Thursday, July 30, 2020

I Like #174

My nephew Alex has been with me this week and it's been lots of fun!  I love him and his sister so much, and it's always great when they can come and stay with me. We're just staying in, but we've been playing board games and growing crystals, and tonight we're going to watch Harry Potter. Here he is with an ice cream bar sitting with one of the plants I rescued from the clearance bin a couple weeks ago.  It's blooming now so yay!

Love the pups!  They're doing well,  I took them down to Dallas this last weekend when I went to get Alex, so Blue had tons of fun playing with his cousin Auto.

While in Dallas, I helped my sister make this cool utensil caddy for her home school room!

And visited the sweet rats Cotton and Puffy.

Alex and I got a kick out of these geese,  traffic was stopped to wait for them to cross the road.  I like geese fine from inside the car.

The dahlias are going along well,  this coral one really exploded this week as we've finally had a bunch of rain.

And I was thrilled to see a new dahlia popping up in one of the pots where the storm killed my big beautiful one.  So cool.


I blogged this week about a project I finished in June that was inspired by my experience at home during COVID-19.  Of course we're still in it, so I don't have any overall reflections yet, but you should check out the quilt here

I hope everyone is staying healthy! Click over to LeeAnna's for more things to like!

Monday, July 27, 2020

New Quilt: You will be in the midst of them.

Through this spring and summer I've been meditating on my quarantine experience and how to express at least some of that experience in my quilts. I live alone, and in common with many people for a lot of this spring my only interaction with people was through zoom meetings!

My family in particular has kept me connected, meeting twice a week for celebration of the Episcopal liturgies of  Morning and Evening Prayer and at other times in between for games and conversation.  For those who may not be familiar, the Episcopal daily office liturgies are short prayer services designed to be led by lay people rather than clergy.  They include prayers, psalms, and other Bible readings.  Quite a bit of the service is communal or responsive prayer and the joining of multiple voices (even over zoom) gives me a shared sense of community.  

With a few occasional additions or absences, we were 8 zoom, screens.  My grandma, my Aunt Susan and Uncle Kenny, my sister and her family (on 2 screens), my parents (on 2 screens), my Aunt Janet, and me.  We're spread across four states and 6 households. On Sundays, my 8 year old niece typically reads our Bible lesson from the Old Testament and my 6 year old nephew led us in responsive reading of the Psalm.  Hearing their voices through the computer (and those of other family reading the other lesson) was a source of strength for me. 

In any case, my mind kept coming back to the idea of connections, of our virtual connections keeping me grounded even in the absence of in-person interactions. The idea of a tree connecting us and its roots keeping us grounded really spoke to me.  Our June call for our 4 Common Corners art quilt group was "Wisdom of Trees" so it seemed fitting.

I started with eight different fabrics to represent the 8 zoom screens: silks, polyesters, a piece of some old polka dot pajamas, and other miscellaneous weird things.  On each panel, I wrote the prayer of St. Chrysostom, the prayer with which we close our services.  Its line "and you have promised...that when two or three are gathered together in his name, you will be in the midst of them" has turned into a mantra for me as I continue to move forward in this chaotic time.  

I cut a tree silhouette out of tablecloth vinyl and used it for the wet sunprinting/painting method that Betty Busby uses.  Basically you get your fabric wet, paint it, and then lay down the vinyl.  When you set it in the sun to dry, the areas outside the vinyl dry faster so the color wicks out from underneath the vinyl and you wind up with a cool printed silhouette.  I used paint pens and other pens to accent the shapes and then layered and did initial quilting on each panel separately. 

Then the squares were trimmed to size.  The panels were laid out over several strips of water soluble interfacing and then the quilting was completed.  The edges are finished with couched yarn and then the quilt was soaked to remove the stabilizer.  This results in a quilt with eight separate panels held together quite strongly by apparently tenuous threads of quilting.

Here's the whole thing.  It came out how I imagined.  

My family member's names are quilted into the blocks, indelibly imprinted into the fabric of the piece.  Here are a couple examples,  Aunt Janet and Grandma, but they are all there if you look closely enough.

One interesting outcome, there is one block, the third down on the right, which doesn't appear to have the prayer written on it.  Interestingly, this was the block I chose for "me"; the fabric was pale pink, and I used a fantastic neon pink paint pen to write the prayer.  You can see it pretty clearly in the very top picture.  However, after the paint had dried and I was done quilting, you can hardly see any of the writing on this block!  It's the first time I've ever made something neon pink that has completely receded into the background.

Have you guys been incorporating your quarantine experience into your art?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I Like #173

Welcome to another week of things to like, and another week of staying at home!

Here is this week's obligatory dahlia picture.  A lot of the dahlias are barely limping along (too hot, too much sun this time of the summer), but this one gets more shade than a lot of others so it's still doing great.

