Monday, November 22, 2010

Anyone for Smocking?

Surprise Gift
I received an early morning phone call the other day - well it seemed early as I was still under warm covers and reading with a cup of tea at hand - from a wonderful quilting woman who was very kind to me when I first arrived to live here in Canada. She said she remembered that I once had mentioned I used to enjoy smocking when my children were young. Apparently she had received some goods that someone wanted to pass on to new owners and among them was a 'Sally Stanley Smocking Pleater' and a pile of books (I have only pictured half of them!). Well, as soon as she saw it she said she thought of me and was just phoning to see if I'd like them. Yes, yes, yes! What a wonderful morning surprise for me and, well, of course I could not ignore such serendipity! So now I have a beautifully maintained smocking pleater and many books redolent with their previous owner's fervour - handwritten notes and a very warm cloth-oriented spirit attached. I feel very blessed. I am also conscious of a sense of stewardship and privelege. I do not know who they belonged to yet I feel a sweet connection with her. I'm not sure when I will begin smocking again, however I feel confident that I will.

At close of weekend needle I have been trying different border fabrics for the rabbit small cloth. I am debating whether I have made the base cloth too long for the rabbit or even for two rabbits. We shall see! I have also nearly completed the second bear small cloth. Christmas is drawing nearer and it feels great to have a little pile of storycloths ready.

Happy stitching wishes, Gilly

Monday, November 15, 2010

Two Angels with Goodnight Wishes

Two Angels with Goodnight Wishes
This is Two Angels with Goodnight Wishes, another duo to form part of the package of gifts for my family. It is taken directly from Janet Bolton. I have changed her design a bit to suit my needs. I am finding that following her designs closely is a really good way to learn about color, highlight stitches and overall composition. Janet, to me, is a genius of understated design. These measure six inches by three inches each and belong as a pair. I would like to make variations of this for all my family members.  I would also love to have these in my own bedroom. It seems so reassuring to go to sleep with the thought of angels delivering good sleeping wishes outside my window. Lovely thought.

At close of weekend needle I have laid out another Janet Bolton design - a rabbit. I also dyed a selection fabrics in brown onion skin, these are just rinsing now. There was one piece of cloth that had a streak of rust on it and combined with the onion skin has turned a lovely licorice colour. It may become part of a rabbit.

Happy stitching wishes, Gilly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Questions of Identity

I made this a few months ago, one of three storycloths about women in contemporary consumerist society. It is titled Crowned, an exploration of identity: cosmetic surgery, the expectations women struggle to live up to, the masks we wear, how difficult it is to know who we really are, how a smile sometimes betrays us, how we are tossed about by the way we think others perceive us, how difficult it is to be objective about ourselves, others, the world.

It is interesting for me to look back on this and to see how my self-understanding has developed. This cloth was in response to young white women in western society where 'choice' is a term commonly used. For example if a question is posed: 'What do you think about the fact that it is increasingly common for young (and older) women to undergo cosmetic surgery as a pretty much 'normal' experience?' A typical response is "Well, that is their CHOICE'. Yes, on one level it is, but what external pressures are there that make women feel they need to change their bodily appearance? Women 'voluntarily' undergo surgery so they can try (and always, always, of course always fail) to meet the expectations of a consumerist, capitalistic, patriarchal society. A society which on a broad scale does not care if you look like a Barbie Doll - all that is really important are the dollars exchanged.

Excuse my soap box -  the outright oppressive manipulation of women's self esteem by capitalist ideology makes me angry. (On another note - let alone the cross-cultural oppression that goes hand in hand with capitalism.)

So - it is interesting for me to see how, over a few months, my thoughts on this matter have consolidated and have now led to a public post. I do not critique women's individual choices because it is very important that we do have choice, rather I critique the values of consumerist society.

At close of needle I muse on my small orderly cloths and how they reconcile with this political storycloth, and how they both emanate from the one being - me. Perhaps the face above reflects this also? There is more to this story.

Happy stitching, Gilly

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Call to Gather

A Call to Gather

This is A Call to Gather. It is 9 inches by 4 inches. It has different feel to last week's Two Bears Floating. It has a cooler, more subtle light, which it should as it is dusk whereas Two Bears Floating is in the middle of the day. I could not stop myself from finishing this. Each week I look forward to the next storycloth that seems to come from somewhere inside me. I feel these elephants are on their way to a burial ground. Apparently elephants are able to discern bones of elephants from among bones of other animals. They are such amazing, magnificent animals. I wanted to keep them unadorned but could not resist adding some hint of exotica by way of fabric bits. I am finding it a little easier to manage tiny bits of fabric. I surprise myself by enjoying more and more many hours of fiddling with colours and shapes and designs before making final decisions.

At close of needle I am wondering how this deepening love of making storycloth is informing my own identity as Gilly. I feel I am changing, becoming deeper, stiller, calmer, with a bubbling joy far inside. It feels great.

Happy stitching, Gilly