Flights of fancy

Luna

I love moths.  Not so much the ones who like to eat up our woolens when we aren’t looking, but rather the more showy ones.

A number of years ago I embroidered the luna moth above.  She remains still one of my favorites.  Although the model for the above moth hailed from West Virginia, all sorts of varieties of marvelous moths can be found in this Ohio River Valley, including the Luna, as we are situated along the very edges of Appalachia where loads of wonderful creatures reside.

I am excited for summer’s warmth to come to us (though not our late-summer heatwaves!) and along with it, perhaps a few more interesting moths to observe in the local woods.  The One-Eyed Sphinx Moth, though not tremendously common, might be found on occasion in our Ohio woods.  Today, however, I found one in my thread basket….

sphinx begins

Well, really she came from my mind’s eye, with the help of a guide book and some source photos, with the eventual plan of being worn as a talisman.  Much like the recent mushrooms growing in the same said basket!

It’s still quite chilly out of doors, so it is no surprise I found her curled up amidst the chaos of my embroidery.

threaded chaos

And as I was home today awaiting some puppy meds for our Iris, I decided to follow this moth’s lead, and see where she might lead me. sphinx midway

Eventually she came together into a tiny, mothlike facsimile with which I am fairly pleased.

sphinx

The art of embroidery is a slow and steady conjuring, consisting of the magical ingredients of time, patience, a bit of thread, and perhaps, a dash or two of binge-able Netflix.

one eyed sphinx

As this work is so tiny, it will be installed into a wearable frame, looking much like a little embroidery hoop.  I shall post it on my instagram feed when it is ready.  Should this lovely moth strike your fancy, let me know.  I’d love her to go to a wonderful home…..

ps… here is the necklace this little sphinx found herself into.  I think it turned out nicely!

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A fungus among us

taodstool embroidery

A number of weeks ago, something grew out of my thread basket as a gift for my niece Riley who is as much a believer in all things magical as I.  For her birthday, I knew some tiny toadstools were in order.

Then, in recent days and much to my surprise, something else grew there as well…

morel embroidery

Delicious and mysterious Morel mushrooms, a spring time delicacy, growing right in my thread basket! Can you even imagine it?  Well, I can.  And I am thrilled with how they turned out.

morel embroidery 2

 

Quetzal

Quetzal 1 Just before my recent trip to Guatemala to celebrate our 25th (!!!) anniversary, I drew a little bird  on a bit of cloth, knowing there might be long airport waiting times ahead and that I would  need something with which to keep my hands occupied.

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The bird who came to alight in my thread basket is a quetzal, the symbolic representation of a country I left behind long ago as a child.  I wasn’t sure I’d have the opportunity to see one in the wild, and as it turns out, we were too far into the lowlands for all that.  But we did see the quetzal bird in all sorts of other intriguing forms such as money and even dangling from the rear view mirror of our taxi cab in Guatemala City.

While still in the comfort of my studio, I got the stitching started by tacking down a bit of background color (most of which would eventually be covered) and by making sure my thread basket had all of at least the basic colors I might need while on the road.

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I worked on quetzal bird a good bit along the way, while also taking the time to do quite a bit of sketching….

belize postcard cecropia leaf sketch jaguar temple sea turtle spider monkey

Upon returning home, there was still much to finish on my quetzal bird.  And so, while catching up at the day job, realigning with all things homey, I stitched here and there to tidy it up.

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Quetzal 7

Many colors were used, bold and subtle alike.  I worked off of many source photos, not just one, so that my bird would be like no other, but rather, have a personality all its own, which I think it does.

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I don’t really know how many hours I put in on this project, as it was done in fits and starts, with bits and bobs of time and materials, here and there, to and fro…

And I am not even sure if this bird is ‘finished’ or slated to become a part of something else entirely one day (been a while since I’ve made an art quilt….).  But for now, here is Quetzal.  I am excited to share it with you here in all it’s feathered finery.  If any of you are signed up for the embroidery class at the end of April (which is full but we are planning others!), I shall bring Quetzal to show and share as honestly, photos do not do justice to delicate needlework.  And I for one, think this quite the gem.  (This comes from one not prone to self-congratulatory behavior, generally speaking).

Quetzal 6

Below is a quick trip across the needled landscape of this embroidery project….

