Category: stitchings (Page 1 of 37)

Making it Through Exhibit at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum

The Rinse Cycle: Pivotal Epiphanies in a Woman’s Life, Whispering Bones
25.75” h x 18.25” w

Artist Statement: As we sheltered in place for more than 60 days, I was the bologna between my mother and daughter in our three generation sandwich. I struggled to keep Mother occupied and find things she could do to feel needed and useful, and I struggled to find way to tend to my daughter who was experiencing adverse reactions to a new medicine – all while keeping my husband from jumping off the nearest ledge. One morning, I declared asylum in my studio, and having zero ideas and even less inspiration – both stomped flat by exhaustion – I checked my brain at the door and  went full speed into haptic mode, turning my hands loose to select fabric and create at will. This is the result. This is what my heart and hands wanted to say. This is what helped me make it through our COVID-190 togetherness . . . and kept me out of an ill-fitting orange jumpsuit.

I am honored and delighted that this piece was selected to be part of the Making It Through exhibit at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, Georgia. It’s a virtual exhibit, and you can see it on the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum Facebook page. While you’re there, be sure to click on the photo to read the artist statement for each piece that will pop up and appear to the right of the image.

Committed

          Short-sleeved wedding dress

 

Laced and embroidery

 

Lace and embroidery

 

Back of wedding dress. Short sleeves, lace and embroidery, white bow

Forty-seven years ago today, I met The Engineer in Muhlenbrink’s, a popular bar in Underground Atlanta. We met on January 27, 1973, became engaged on April 1, 1973, and said “I sure will” on July 31 of – you guessed it – 1973. If I did my math right, in 1096 days we will have known each other fifty years, and in a mere 1, 837 days, we will celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Fifty years of togetherness.

Oh my goodness.

Red text embroidered on wedding dress

Because I couldn’t pay people to wear my wedding dress and because I couldn’t bear to cut it up, I will be stitching our Love Story Adventure on my wedding dress. Not the whole story in sentences and paragraphs, but words and phrases and dates. I’ll write the stories in the accompanying journal. (I keep a journal for every cloth project I do. Do you?) I’ll be transferring photos onto fabric and stitching them onto the third layer of the dress. (These embellishments will also distinguish my wedding dress from my friend Joan’s wedding dress.

Back in those days, I didn’t know that the Mother of the Groom was to wear beige and start in the broom closet. So what did I do? I invited The Engineer’s mother to go with Mother and me to look for wedding dresses. We picked Mrs. C up, drove to the bridal shop at a nearby shopping mall, and I selected three dresses to try on . . . And bought the first one I tried on. I was not excited about the wedding dress, obviously. Once both mothers offered their seal of approval, the woman in charge of alterations made her marks, then my mother, my mother-in-law-to-be, and I went to lunch, checking “wedding dress” off the list and making plans for what to do next.

Committed is the working title of this project and it officially began tonight. After stitching only a few words, I thank myself for choosing a chapel length train instead of one befitting a cathedral ceremony.

We didn’t get the snow and ice predicted for today. Doesn’t make us sad, either.

Hostage, The Adventure Begins

Vintage boy’s shorts and shirt, vintage embroidered doilie, two red embroidered circles, all appliqués to the top of a small vintage quilt

 

Till the day he died of natural causes, my daddy talked about the barrel of that shotgun placed against the back of his neck. It was a feeling he never forgot.

Daddy was five years old when bandits came to the house, intending to kidnap Granddaddy and rob the bank. It was a weekend of horror I can scarce imagine. After spending my entire life gathering the stories, photos, and information, I am at last sitting down to write the book about that event that happened in my family on May 5 and 6, 1933. It is a story  of many stories woven together, and I will tell them all in books and in quilts.

The red circles represent the double barrel shotgun he felt against the back of his neck when, on Saturday morning May 6, 1933, five year old Crawford Jr. (a.k.a. Daddy) forgot that the bad men were in the house and did what he did first thing every morning: ran for the outhouse.

