Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Mum's the Word and High Noon

(Above:  Mandala XXX.  Framed: 13" x 13".  Found objects hand-stitched on a quilt block. Found objects include: the lid from a vintage container of Mum's deodorant, yellow Tinker toy connectors, aluminum can pulls, laminated Tampa Nugget cigar bands, white plastic dairy container pulls, copper rivets, buttons, beads, clock gears, decorative wire squares, and champagne muselet caps.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

After patching together all the scraps of the vintage, pink-and-brown quilt in order to stitch Mandala XXIX, I had to find another quilt to use for the next round of mandalas.  None in my stash seemed promising.  Okay ... I admit it.  I only have three quilts in the stash.  One is a crazy quilt (which really wouldn't make a great mandala background ... besides, I have another plan for it.)  One is an appliqued floral ... which wouldn't make a great mandala background.  And one was this old, ugly quilt that I got at an auction on a table lot that had other things that I wanted.  I never wanted that ratty looking thing.  I just got it.


(Above:  The ugly quilt drying while on top of paint cans.)

I decided to washed it.  Because it is winter (which means rain here in South Carolina), I let it dry inside, on top of a bunch of old paint cans and buckets.  Trust me, the photo looks better than the real thing.  The "white fabric" is really a dinghy looking light gray.  I didn't think anything would look good stitched to this quilt.  I didn't think the dinghy strips between the blocks would translate well for a mandala base. I hated the way the reddish fabric was distributed.  There was lots of damage too. Yet, this was the only quilt in my stash that seemed even remotely workable.  So ... I cut it up.

(Above:  Mandala XXX, detail.)

I decided to stitch just one block ... to see if I still thought the quilt was dreadful.  Guess what!  I liked it.  I've already stapled a large, nine block section to my 30" x 30" stretcher bar.  Guess what!  It looks good too.  

Now ... a little about the centerpiece: MUM.  When drilling six tiny holes in it, I saw the tiniest words: Bristol Myers.  Then, I googled for more information.  Hilariously, this was the lid of a little container of fingertip applied cream deodorant. Developed in Philadelphia in 1888, this product had a zinc compound as its active ingredient and was named MUM for a reference to the adage "Mum's the word."  "Mum" was first used in 1376 by William Langland in his Piers Plowman, but the popularity of the slogan likely comes from Shakespeare's day, especially since the bard used it in Henry VI, Part 2 with "Seal up your lips and give no words but mum."  The lid has to date after 1931 because that's when Bristol Myers bought the original, Philadelphia company.  Personally, I think this lid was perfect for this mandala.  It will remind me to keep my mouth shut when initially passing judgment on an ugly quilt!

(Above:  High Noon. Framed: 22" x 12 3/4"; unframed: 15 3/4" x 6 1/4".)

Five years ago I created a series of work called PLAYA.  It was named for the incredible art residency program in the Oregon Outback.  I framed eight of them.  Only one ever found a permanent home.  Last week, I needed the picture frame moulding used on the other seven.  Sure, I could have ordered more moulding for my client's order ... but why?  I had perfectly good moulding hanging on the wall.  As a result, I experimented with the artwork that was removed from the frame.  From a horizontal orientation, I created a vertical.  Copper metallic foiling and a lot more free motion stitching were added.  A coil of cording became the focal point and the piece went into a new, walnut veneer frame.  I like it even better now.  When I find the time, I might just gut the other PLAYA Series and continue experimenting on the older artwork!

(Above:  Detail of High Noon.)


Shannon said...

When I was a kid at my grandma's we played with wooden tinker toys that had been mom's as a kid. Now they're at her house and the grandkids play with them. I just remember the yellow and the orange ones were always in high demand since they were short enough to add details and attachments to the ultrastructure.....

irene macwilliam said...

Here we might say
Keep mum when initially passing judgment on an ugly quilt!
Irene in N Ireland. Love this mandala, love the association of childrens toys and mum