I have been working on various things over the past few weeks.
First, I finished up a swap piece for the latest Phat Quarter swap. Here’s a tiny peek. I am tremendously pleased with how the whole thing came together. The completed piece is just about as I had envisioned it in my head. I cannot wait until my partner receives it and I can share the whole thing with you all.
I also got a little crochet lesson from my mom and it took some time, but I’ve gotten a decent feel for it. I’m not sure what exactly I will do with this skill (perhaps a blanket) but it’s been handy to have a ball of yarn and a hook in my purse as I’ve been spending lots of time at the softball field with my oldest these past few weeks (and that will continue into June).
All of this momentum is good. I’ve got plans to start on Alice Paul’s portrait in the next few days and to start on sketching out some more specific ideas on the thing I want to do next.
The what I want to do next involves old family photos and other pieces of personal ephemera that I’ve saved over the years. In the process (and after seeing Olisa’s stitched poem fragments), I pulled out all of my old poems. I think I might have touched on it when I did my Dickinson piece, but I started out college as an English major, wanting to be a writer. I wrote poems like a mad-person back in those days — and I saved everything. Things that I had written when I was 10 all the way through college graduation. Some of it is so precious (and so is my handwriting). Here is my very first poem, I remember writing it in 5th grade (and then I wrote six or seven quickly after):
They wave their grassy hands
As people walk in their sands
The sand dunes.
And then, naturally at age 12-14 they are cringe-worthy. Unrequited love. I have no real friends. (One acrostic that spells “hypocrite”)
But eventually, they started sucking a lot less (and obviously I was influenced heavily by Dickinson).
can change the world
All you see
reflected back —
[1:10 pm 19 Oct 1999]
with the scalpel
I bleed —
[10:59 am 18 April 1999]
I was so obsessive, I used to track the dates and times (and maybe also where I was) of every little thing I wrote. I was convinced that a pattern would emerge, but yet, I don’t think I’ve ever examined the data. (Perhaps it is time!)
I’m still busy at work stitching up my first suffragette, Lucy Burns. She’s almost done, but work and life has been getting in the way of me getting it finished. Lucy was pretty bad-ass. See the section regarding her time in jail:
Upon her third arrest in 1917, the judge aimed to make an example of Burns, and she was the given the maximum sentence. Once again a prisoner at Occoquan Workhouse, Lucy Burns endured what is remembered as the “Night of Terror.” The women were treated brutally and were refused medical attention. To unite the women, Burns tried to call roll and refused to stop despite numerous threats by the guards. When they realized Lucy Burns spirit was not going to be easily broken, they handcuffed her hands above her head to her cell door and left her that way for the entire night. Burns was so loved and respected by her fellow suffragists that the woman in the cell across from her held her hands above her head and stood in the same position.
I was hoping that my portrait based on what I think is a pretty iconic photo of her at the Occoquan Workhouse would be done by today, International Women’s Day.
But I didn’t want the day to pass by without me mentioning her.
Away we go!
Just in time for the Suffrage Centennial Celebration (Have plans with friends this weekend, so I can’t go. Bummer.)
A few things have really started to crystalize in my mind. Firstly, the cross stitches are each hopefully going to be turned into a sort of banner — that will hopefully look like these on a smaller scale. I’m hoping to do some buttonhole stitch scallops to edge them. Which brings me to number two, color. The scallops and the suffragette portraits are going to be in shades of purple (the colors of the suffragist movement were purple and yellow).
(I just stocked up on purple!)
Sunday afternoon I’m planning a visit to the Workhouse Museum for some additional inspiration and because I can’t believe I haven’t been there yet.
I have finished up the bear that was giving me so much trouble earlier, and moved on to a duck. This one was slightly less frustrating but there were still plenty of mistakes. However, not all of them needed to be fixed. I’ve left at least five in there. I don’t mind them — and I think in the end only I will know they exist — if I remember about them at all.
Once this one is finished I am going to move on to the embroidery portraits that will accompany them. Now, initially I was so utterly convinced that this was going to be a stupendous idea/project. It came to me one morning on the bus to work and I could not wait to get home to get started. But now? Now I am starting to wonder…
I’ve been compiling images that I’ll be using for the portraits onto a secret Pinterest board. I’m finding the secret boards to be wonderful for this purpose. I’ve got one for “secret stitching” and one for “completed projects”. I like keeping my ideas to myself while they are still cooking. But I’m starting to feel just a little tentative about putting everything together. I don’t think I’ll really know until they are all finished. And even then, who knows! I think it might be that these individual cross stitch pieces are so not my style and I’ve been staring at them for a while.
For now, I’m going to try and push down any doubts and carry on as if I’m as confident as I was a few weeks ago. I’ll keep Simon de Pury’s voice in the back of my head: “Be Bold! Be Brave! Be Amazing!”
UPDATE: So here’s the idea… I have these horrible 80s cross stitch patterns (seen here). I’m thinking of creating pairings of one 80s cross stitch and a portrait of a suffragette. I’m thinking the bear paired with Lucy Burns and/or Alice Paul. Both went on a hunger strike in 1917 at the Occoquan Workhouse which is right down the road from my house. If I put Lucy with the bear, then I might pair Alice with the duck or I might do Inez Milholland riding on a white horse at the front of the 1913 suffragist parade in Washington. I just wonder if it will translate properly. I think I need more pairings… But we’ll see. If it doesn’t work, I figure I’ll at least have some embroidery portraits of suffragettes that will be awesome.