I’m certain that I have a series about the people, places and things that influence and inspire my artwork on my old Blogspot blog, but I need to begin again here. I’ve hinted here earlier at one thing that inspired me to start making boxes, but there is more to my boxes than a Steinbeck quote.
While traveling two-lane by-ways and backroads, I have cultivated a fascination with run-down, abandoned buildings. There are so many untold stories hidden in the crumbling walls, fallen fences, twisted signs and rusted metal.
Over the years, I have collected many photographs from my travels of all sorts of weathered and forgotten structures, from the farm lanes of Southeast Ohio to the windswept deserts along Route 66.
Broken windows, crumbling brick, gaps in wood planks, precarious listing to one side, patched holes, bent framing… the wear and tear of old buildings is visual poetry to me. It wasn’t until I had completed several of my small fabric boxes that I realized I was subconsciously capturing architectural decay in them.
The boxes began where other projects ended. The first boxes that I made used scraps from other fabric collages, and my decision to embellish each side independent of the others further conveys the spirit of dilapidated structures. The process of pulling the box sides up and hand stitching them creates subtle warping, twisting and bending, completing my interpretation of things that are run down. I love making them, and I like to think of them as little shrines to the past.
Every time that I learn a new stitch, I try it out first on some bit of scrap fabric. Over the past year, a 9 x 10” piece of fabric for test stitching has been floating around my hand stitching nook. It resurfaced a few days ago, and I almost tossed it out. Here it is:
After having it sitting on top of a pile of projects for a few days, I think I will hang on to it. I am really enjoying the sampler look of it, while at the same time it shows the randomness that was inherent in its creation. Adding to the long list of things that I want to make, I’d love to do a small series of pieces with many sections of different hand stitches. I could have a lot of fun with this.
As usual, I have not accomplished everything that I wanted to in the last week. I have kept up with my four 4×4″ squares:
Here is a sneak peek of something new coming soon for all of the hand embroidery lovers:
The background fabric is a dyed vintage damask napkin. I have dyed hundreds of them and have them for sale at the quilt shows. They are easy to stitch through, I usually add a stabilizer to the back side to keep them from shifting and bunching. I love the way that the woven designs are enhanced by the dye, and they add a layer of additional textural interest to a piece with hand stitching. The vintage damask also machine quilts nicely. The damask napkins also find their way into my fabric collages, I use them as a base for adding vintage fancy pieces. They also work nicely in pieced blocks and applique designs.
Back on November 15, 2019, I posted about some little 4″ X 4″ squares I had completed. I have a goal this year to make four of these squares a week. We are halfway through the first month of the new year, here are my squares from the past two weeks:
Some of them are lovely little gems, others are not so hot. I’m not redoing any of them, or throwing any away. These are sort of a stitching journal, and a way to experiment with color and composition. Not everything that we make will be a masterpiece, and that is part of the creative journey.
On a side note, I am only going to be posting once a week this year in an attempt to work on some other things that desperately need my attention (UFO pieces and the rest of this website, for starters). Next week, I will share whatever progress that I have made over the upcoming three day weekend.
Each season out here has its own particular charms that intrigue me. Right now, it is being able to see the gentle rolling of the land without piles of wild brush and lushly leafed trees hiding the topographical details. The branches of the same trees are wrapped with feathery blue-gray lichens, unnoticed in the spring and summer months. When the cold winds whip through the valleys, I stay in and stitch the summer flowers to keep warm thoughts of the growing season in my mind.
There are certain points along the property where I live that I visit frequently to note changes as the season roll through the year. At the end of my long driveway is one of those points. Across the road is a neglected cow pasture that fills out in summer with a riot of wildflowers: soft purple chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, blaze orange butterfly weed, mullein reaching to the sky, jewelweed, and sometimes a bright red Canadian Lily.
Later in the season, iron weed, Joe Pye weed, goldenrods and asters take over with a different palette of colors and textures. I have already made several felted and stitched portraits of the fence row, and more are in the works.
I don’t know if I will ever tire of stitching these roadside meadows. So many people speed past them, in a hurry to get somewhere, and they never notice the flower show to the side. It doesn’t show up on their GPS.
Rags Paper Stitches is
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