Tag Archives: fibre art

1 Year of Stitches – DONE

1 Year of Stitches FINISHED

1 Year of Stitches

One year ago my friend Lou Anne Sybenga and I started a project called #1yearofstitches or #onestitchaday. This challenge was begun by Hannah Claire Somerville. When I saw this project on Instagram it took my fancy. I had just finished a year long one-a-day project which required me to go outside everyday and make ephemeral art. So stitching was a nice change.

I decided to take Hannah’s idea and share it with my artistic muse and neighbour, Lou Anne. We decided to both start hoops and trade back and forth every couple of weeks. She chose a light pink ground and I choose black. To say she is not computer savvy is a bit of an understatement. And I am the opposite, so I documented everything on Instagram.

1 Year of Stitches BEFORE

Hannah describes #1yearofstitches thusly:

“I am interested in the impact, or mark, that an individual makes on a daily basis. Big or small, our daily activities are often times unquantifiable and intangible. I am approaching this project as a personal map making; the fabric ground represents each day of the year, with the needle and thread representing my actions throughout the day. I will embroider— maybe one stitch, maybe more, (hopefully) every day and photograph the result. The embroidery I create will become a tangible, visual account of the decisions, movements, conversations and sometimes lack there of, that I make each day. I hope to use this project as a means of creating mindfulness and deeper reflection upon the choices we make as a society. ”

Our Rules and Stipulations (adapted from Hannah) were:

  1. Our fabric ground consists of a swatch of poly-cotton in a 10’’ x 10’’ hoop. The thread we use may change daily and we may adhere additional types of media to our ground with thread.
  2. We will embroider something each day and I will try to post a photograph of the result each day on @wavesongart.
  3. It is not required that we make a stitch— some days you definitely do not contribute anything to society.
  4. We are allowed to remove stitches, because mistakes can sometimes be undone.
  5. We will exchange hoops on a regular basis.
  6. More rules and stipulations may be added as the project evolves and lessons are learned.

Lou Anne’s hoop

Ev’s hoop

WHAT WE LEARNED:

  • We both had to give ourselves permission to be more flexible and less anal. Some days we just forced ourselves to stitch. Some days, fuck it! Who’s gonna police this but us?
  • The hoops became fluid. Meaning we had to drop the notion that the pink one was ‘hers’ and the black one was ‘mine’ because at first we were both afraid of screwing up each other’s hoops. The funny thing is, when the year ended, we decided to keep the one we each began with.
  • The pink hoop called out to be filled in totally. The black hoop called out for more negative space or background showing through.
  • Lou Anne’s default was to complete a little area with a scene or object. I tried to create little objects and I didn’t enjoy it. Chain stitch, running stitch and back stitch were my go-to’s.
  • A year is a long time and SHIT happens. Sometimes you just don’t feel like carrying an embroidery hoop into a hospital waiting room.
  • Everyone who saw the hoops was very inspired. But it was less inspiring in some ways for us. I was glad to get back into hand stitching actually though and I realize I abandoned it for my machine a number of years ago. So I am looking forward to more hand-stitching.
  • Where does inspiration come from? Ah, the eternal artist’s question and still waiting to be answered!
  • We always enjoyed what the other person was doing more than our own work.
  • We were very glad to FINISH, to see the year through to the end! If we hadn’t had each other to be accountable to we may not have finished.
  • We make our mark on each other. Our friendship is very important.
  • I don’t need to do another year long one-a-day project for a l-o-n-g time.

Chloe’s three little bugs

Purple Rain, Cabin in the Woods and Vancouver Island forest

Lou Anne’s paisley and Ev’s Aurora

texture

beading

Lou Anne’s jumping fish and Ev’s Ombre

 

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Square Foot Art – Westland Gallery, London, Ontario

Westland Gallery is an amazing place for art. In the heart of London, Ontario’s Wortley Village the Westland hosts new, original art shows each month.

Their biggest show of the year is undoubtedly The Square Foot Show, opening July 12th, where you will see over 500 pieces all measuring 12″ x 12.” That alone is reason to go see this unique show.

Square Foot Show 2016

You will find all manner of artistic media, from painting to mixed media. And all at very reasonable prices.

Here are my entries for this year:

Old Tears Series: Time Moves Fast So Make it Last

Detail – Old Tears Series: Time Moves Fast So Make it Last

Old Tears Series: She Spilled the Flour

Old Tears Series: Letter to Mabel

Pop into The Westland sometime between July 12 – August. You will not be disappointed. Make sure you meet owner Karen Stewart and tell her I sent you.

 

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On Ceremonies, Cloth Bags and Grief

One of the most powerful moments of my mother’s committal service was seeing my brother and sister-in-law placing her ashes into the ground. They knelt down on the grass beside the small hole. Gently her arm went all the way to the bottom of the soil floor, over a metre down, like a final caress.

graveside

Families who are not given the opportunity to partake in rituals such as, funerals and memorial services, religious or not, are missing out on chances to fully mourn, experience their grief and have that grief witnessed, a vitally important function. All of the great religions feature rituals around death, for good reason.

