Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Reader Tries to Make Art....

I've been sewing away on a baby quilt (updated pictures coming soon, I promise...) and watching some quilt show DVDs while I sew. A technique featured in more than one of the DVDs is fabric collage, where the quilt artist layers fabric in an interesting way, using glue or basting stitches or even fusible iron-on stuff to hold the fabric in place before quilting over the top of it.

As I sat home on the 4th of July, with The Chemist away on a business trip, I did a lot of reminiscing about past 4th of July celebrations we've had.

There was the time that The Chemist, The Writer and I (while pregnant with The Artist) went with my dad to watch the fireworks over the St. Louis Arch, and had quite an adventure driving home. I adore the pictures I have of The Chemist and The Writer, a wee little toddler at the time, watching the fireworks together.

Or before that, the time I watched fireworks over the river in New York City, the summer I spent there during college. I have a picture of a young family -- mom, dad, daughter -- watching together. The father has his daughter on his shoulders, and all their faces are pointed at the sky watching the splendor explode above us. I look at that now and then look at photos I have of my Chemist and Writer from that first 4th of July in St. Louis (visiting, not living there) and it makes me smile that the same scene that so warmed my heart when I was but a young college girl was later duplicated in my very own life with my very own husband and child (and later, children). Such joy.

Then there was the time we went with friends, our last US 4th of July before moving to Brazil, and it poured. I'm talking soaked us to the bone, drenching, pouring, rain. The pocket of dry weather that  a certain someone said would be over us during the fireworks? Apparently the pocket didn't get the memo. We sought shelter under a thatched roof structure, watched through the pouring rain, and laughed our fool heads off all the long walk back to the ferry that took us back to the car and back to our friend's house.

There was a bittersweet memory of the first 4th of July living here in Brazil, when homesickness swept over me totally unexpectedly. And then a very dear friend called, her laptop video camera rolling, from the fireworks show she & her kids were watching. She laughed with delight to realize just how huge a gift she was giving me, I cried with joy to realize what a precious friend she was, and then she turned her laptop so that the fireworks were front and center and for 15 minutes the boys and I were able to watch fireworks with some of our best friends and for just a moment to feel like we were home again.

There was also the first 4th of July after losing Kelly, when I sat down to put on 1776, a musical on DVD that Dad & Kelly gave me as it was their traditional viewing choice for the holiday, and had since become mine as well. Except that year I couldn't watch it and instead went to my room and cried.

After that, we worked harder at making memories for the boys so that despite growing up here in Brazil, they'll still have a fondness for this celebration of American Independence. Last year we made strawberry/blueberry pancakes for brunch, and every year we put up random decorations that the boys color, draw, create. All year long we have various red, white & blue tributes to Texas in our home, but for The Fourth we remember we're celebrating the USA, not just Texas, and try to shift our focus accordingly.

So this year....with The Chemist away on business, what could I do? We decided our celebration would wait until he returned, but I wanted to somehow mark the occasion. Which brings me back to the beginning -- fabric collage. I pulled out  my bucket of scraps, a small piece of scrap batting, and some washable elmer's glue sticks and I just began layering until the emotions of remembering seemed to be properly expressed before me.

Ode to America, original fabric collage
approximately 8" x 11"

I was going for a general fireworks kind of feeling, not representational but abstract; the general idea being splashes of color lighting up the night. I layered, and glued, and stitched, and just did whatever felt right. Then I put some fabric on the back and began to quilt through all the layers, tracing various lines through the fabric (which completely don't show up, but that's okay). Then I wrapped the edges in binding, surveyed my work and smiled. 

My boys asked what it's supposed to be; I gave them the only answer I could: "Pretty."  Hard to put into words all the abstract feelings that went into the piece, but there it is. I like it, and while my original intent was that it would become a permanent part of our "4th of July Decorations" stash, I decided I like it year-round so now it's on the mantle over the fireplace where it will live, until. Until when? Until I tire of it or make a new one, I guess.

So, what about you? Anything ever move you to create something just on the spur of the moment like that? 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely - I liked it before I knew the symbolism.

    Yes I create just like that regularly - then sometimes turn the results into cards or part of the next scrapbook page or if it is flowers/food/garden bits I just enjoy it.

    So impressed with how far you've come and yeah for working on the baby quilt and learning other stuff too :)

    I find scrapbooking podcasts great for when I'm working - are there quilting ones?