When I decided to tell the story in quilts as well as words, I went straight to my closet and began culling through all the things I’ve rescued and adopted over the course of more years than I can count. Quilts someone made for their babies; baby clothing that caught my fancy; embroidered doilies or dresser protectors or coasters – not sure what you call them. In less than 2 hours, four quilts were pinned together, using only what I have on hand. That is one of my intentions for this year, you know, using only (okay, mostly) what I have on hand. It’s an idea I got from my talented friend Linda Syverson Guild, who doesn’t buy any fabric the first six months of every year, using instead what she already has. I smile as I weave these storied, already well-loved items into my family’s stories. I also smile feeling grateful  that I listened to my Bones and purchased these things, even with that dreaded voice of authority on The Committee of Jeanne booming in the background things like “You don’t need this” or “You have too much stuff already” or “What on earth do you plan to do with that?” (The others who sit on The Committee of Jeanne are saving up for a firing squad.) Score one – a great, big, fat one – for my Bones.

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If you’re wondering about The 70273 Project, we’re still here. I’ve been regrouping and hatching plans that I’ll share with you here next week. Thanks for stopping by and trekking through these adventures – all of them – with me.

A Single Sheet of Paper

She stops me, this incredible woman and artist I now know as Miki Willa, and tells me a story . . . this story:

“I knew what to do,” says Miki, “because I’ve watched Nancy express herself through pen and paper, though art.”

The Little Paper That Could

These are Vanessa’s marks. These size of the paper is about 3″ x 5″, while the size of the meaning is limitless, unmeasurable.

As Though That Isn’t Amazing In and Of Itself 

In 2014, when Kathy Loomis mentioned that there were still spots available in the Dorothy Caldwell workshop in Louisville. I put my name on a chair. Never one to sit still, I took In Our Own Language 3 along to work on during “down times”. Dorothy saw me stitching and asked me to kick the next day off by talking about In Our Own Language 3..

After the following morning’s impromptu presentation, a woman sitting behind me my now-friend Rosemary Claus-Gray suggested I write a book about my collaboration with Nancy to give other families hope and encouragement to find ways to communicate with their loved ones that don’t involve the spoken word. She even wrote the foreword to nudge me to get started.  Though I haven’t written the first word, I hold Rosemary’s foreward in a safe, special place so I can find it when I do shove all else aside and write this book. It will happen, Rosemary, I promise, Thank you for listening to your intuition and making the suggestion. And thank you, Miki, for changing lives with a single sheet of paper.

Quilts on Display at Sacred Threads 2019

2 women stand beside a quilt of the Buddha

Miki and Jeanne stand in front of Miki’s quilt Meeting the Buddha on the Path (48″ x 34″) on display at Sacred Threads 2019. When arranging ourselves for the photo, Miki placed me so that the Buddha’s hand touched my shoulder because the Buddha’s raised hand is a blessing offered. (And you thought the Buddha was doing “rabbit ears” behind me!) Ever since Miki told me that, I offer a silent blessing when waving to someone.

2 women stand beside a black quilt covered with colorful doodles and a little girl's white pinafore (dress)

Miki and Jeanne stand with Jeanne and Nancy’s quilt, Playground of Her Soul.

Isn’t it astonishing how much goodness happens when we pay attention?

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Right this way for more 70273 Project videos.

Sacred Threads or Bust

little girl's white dress with sash sewn over a black quilt filled with colorful stitched scribbles

closeup of the white dress sewn onto a black quilt covered with colorful stitched scribbles

As many of you know, I stitch the marks of my sister-in-law Nancy in my spare time. I’m tickled to tell you that Playground of Her Soul, stitched selections from Nancy’s first five sets of drawings,was recently juried into the Sacred Threads exhibit (don’t you love the name?) and will be headed to Herndon, VA where it will be on exhibit from July 11 – 28, 2019. Do make plans to visit because it promises to be be an amazing exhibit. And let me know when you’re going ’cause if we’re there at the same time, I sure would love to call you “Sugar” to your face.

