upcycled item from a thrift store) helped.  You can just see some of the yellow onion netting peeking out from under.

Also resonating with an earlier quilt (in this case, the Journal Quilt “Worm Moon”), the lower edge depicts swirls and fertile-looking circles, all busily preparing the soil for the growth that is to come.  In this case, the frayed silk edges, the raw-edged applique, and rough zig-zag stitching go a long way to reference a ‘messy’, seemingly chaotic, but productive environment (SOIL!).

Gratitude List #4

5" x 7", mixed media collage

I am grateful for:
sedum buds braving the cold, wire rakes, raking, SPRING
friends that tolerate my blurts, foodie friends, friends that have an opinion,
spray paint
boxes from Costco, warmer temperatures, sun at 6:00 p.m. driving down Huntington,
teenage boys, spray paint, male energy,
the smell of dirt, the loss of time and eyeglasses as I garden,
friends with more money than me, friends with less, opinions about it all
The Hungry Mother in Cambridge,
money to buy a dinner out, getting lost, being okay with getting lost,
committees of women doing stuff for their kids, women who don’t, email, facebook, and flickr,
crocus braving the cold, snowdrops, the changes that happen in just one day,
birthdays coming, boxes to spray paint, the move back
to the basement, the stuff in the basement, the stuff in the garage, the
stuff in the trunk, the stuff in the attic, the study, the living room,
the moving of stuff, renewal, warmer temperatures allowing it all,
SPRING, cookies, socks,
fresh greens with a sherry vinaigrette,
the thought of travel,
the thought of Bernie Madoff going to prison today,
the judicial system, TV, grilled squid, boiled peanuts,
being the Slow Mother, the Hungry Mother, the Angry Mother,

Gratitude List #2

Chinese New Year, collage, 2.5" x 2.5"

I am grateful for:

another snow day, a long walk with Jack in the quiet and snow,
the patterns that strewn salt makes on fresh-fallen snow,
a fixed furnace and the funds to pay for it, a fixed bath valve,
and the thought of a hot bath later, Trader Joe’s Summer Curry Sauce
(dinner in a jar), dinners in front of the TV, messes that can be cleaned up,
dreams, boiling water for coffee, C.’s new haircut and the memory of his very first
haircut at age 4, food in the fridge, food in general, plans for lunch with friends,
emails from friends, phone calls from friends, dinner invites from friends,
winter robins eating holly berries near the side stoop,
Graph II finally done (7th grade science), and
the first tug toward gardening (which during the early parts of the winter,
I never expect to feel again).

I am also grateful for the little piece shown above.  It is about 2.5″ square and excites me because of the newness of the direction.  It is two photo-shopped digital images of cabbages, sandwiched together with a zigzag stitch, with a Chinese flash card in between.  The back cabbages were printed onto cotton fed through my inkjet printer and the top cabbages were printed onto a sheet of transparency fed through my printer.  The cabbages were photographed at Angino Farm, Newton’s CSA.  (The yellow border is not a part of the collage).

I also love this two and half inch square because it came together by way of some of the best parts of the creative process, and they are:

  • Scavenging/collecting
  • Resurrection
  • Serendipity.

The gathering of things is a big part of what artists do.  It is part-shopping, part scavenging, part receiving of gifts. I have no idea who gave me the Chinese flashcards and I have nearly given them away a half dozen times because they lived next to the Pledge and rags in the front closet, instead of somewhere more accessible and logical like with my rubber stamps and decorative papers.

The piece (by its mere existence) speaks to redemption (it is just some scraps stitched together, I know!).  It was cut off an earlier failed attempt at something along these lines.  Often the attempts to make something work are marked by struggle and frustration, and ultimately you may produce something semi-worthwhile, or even very worthwhile, but the process is heavy.  Perhaps too much about the desire to makegood on a failure… too much about the refusal to let something go, instead of the upswing of invention.  But when a snippet becomes a pleasing visual treat just by being in the right place at the right time, one can celebrate.  It doesn’t happen that often.

Lastly, whenever and wherever serendipity pokes its playful head, it is worth taking note.  In this case, the flipping calendar with Chinese words on the side found its way into this collage a few days before Chinese New Year (today!!) and on the day I wrote my check for this year’s farm share.  Can I parse any particular meaning from this? Not really. Not this time. But that doesn’t make it any less delightful.

The collage does seem to resonate with my friend J., who is alive and well, blessedly, although probably not up to making the several dozen dumplings she usually makes this time of year.  Perhaps this little collage should make its way to her house as a New Year greeting!!  Happy New Year J, M & M and adopted Chinese daughters everywhere!!!

Jumping In

boys running in the dark

Pin Board

Three images to start.  How does one start?  Always a question.  “How does one finish?”, also happens to be a question that plagues me.

Starting in the middle, or wherever one is, seems like sage advice, and I didn’t make it up.  See Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing or just about anything by Pema Chodron.

We have snow and it is hanging onto the rooves and curbs, in spite of rain.  At least we have power, unlike many in New Hampshire, or even just west of here in Worcester.

I would like to work faster and larger.  The whole business of quilting takes a long, long time.  It is a wonder I do it at all.  But water?!!  Brushes?!!  More crap in the basement?!!

Last night a scary dream about becoming disoriented… unable to tell which way I came in, I turn, go some distance, turn again, go some distance the other way, hoping something will jog my memory.

Many of my quilts address the uncertain business of memory.  Here is one from awhile ago, from a whole series that I made using poppies as the central image.  Poppies are an apt symbol for our flawed process of collecting bits of ourselves in memory, because they both signal remembrance (popularized during World War I) and forgetting (think:  opiates).   The fragmentation of the design is no accident.  One thing making quilts about memory, and even painful memories, has taught me in a graphic way is that the pattern of a life makes for beauty, no matter what the components.

"No Memory Poppy"

Julia Cameron says, “…by claiming our own memories, we gain access to the creative energy that they contain.  Memories become a source, not only of inspiration, but of fuel.”  In this quilt, I cut up a family photo (transferred onto fabric) found in a second-hand store.  I wonder how the whole process would shift were I to use a photo from my own childhood.

Hello world!

Crow and Moon

I make quilts, collages, boxes, dolls, and my husband would say (I agree), lots of messes.

D. jumping off of garage roof

student's felted globe

I teach fiber arts (mostly to kids) and have one boy in middle school, one in high school.

Bee Silk House

House motifs show up in many of my quilts, as do poppies, hearts and elephants.    I’m not sure how I became a quilter because I am not a patient person, nor do I sew particularly well.

Near the paper cutter

My work space is cluttered beyond belief, to the point of distraction even for me, sometimes.  I will never have one of “those studios” where the glossy neatness is lovely and precise.

photo on top of altar block

Oh yeah, and I love doorways.

Lastly, by way of introduction, I garden a few months a year.  It is shocking to me how many more pictures I have of the shrubs I have planted than of my boys!

june pathway

pathway last night from further away