Edgeness. 3 funerals and a birth

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I have heard it said that in 7 years, a person’s whole body – every bit of it, down to the cellular (and perhaps beyond) level – is replaced in that time by a new set of cells, ready to take on the task of the day to day life of being human.  But what of the soul?

I’ve returned from some magical travels to a more equatorial part of the world with my beloved, and have landed amidst the mud and mire of early spring back home.  Normally a joyful season for most folk, what with the coming of green things and the promise of new fawns in the bulging bellies of the local mama deer, early spring has, in fact, proved challenging for us over the years.  This year marks the 7th anniversary of Esme’s death which was a sea change in the lives of both of my children, in our own lives as parents, and in the collective life of an entire close-knit community.  Not to mention, her dear family.   Everything is now measured against this tragic event.  And in March, we are called back to the season to take stock, re-visit ourselves and our losses and re-calibrate our lives to a certain extent.

And so we did.

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Es’s weeping cherry tree in Spring Grove Cemetery is thriving.  Under the now formidable presence of the tree, little offerings of love and memory are present….

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We were glad to see them.

Madeleine and I drove around the cemetery just to take in the beauty and the years of memorials present there.  It’s breathtaking, the number of stories held by this place.  Just the names and birthdates alone get you thinking, ‘ Why did this person die so young?’  Or maybe even, ‘wow, that guy sure lived a long and hearty life for the time!’.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it.

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There really doesn’t.

It was strange that M. was home for Esme’s anniversary as it was only to mark the passing of another family friend, the loving mama of a dance friend of her’s.  Lucinda, a wonderfully witty, thoroughly engaging fellow dance mom I’d known over the years, passed away from cancer, leaving behind a kid just a year younger than my own, amongst many others she loved and whom cherished her.

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We are all heartbroken.

And so from memories of one to memorializing another, March seems to be funeral season.  We are all glad we have each other.

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Amidst all of this funeriality, I was called upon to play some music with friends at the wake of someone dear to them.  And so we did.

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It was fascinating to me to see the effect of the presence live music has in the environment of grief.  Music, especially live music, seems to punctuate the moments of celebration of a long life well lived, while simultaneously allowing for the pauses for tearful acknowledgement of great loss to a tune perhaps more in the minor key, or slowed down enough to capture the depth of that loss.  I was honored to play a small part in all of it.

And today, M and I attended Lucinda’s funeral.  And then made our way back up to Columbus to plant her back at school where she belongs.

Like I said, it’s been a heavy season.

But every edge has two sides.  Alongside the grief in recent days, was a fair amount of hope-full worry in our family, which has thankfully come to  a bright and beautiful homecoming.

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Our nephew, wee Frank came to us on Monday, just over a week ago.  He arrived early, amidst some worry as to The State Of Things regarding how he was faring.  Sure enough he had a bit of a struggle for a number of days as he caught his breath from his early oncoming.  Eventually, thanks to the tremendously brave parenting and caregiving he was fortunate to receive, Frank went home to get to know his siblings. Things, for perhaps just one wild moment, seemed completely right with the world…. (though in this shot, Big Brother Harry might not be so sure.  I’ve heard he’s come ’round in the mean time. )

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This is the crazy balance of it all.  Walking the knife’s edge of life’s beauty and heartbreak.  Making time for all of this Big Life Stuff, while trying to fit the work of Making a Living, or perhaps even Getting a Little Art Made, into the grooves of life’s floorboards.

Even though I didn’t feel quite up to it with these recent heavy days, I met up with some fellow sketchers to challenge the blustery breeze of Esme’s day with some drawing downtown.  Christina had invited a few of us to join her while WCET filmed her segment for a show on her work.  I can’t wait to see it, and of course share it with you, as her work is fabulous.  Sketching is a strong part of her work and we all enjoy sketching together.  In spite of the chill, we all managed a sketch of Music Hall, as well as some lively conversation…

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Why is it always a lesson?  That making the time and effort for some music and some art, are the things that make sense of a difficult season?  Perhaps because I am only human and by that I mean, I have still much to learn.  This is the development of the Soul.

It is March.  I have many hours to make up at the Shop and many, many more hours to make up to my own solitude and writing and sketching of new ideas.  In times like these when life comes at us reckless, I wonder, how do they do it?  The successful ones.  Those produced, published, and promoted.

Perhaps they just stomp the work into the floorboards of life, between the moments of birth and grief.  I have heard that music happens between the notes.  Perhaps I am onto something…

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More soon…