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Friday, January 28, 2011

The People and the Panels!

Gathering with the Log Cabin Quilter's Guild in Hayfork, California is a sweet reunion. I have quilted in their delightful company for many years. I consider these women my home group. Many of these women are creating panels for the Walking in Love Installation. It is so very difficult to photograph white on white so here are some of the ladies with various panels under construction.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How Thoughts Scatter

A flock of nut hatches flew through yesterday morning landing on the lawn to peck at things unseen by human eye. I open the door and they all scatter, taking flight in many directions.

A door opened in my understanding late last night after receiving news that is personally devastating to me, though not anything anyone else would even see. I watched my thoughts and emotions land around the news like those birds, all flutter and action, hopping here and there, pecking away at all of the nuance. Reeling. Where to allow my heart to land? Anger? Fear? Silliness? Tears of impotence. Accept the things I can not change?

A dear friend listened to me on the phone through the storm of emotion and as emotion began to subside asked me if there was some way to keep myself busy productively, gently suggesting hand work. All at once I returned to my senses and found even more profound meaning, for myself, in this Walking In Love Installation. All of those emotions fled and calm returned in an instant. Taking a panel, working on the binding, holding thoughts/concepts of love, I am once again centered and grateful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weaverville Quilt Retreat

It was my very great pleasure to join with quilter's from Weaverville, Lewiston, Willow Creek, Redding and more yesterday in Weaverville, California. Sue Rhodes (and others!) from Textile Traditions played hostess to the gathering of over thirty quilters! The main event was a mystery quilt! The Fire Hall where they met was transformed into a cozy place with fabric, quilts hanging on the walls, an abundant table of delicious foods and of course the quilters who gathered.

I experience joy in these gatherings. Feeling the warm way long term friendships over and around sewing/quilting  ends up creating delightful play, like the Beautiful Batty Quilters from Redding, Ca who had bat wing headbands and caprons (double duty aprons which turn in to capes!) which they modeled for us! Having a demonstration from Bridget Carson to create an apron from 1929 out of one yard of fabric satisfied my desire to have an apron of some kind. I think they are such a practical invention and have been wanting to make one!

A show and tell of comfort quilts reminds me of how generous quilters are with their time and materials, thinking about those who are in need. Seeing the different projects like the earthy forest colors using recycled pants one woman made encourages my creativity. Watching the brilliant way another woman solved a problem with miscutting her chosen project for the weekend and coming up with a new design is ingenuity and more in practice.

I worked on my Bargello panel. I have been at a particularly fussy part. It required concentration. Hearing all the wonderful story telling, joking, comments, getting up to eat delicious cookies it is no wonder I had more recuts, unsews than usual. Yet it was an afternoon that I wish could have lasted longer. The company of other quilters is a place of comfort for me, the ambiance so rich in shared love for fabric, create, and each other. I am grateful for their kind invitation to visit and share the Walking in Love Installation!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Surrender to Slow

"How is your Bordeaux coming?" My daughter asks. "Do you mean Bargello?" "Oh, right, bordeaux is a chocolate?" If it were chocolate I was working with I think that I would have taken care of it in no time flat! Bargello, on the other hand, is like a slow motion dance. Particularly since I have decided to create a merging undulation. Many painstaking cuts, unsewing, resewing. But ever so slowly the pattern emerges and I find myself slowing down, no longer resisting the timing. I accept the need to cut yet another strip to make a new series of strips as I gently urge the fabrics to wave in more complexity than a single line of strips would do. The length of pieced top I can create is measured in inches every day as I work on the panel bit by bit fitting it in with my other work. I am encouraged by what is emerging!

I thought I would go crazy when I realized what I had committed to with this panel. I resisted the minute care each strip took in order to urge my design along. My dear friend sat in the room one day realizing for the first time how sometimes creating beautiful art is simply a matter of showing up and doing the next little repetitive thing. I now appreciate the way process quilting works in slow motion. My usual way is to move at a much faster pace. Easier piecing methods, fusing instead of sewing, long arm sewing machine help. But this Bargello pattern is the antidote to hurry, allowing me to take pleasure in the way that sometimes good things take a long time to develop!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Loving while Piecing

The current panel I am working on is Bargello. I saw it in a quick idea that came across my mind. One sinuous line running through the long panel. Sketched it. Poof! The design is born. So easy. Have you made a Bargello quilt before? Many long straight lines to cut, to piece. Cutting the pieced units into strips. Piecing these together to create the undulations Bargello is known for. I attempt to hold the concept of love while I am working on this and I feel slow. Aware of how I want to zoom fast in whipping out this panel. Instead I am forced to patience. Seam by slow seam watching the movement of the strips slowly reveal the design I saw in an instant. 

