TextileArtist.org‘s sixth workshop was hosted by Mandy Pattulo. Man, when I saw this workshop coming up, my heart went immediately aflutter. I think one of the reasons I am so drawn to this workshop is that it really is solely focused on composition then color and texture, and composition (and color and texture) is a factor that I love from scrapbooking to drawing to crazy quilting. It is the first thing – beyond color or theme of design – that catches my eye. Followed next by texture, and then color. Our task was to create a concertina book (a book that unfolds into one long strip) using fabric scraps and a wee bit of embroidery accents. I went above and beyond this, and stayed up til 4am once in a “can’t stop – won’t stop!” flurry of creativity with copious amounts of embellishments, some dug out from my scrapbook supplies.
Because I had been behind in workshops, I had plenty of time to let this one percolate in my subconscious before actually getting to it. I’m not sure how I arrived at the idea, but it became a textile representation of my family in order of age: Boy, me, Maya, and our dearly beloved Sasha who didn’t get to see it through. Each spread is like a mixed media mood board for the family member.
The back cover fabric of reds and creams represents our house (hmm someday I should post an update of our progress with that, huh?). [I blurred out our names for privacy.]
The front cover is a slip of fabric that I bought to make skull pillows, but I just love the energy and mix of colors. I only lightly embellished it with orange stitching, and added a “made with love” charm, since the book was a work of love and also represented the love in my family.
Since it sort of represented my household, too, I added a “lock” as if this were the door into my family. To hold it together, I used a specialty twine, which ends in a key that slips into the lock! How clever! I had these in my scrapping supplies.
Boy gets the first spread. Out of my stash, how could I best represent him? Well, his favorite color is green. He wears a lot of black. Brown for ruggedness. He is by no means a cowboy in the traditional sense, but he’d fit right in on the great frontier; he comes up with his own methods and doesn’t care what others say, and overall he has a wild west personality, matched with a strong work ethic and no-nonsense high morals.
I am not sure where the eagle patch comes from, but I felt it elicits pride and strength and honor. A “V” bead for a namesake. A rock, simply because there’s a story about when he was young and weighing down his shorts all the time with collections of rocks, ha! A sheild – he like’s medieval stuff. The wooden button, for honesty and integrity.
He’s a kid at heart, hence the toy plane. He can appreciate the finer things in life, shown in the fancy swatch of fabric.
He’s a tech wizard, so I tried to achieve that aspect a little with the black cubes and hexagon beads.
My spread may be second, but I made it last. Wow, trying to make a portrait of yourself, a textural fiber art mood board of your own personality – well that is no easy task! People who know me say I hit it on the head, so I guess I managed ok. If I thought in terms of what I like, of course I liked everything I put in the book. No, I had to go deeper into my psyche. I like simple things; I like pretty things; I like quirky things. These ideas sort of laid out which fabric swatches I’d choose for myself.
I love nature, so I made a little garden in the corner. I like precious things, so I added some old jewelry. A cat, because I accept that I am forever a cat person. A star, for I love the shape and the starry sky.
I’m not sure how obvious it will be once I say this, but this spread is where the color palette came from for the new design here at a case of the Crafties! I am a sucker for peachy coral pinky goodness, with some toned down browns, and the pop of blue and mint here really tugged at my heartstrings! And now you know.
As those of you who know my dental anthropology background will already know, I also like teeth so I had to add a little tooth button! The lacey doily is very old and came from an antique sleeve my gramma gave me. The little “rug” with the floral design came from my trip to Africa last year to which I added the little pink trim at the bottom. I bought a swath of cloth with this design and handed out cuts to guild members who participated in my first teaching project (based on Shawkl’s BCQC 1 block, with Kathy‘s permission).
Maya is our little sweet princess cat. She is one of those cats that are the gentlest, softest, most-malleable little kitties – but also the best mouser (til she started going deaf with her age); the cat that can entertain herself for ages with a twisty-tie from a loaf of bread (still!); and the cat with a surprisingly goofy side. She’s a lovely little lady, correct in manners, and very calm. When I was little, I wished my squishy toys would come alive – well Maya is as close to a living doll as you can get! I chose soft fabrics with much glitter and sparkle for her. Pretty pastels, and an overall calm sort of feel.
We tease her that she is a bunny in a cat suit with her big toes and docile manner! I swear, sometimes she is nothing but legs and feet. Anyway, that’s why there’s a bunny charm.
The little felt animal with a bow in its hair at the bottom is cut off for a reason. Maya is so quiet, she can just suddenly appear, looking at you with the rest of her cut off from view just like that piece of felt, from behind your laptop, or the book you are reading. (We wonder if she can, in fact, teleport.) She also likes to sit just outside a door, lurking in the shadows staring at you. Yep, she’s a weirdo!
You may recognize the cat fabric from a zippered bag I made long ago – here I stitched the outlines. I also added a bead necklace and a little floral bow (an old earring of mine) to enhance her girlish daintiness. If Maya could choose to wear jewelry, it would all be very prim and sweet.
When I began this book, I wasn’t yet ready to start thinking of my household as having only three members, which is why our departed Sasha gets a spread. Because Maya and Sasha were always “twinsies” and were in fact biologically half-sisters (and Maya actually raised Sasha), I wanted to connect them together in that way, which is why some elements repeat here. Sasha was the spirit of the house – so much energy, a big personality, and OH, such a clown! I represented that in the bright contrast of colors.
My gramma gave me a set of pillow cases with these cats embroidered on them. Every time I stayed at her house I would spend quite a lot of time online looking for the pattern, but always came up empty. When I finally mentioned that to her, that I wanted to borrow one to copy its pattern, she told me I could keep them. Well, I used them until one finally fell apart! I abhored the idea of cutting into it, but once done, I was in love with adding it to the book. And I am normally not a sentimental “my special little girl” type of person, but since she recently passed, I had all the emotions.
If you look closely, you will see an evil eye charm. This came from a package I won from Turkey, I believe, a long time ago – a set of lovely crocheted fingerless gloves! I tried to dig up the post but I guess I never wrote about it? Seems unlike me, but I did win them, I think, when I was in grad school, so that probably explains it (and I still use them when I am cold at the office!). Anyway, evil eyes are meant to keep watch out and scare evil away. I like to believe that Sasha is still roaming the house, sending us love and happies from the spirit world.
I used a teddy bear charm from a bracelet I had when little because I always called her poobear (as in, stinky poo – she was a tooter!). I really like how the bright blue contrasts with the pinks and purples.
That little swatch of fabric with the juggling clown is there for a reason beyond a simple reference to clowns. It belonged to a baby blanket used when I was a baby and became part of the set of blankets we used to cover the cat bed. When Sasha died, it was important that she was bundled in love and familiar comfort so that blanket became her burial shroud. I took a corner off first, so in weak times we could feel like we were still connected (incidentally, as a bioarchaeologist I have read plenty on worldwide cultural practices of death and burial, so I organized a “guide” exactly to satisfy our needs, and this was one part). This blanket was chosen from among the others because of those little clowns. And a tied bow charm, because I will always remember her.
And the whole thing, when unfolded (click here to see it larger):
I found this project so fulfilling, to turn my stash into fiber art mood boards. I also love mixing in my scrapbooking supplies with my embroidery stuff – I suppose I enjoy mixed media. And did I mention composition? The act of arranging items is very pleasing to me. I use to want to be a graphic design artist so I could layout magazine spreads.
Plus, making Sasha’s spread fell at just the right time, where I could start turning the philosophical page away from mourning and onto moving on. All these reasons and more are why this project by far has been my favorite.