I increasingly hear about individuals requesting no ceremony after their deaths. This is troubling to me. We have rare opportunities for collective emoting, not just for joy but especially for grief. No wonder grief sometimes takes the form of huge displays after public tragedies. When our grief is denied expression we gunnysack it and it comes out in other ways, like anger and depression.

Public displays of grief are important and necessary, such as state funerals, processions, piles of flowers. Why do we deny ourselves the right to grieve when it is our own loved ones?

Ceremonies are not for the dead, but for those who need and want to remember and mourn. They help us to face our own mortality. Of course not all families and cultures need to do things the same. Nor do individuals need to grieve the same. But pretending that nothing is going on, by bypassing these rituals, does not support good grief.

I felt privileged that my brother had asked me to make a fabric bag to house my mother’s earthly remains. I put off making this bag for weeks until I just couldn’t procrastinate any longer.

It took a couple of attempts before I came up with something which satisfied me. I started with a piece of batik fabric in teal colour and held it in my hand for about 20 minutes. Nothing came. I then went rummaging through a special drawer I have of old pieces of fabric, tapestries and recycled cloth. I came upon a piece of old quilt on which I had already started a kantha quilting on years before and never finished. THAT was it!  The fabric just jumped out at me. Pick me, pick me. This old quilt, no doubt fashioned by a woman many years ago and well worn with loving use was in the perfect colours.

bag – Version 2

I felt a tinge of what artisans (no doubt slaves) of King Tut must have felt to fashion things for his royal tomb, grand things, like a gold chariot, that they knew would never be seen again. When I finished the embroidery, and embellishments of costume jewelry selected from her jewelry box, including a butterfly/cross pin which symbolized the Faith At Work movement, I knew my mom would have liked it. 

Then when my sister-in-law read a poem entitled “Butterfly” at the graveside, a poem which she had written immediately after Mom died, it was like a mind meld had happened that I had included the butterfly pin on the side of her bag.

Faith At Work symbol

The Faith at Work cross symbolizes death (the cross) and resurrection (the butterfly) and the lifestyle Sam Shoemaker urged: “Get changed (cross); get together (circle); get going (butterfly).”

Beautiful.
Light as a feather.
Translucent gossamer wings
shimmer in the sun.
She flits from blossom to blossom,
gently touching all in her path.
She imparts the blessing of mercy
with each delicate touch,
leaving the fragrance of beauty 
to linger lovingly
long after she has gone.
Unaware, 
she drifts into a lurking cage.
She is frightened,
cannot find her way out.
She struggles, throws her fragile body against the 
prison bars
again and again.
She cannot escape.
Bruised, battered,
confused, and bewildered,
she collapses on the floor.
And she waits.
Kept alive by a few random raindrops that fall
into her prison.
Slow death awaits.
Those who come and stare cannot release her, 
this she knows.
Yet somehow she imparts her gift of loving kindness and mercy
to each one.
The sheen of her gossamer wings has faded now.
Translucence transformed
into dull lifeless grey.
Unable to fight it any longer,
she rests, releases her battered body after years of struggle.
That beautiful body, now at peace.
Spirit soaring now to heights unknown,
to beauty never before realized.
She is finally free of the fetters
that bound her for so long.
She is in the sparkling diamonds on the river.
She is in the tender young buds on the tree.
She is in the timeless sweet song of the robin I hear.
She is in the tiny any scurrying along my path.
She is in the sweet squirrel
staring curiously at me from the branch above.
She is in the beautiful butterfly
who lands beside me,
on my bench by the river.
She is finally free.

-Sheri King Ward, 2016

Perhaps one of the greatest compliments I have ever received as an artist (and daughter) was from my other sister-in-law who said something to the effect “it’s remarkable how you were you able to get a piece of fibre art to look like someone”.

IMG_0335

Few of us will ever get the chance to see human ashes, or touch them. Of course, it was me who had to transfer the ashes from the temporary box provided by the crematorium into the bag; a job which was difficult, enough in itself, to perform.  Again, this was a healing moment of grief.

Cremation isn’t for everyone. If you have quandaries about cremation, I recommend listening to this podcast on End of Life University, https://lessonsfromdying.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-cremation/. Even though it comes from an American perspective there is much to gain from it.

I know my mother isn’t ‘in’ that bag. But the act of creating the last holding vessel for her ashes was profoundly healing. And seeing it placed into the ground gave me a finality which, even though ripped my heart out, was necessary.

Later we all joked about me making this “griefcase” and how I should be selling them on Etsy! But it was a ‘one of’.

I honestly don’t know how families who are denied these rituals cope. Ceremony is necessary. Rituals are important. Creating your own as a family is wonderful. Please do not fear these times. This is where the healing lies.