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Liturgical Art. Such a Great Phrase.


Here’s my second piece of “liturgical art”. I love that phrase.  If feels so classy and righteous. But seriously, I really love making these pastor’s stoles.  There’s something about the odd size and the fact that it’s a wearable that make these quite interesting.  There
are two sides that need to sort of go together but don’t actually touch each other, and each side is only about 4″ wide and super long.  It’s not a proportion I’ve ever used in painting or textile work and it presents and interesting challenge.  The goal is to make it a piece of art in some way, but that can be tricky with such a long skinny surface area to work with.  Well, two long skinny surface areas, that really make up one picture, but split in half, so not exactly.  I feel
like I’m in a Dr. Seuss world.

My friend gave me a quick sketch of what he wanted.  This is to be a special baptism stole and he wanted abstracted water swirling. He had been inspired by a design I had created for my mother’s piece (coming soon). So, I shopped for an interesting assortment of blue batiks and got to work creating this little work of art.  I used a lighter batik with less pattern for the background so the river would contrast more and be the focal point.  I picked one that had a little pink and yellow in it as well, to add to the contrast, since all my water batiks only had blues in them.  Then it was just a matter of cutting out and layering all the swirls.  That’s probably simplified just a touch, but that’s really all
I did.  Layered wavy lines until it looked right. 🙂 The cool way of describing that process is to call it “organic”.  Which sounds much better than “lacking a plan”.  I love building designs from scratch as I go, though.  There are times for patterning and there are times to just roll with it and see where the batiks take you.  This was the time for that.  When it was finished, it needed a few bubbles to break it up and to tie the background together with the waves.  The stitching helps with that, too, but I like adding the circular shapes against the wavy lines.  Five thread colors for the free motion quilting and this beautiful little river was finished!  I also love the back.  I’ve been using darker batiks on the backs of my quilts lately so the stitching is very noticeable and I just love how it looks. Very happy with the way it turned out.

 

A few more closeups:

Love the back!   

 

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What Brings Me Joy.

I’m tired tonight.  The kind of tired that has me eating cold spaghetti and hot cocoa at midnight. It’s the kind of tired that comes from sadness and loss and taking care of two amazing and active young boys, and thousands of ideas swirling in my brain every day, ALL day long, and making plans for bucket list items and taking up rollerblading at forty-seven and facing rejection and success, which oddly enough, can almost be just as stressful as rejection. As I snuggled into a big blanket on the sofa tonight and almost dozed off immediately, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to write a little first.

I’ve been archiving and cleaning up all my photos on my computer, and that’s allowing me to take a fresh look at my work.  I was trying to decide which piece to write about tonight, and since I don’t have a design of a black hole or a mental institution, I chose a favorite recent piece. Something a little more hopeful.

The finished banner. Read the fully story in my blog post “…and there was light”

I chose this one because when the client, who happens to be an old college friend, asked me to make this religious stole, he put his full trust in me to just make something beautiful and full of joy.  He had commissioned a large banner for his church (read about it here) and asked if I would use some of the leftover batiks to make a stole for him that was abstract and joyful. Those are always his words.  When he cut me loose to do my thing on the banner with only moderate direction he said:

“I really do trust you wholeheartedly. Do what brings you joy…truly. Do what brings this to life for you and I know it will be the right choice.”

You know, as an artist, there is nothing better than that.  To be given such trust and freedom.

So, tonight, this is what I want to share.  I love how the stole turned out.  I looked at the leftover banner fabrics and though the color palette isn’t exact, I immediately thought of a couple of Klimt paintings. The Kiss and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. I loved the overall gold look of the pieces and all of the abstract shapes and how he put them together. There is life there. I kept both of these paintings in view as I built the background for the stole.  The left side is tiny squares and rectangles all pieced together. I appliquéd more squares and rectangles on top to add depth and detail.  I liked the idea of the two sides coordinating and flowing together, but also being individual designs. Instead of just making two differing sides, I wrapped the squares and rectangles up around the neck and back down a little bit onto the right side, so even though there is a hard line separating it from the circles, it helps it to blend and look like one cohesive art piece.  And that’s truly how I see this stole…as and art piece. I kept the stitching simpler so it would just tie everything together and not distract. I love the colors and shapes and how it all came together, and did not want to take away from that at all.

The back of the stole.

The stole is only about 4 1/2″ wide so all the pieces are very small, which made for a lot of work! I truly did “do what brings you (me) joy” and I think it’s tangible. I backed it with a bold orange batik so that if it ever flips up, you catch another fun burst of color. I always think about the backs of my pieces.  Looking at the stitching from the back is a favorite thing. It’s not forgotten.  It may be hidden and only be seen by a few people who take the time to look, but those people always appreciate that extra detail. And it makes me smile knowing I’ve sent a little hidden gem out into the universe. I guess that’s the artist in me.

 

More Photos/Process

Let the layering begin!
So many tiny squares and rectangles.
I used a softer circular yellow sun batik for the background on the right side. I love the contrast of the circles and squares together.
All laid out, before the stitching began.

So much color and life and movement.
I used to sew clothes more often, so this gave me an odd sense of satisfaction, to not only create art, but to make a meticulously finished off wearable piece.

 

 

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