Category Archives: finishing

Intentional and unintentional crucifixes

This one’s intentional. Hand pieced. Seams tacked open. Only frustration? That red, white and blue fabric (which happens to be from Africa) melts under an iron. Almost ruined the piece twice.

Went to BC library this morning again where I photographed another intentional cross. This is the church that K and I were married in (not by a priest). I see crosses everywhere. 
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rusty-cross

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I was thinking about Michael Brown when I took the shot of the telephone pole yesterday (the anniversary of his death). It’s not the first time I’ve viewed the black men being slaughtered in American streets as sacrifices.

These are not casual deaths. These are not unintentional deaths.
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african-christ-deemallonIs it possible that if Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin could look down on our streets and read BLM twitter feeds and watch the various federal investigations and reports about police practices coming out (Ferguson’s earlier in the year, Baltimore’s today), they might actually think that their sacrifices were not in vain?

The recurring discovery of crosses in my quilts stems partially and almost accidentally from a tendency to design in thirds. But not exclusively. It also arises out of an enduring resonance with Catholic symbols. It turns out that the rejection of Catholic culture, rites, texts, and even the Savior himself, has not meant a wholesale rejection of its symbols. This confuses me a little but maybe there’s some sort of internal logic there, even if only as evidence of genetic memory.

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That’s me on the left on the day of my First Communion. Nana is probably pinching me. Or maybe she has just scared the shit out of me by announcing that the bees that were floating in and out of the tulips behind us would go right down my throat if I ate any more grape jelly. (This from a woman who said the Rosary at least twice a day and attended Mass every morning in Queens, NY. Imagine what she might have said or done without all that praying). Look at my sister, being such a good girl for the camera. Gawd.IMG_1405

First person shooter


Little did I know when I started a quilt based on a figure from a first person shooter video game, how ugly its relevance would become.

It began as a visual expression of the need to defend my personal boundaries. And also, a bit of a sad wondering about what our children will be doing decades from now to protect their own sacred selves. Or their access to water. Or their privacy. Or or or. The first time I used this image was in a Sketchbook Project.

This is what I think every day, many times a day: If we don’t get money out of politics, things will continue to go to shit.Does anyone else think the slide to ruin has picked up its pace? The way I see it, corporate interests are contaminating democracy more and more quickly such that we are approaching a tipping point — in a parallel rhythm to the quickening pile-up of the consequences of climate change. Needless to say, overturning Citizens United would represent only a baby step in the right direction. And Trump? I can’t watch election coverage right now.

Who are we as a nation if gun reform cannot be achieved after the Pulse massacre? If we lack the political will to ignore the money, I kinda think we’re doomed — to revolution or extinction or both. No wonder I wake up nights. And that’s not even getting near the personal turmoil that keeps me wringing my hands. No wonder I’m now stitching a saccharine cliche. Something about the key to my heart.

(Those whitish lines are made by couching two rows of floss with a fair number of stitches — I can’t wait to try Jude’s wandering running stitch, but this is not that).

Fixing a hole

Looks like Finn wants to learn how to cut strips on the bias!

 I got so many amazing suggestions on how to edge this cashmere sweater over on Facebook!!  In the end I grabbed a piece of soft wintery-looking flannel that was large enough to cut two inch strips on the bias. The grey of the flannel is silvery while the grey of the wool is a warm grey.  Not a great match, in other words.   I decided to prize completion over perfection and, anyway, it’s not so terrible.   Maybe this will inspire me to rework the necklines on two black cashmere sweaters that are languishing upstairs.

Even a used garment bought on a half price sale day is money poorly spent if you never wear it!   Later I will connect up two more squares for the Hearts for Charleston quilt — Mo’s and Nancy’s.   I was able to actually weave the edges together this time, using the new corduroy base under Mo’s square.

Poppy and Mindy

IMG_8873IMG_8898IMG_8868This may need an anchoring sleeve at bottom, but it is otherwise finished. I dyed the dragonfly sheer in the indigo vat two summers ago… the graphic slash-marked bottom fabric, too (though that first went through a bleaching). Many of the petal fabrics came from a wonderful packet sent to me by Sandy Meegan. This poppy is for her!
IMG_8870As for Mindy, just want to say that I find “The Mindy Project” hilarious. Really funny — especially for network television. Or maybe, to be fair — really funny, by any measure. Her fat jokes are funny; her race jokes are funny; her dating jokes get to be a little much, but still funny! I’m a fan.

 

trued, aligned, pressed

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Technical jargon offers specificity.  Like any vocabulary, it often resonates with multiple meanings, meanings that don’t have much to do with the task at hand.  Every time I ‘true’ a quilt top, for instance, the other senses of that word ‘true’ are present.
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Aligning a design’s intended sight lines brings deep satisfaction – perhaps satisfaction that is very tied to the processes of  ‘aligning’ and ‘righting’.  Maybe the more we recognize how much of life is beyond our control, the more satisfaction these miniscule attempts at order are (enough said! enough said!).

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The final six or seven seams of a mid-sized or large pieced quilt top require more precision than comes naturally to me.  Since I know what the pay off is here (for pinning, for cutting straight lines, for re-working the crooked), I settle into a slightly different rhythm and mindset.  In other words, I don’t mind.

‘Re-working the crooked’.  There it is again! Language that describes both the inner and the outer.   If I had to describe one inner crooked line that could use some re-working?  That strange belief that holds one person can change or fix another.

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Barn II.  The final six seams of the quilt top were machine-stitched and the seams pressed, on Monday.  I won’t go into what yesterday entailed.  On to quilting!!!

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.

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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?