The 70273 Project Special Exhibit at Sacred Threads

There will also be a Special Exhibit of a few quilts from The 70273 Project on display there, and since it’s within spittin’ distance to Washington, D. C., please let me know if you know anybody who’s connected with the U. S. Holocaust Museum. Barbara Hollinger, Curator of Sacred Threads, had the good idea for me to invite people from the U.S. Holocaust Museum to see The 70273 Project quilts on display there and to hopefully get the ball rolling towards an exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.

Visit the calendar for more information about the Sacred Threads exhibit and more. Hint: if you click in the upper right hand corner of the page where it says “view as” and select the option for a “list view”, it makes it easier to find things. At least for me it does.

Eye Contact: Making a Connection

If you’d like to be a part of Sacred Threads, there’s still time. When The 70273 Project was a Special Exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in November 2017, Barbara Hollinger had a Special Exhibit of the most exquisite wind chimes right next door to us. We met, Barbara and I did, and as we talked about the importance of meaningful conversations,  we both had a flash image of eyes. You know how it goes, we shared goosebumps and descriptions of what we were seeing in our mind’s eyes, and Barbara took that exchange home with her and made it part of this year’s Sacred Threads exhibit. If you’d like to make and send some cloth eyes, here’s how.

Shattered

orderly black and white blocks become black and white lines skewed and scattered. pink collar from a little girl's dress adorned with pink ribbon roses lays on black and white blocks.

Shattered / 24″ w by 27″ h / January 2019

Artist Statement

Nancy was born into a family of engineers. It was a world of perfect order, straight lines, black and white. If you followed the formulas, the blueprints, the textbooks, you got to where you wanted to go. There was safety, predictability, and the future was bright.

When teenagers hung three year old Nancy by the neck from the swing set, the world went sideways. Lives were shattered. Order became chaos. Black and white grids became shards. The formulas led to nowhere familiar or comfortable.

It was a fissure of stability and security.

Nancy is my sister-in-law. Today she is in reasonably good health, content with whatever she has, and smiles more than she frowns. She has a vocabulary of about 12 words, and 6 of them are the word “love”.

In June 2012, Nancy began making marks, and since June 2012, I stitch her marks.* Though she gives no indication that she understands our collaboration, it has deepened our relationship in ways I never dreamed possible and opened my life in ways I never dreamed imaginable. Nancy is my Wise Woman, and I am a better woman because she is in my life.

*The drawings you see on the shards are some of her first drawings.

A closeup of Shattered

Another closeup of Shattered

Personal Note and The Particulars

I love emails that begin with “Congratulation,” like the one I received a week or so ago telling me that Shattered was juried into the Fissures Exhibit at the Emerald Art Center / 500 Main Street / Springfield, Oregon. The exhibit opens on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 and closes on Saturday, March 30, 2019. From 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Friday, March 8, there’s the Artist’s Awards Presentation and reception that’s part of the 2nd Friday Art Walk. If you can attend, let me know ’cause I just might be cooking up a road trip and would love to meet you there.

Evidence Explained

Evidence 2017, Day 1

Inspired by my friend Judy Martin’s marking of time and dedication to her art, despite a full family life,
Inspired by my friend Jude Hill’s dedication to daily stitching and reflection, interwoven into her daily life,
Inspired by my new friend Kathleen Warren‘s mindful noticing of her surroundings and honoring of her creative process . . .

Evidence 2014

I revamp my abandoned 2014 attempt and a previous attempt at daily stitching that I can’t even find now into a version that will see me through to the champagne. I just know it will.

Evidence 2017, Day 2

Being an accomplishment-oriented girl, I like to track how I spend my life.

Evidence 2017, Day 3

I first ask myself: how do I want to fill my days, and the answer hasn’t changed significantly in the past 4 years:
stitching,
moving (as in moving my body through space – walking, yoga, exercise, etc),
writing,
mirthing (think: awe, wonder, laughing).
This year I add 2 things:
prospering (in every way a girl can prosper) and
connecting (as in with people, friends, family, strangers)

Evidence 2017, Day 4

Then I assign each a color. (There is a story behind each hue. I’ll tell you later.)
stitching
moving
writing
mirthing
prospering
connecting

Once that is decided, I make my way to the local thrift shop and purchase clothes in those colors to use as fabrics. Storied cloth, my favorite.

