Tag Archives: stars

More stars — two Grand Crosses

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‘casual’ trapunto moon

I’ve been thinking in a somewhat unfocused way about the Cardinal Grand Cross happening in the heavens right now.  It was exact four days ago on April 23, 2014, and will be influencing us until July.

20140426-201427.jpgThere are a few things that I might be inclined to attribute to the formation — some sleeplessness, heightened conflict with my sister, a friend’s marriage falling apart, another friend’s very difficult transition in moving to California, familiar but loud self-queries about my abilities in life — but otherwise, not so much.

Looking further afield, I would name: three teen suicides in Newton this academic year, the drought in California, tensions in Ukraine, the active tremors along the Pacific Rim, the Malaysian airliner’s disappearance, depressing news about climate change, climate change itself, and the Korean ferry accident.

I have a natal Grand Cross (fixed). Is it possible that I am personally so familiar with the things that Grand Crosses impart that the passing one has less impact on me?  Or maybe (and I like this idea better), since the crosses overlap in a way that forms a star, I’ve got a GRAND STAR going on.  A Grand Star would be all about momentum, release, and forging ahead in freedom and joy (instead of about stuckness, being embattled, unable to forge anywhere or anything) — right?!!

From Astrologer Cinzia Meneghello:

 “The ‘squareness’ of a Grand Cross can awaken our ability to conceive its opposite: harmonious flow.  Every hindrance (each squared aspect) has the potential to lift the curtains of focused intent and perseverance.  Every obstacle (Grand Crosses are sure to bring some) has the innate tendency to awaken our higher self in order to appreciate challenges and to show us how strong we really are.”  and

“this Grand Square should be a stepping stone into facing a darkness that we may have not have accepted yet, one that can awaken a deeper understanding of our own intrinsic worth and self-less values… “

20140426-201140.jpgAfter a truly awful phone call with my sister the night before last, the morning brought resolve and forgiveness. A wonderful trip to the annual “Art in Bloom” show at the Museum of Fine Arts the next morning helped, too. It was 42 degrees and raining when we arrived but the excitement inside was contagious and uplifting.

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It seemed to me that the show began in the ticket line!
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IMG_2940 IMG_2941 IMG_2964 IMG_2966It is really interesting to see how the various professional florists, gardening clubs or other groups, decide how to respond in flowers to their assigned work of art. (The guy in the interior was swinging his arms around — to release stress?)

The show is ephemeral — like the sand paintings of the Tibetan monks, never intended to endure.  It is up for three days and three days only.  And then the vases are removed, the special docents with their clumps of (mostly women) followers go silent, and we all wait for NEXT year’s installments.

‘Course this was only my second visit.  But I am determined to go next year! And the year after that, too.  And there is a quilt show up until July.  Can’t wait to see that!

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PS  After a decades-lapse in following astrology, I am approaching it in a sidelong way because of the really great free app “Time Passages” by Astrograph.  I can see my chart and the kids’ and my sister’s, etc., at the tap of a finder.  Transits are there. And of course, you can pay for more (but I don’t).

December stars, a snow poem, and a song

star-for-jude

star for jude

close-to-joy

Close to joy

joy-at-center

stitching rings around joy

orion-and-hare

ephemera unearthed this week — there’s my hare constellation

indigo-sky

trial stars

wind-chimes

last winter stars

digital collage - mother and gaga

Mother and pop star Lady Gaga

studio - back table - goodies in more paper bowls I made

paper machier stars

star

stars of light

indonesian-brown-in-two-qui

silk stars, again

Inspiration for the morning: Mary Oliver’s poem “First Snow”. You can read it here.

And to get ‘close to joy’ for two minutes, try viewing this Gaelic song, performed in a gymnasium full of rhythmic kids, who keep a percussive beat going with plastic cups. You’ll love it!

(thank you Mary Ann’s brother for leading me to this amazing video!)

Musings on creativity – 2 basic styles?

"December House"

“December House”

I’ve always thought there were at least two kinds of creators — those who start with an idea and those who don’t. These approaches are inherently alien to each other and sometimes one camp fails to recognize the strengths of the other. Both are valid, of course.  And, as valid approaches, either can bring honest expression forward.

This quilt started out as response to the George Zimmerman acquittal (one on left, below). It was about outrage. And grief. But somewhere along the line I dropped that idea and let the thing be about the darkening time of the year… December in New England. The lengthening night is keenly felt in these parts, but because of the crazy freight train that is the holidays (comin’ straight at ya!), many of us squash the mammalian instinct to curl up in the dark and quiet down. To listen to ourselves breathe. To listen, period. For this reason, and this reason alone, December can be stressful.

three-huts-vines

This post’s quilt started as the left-most house

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pattern stars, rhinestone stars, polka dots and stitches

December-House-shutters

checked shutters made from a former Anne Taylor skirt – a small remnant of life as a downtown lawyer

I enjoyed layering up the dark. Adding ecru and navy blue “X’s” for stars. And ‘finishing’ the house with shutters and a window box. Making all the layers cohere was a task (one of the downsides of being an improv quilter, I might add), but even that became a useful exercise, as it allowed me to sit with the metaphor of creating unity from disparate parts. Integration.

