Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Mandala LVI and LVII

(Above:  Mandala LVI. Framed: 40" x 40" as a diamond; 28 1/4" x 28 1/4" as a square.  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of an old, bow-tie quilt. Found objects include: Pewter animals with musical instruments; beer caps; blue plastic toy gears; metal picture frame hangers; external tooth lock washers; white plastic bottle caps, buttons; insulin needle caps; keys; a snowflake shaped ornament; and long needle-like parts of a prostate radioactive seed implant device.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Several months ago Steve told me that if my mandala series was accepted into this November's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, I was to make a piece using his mother's collection of pewter animals.  My mother-in-law Judy adored these "dust catchers".  (Steve's reference ... because he's the person who dust things in our house!) For the most part, Steve is very sentimental.  When Judy died (1998), he wanted this band of musicians. So when my application was successful, I wasn't sure Steve really meant for me to use them ... but he insisted.

(Above:  Mandala LVI, detail.)

Steve and I remember Judy for her infectious laughter, silly earrings, her collection of California Raisins and trolls, and for painting her perfect fingernails different colors, even neon shades and glow-in-the-dark polishes.  For years, Judy and her friend Peggy were volunteers for the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.  The two went into Norfolk's public schools and conducted eye tests.  One year, they received the Governor of Virginia's award for individual volunteerism.  Judy knew that crazy earrings, hilarious t-shirts, and especially colorful fingernails with stickers put students at ease and entertained them while in line.  Besides, these things gave Judy a reason to laugh.

(Above:  The bass drum playing monkey.)

Judy thought a musical group of pewter animals was silly and fun.  Hudson Pewter offered them one-at-a-time.  This gave my father-in-law something to purchase for Judy's birthday and Christmas, their anniversary, and even Mother's Day. She eventually had the entire set.  Both Steve and I know that Judy would get a kick out of the fact that her little collection became ART.  She'd also think it amazing that this piece will be going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and might sell to a total stranger.  (She'd probably hope they had lots of kids!)    

(Above:  Mandala LVI, detail.)

Steve and I had many great conversations about Judy while I was stitching this piece.  We know Judy would approve ... and applaud ... and laugh, laugh, laugh!  Steve helped with the arrangement of animals, insisting that the penguin conductor and his stand were at the top ...

(Above:  Mandala LVI, hung as a diamond.)

... even though the piece can hang as a diamond.

(Ernie the Cat helping with Mandala LVI.)

Ernie the Cat seemed to be very protective of these figurines too!

(Above:  The back side of Mandala LVI before going into its floater-styled frame.) 

Drilling through pewter might be possible but I didn't try it.  Each figurine is hand stitched in its place on the quilt.  Yet these pieces really do have some weight to them.  To mount this work, I first removed it from the wooden stretcher bar to which it was initially stapled.  I glued acid-free foam-centered board to the face of the stretcher bar and re-stapled the piece. Using a strong nylon monofilament (like a heavy-duty fishing line), I stitched through the acid-free foam-centered board and the quilt.  This is how my mandalas are generally presented, but this time I stitched six to eight more stitches around each animal.  Basically, the animals are totally secured to both the quilt and the foam-centered board.  Not one animal moves!  The weight is evenly distributed so that no part of the quilt is supporting more than a small section.

(Above:  Mandala LVII.  Framed: 20" x 20". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of an old, bow-tie quilt. Found objects include a Viewmaster disk; keys; buttons; white, plastic rings; heart shaped pins; and African vinyl record beads.)  

Generally, I start looking for pieces for the next mandala while framing the one just completed.  I auditioned several things for the next piece but rejected most of them.  One of the rejected pieces was a Viewmaster disk.  It was just too small for a piece similar in size to Mandala LVI but it seemed perfectly right for a scrap of the blue-and-red bow tied quilt that almost went into the trash.  The more I looked at it, the more I knew it had to be stitched ... and it got done in just one day!  The next mandala will take considerably more time!  I've already started it.


Shannon said...

Oh both of these are so great! The remembrances of your mother-in-law are fantastic, in my opinion including this collection of hers in your art is the very best thing to do with it! Repurposing in a meaningful way that allows the pieces to be transformed into something new and giving a chance for lots of remembering and sharing about a great person! And then I saw the viewmaster disc! I had one when I was a kid and loved it. I'm sure I had several discs, but the one that always sticks in my brain was one with lots of pictures of Carlsbad Caverns and all the cool cave formations. Seeing your quilt just sparked a ton of fun memories for me!

Margaret said...

What a blessing and gift to Steve and his mom that you found a way to incorporate those figures! Lovely!

P.S. I know I gave you a bundle of GM keys...but you have used so many that I'm sure that they didn't all come from me! ;-)

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

aha "the dusting of objects" but love the idea you used something with so many memories - which now might well become a focal point for some other person. Before the end of this year, I will be debating what to do with a lot of dust collectors I have stored away - but first I've a few other not with memories that are on my To Do List and I'm plowing nicely through them...

Ann Scott said...

Such a special memory piece. The background quilt seems perfect for the snowflake center and the pewter pieces. Nice to see Ernie enjoying it too.

Connie Akers said...

Susan, you never cease to amaze. I love your work & it’s over the top creativity. I always have an “Aha, why didn’t I think of that moment” when you show a new piece.