Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Bit of a Slog

That's how it's been for me -- least-wise, in the sewdio -- since I touched base with you shortly after the 19th Annual Lacombe Art Show & Sale.

Thinking about this, I realize that there were a variety of things at play.

First, there's the "morning after" thing.  You know -- as in "the day after Christmas" or "the day after the wedding" or "the day after the grad party" other words, the day after whatever celebration you might name.  "The party's over" and life goes on as usual.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, get my drift.

The 2018 Lacombe Art Show was over.  The excitement of it all was over for another year.  Now what?

"Now what" for me this year is two-fold.  There's the Camrose Art Walk, which for me and my friend and colleague, Mary Wilton, will be July 23 through September 5, an exhibit of our "Inspired by Scotland" pieces -- but first there was this rather large piece I was determined to finish for a Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Call for Entry that has a deadline of 9:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on May 31.   Yep.  Tomorrow.

Enter the Second "Thing":  the Return of the Voices.  Those are the ones that start on you at the beginning of a major project and don't let up until it's either a) tossed aside in despair or b) FINISHED.

The prelude to this Call began long before the actual Entry opened (this is quite normal), so I've been pondering it a while.  Months, in fact.  Unique to this Call (at least, in my experience) is that those who are accepted have to include an Artist's Journal that documents the exploration of the theme, Season After Season.

The first entry in mine is dated January 7, 2018, but the pondering began long before.

In early December, in Advent, I attended a concert featuring British poet-priest, Malcolm Guite, and Canadian singer-song-writer, Steve Bell, both Christians who worship in the Anglican tradition.

I'd bought Malcolm's book, Sounding the Seasons -- and a CD of the same name that has him reading the poems aloud -- with some birthday gift $$ in the fall, and was following his lovely sonnets through the celebration of the church year.  In the photo above you can see on the right that I set up a journal to get me into the 'groove'.

The journal sat that way for a while -- till after Christmas and that first entry, when I began making notes about what I wanted to say in this piece.  I'd printed out an illustration of the liturgical year in colour:

I thought about doing the illustration as a Tree of Life -- which is an important multicultural/spiritual symbol...

Photo of a wonderful tree
on the edge of a property near
Cranna Lake, Lacombe, AB, Canada

I didn't use it...but I love that tree shape and it will likely appear in future work!

It took from the third week in January to the end of February to realize I'd been over-thinking the project (ever do that, any of you, Gentle Readers? 😉)

I began to move into production by selecting fabric strips in the colours of the liturgical calendar:

Yes, you see 'chunks' of fabrics there -- most fat quarters or at most, 1/2 metre (about 19" long, 42" wide).  The rest?  Strips and scraps.

I decided to create the piece in rectangular blocks using "string piecing".  Why?  My main source of paper for the blocks is the Red Deer phone book from a couple years back -- and they make beautiful blocks that are 6 1/2" W x 8 1/2" L.  The Call required the piece to be 30" x 72" (at minimum) -- 5 x 9 blocks.  Perfect!

I wanted to show the flow of "Season After Season" by running the colourful seasons together from top to bottom, beginning with Advent (once 'purple' but now 'blue'), moving into Lent (purple), Pentecost (red) and Ordinary Time (green) -- leaving the white (Christmas/Epiphany and Easter/Ascension) aside for the time being:

Example: blues into purples
Colours after colours on the design wall

Now...what about the white?  I wanted it to be balanced against the other colours...

This is where I get to the "given to me" part that occurs in much of my work.  I was "given" a "picture" in my mind (and heart) that was a star...and a cross, which I first drew out in my 'Artist's Journal'.  In fact, I had to draw it out more than once because the first time my "to scale" drawing had six blocks across, not five!

The Cruciform Star

I did this by creating the white string-pieced blocks and attaching them onto the back of the piece...and cutting away the front...

First cut...

Cut open and prepped for needle-turn applique

But then, as I moved further in...I found a spot (or two!) where some of the fray-friendly fabrics were coming apart at the seams! The "Voices" had taken another tack to stymie the process!  😉

How to fix?!  I used a light-weight fabric and MistyFuse (R) to patch it here...

And here...

Not once, but twice!

But can you tell (photo taken before layering, quilting and needle-turn applique)?

And so it went!

