Monday, April 18, 2011

Handed Down and a busy weekend!

(Above: Handed Down, an art quilt. Vintage gloves, paisley wool, and card table sized cutwork tablecloth. Completely hand stitched. Click on image to enlarge.)

Although a rain storm and even threats of tornadoes tried to ruin the weekend, it was a wonderful time! I finished an entirely hand stitched art quilt, Handed Down, went to the Runaway Runway 2011 rehearsal at the Township Auditorium, and volunteered at the "Sewing Tent" during Crafty Feast. The Florestine Collection film premiered and there was a tea-party at the nearby cemetery on Sunday afternoon.

(Above: The Sewing Tent at Crafty Feast 2011. Click on image to enlarge.)

First ... the SEWING TENT! The partnership between the Crafty Feast, an "indie" street fair, and the Indie Grits Film Festival included a space for volunteers to introduce hand stitching to the public while publicizing the premier of Helen Hill's film, The Florestine Collection.

(Above: One of Helen Hill's college day friends, Ariana Anthony, who bussed down from NYC for the premier of The Florestine Collection. She is pictured checking out several of the dresses on display in the sewing tent ... and she's wearing one too! Click on image to enlarge.)

Various people donated materials and supplies ... including a great stash of vintage scraps from my neighbor Gita (Thanks!) and over two dozen vintage aprons I acquired at Bill Mishoe's auctions. There were even a few used pieces of clothing in the mix.

(Above: Jillian Owens wearing an altered dress she created in the Sewing Tent. Click on any image to enlarge. Below: Renee Rouillier, a nationally known ceramist, stitching in the sewing tent. She made and wore away a felt flower pin!)

The public was invited to take anything they wanted! The volunteers, like me, taught people how to stitch. Lots of boys and men actually learned to sew on a button! It was great fun.

(Above and below: Two of the men stitching in the sewing tent! Plus, above, Ansley Green who organized the project. Click on images to enlarge.)

All during this time, we also distributed hand-outs about the premier of the Florestine Collection that night. This 31 minute film focused on a collection of over 100 handmade dresses salvaged one Mardi Gras weekend from a rubbish pile by Helen Hill. They had been hand stitched by an elderly woman, Florestine Kinchen, who had recently passed away. Hurricane Katrina nearly ruined these dresses again ... and the in-progress film. Helen continued to work on the project. She moved back to New Orleans with her husband and toddler a year later and was untimely murdered by a home invader. Her husband had to finish the project. (I have created a Flickr set with all my photos ... including the McKissick Museum exhibit in 2008; the sewing tent; the film premier; and the cemetery tea party. Click here to access.)

(Above, left to right: Betsy Newman, another friend, Heather Spires (Director of Development at Nickelodeon Theatre), Becky Lewis (Helen Hill's mother), and me ... all wearing dresses from the Florestine Collection to the premier of the film. Click on image to enlarge.)

It was my honor to help iron and repair some of the dresses about a week ago. It was also my honor to wear one to the film's premier last Saturday night and attend a tea-party beside Helen's grave the next afternoon.

I really hope that the film, the dresses, the legacy of a brilliant film maker who saw beauty in handmade stitches finds many locations for exhibition and eventually a permanent institution to care for them.

(Above: The Runaway Runway rehearse ... in the backstage section known as "the holding area".)

So ... during the middle of sewing in the tent, I had to dash off to the Runaway Runway rehearsal. The place is ENORMOUS! The runway will be built from the stage ... straight down the middle of the "orchestra" seating area. The chairs will be arranged to face the runway. Spot lights will follow each of the 63 models as they strut their stuff.

(Above: On the stage with the auditorium beyond.)

It is all very exciting ... and more than a little scary! This fashion show of recycled garments is on Friday, April 29th. More photos to come. My entries make up a recycled bridal party: flower girl, bridesmaid, maid of honor, and a bride.

(Above: Handed Down, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Finally ... at long last I completed all the stitching on Handed Down (first photo on this post!) It has taken weeks and weeks. It also was nearly ruined at one point due to "something" greasy making an unbelievable stain. I tried to "spot clean" that area. That effort made matter much, much worse ... creating water stains. After finishing all the running stitches on the vintage table covering, I removed the red gloves and washed the work-in-progress SEVEN TIMES .... using Vasoline (as it "takes a grease" to "get a grease") ... plenty of soap and cold water ... until the stain was diminished to an acceptable point.

(Above: Handed Down, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Fortunately, nothing about this art quilt is "new" or "perfect" or "without some noticeable flaw/discoloration". This is one of the challenges and beauties about working with 100% used materials.

(Above: Handed Down, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The gloves, which were mostly purchased at Bill Mishoe's auction ... except for a few from my neighbor Gita, are stitched with family names going back nine generations. My mother was my "studio assistant" for this! She's the keeper of our family genealogy! Originally, I was going to include a list of words like "Handed Down; Generation to Generation; Family Tradition; Mothers to Daughters", etc. on the red gloves. I decided not to do this. These words are on some of the gloves instead. I even couched my name and date on one of the gloves at the bottom.

(Above: Handed Down, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

The reverse is a piece of inexpensive, machine-made lace. It is vintage ... and stained ... but allows a "peek" to the used automotive upholstery felt that was used as "batting". I'm really pleased with this piece ... and relieved that it was able to be cleaned after the greasy mishap.

One more thing! Becky and Kevin Lewis hosted a catered tea party on Sunday afternoon in Elmwood cemetery beside their daughter's grave. It was a rare privilege to attend what seemed like an old-fashioned custom from the 1930s.

Quilts were spread on the lawn. Fresh daisies were placed by the porcelain picture on Helen's grave. Mismatched tea sets added a distinctly sweet character.

The entire idea was beautiful ... a perfect way to remember a loved one with friends. Best of all, there were sugar cookies shaped exactly like Helen's drawing of a Florestine dress ... with icing and sprinkles to create a unique, handmade piece of art, just like the real garments.



Simply lovely!

Els said...

Hi Susan, what a lovely craft / sew weekend you all had!!! But what I most adore is your "Handed down" art quilt. Great to study all the photo's enlarged (This way people faaaar away can enjoy your work too! Thank you!!)

Connie said...

I am looking forward to seeing your bridal party wear at the Runaway Runway show! I love the idea of the cemetary tea party...what a sweet way to remember a loved one!

Wanda said...

What a great weekend! Wow! Handed down is wonderful! The tent is something that I can only dream of. The cemetery quilt show, well, in some way, it's fitting. It's actually very beautiful. What a unique idea.