Evidence 2017, Day 5

I track everything in my handwritten journal, and each morning I look back at the day before, free-cut strips of fabric in the appropriate colors, then I turn my Improv Self loose to  stitch them together into a 6.5″ square block.

Evidence 2017, Day 6

The method of stitching the daily blocks will change each month. For January 2017, I’m using wedges – something I’ve long wanted to try my hand at, but never made the time to try. (Wait’ll you see what the daily blocks will look like next month.)

Evidence 2017, Day 7

You might ask (I know I did) Why is there not a color representing The 70273 Project? The answer: Because The 70273 Project touches every part of my life, and every verb I want to have in my every day touches The 70273 Project. Writing? Multiple writing projects each day are for The 70273 Project. (Know anybody who wants a guest blog post?) Stitching? I stitch several blocks each day for The 70273 Project. Moving? I move so I can keep up with The 70273 Project! Connecting? Oh good lord, such marvelous connections are made daily because of The 70273 Project. You get the picture. Right or wrong, there is no separation between The 70273 Project and me . . . something we’ll talk more about later.

 

Evidence 2017, Week 1

Each week will be stitched together, then each month, and finally . . . the year.

One thing that eludes me right now is how to finish the back. Ideas?

A Handmade Christmas

Seems  like it was 3 years ago, yet the calendar say it was a mere 3 weeks ago when the family gathered together for a week of hilarity, memory making, and opening. Last year I stole minutes here and there from The 70273 Project to make some gifts for giving.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . .

When Mom was a baby, her mother took her to visit one of her grandmothers. Mother reached down and grabbed a tiny fistful of the lace collar on her grandmother’s blouse. “This baby is gonna’ like pretty things,” the grandmother correctly predicted, so Mother’s stocking was made with flowers to reflect her flourishing green thumb and topped with lace.

My daughter-in-law, Marnie, is an art historian who enjoys art that’s so old it makes my head hurt. Before our trip to see The Bayeux Tapestry several years ago, Marnie gave me enough background information that I should’ve gotten college credit hours. Her stocking was topped with embroidered trim depicting a section of The Bayeux Tapestry.

When my daughter was born, I took her stocking to the hospital with me and added the last element – her name  – after she was born and before we brought her home.

Fourteen months later, I did the same thing with my son’s stocking, taking it to the hospital to add his name once we knew whether we were the proud parents of a girl or a boy.

The Engineer’s grandmother, we called her Maw – made a quilt of old suits once worn by The Engineer’s grandfather, Pops. Though I could’ve repaired the quilt, I chose to make The Engineer a stocking from it.

Calder Ray celebrated his first Christmas in 2016. I used colors from Alexander Calder’s artist palette to make the fabric for my grandson’s stocking, cuffing it with some wool fabric from Ireland, and Calder Ray did just what you’d expect a seven month old to do: he chewed on it.

Remember I told you how Marnie likes ancient art and how knowledgeable and enamored she is with The Bayeux Tapestry? Well, this year I put the quilting frame down and picked up the wool to do a needlepoint canvas of one of the scenes from The Bayeux Tapestry. After finishing  it, I could not decide what to do with it. Should I frame it?  They don’t really have that many available walls, so maybe not. Make a pillow? That would mean cording, and I am not good at cording, so no. When I spied the adorable little stool with the hinged lid in the antique store, I knew what to do, so now Marnie has a footstool, covered with a needlepoint scene from The Bayeux Tapestry and a wee little bit of storage space to boot. (I just hope their new, rambunctious Border Collie, Harper, who has a hankering for gnawing on wooden furniture, never discovers the wood underneath the needlepoint.)

With visions of not sugarplums, but with dreams of a ritual of the quilt being pulled out every December 1 and slept under till the New Year, I made Calder Ray his Christmas quilt, not to hang on the wall, but to use. I’ll show you better, fuller photos later when I’m finished quilting it (Yes, I gifted it to him partly quilted and partly basted) so you can see that branches and needles of the red tree (I’ll explain the red later, too) are in the shape of my hands, and the trunk is in the shape of Calder Ray’s feet.

