I pulled a piece of cardboard from behind my desk and put it on my studio floor. I took out my collage materials and chose one of the collages I started a while back.
I don’t know how long I worked on it, but time seemed to go quickly. Finally, I cut two of the figures out of the collage pulled most of what I had glued on top of the girl off, and drew her a pair of legs.
I placed her and the sheep on a piece of old quilt backing and took one of the appliques from the front of the quilt and hung it in the corner like a sun.
The girl and sheep made of canvas. I haven’t attached them to the quilt yet, I’m not sure how I will, but I’ll figure it out.
As I placed each piece of fabric down on the quilt back, as I drew the legs and boots, I knew it was right. I knew it was saying exactly what I wanted it to.
I know the title too, it’s called “I Am Not A Ghost.”
My Seahorse Potholders and the Intuitive Scrap Bin potholders (made from the fabric in my scrap bin) below are all for sale in my Etsy Shop. They’re $18 each + $5 shipping for one or more. You can see them all and buy them here.
So often when I make a quilt it seems, without knowing it, I made it just for the person who buys it.
That happened with my Phoenix Rising quilt. This is what Cindy, who is buying the quilt, wrote me even before it was completely done:
A phoenix is like an eagle for me. A strong bird who can rise above any situation. With God’s strength and that being represented by the strong bird flying upward and away….is what has helped me rise above so many occurrences in life that could crush one’s spirit. And the promise that no matter how frantic a time is or…how slowly one must wait and be patient for a healing or a change for the better….I can depend on God’s faithfulness to bring me through. That’s what I connect with when I see your quilt.
The moment I pulled the dress out of the box of fabric that Joyce sent me I knew I was going to use the Phoenix in my next quilt. It spoke to me that loudly.
In the story of Phoenix rising, the bird builds it’s own funeral pyre as it was dying and lays down on it, only to be reborn from the ashes.
The story resonated with me personally at this point in my life as I start therapy once again. I know there are parts of me that will die in the process. And as difficult as it may be to let go of them, little by little I am lighting the funeral pyre for those parts of me. And what comes next is the freedom to choose how to live without them.
For Kim, who also wrote to me about the quilt, it spoke of the Corona Virus:
“A good reminder that the way something starts out is not an indication of how it ends. Kinda is making me reflect on all the lessons I have been walking through with COVID-19, it is messy, uncomfortable, scary but as I am more & more settling into a new normal, I am just beginning to see all the blessings & growth – to see how personally & nationally we are rising like a Phoenix.”
Phoenix Rising is on its way to Cindy as I write this. And I know it’s going to be right where it belongs.
I woke to the sound of rain on maple leaves. No streaks of pink sky out the window like on the hot days. Everything was cool and gray.
I lay in bed listening as the rain eased. Best to let the dogs out before it started up again, so I was out early preparing for the rain and wind from Tropical storm Isaias.
I took my shorts and towel off the line from yesterday’s swim in the Battenkill, put the cushions from the rockers under the apple tree in the barn, and rolled up the bamboo shades on the front porch.
In the garden, I picked the ripe cherry tomatoes and a small zucchini.
The first sunflower was deciding whether or not to come out, most of it’s petals still folded over its face, a few reaching out, like a game of peek-a-boo. A Daddy-long-leg found a temporary home there, protected from the rain for now.
Although the twins, Asher and Issachar, both still follow me around like puppies, Issachar has always been a bit more brazen. And it seems to me like they are both still growing.
There is a maturity in Issachar’s face that I feel I can see in this photo.
His face and body have both filled out. His stomach used to bulge out on either side of him, now he’s more in proportion. And he has the look of a young man who is full of himself but is also kind.
Issachar has no problem getting close to me. Actually often he’s too close, trying to eat my hair or clothes. And when I hold up my iphone to take his picture, he tries to eat that too. So it isn’t so easy to get a portrait of him
I’m not sure why he kept still for this photo, but to me, he looks like he’s posing. Like he knew I was taking his picture and wanted it to be a good one.
I take the brooch out of the small handmade box and pin it onto my dress as I’ve done for the past week.
“You can test it out”, Emily said to me as we sat on the deck outside her house, six feet apart, sipping an iced tea spritzer with Elderberry syrup, “wear it for a month and make sure it’s sturdy enough to sell.”
The brooch, a collage made from thick paper, paint (and I don’t know what else) and coated many times with a hardening medium, was in a wooden box with five or six others. There were a few birds and women’s portraits, Emily’s version of a cameo.
But only the Flower brooch sat in a small box that Emily had made specifically for it.
A place to put it when it wasn’t being worn. The brooch was functional art when being worn and became a small three-dimensional sculpture when it wasn’t.
I had seen the brooches during one of our video chats as I had lots of Emily’s work and she mine. We’ve been doing video studio chats once a week since the pandemic began. We show each other the work we made that week. We talk about it and any new ideas for the coming week.
That exchange of ideas has become important to me and I believe to Emily too. So when she invited me to her house last Monday I was eager to go. Eager to sit and talk face to face, to see her work in person.
I felt like Emily’s invitation was special, an act of friendship. Like she was opening up another part of her life up to me.
As we sat in the shade of the umbrella, Emily’s daughter coloring with focused attention next to her, chickens pecking around below us, I thought there something playful, about the Flower brooch.
It made me think of paper dolls and their paper doll dresses and houses. It made me think of the matchbox I made into a bed for an acorn I rescued out of the pool when I was a kid. (I would put the acorn to bed each night, its cap on a pillow, the small green nut, covered with a blanket both made from a tissue).
I liked the idea of putting the brooch safely in its box at night. And I liked the way it felt in my hand, light, but sturdy. I studied the tiny shapes, marks colors, and textures that made up this small wearable collage.
Then I dropped it. It rolled off the table bounced on the bench and onto the floor.
“Well,” I joked,” if it can survive me, it can survive anyone.”
Since then I’ve worn it every day. Working in my studio, doing farm chores, walking in the woods, doing yoga or whatever else that comes along.
So far it looks as good as it did last Monday when Emily gave it to me. I’ll continue the experiment and let you know if Emily decides to sell her brooches at the end of it.
And if you’re interested in seeing more od Emily’s work, her book collages were just featured in the art magazine Uppercase. You can see more about that here.
I stood in the tall grasses taking the video over and over again. I was trying to capture the sound and look of the marsh grass as it swayed back and forth with the wind.
Zinnia kept running through the grass circling me, her heavy panting like a constant beat and louder than the wind. So I was surprised when I heard a rustle in the grass and turned to see that Fate had left the sheep and was standing next to me, a look of expectation on her face.