The zinnias have pretty blooms, but they have the dratted white leaf fungus again.

Here's this week's Blue-is-weird picture,  he sat like this for quite a while the other day,  can't believe his hips don't hurt, but whatever.  

Bentley is as snuggly (and drooly) as ever.

My number of work zooms has gone up tremendously this week, and they are really hard on my neck and back, too much sitting bent over the laptop, so I was glad the weather was cool enough (mid 90s) for me to take a short walk around campus after a particularly lengthy zoom this week.  The reflecting pool at the center of our pedestrian parkway is really pretty, although it is broken quite a lot.

I finally got around to making a block for Lea McComas' Border Wall Quilt Project this week.  It's a community art project in which blocks expressing a wide range of diverse opinions about immigration and the border are expressed.  If you want to know more information, you can check it out here.  The project has been going on for a couple of years, but the last time I emailed her (in June) she still needed some more blocks to complete the current panel (the blocks are assembled into larger panels for display), so if you're interested in participating, check it out.  This is my block.  In my view, immigrants are good for our country and I don't think we've been doing the right thing the last few years.  Incidentally, the gold background fabric in my block was from a curtain I made out of fabric I bought when I was in Spain but didn't need anymore.  I've since used it in lots of things, and I love the gold on gold woven background pattern.  This is just about the last bit left.

I've been making fairly good progress on my current knitting project while on zoom meetings.  I'm about 3/4 through with this lacy shawl.  It's hard to see here, but should be pretty once it's finished and blocked.

 I also blogged this week about my embroidered prayer book cover,  it was such a great project to work on during these months of being at home. You can check it out here.

This weekend I had to make a rare grocery store trip and I was pleased to see almost everyone wearing a mask (in stark contrast to my last shopping trip two weeks ago).  Hopefully this means there's hope going forward!

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.  Click over to Lee Anna's for more things to like! 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Embroidered Prayer Book Cover

A couple of years ago I decided my prayer book hymnal really needed a cover.  It's my every Sunday prayer book with all our services and hymns so it gets quite a bit of use.  And it's always been a bit fragile ever since Bullett ate it when he was a puppy.  A bookbinder friend repaired it for me but there was nothing to be done about the missing pieces of binding.  Anyway, I decided to do an embroidered cover for it.  The background fabric is a navy blue satin weave fabric that has a nice subtly turquoise iridescence in person. 

I was inspired by the voided monograms over on Needle n Thread (my favorite embroidery blog).  I marked out some faint outlines and started stitching!   It's all worked in standard cotton embroidery floss, mostly with two strands at a time.  

I hadn't really been working on it for several months, but during the stay-at-home orders this spring, I worked on it through many many zoom meetings, so I was able to make lots of progress.

The embroidery wraps around the back, mostly flowers and vines and leaves, but a there are a few small butterflies and dragon flies, as well as a slightly larger bird and mouse.

This is the completed embroidery.  The words around the edge come from one of our Eucharistic prayers and are meaningful to me.

Here's a close up of the bird.  He's pretty small, about 2.25" long.  My shading could use some improvement, but I think he came out cute!

The mouse is about the same size.  I was using all stash thread, so didn't have quite as many colors for the shading as I'd have liked but cute all the same!

And here it is turned into the book cover.  The Chi Rho isn't quite centered on the front, I actually think that element was a bit too big overall, but otherwise I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  Of course, now I have an embroidered prayer book cover with many many many hours of embroidery-  in retrospect probably not the best choice for such an oft used book that goes in and out of my choir bag with such regularity, but it makes me happy to have something so pretty to cover such an important book.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

I Like #172

Welcome to another week of things to like.  This week for me was mostly a getting-back-to-the-routine week, going to work and going back home.  Our COVID cases are spiking here (as in many places), but I don't mind staying home so its ok with me.  I continue to be flabbergasted by resistance to common protective measures like masking and social distancing, around here, but I think people are slowly (too slowly) getting better about it.

I really liked these balls on the trees outside my lab building.  I have no idea what they are, but they have really cool shape and texture.

I haven't felt particularly motivated or inspired to work on any big art quilt projects (I need to start something new and am struggling) but I've been working away on smaller projects, including these embroideries for the summer reading and stitching club being organized by Mollie Johanson of Wild Olive.  

Each week the embroidery is inspired by a classic children's book.  This week I stitched this one (inspired by the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) which prompted me last night to get out and re-read the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia.

And I stitched this one, inspired by the book "All of a Kind Family".  This was the only book so far I hadn't read as a kid, so I checked out the audiobook from the library.  It turned out to be super charming!  It's about a Jewish family with five daughters living in New York City in the early 1900s.  There are five I think, and thus far I have listened to two of them.  They have something of the same style as Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables, except for the city setting.  They're pretty short, but I've been enjoying them.

