Listening to this * yesterday got me remembering the Irish belief that the Other World can be accessed through ‘thin places’ in our world. Thin places are places of transition, or inbetween times. On this point, from Fire in the Head**:
“For Irish poets, the edge of water — where bank meets river or shore meets sea — is a place of wisdom, enlightenment, and mystical knowledge. Water, fog, mist, and dew have long fascinated the Irish, possibly because the island nation is surrounded by the sea… But any edge or border between elemental realms, any liminal zone between two complementary terrains, or a place where opposites meet is, in the Celtic imagination, a place filled with magic.”
Here is a sampling of ‘Edge Pictures’, some of place, others of time, and a few of both.
New Hampshire, The Flume
Shaker Workshop, Arlington, Mass.
* (Krista Tippett talking about her grandfather and faith on “The Moth”. Her website is onbeing.com).
** Fire in the Head, Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, by Tom Cowan
This is Ark Redux. Neither the buyer nor I could stand the gloom of round one. Now, the silk chiffon ‘rain’ is limited by the insertion of a brighter, focus panel behind the ark. I didn’t double the chiffon this time, so it’s a paler shade of grey. And, there will be a dove.
Smaller dimensions were also requested – which is a boon to the process of lap quilting! Some folds and junctures between fabrics are left ‘open’ during basting, in order to allow the insertion of paler fabrics.
I was thoughtful enough to stitch the windows onto the ark prior to assemblage. Why? Because a needle stitching in that area will now be passing through three or four layers of top fabric (and one of them batik) plus backing and batting.
The yellow silk version was rejected after my husband in passing asked, “Is that supposed to be the sun?” Well, no, but thank you for letting me know that the yellow isn’t working!
Speaking of boats and water, these people have the right idea for a hot, hot day. This picture was taken from the Old North Bridge in Concord, Mass. last week, but it’s another hot, hot day today. I’m running a small fan of water from the sprinkler again today, moving it on the hour — mostly for the birds, who have been congregating wherever its moist coolness is being delivered. Usually we just let our lawn brown out late in the summer, but this year our shrubs and trees seem to be at risk and it’s only mid-July!
[Re: “this is what climate change looks like at the personal level,” check out Elizabeth Kolbert in this week’s New Yorker – Talk of the Town section].
Most of the basting on the Ark quilt is done. This little nursery print (above) was pulled out for auditioning, for obvious reasons. Maybe I will use a larger piece to cover the back when I am done. I’m not sure I want all the stitching to be there, on view, even though it will be against the wall. The hideous 1970’s jacket that provided the bulk of the Ark is wonderful for the suggestion of wooden construction. I am weaving up some more rectangles for the sides, and decided to introduce more of that lavender. On another front, my indigo arrived from Dharma Trading, along with some white powders. If I can stand the heat, my plan is to set up a dye station in the back yard today, under the leafy catalpa. I will string rope from deck to D.’s mini-ramp (think ‘small half pipe’) to hang fabric from, and cover a folding table with plastic so that it can stay out in all kinds of weather. A neighbor and former student (she is 16 and will be a junior this year) has agreed to be my intern for a few weeks this summer and she will be helping me – pretty great, right?!!
P.S. A garter snake traveled past me this morning while I was waiting for Jack to complete his business — remarkable enough – I haven’t seen a snake around here in a long time. But then! It slithered right between both sets of Jack’s legs, narrowly missing being plopped on. And, perhaps most remarkable of all? I don’t think Jack really noticed.
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.