Eventually I got all those edges turned under and appliqued.  I quilted it very simply (I'm not a proponent of dense quilting, especially with the multiplicity of seams in string piecing).

Layering batting on batting with 505 Basting Spray
outside on my back stoop. 

Now adding the top to the quilt sandwich

Simple quilting in the ditch and at right angles to it.

Then I began to second-guess myself.  The weekend of the Royal Wedding (for which I got up before 5 a.m. to watch - I'm a Canadian of Anglo heritage, after all!) I got this notion that perhaps a vine was in "You are the branches; I am the vine." (referring to John 15:15)

Ummmm...maybe not so much.

Clearing that off, I applied a narrow black border, as well as a label (which might have to be editted because it doesn't include my address, but I'll wait for the outcome first).

By this time it was Monday, May 28 and the Call for Entry deadline - May 31 -- was looming.

It took me some time to set up a spot in my home to photograph this piece, because I live in 1,050 square feet with skimpy wall space.  I am not a camera 'buff' -- I own a Canon Sure Shot that is undoubtedly smarter than I.  I usually rely on my talented daughter to photograph my work for important entries, but there was no time to do that this time around.

I wrote a friend and colleague for advice...but she was busy too (no surprise there!) and didn't get back to me for hours.

In the end, afraid that if I waited I'd lose my nerve, here's what I sent in:

Incarnation to Resurrection:
Reflections on the Colours of the Church Year
30" W x 72" L (C) 2018

Incarnation to Resurrection (Detail)

And from my Artist's Statement:
The full title of this piece is "Incarnation to Resurrection: Reflections on the Colours of the Church Year". Growing up in the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church, I've long been attracted to worshiping through the liturgical seasons, and was inspired by this theme of "Season After Season" to create a piece in the colours used to express them. I chose to use scraps in the appropriate colours and to create a 'cruciform star' as a symbol of the highest Christian holidays -- Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and Ascension. As one season flows into another, so do the colours of this quilt -- from blue in Advent, through purple (Lent) to red (Pentecost) and green (Ordinary Time). The diversity of fabrics reflects the varieties of worship expressions found in the Anglican tradition, while the black binding is for Christianity's most solemn day -- Good Friday.
I got back to my colleague and wrote, "Let the chips fall where they may".

Yesterday I worked in The Shop.  We're moving.  That's a story unto itself!

Today?  I cleaned house, and reset my mind for a new project.  I have five (5!) pieces to make for the above-mentioned Camrose Art Walk.

I start Friday.

Meanwhile, I'm linking this to WIP Wednesday over on The Needle and Thread Network, as well as Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- and wishing you all a lovely rest of the week!

P.S. If you follow the liturgical calendar...



Bethany Garner said...

Thank you for sharing. What a great story and I am excited to see the finish line met and the artwork photographs sent. And Marg, it is beautiful, meaningful in your life and will be for others. For me, it is the spiritual links and their relationship to the calendar of seasons. Be proud - well done! Patience counts as you await the jurying. I would love to see this piece travel to points around the world and starting with Houston!

Kate said...

When you started adding the vines, I screamed (in my heart) Nooooo. I am so glad you agreed. Your piece is stunning.

Sha said...

Very powerful piece. You, your muse and 'the voice' make a good team.

Norma Schlager said...

Beautiful work and I liked seeing your thought process.

Gina said...

What a lovely piece! I am reminded of the intricate, richly-coloured tapestries of St. James that I would always admire from the pews.

Martha Ginn said...

Wonderful post, Margaret! I read it after you posted on the SAQA list that your piece had been accepted into the Season After Season exhibit. I live in the South and belong to a rather non-traditional Baptist church that does follow the liturgical year. We have two co-pastors, one a female who has just earned her doctorate. You have creatively depicted the beautiful colors of the year and infused it with meaning.

Unknown said...

Gosh, Margaret, you DO push yourself HARD !!! That IS a good thing but sometimes, I think a change is good. I find a dig in the garden, a cuppa out at Timmy’s... that sort of thing or JUST A WHOLE DAY OFF really helps! As I have switched to watercolour now, I also find looking at other artists' websites is inspiring, motivating. I am always motivated by YOUR blog😊
I REALLY like the panel you have made. The colours are great. The design is simple but excellent and the cruciform Centre of Interest is a major coup? Well done you! Take some time for yourself now and return rested and ready to Rock and Roll!!!!