Monday, October 19, 2009

How long has this been going on?

That line from the Van Morrison song of the same name has been running through my head as I put the last stitches in my Fertile Circles Needlebook! I started this project on April 17 after seeing some of the techniques detailed on Pin Tangle. Foolish me, I thought it would be an enjoyable, quick and easy way to use a scrap of linen that was too big to throw away but not big enough for any of the charts in my stash. Well, 6 months has never been my idea of quick, though I have been stitching on many other projects during that time. As to easy, while it hasn't been difficult, it has been intricate. The piece seemed to evolve, which is a politically correct way of saying I made it up as I went along. I used a variety of stitches and materials ... playing with the idea. The first few circles I stitched and filled with beads reminded me of nests filled with eggs and then some beads I placed just below an inverted tear drop area done in chain stitch reminded me of the plumed head of the snake-god, Quetzacoatl. I still need to couch a thicker Carron fiber wending its way through the nests to make the body of the snake. Perhaps my head was too full of a Joseph Campbell series on mythology I had just finished reading but it all came together: the theme would be Fertility and the motifs would be those symbols associated with fertility from primeval times: the circle, the egg, and the snake. The background would contain crescents and curves, referencing moon and sun. The colors I chose were those of the harvest season: the culmination of the agricultural cycle that fired the imaginations of the ancient worshippers of fertility gods and goddesses. Normally, I don't gravitate towards oranges, coppers and golds. My usual pallette is a cooler one of blues/greens/grays/silvers. But for this, I went with sun colors and found I really enjoyed working outside my usual range. I guess you could say that this piece was "designed" in my sub-conscious and translated into reality by the conscious work of my hands. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable project even if my approach to this particular design was somewhat undisciplined. I am still working on the back cover, using some doubled blending filament to fill in some spaces that show up as empty in reality but not in the photo.

The Front Cover

and the

The Back Cover

This whole experience has caused me to think more carefully about the Creative Process: Usually, when I get an idea for a design, I note it in my stitching journal and then just let it simmer in my sub-conscious, often for months and occasionally, even for years. As the idea takes definitive shape [re: materials, motif, size, colorway, motto], I add notations and sketches to the original journal entry. Sometimes, when I design, I chart everything down to the last stitch but more often I start with my journal entry and then I sketch it out using fabric and fiber instead of paper and pencil or computer program ... which is probably why I will remain an amateur till I can no longer stitch. But then an amateur is one who loves or has a passion for a particular pursuit. That can't be bad, now, can it?

I am curious about how the creative process works for others. If anyone who designs needle art projects, either professionally or as an amateur like myself, reads this post and cares to describe their own experience ... well, all I can say is that I would be fascinated by such comments.

And, here are a few other photos of my weekend stitching:
The Prairie Schooler Partridge in a Pear Tree ornament from JCS 2005 ... obviously, with a date change ... and my current progress on Workbasket's Quaker Sheep, very nearly done.


Rachel S said...

I love the needlebook. It is just amazing!

Have fun at the retreat!

Anna van Schurman said...

Fertile Circles came out brilliant! Have a great time at your retreat!