Nellie"s Needles

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beyond The Rainbow

I had made this art piece in my early years of quilting. At that time my thoughts and intent were design oriented. I loved the whole process of creating it.

"Beyond the Rainbow" 1998 (31"x25")*

In 2006 it took on new meaning. My mother and several friends lived through the experience of breast cancer and this piece had evolved to reflect how their diseased breast(s) affected their lives. A cancerous breast becomes detached, or isolated, from "normal" life. It is the main focus in the center of an out of kilter personal universe. All that is happening to the treated breast is reflected not only in the life of a woman but in those who love her.

I never dreamed it would reflect my ongoing journey since that tiny shadow was found on my mammogram in early May ... that I would join the ranks, the sisterhood, of the many women who are forced to fight this battle. Nothing in any of our lives stays the same. However, big changes happen at an accelerated pace for us and our partners and families. As often as I've said, "I just want to get back to my life" there is no going back. I can only go forward ... making adjustments and reconciling to what is now ... and making art.

Here's a closeup of the focal point...

Technique: Hand-quilted, hand applique, hand embroidery and needle lace, machine pieced.
Materials: silk fabric; hand-dyed, upholstery & commercial cotton fabrics; acrylic paint; beads; mono-filament, metallic, and cotton thread; polyester batting

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breast Pockets

These are my contributions to Melanie Testa's "Breast Pocket Project"

Melanie's goal is to collect 1000 pockets for this project to raise awareness for those of us who decide against reconstructing our bodies. This all began with a challenge from a reporter, "If you can get 1000 pockets, contact me, we will try to do a story."

My pockets are made from fabric that was trimmed from a garment I reconstructed to wear for my debut "as just me" when I was a featured artist for Gallery Stroll weekend at Good Good's Gallery in Saugatuck, Michigan recently. There were several compliments about what I was wearing. I doubt my lack of breasts was noticed ... even my husband didn't take, nor make note, of it.

Standing next to two of the Orange/Gray series pieces
"After the Storm"
"At the Break of Day"

The patchwork of that fabric which I cut off-grain represents the skewed journey through the experience of having and being treated for cancer. I made this one fastened with an old brass button with "1" imprinted on it especially for Melanie ...

Each of these has the name of my friends as well as my mother, sister, and myself written on the back. I've also slipped a note inside the pocket ... a message of hope and well being sent out into the universe for each of us.

Melanie wrote an interesting article about "living as a flat chested woman after breast cancer." The link is here.

My cyber friend, Gail, has honored me by making 2 pockets with my name on them. Go to her blog, Expression Studio, to see them and read her wonderful post. The pocket I made for her is the one in the lower left corner of the photo above of all the pockets.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Quilting Finished

This is the quilt for which the set up in my previous post was rigged ...

It's composed of blocks made from my larger scraps. I construct those when I'm between projects or stuck trying to figure out what to do next on an art piece. Seeing these small pieces come to together and noting juxtapositions of colors and shapes has on occasion jostled ideas to give me direction to solve bigger problems.

I had sewn and cut all the elements for this quilt before I left Tennessee in May.

 It was a matter of finding time ... and inclination to get it all together.

 Here's the backside ...

It was gifted to a friend who recently became a first-time grandmother ... a quilt to be used, enjoyed, and explored at her house by this grandchild, as well as those in her future.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Quilting Set-up

As I've written before, my Studio North at the cottage is hardly more than a big hallway. I'm grateful to have a designated space to work, but it takes creative thinking to get it to work. Here's my "Rube Goldberg- like"set-up for machine quilting a large project ...
I just keep stacking stuff ... storage containers, boxes, even mounted canvas frames ... to fill in the space making it fairly level with no sharp edges for a quilt to get hung up. I need a cushion on my chair to raise my elbows to that working level height.

The quilt for which all this was set up is one of my scrap block ones.

 All the elements had been cut and the quilt designed back in my Tennessee studio earlier in the year ... just waiting for an opportunity and the inclination to get it all together.

The best thing about this studio is the view of Lake Michigan out that wall of windows. However, there's no working in the late afternoon when the sun gets low over the lake. Not even a hat, nor sunglasses, makes the glare possible to work there.