I wonder if love is this way. Someone enters our life. We feel the rush of recognition, attraction, knowing. The feelings that can flood our being. Whichever form of love: love interest, a friendship, a child, spiritual calling, the flood of lovely feeling does come. The slow patience necessary to continue to feed love is never far behind. 

I know this particular panel will be beautiful. I have confidence based on other Bargello experience. It is not the rush of feeling kind of panel that some of the others I made were. This quilt piece balances the rapid results style. Reminding me that love is often about doing the next little thing. However mundane or ordinary it might be. Sew the next straight seam. Little by little loveliness is born. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Infusion of Joy

Joy is the gathering of quilters to work on a project! Working on Walking in Love yesterday I met with Quilters in Hayfork and Weaverville, California. Seeing the panels they are working on is inspiring. Such creativity! Artistic beauty! It is always a joy to be in the wonderful sorority of quilters. Enthusiasm for the Walking in Love Installation, the vibrancy of other projects in the works ignites my imagination. A delightful day!

The panel I work on in honor of Katie surprises me! I decided to try creating some pierced areas. I did this to run some tubes in and around the front and back of the panels. The surprise, and I am continually surprised at how ideas bring far more than my limited view can foresee, is how light sparkled on the ground all over as it came through these holes I cut out! I am excited now to create a panel just to have these cutouts and not stuff them with anything!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What is Love when tragedy occurs?

When the heart aches and breaks wide open...when a talented and gorgeous young woman has left us due to a tragic car crash...when no sense can be made...what is love? Rain pours down above almost in response to this question and I hope it can come as balm to those who grieve the loss of Katie, my brother and sister-in-laws daughter, who died yesterday. I hope that all the good thoughts of everyone around can allow the broken hearts to be carefully tended. I  hope that Katie's two young children, Andrew and Brenna, will know the fullness of love even in epic loss. I hope that renewed forgiveness comes among all of us still here, to allow old wounds to be set aside....

I go to the white today, again. I go in honor of, in memory of Katie who courageously created such beautiful art, who lived life full on. I go and I hope that the thoughts of love that I hold, that all of us hold, can be made real and tangible to all who suffer great loss. I hope I can keep breathing and love will meet me in the art. How to live with the paradox of loss and believe that Katie is now pure light, as surely as my mother is pure light?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is Love?

I am interested in what everyone else thinks about love. How do you hold the concept or feeling of love? I wait to hear your comments. How has it been for you in while creating your panels?

I have made two panels so far for this Walking in Love Installation. Holding the idea of love has begun to be something I think about a lot. Right now I feel it as a conscious choice. A decision that is more than whatever my feeling state might try to dictate.  It is also clear to me that love is not "when the right person is around" or "when I have this or that dream" but is something that exists now. Something I can breathe into and even open to. In fact, breathing has become a focus somehow related to finding and feeling love. Is it this simple?

What does love feel like? To me it is a relaxing of the tension in my body. It is an ease in my emotions when they try to travel the familiar pathways where I would search out something to have fear or anxiety about and find lightness instead. The places where my mind would get stuck wandering around in sticky situations are dissolved. For Now. Keep breathing!

The white of the fabric, the ways in which light shimmers on silk, how dense light gathers when I lay down a lot of thread, these enchant me. I am in love with the creation of a fiber piece evolving before my eyes. It is a delight to have an object to be in love with and I also feel the transformation inside as "in love" changes from having an object for my attention to simply  a way of being with the joy that exists just because.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Vision

My mother died five years ago. I lived with her at the time of her death. Shirley was not a religious person nor was she given much to philosophizing so when I asked her "how is this for you?" (referring to dying) her response was characteristic. "I don't know, but I'll let you know when I know!" She spent her dying days living. Her home was open for visitors and pinochle players, a game she took up once hospice care was the new life. Friends from her many walks of life came often. Family surrounded her.

The night she left us I slept in her bed with her. My brothers had surrounded her with candles and we had bathed her and put rose oil on her body. Two hours before she stopped breathing I was surrounded in light. Unlike the light from a bulb or the sun, this light was shimmering with almost strand-like crystalline lines undulating and filling an area around four feet in diameter in a cylindrical sort of shape. I wasn't sure what to make of it.

I later spoke with a woman who had studied this phenomenon, She told me it was a textbook view of the life force. Some call it spirit. In any case I felt better for knowing that the incredibly beautiful vision was my mother, leaving her body. Indeed she let me know in the most elegant way I could ever imagine what dying was for her.

I have created many fiber art pieces in continued attempts to capture the image. Like many of the art pieces I end up creating I saw in a flash a three dimensional walk through piece. Conversation with two dear friends brought forth the idea of a group project.  Walking In Love Installation was born!