Cue the festive fabric project— antidote to the big push of the SDI Emerging Wisdom Conference and this difficult year of my partner Holly’s health challenges. Turns out I couldn’t wait to try translating a simple acrylic sketch painting into a loose fabric scrap mandala. Here’s a peek at the behind-the-scenes process, mid-way through this current experiment painting with fabric.
First, the sketch painting– I just loved the shapes and vibrant color that showed up from my brush during a contemplative workshop, beautifully led by Sarah Kotchian and Donna O’Neill. Can you tell that those two hours were a blessed oasis in the middle of the SDI conference? My joy practically radiated off the page! Here’s a snapshot of the painting:
When I couldn’t stop looking at my little painting (and loving it), I thought, “Why not try to convey that same energy in fabric?” I was right to try– it’s super fun! I built the background of the mandala first, with off-whites.
Cutting the gorgeous fabric shapes (below) reminds me of children’s book author Eric Carle, who paints his own paper and shapes it into collage. (Carle’s The Tiny Seed is one of my favorites. I received a copy from my friend Aaron Pruitt several years ago as a reminder that my work makes a difference. Thanks, Aaron.) I hoped to keep my cuts and shapes loose and a little messy, like Carle’s. That’s good spiritual practice for me, since I can get too fussy and exact, which cramps the energy!
I love using lots of scraps of fabric from former projects, so I get the added bonus of mini-trips down memory lane. Red from Sue Joiner’s Pentecost Stole, green from the Passion of the Earth project, etc.
Another surprisingly satisfying element in my fabric work are these messy micro-scraps. They seem to represent the junk or challenge of life, and the irony is, they always end up being beautiful and one of my favorite parts of the image.
This time, the grid of sewing lines over all these little pieces reminds me of a net. I’m trying to slow down and be mindful these days, catching more of the lovely bits I might otherwise miss.
“But wait,” you might ask, “How did you sew down all those little bits of fabric and thread? Wouldn’t they wiggle around too much or get caught in your sewing machine?” Yes they would, except for– check this out– the tissue paper method! I cut a piece of tissue to cover all the loose bits, pinned it down, then sewed right over the whole thing enough to tack down the pieces. The tissue tore away, then I added more sewing on top to keep bits in place.
Finally, the threads on the back tell their own story. Too bad these will be covered up in the end, when I mount the piece. Well, maybe we all need a bit of mystery inside…
Here’s the front-side image so far:
Next I’ll add blue watery waves at the bottom, giving a sense of peace and holding to the image. I’ll get to decide whether it’s finished at that point… to resist my usual temptation to add complication or detail. I think this one might want to stay more simple and raw, uncomplicated. We’ll see!
Hope you enjoyed the process tour, and I’ll look forward to sharing the finished image….
Colorful, messy life blessings to you!
UPDATE 7-9-14: I’ve finished this image! See the It's Something About Joy blog post.