December-house-shadows

pre-shutters, with some REAL shadows

December-House-chair

with patchworked seat

had to add shadow under moon to interrupt vine - otherwise it would look like a lollipop

shadow under moon added to avoid its resembling a lollipop

December-House-foliage

house needed the fanning foliage to look like it belonged

Just as extroverts have their need for solitude and introverts like the occasional party, the line between artistic approaches is far from clear cut: planners wing it and improv folks plot. But, I would venture to say that we possess one basic tendency or the other.  And more — that getting comfortable with one’s basic tendency is essential to success.

None of the above is new for me. What IS new is this idea that the approach we abide in might dramatically change how we describe our work. People who form an idea and then strive to express it, might talk about the how forming the intention to say something is essential. People who discover their idea as they work might talk about how being open to what arises is all important. Maybe these commitments ultimately end up in the same place, when true and practiced, but do they impose noticeable differences? I am wondering.

But not for long, probably, because this has gotten to a place of abstraction that is mental and potentially boring. Though I would love to hear reader’s thoughts.

I have to add one more thing, because it bears on honesty in one’s art.  Blogging in a public forum, or a even semi-private one, can dampen one’s level of disclosure. Unavoidable choices about what is or isn’t revealed must be made, and may turn on concerns that have nothing to do with the level of honesty in one’s work: a commitment to protect children’s privacy (even if they don’t!), for instance, or a refusal to be public about some personal issues (even if they are informing one’s work). I find this part of blogging difficult. The WISH to be free with my thoughts almost always feels at odds with the NEED to stay bounded.

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-batting-cut

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?

pins in my mouth and on my lap

Pinned this little piece up yesterday.

Took it to the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center and quilted a little during the four hour wait for C’s 4×400 relay.

It may be an exercise in frustration.  No glue, no tulle, no basting —  just me and my lazy girl pin job.

My strategy is to work the places that can easily be worked first, always making sure that where pieces meet, the fabric will lie down properly.  Pretty much means working edges inward.  It helps to have two needles going, sometimes.

I am doing a combination of folded-under applique and raw-edged.  Probably, with the possible exception of that red velvet, this quilt will be entirely hand-quilted.

You may remember this bleached red plaid from the Happy Hut Quilt that I made for D. (that red plaid flannel was used, one December not long ago, to make his pj bottoms – a traditional Christmas Eve gift in this house (though I will admit to buying the pants in the last couple of years)).

I finished that quilt, by the way (above).  The Ghost House version is in a lull.  Down in the cold, cold basement on a pinboard.  It will wait.

 

Looking at the sky

The sky was distracting and overly busy, and rather than cover it up, I removed it.

I had wandered around my bins a bunch of times before finding the grey cotton, which I consider to be perfect.

The sharp line along the bottom edge of an arlee barr swatch kept grabbing my eye in a bad way… and so, even though my intention was to keep as much of the swatch visible as possible, I added a “tatter” from Deb Lacativa to bring some of the dark of the midsection down and to slightly interrupt that otherwise distracting line.

A still life from my sister’s mantel. 

And, more stars and reflections from Salem on Christmas day.  What wish would I wish upon a star tonight?  The first day of 2012?

One of the New Year urges I am feeling that is relevant here, is the desire to write juicier shit on this blog.  I find the reporting that I stick to in order not to make myself wildly vulnerable, boring, to be frank.  It is tough to be soulful enough, consistent enough, productive enough, or funny enough about my stitching work to add the kind of verve and zest that make a blog worth visiting.  So, how to do? Any ideas?

One idea is to abandon my strict policy of not including quotes from my large library of inspired writers, out of copyright diligence.  Who cares?  Does anybody check?  It’s not like I’m about to be ‘discovered’ and therefore have to be original across the board… Thoughts?

Another idea is to devote a day a week to a post of non-craft writing… I could groom one piece of writing per week to share here.  Things like character sketches, pages from the journals I kept for the boys as babies, writing that comes out of writing prompts (right now I’m ticking through the prompts on creativewritingprompts.com) or my Thursday writing class.  I’m conflicted about this because when I see too much text on a craft blog, I skip away.  But maybe others are different? And, if this energizes ME, and ONE OTHER person, does it matter if it is being offered to an audience primarily interested in pictures?

 

fragments coming together

Closing in on a finish here.  This ‘sampler’ wants an edge and completion.

Collage, collage, collage renders places many layers thick.  Pins and machine will be useful.

Some layers have been peeled, ripped and shredded away to re-reveal what’s underneath.

A gessoed surface is not the most fun for poking a needle through, but the thing I will be careful not to do again, is to machine stitch right up to the edge of a piece with batting, because then it is tough to tuck the white under.

I have been mulling over what it means to be innocent (are we EVER innocent?  or, do we ever STOP being innocent)… and what it means to be setting out in love. Letters from my 20’s arrived in the mail yesterday (!!) from an old roommate, and in organizing my sewing patterns (also yesterday), I found letters I’d written and copied (because I worked in a copy shop in San Francisco) when I was 21.  All this stuff about relationships (‘ugh’ if I might say).  In some ways, it seems like a different person wrote those letters (thank god).  And in other ways, so much is constant.

The quilt, with its layers, fragments, re-attachments, ripped open words, stars, and ‘memories’, speaks to what it means to be any age and want to be seen and known, flaws and all.  The quilt speaks to desire and the ways it will be stopped by our less-than-holy selves, or expressed, in innocence and wonder.  If there were a spot of red in the panels, it could even be a valentine.