My mom brought me these vinyl decals when she was out a couple of weeks ago; they were quite old, I think they were from my uncle who probably got them to put on his nursery or something.  But apart from a few discolored areas, they were still fine! I stuck them on the outside of my studio building and they add some more color.  They're right next to all my flower beds, it's my favorite part of the yard.

We had terrible terrible thunderstorms this week and several of my dahlias got completely broken, but there are quire a few that made it through, so I gathered up another bunch of dahlia blossoms and took them to one of our admins at work.

This week I blogged about the current state of my liturgical quilt series,  it was really cool to see the progress all in one place.  You can check it out here.  This quilt is an older one from that series.

The pups are doing fine, just no new pictures of them this week.  I did find out what those weird black cup things were in my flower bed, apparently they're birds nest fungus, and grow on decomposing organic matter.  Mystery solved!

I hope everyone is staying safe this week, click on over to Lee Anna's for more things to like!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Liturgical Series

I've been working on a series of quilts inspired by the style of illuminated manuscripts featuring the parts of the Episcopal liturgy, and in particular the service of Holy Eucharist since about 2012.  I'm a cradle Episcopalian, and the rites of the church are a source of great strength and meaning for me.  I'm nowhere near finished with the series, but I think I'm about halfway through so it seemed like a good time for a formal post and stock taking.The service of Holy Eucharist has lots of parts, and of course you can always keep adding, but this is my current vision.

The order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist has the following main parts with lots of subparts in the traditional rites we commonly use.

Gather in the Lord's Name
There is an opening acclamation and then a song of praise or Gloria.  My piece for this section features the text of the Gloria Patri (Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever).  That text isn't actual in the typical Sunday Eucharist celebration, but is in all of the daily offices (e.g. morning prayer, evening prayer, compline) and fits the theme.
Gloria Patri, 2015, 31" x 35"

Proclaim and Respond to the Word of God
This usually involves an Old Testament reading, a reading from the Psalms, a New Testament reading and a Gospel reading.

So far I have a piece depicting one of my favorite passages from Psalms (Psalm 121) as well as a common acclamation that often preceded prayers or Bible passages in illuminated manuscripts.

in Nomine Patris, 2013, 29" x 24"

This next piece isn't technically part of the series, it's just a Christmas quilt I made.  I included it since it is in fact from the Gospel.  However, I'll likely do at least one more here for the Gospel,  probably based on the first part of the Gospel of John (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.)

Rejoice, Rejoice, 2012, 39" x 39"

Following the sermon, the congregation recites the Nicene Creed, a statement of faith highlighting the holy trinity.  I just finished this quilt most recently.

I Believe, 2020, 61" x 40"

Pray for the World and the Church
The Universal Church, its members, and its mission, the Nation and all in authority, the welfare of the world, the concerns of the local community, those who suffer and those in any trouble, and the departed.  I still need to do a piece for this section.

This section is followed by the confession of sin.  The piece I made for this section was a little different than the others, I wanted to incorporate my own handwriting as it was such a personal prayer.  Unfortunately, I later sold this piece.  It sold to an Episcopal Cathedral in California so I know it has a good home, but I regret not having kept it so the series could live together.  I may make another one for the confession and I may not.

Confession, 2017, 38" x 38"

Exchange the Peace
This is such an important part of the service.  In practice it feels just like a time to greet everyone, shake hands or hug (or not anymore), but I think it's an overall representation of the breadth of our community throughout the world.  I made this piece which says "Peace be with you (the greeting) And also with you (the response)".  This design was inspired by some beautiful Arabic calligraphy.
Peace Be With You, 2015, 50" x 48"

This is the time when the collection basket is passed, but also a time to meditate on other ways to serve the community.  It's also the time in the service when the choir sings a choral anthem, and music is such an important part of worship for me that I'll definitely make a piece here.

Prepare the Table and Make the Eucharist
The Eucharistic prayers and the Great Thanksgiving are the prayers that are involved in preparing for Holy Communion.  There are several different versions, and my favorite is the "sci-fi" version,  "At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home."  My piece for this section was inspired by evolution, beginning with the galaxies and suns and planets and working around the borders through the evolution of life on earth, and ending with Darwin's finches in my own garden of Eden with favorite scientists in the initials.

Eucharistic Prayer C: Convergence, 2016, 45" x 60"

The Great Thanksgiving is followed by the Lord's Prayer, and my piece for this section features a musical setting composed by my beloved friend Linda Kelly.

Our Father, 2019, 73" x 53"

Break Bread
I still need to make a piece for this section of Communion.

The service ends with a post-communion prayer, blessing, and dismissal.  I'm in the process of designing a quilt based on the prayer of St. Chrysostom which will probably be the closing piece here.