sketch

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):

Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes
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).

It’s frightening
That a
word
can change the world
when
All you see
reflected back —
That Word’s
reality

[1:10 pm 19 Oct 1999]

 

They never
teach you
in Biology
how to
dissect
yourself.
Fumbling
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’ve been holding off starting to work on a second suffragette portrait for several reasons. First, the photo of Alice Paul I had been thinking of using just didn’t seem to be quite right for this project.

Alice Paul

Alice Paul

I certainly think it’d make for a good portrait, it just seems to be lacking in oomph.

And second, I’d signed up for an embroidery class (taking some sort of class has been on my list of things I want to do for a while now) that was scheduled to start next week. It was going to cover creating embroideries from photographic images. However, as there weren’t enough people enrolled (I was the first and quite possibly the only one signed up), the class was cancelled. Would I have learned a new technique or two? I can’t say, but I’d have loved to find out.

I was pretty bummed when I got the official cancellation email this morning. I have decided though not to linger on my disappointment. Just the other day, I picked up a few books on the suffrage movement at the library. One — Jailed for Freedom — I had started on my nook, but the free ebook is riddled with OCR errors and made it difficult to read. A hard copy is much easier. The other — One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement — is a book of essays that was right next to Jailed for Freedom on the shelf and I figured why not. As luck would have it, as I was flipping through One Woman, One Vote, I came across what I think is the perfect photo for me to use of Alice Paul. I haven’t been able to find a digitized copy of the photo — either at the Library of Congress (my usual source), or at the Smithsonian archives, but I think my scanner will do the trick. I like it when things seem to fall into my lap. It makes me feel like they were meant to be. 

The prospect of the class, which was entitled “Embroidering Life Stories”, also got me thinking about some of my favorite old family photos and about my experiments with transfers to fabric. There’s a good chance something along those lines will come next. Eventually. I’ve had some good brainstorms while riding the commuter bus to and from the office and have scribbled down lots of notes.

It feels good to be excited about things.

Chain stitched doodle. Nice way to spend the evening.

 

I had a desire last night to stitch up something pretty, something just because, something not too intense. This little doodle (in a 4″ hoop) is what happened. My work life is getting a bit hectic, and my mind is still working out who to do for my next suffragette portrait, but my hands needed to move.

Ever have moments like that?

 

My portrait of Lucy Burns is finally finished. The photo I based it on was taken at the Occoquan Workhouse which is not far from my home here in Virginia.

lucy burns portrait

I’m pretty happy with the way that it turned out. I learn something with each piece. This time around, I’ve actually taken care to block the piece (something I’ve never done before). Next, I’ll be finishing the companion piece, the bear cross stitch and crossing my fingers that they work together.

As I worked on this, I couldn’t help but contemplate all the things that she and other women like her went through.

(A few more detail shots in the ol’ flickr stream)

Pretty close to done suffragette #1

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.

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