The body of the angel that perches at the top of the red tree is made of drawings of Calder Ray’s feet, and her wings are made from drawings of Calder Ray’s pudgy, recently-discovered 7-month old hands. Her raiments are from a napkin The Engineer found for me in a local thrift shop.

You know, 4.5 decades ago, I made everybody’s Christmas gifts as a matter of economy – as newlyweds, we didn’t have money to spend buying a lot of presents – and I remember getting a note from my sister-in-law saying that she felt like the lucky one because while The Engineer bought his brother a nice gift, hers was handmade. Her words didn’t really mean all that much then, but now, when I snuggle under the quilt my grandmother made, when I look at the crewel work my mother stitched, when we hang those handmade ornaments on the tree, I understand and offer up a wee little wish that Calder Ray and his parents put these things in their cherish column one day, too.

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Looking for The 70273 Project? It’ll be back tomorrow, and in the meantime, try these haunts:
Subscribe to the blog (where all information is shared).
Join the English-speaking Facebook group – our e-campfire – where you can talk to other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.
Join the French-speaking Facebook group – our other e-campfire – where you can chat with other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.
Like the Facebook page where you can check in for frequent updates.
Get folks to help celebrate your birthday by making blocks and/or donating bucks.
Follow the pinterest board for visual information.
Post using #the70273project on Instagram. (Please tag me, too, @whollyjeanne, so I don’t miss anything.)
Tell your friends what you want for your birthday.
Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.
And if you haven’t yet made some blocks, perhaps you’d like to put some cloth in your hands and join us.
Or maybe you’d like to gather friends and family, colleagues or students, club or guild members, etc. together and make a group quilt.

A Stitch from the Past

gdb5

About 15 years ago, I had this idea: I cut circles from fabric and stitched biographical plates (portraits) of my ancestors. Small projects, easy to tuck into my bag and work on wherever I happened to be. And what did I do after stitching them?

Nothing.

I’d planned to stitch them onto a tablecloth . . . but that never happened. I just tucked them into the scrap suitcase were they lingered (forgotten) until I went to grab bits I might use on The Storyteller’s Apron, #1: Sky Rider.  Now the plates will become constellations – or maybe galaxies – as I stitch along with Jude Hill and the #sunmoonstars gang.

gdb4

This is the plate of my maternal granddaddy who was a sheriff in Fayette County, GA who liked to play checkers with his grandchildren and took it upon himself to teach each of us to drink coffee. He’d pull us into his lap, fill a saucer with milk, then add a splash of steaming hot Luzianne coffee – just enough to turn the milk a tan color. We’d blow on it and blow on it and blow on it, sending the steam across the room, sipping from the saucer only when there was no more steam to blow. Me? I took part in the ritual up till the part of sipping the milked-down coffee. That was as far as I could go, and to this day, I’ve never even tried coffee.

Starting is Such Sweat ‘n Sorrow

storytellingapron14oct16a

I think.

gathering14oct16

I gather.

aligning18oct16b

I plan.

aligning18oct16b

I align.

stitching19oct16a

I start. Finally.

Why so much circling before starting to stitch along with Jude Hill’s SunMoonStars? I think it has to do with trust. After all these trips around the sun, my brain still don’t trust that my heart and hands or even itself, for that matter, will come up with a story, develop it, tell it. My brain – the same brain with authority issues which means it’s the same brain that doesn’t like to follow directions or use patterns –  doesn’t believe in haptic intelligence or creativity.

aligning18oct16a

I bought these 2 curtain panels at a thrift shop, and I spent hours trying to decide how to use them. Do I make one long storytelling cloth? Do I make one panel the back of the quilt? Do I make a long, skinny “book”? I finally decide to match the circles – because we all know that everything goes much more smoothly when the planets, suns, and moons are in alignment.

I long to be the woman who can travel the world with a backpack, has more space in her house than stuff, and just starts. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. And this cloth, this series? It’s gonna’ be FUN.

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