Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Til Death Do Us Part
(Above: Til Death Do Us Part, in progress, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)
Ten months ago I joined a national group called CLAWS (Crossing the Line: Artists at Work). Membership is limited to just twenty art quilters. Every six months each member creates a 24" x 18" art quilt in response to a theme. Karen Musgrave heads up this group and is seeking traveling exhibition opportunities for the work. Our first deadline was August 15th. The theme/title was: Women Who Broke All the Rules. I stitched a portrait of Skirt! Magazine founder and editor Nikki Hardin. The next deadline is coming up: February 15th. I hate looming deadlines, the "last minute" feeling, and the anxiety of time slipping away. I love working in advance. I especially loved the new theme (social issues) and the new title (Art Can't Hurt You).
(Above: Til Death Do Us Part, in progress. Click on image to enlarge.)
My social issue: Same gender marriage! I knew from that start that I wanted to use a REAL gay pride flag ... not just strips of color-correct material. I went to google for help and learned that there is a standard/universal size for flags. It is NOT 24" in height! Most flags are 3' x 5'. Finally, I found one site that had 2' x 3', sewn, nylon "Old Glory"/Rainbow flag for just $7.50. When I went to order it, however, I accidentally clicked the wrong button ... and received the "Rainbow and Stars", 3' x 5' screen printed flag instead. I re-ordered ... basically spending more on shipping than on flags ... TWICE! Oh well! The second flag was PERFECT. I used the first one for the art quilt's reverse ... navy background with fifty white stars ... just like the US flag!
(Above: Til Death Do Us Part, in progress with pieces of polyester stretch velvet. Click on image to enlarge.)
The gay pride flag background is machine stitched to recycled, white acrylic felt with dense lines of rainbow colored threads. In the meantime, I asked a few friends and neighbors for their left hand print and anniversary date. Sure, none of these marriages are legal here in South Carolina ... but the vows, the occasion, the commitment are every bit the same! Why a "left hand"? That's where married people wear their wedding rings! Almost every hand print I received had a "bump" on both sides of the fourth finger. I stitched matching arrangements of beads on each couple's hands ... symbolic rings.
(Above: My studio floor ... covered in a selection of polyester stretch velvet ... all with WonderUnder already ironed to the back. This is my "stash" for creating faux-stained glass windows, something on which I've been working for the past few weeks.)
At first I was stumped by color choices for the hand prints. I thought about "flesh tones" ... but what, exactly, is "flesh toned"? Too many options! Then I looked at my studio floor. My palette of polyester stretch velvets are still all over the place. All the perfect colors were right there! I traced the hand prints, cut them out, and ironed/fused them in place. That is also how the blue heart with yellow equal symbol was made. (This equality sign was developed by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer political activist organization in the United States and widely known as a logo promoting equal rights for glbtq people.)
(Above: Til Death Do Us Part, in progress with hands cut from polyester stretch velvet ... laying in place ... ready to be ironed/fused to the gay pride flag background. Click on image to enlarge.)
Until this piece, I had only read about "fusing" shapes as a design option for art quilts. It works! I zigzag stitched around everything ... and it was then ready to embroider! This was fun and easy!
(Above: Til Death Do Us Part, in progress, ready for hand stitching and with the original flag "header"/binding with grommets. Click on image to enlarge.)
I also carefully used my neglected seam ripper to remove the flag's header. (That's the "official" name of the heavy fabric that is bound to the side of a flag. It includes the grommets for attaching the flag to a pole!) I hand stitched the following on the header: For Richer Or Poorer. In Sickness or Health. Til Death Do Us Part. On each hand print, I stitched the participants first name. Their anniversary dates were also embroidered near each couple. The dates range from within a year back to Thanksgiving 1980.
Unfortunately, I cannot share more images. Why? Well, the CLAWS group allows members to blog about the group, the issues/themes, and the design process ... but not to share images of the finished piece. I've personally NEVER understood this strange thinking. For me, the more exposure ... the BETTER. The more images on the Internet ... the more likely more people will want to see the exhibits! In the art quilt world, however, this isn't the thinking. Instead, I've been told, "We want some suspense and to pique interest" ... like a "teaser".
I wish I could share the finished images! I really like this piece and hope people will want to see the whole thing!
(I generally share most blog post on Facebook. This particular post resonated with my cousin Monika in California. Facebook really brought us back into contact with one another after decades without any correspondence. Anyway, an insightful Internet conversation took place ... one I'd like to remember ... in association with the artwork that sparked our interesting words. So ... I've copied and pasted it to the comments here. It took three comments to include all the words! Who knew that blog comments were limited to 4,096 characters? I'm also sharing this post on Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a blog with links to various "in progress" fiber art works.)
Posted by Susan Lenz at 2:18 PM