Tag Archives: scraps

Corn guy and Womb

IMG_5131.JPGFunny to be weaving “fall” when it got so sticky hot here today. This guy got his start on a napkin-basket-loom.  I was trying out some things from the weaving class with Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth, side bar), and sort of having fun.  The warp caught in the grooves of the basket edges and stayed put well enough, but I could only use tape to secure it on the back, so it got loose in places — sometimes to the point of near unworkability.
IMG_0009 IMG_4746Mostly today I pieced rectangles of cotton together, pressed the seams one way or the other, and enjoyed the cool of my basement.  I ran the fan all day to churn some of the mildew smell out the back door. That sounds awful but it wasn’t. It was a nice retreat after two very intense weeks of travel and settling the boys in.
IMG_0278In fact, the cool quiet of the cellar was perfect for my first ‘official’ day of the empty nest — a day that found me tired, disoriented, a little sick, and in real need of silence.IMG_0295 I stitched a linen frond to the woven island piece (above, left) and excavated some of the sections representing Africa from the Middle Passage series (above, right)IMG_0297In the little square above, I put some of the ‘Ghost House’ remnants next to fabrics being used to designate ‘Strange Fruit’ in the ‘White House of Privilege’ series. A panel with a moon stitched on it is being blown sideways by the fan.  I like that almost more than anything else!IMG_0302 IMG_0308 IMG_0310Middle Passage scraps partnered with Ghost House piecing (above). Reading the recent ‘Atlantic’ article, ‘The Case for Reparations’ (by Ta-Nehisi Coates) has got me thinking about all this again (as if the events in Ferguson, Missouri weren’t prompt enough)…IMG_0316And all these tiny little ‘doodles’ wanting a home. The grid has one inch squares, so you get the scale.
IMG_5030I’ll close with a few pix from Vermont.  We camped at a state park located on an island in Lake Champlain.  We did this to save money, but it was really wonderful!  So quiet. So pretty.


IMG_0269The weather was perfect, and it was nice, as it turns out, to break up the drive and the border crossing over separate days. Since we’ve had some really nice visits to Montreal, including a few memorable dinners, there was no feel of a pauper’s compromise in this plan — none at all. IMG_5084IMG_5092Look at those skies!!

Scraps as syllables

Click on picture for bigger view

Most quilters I know have a hard time letting even the smallest pieces of fabric go.  I have seen entire quilts made of selvedges!  I don’t keep the “dog-ear” scraps produced by clipping 1/4″ seams, but I do save miniscule pieces of felt (two large drawers full), pockets of old pants, and every shred of favored commercial prints.

While saving scraps is in keeping with the resourcefulness of early blanket-makers, it can get out of hand.  Cleaning up this weekend, I put the scraps that were on the floor to use (above & below) … which was fun and productive.   It  got me thinking about Script Quilts again (and working on one of them, last picture, below) because to me the scattering of different-sized scraps, some of which repeat, is a lot like speech.

The problem is this – now that I am reminded of what graphic punch a teeny, weeny shred of fabric can have in the right project, I am Loathe to throw them out!

Since I am taking inventory of my studio and labeling everything, I figure as long as I label WHERE these itsy bitsy pieces are going, and limit the amount to the small-ish bin designated, I’ll be okay.

To be continued…

Blog through the fog?

Three small pieces

Three small pieces

Last week found me sick, distracted, and stuck, and so I did not post.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have time, with the kids home and all, it was that I couldn’t stand to hear myself.  Today my need to show up outweighs the need to feel presentable (and I DO feel better!).

These three ‘sketch’ quilts were made over the last two weeks.  The Journal Quilt on the far right did not start out as a house, but once I put the windows on there was no going back.

Journal Quilt Feb 15, 09

Journal Quilt Feb 15, 09

The thing I like most about this quilt is not the final result, but the way the cotton batting took the needle as I hand-quilted the background.  So often, I am quilting through four, five, six layers of fabric, one of which is drapery weight, with poly batting (almost necessitating pliers!), so I want to remember how smooth and easy this was for future projects.  Also, I dyed the muslin in coffee and the aged look is nice.  The house I can take or leave, mostly leave.  Perhaps the slumping roof expresses the time of year and the wish to get out of town while staying home.   For future projects, I also want to explore using that silk of the roof for ‘drawing’ a fish — I can just make out the beginnings of a large Pacific salmon in a leaping arc there.

I seem unable, however, to generate any polar bear that I can stand to incorporate into the kitchen table quilt.  The bottom is nearly done, and the top, still waiting.  I experimented, unsuccessfully, with printing onto lutrador, and also tried using oil pastels on fabric.



If I am going to include this in the quilts that will be showing at the Arsenal Center for the Arts starting Friday, I’ve got to hustle.  Or jettison the idea of a polar bear altogether!

Here’s where I’ve been having some fun:


Scraps make a life


Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.
Meister Eckhart
(quoted in Julia Cameron’s book, “The Vein of Gold”)


sparrow-wisteria-moreI thought I was being soooooo productive and accountable to a blog-posted To Do list by hemming the jeans of Dan’s that have been transiting from pile to pile since Thanksgiving.  Imagine my surprise when D. held up one of the two pairs and asked, “Why did you hem Kevin’s jeans, Mom?!!”  (Kevin doesn’t live here).

Ah, so much for the satisfaction of a thing done.  The cut hems could not be thrown out, naturally.  The pictures above I hope demonstrate WHY not.  Their ragged edges and variations of blue do a better job suggesting the blue shadows of winter than my first journal quilt (below).


I have ALREADY revised my rules. I started with a rule that at least some fabric must come from the floor.  When I discovered over the weekend that I was reluctant to re-bin fabrics that had been dumped out (during some mad need for a container) because it meant I would have less interesting fabrics on the floor to pick from,  I realized that the rule I had created supposedly to trick myself into cleaning up had already become a disincentive.  So!  I revised the rule to —

Each Journal Quilt must include scraps from a bin.

This rule, however, is meaningless, since nearly my entire stash qualifies, so I let it go.  These two new mini-quilts (possibly one will be Journal for this week), put me in mind of perhaps a better rule…

At least one fabric must carry over from week to week.

Here, the deep blue with white dots (suggesting snow fall) was the background for last week’s quilt.


The process of putting Christmas things away is satisfying.  Wrapping, tucking, safekeeping for next year AND clearing space.  The tree is still up, but with only colored lights now.


I wish I could revel in the mess as much as the figure below seems to!


Lastly, here are two figures needing work.  The grey unspun wool figure needs a body.  I find that an interesting metaphor.  I may attach him to a cross-beam and explore the notion of sacrifice while I’m at the business of examining how and why I become dis-embodied (such heavy requirements!! — but then, it is just where the thing wants to go.  I merely follow!)  I drew the head on Shrinky-Dink, copying a portrait of an African man who appeared to be an ecstatic trance.  The priestly figure has a body, but needs arms.  This guy holds interest all of a sudden because he seems to have changed sides on me.  I made him during the height of the sex scandals here in Boston.  Then he was, by virtue of his silence and passivity, a nasty co-conspirator in the abuses.  But yesterday, when I wrapped him in that thread shawl (also made ages ago), he just struck me as sad.  Perhaps he is one of the many priests that was not aware of what was going on.  Perhaps he grieves the damage done — not just to all those victims, but to the Catholic Church itself.  Amazing what passing time can do to a picture, image or idea!