DMC Pearl Cotton + Clunky Stitching = Glorious World Domination

Power struggles are common in art and in life.  They are represented and played out in so many ways.  From a large worldly scale to a minor insignificant micro scale, dominant and submissive behaviors are abound.  They compliment each other really.  One cannot exist without the other right?  Like yin and yang, black and white, coffee and cream, etc.

Depending on the situation, I’m often one to challenge and vie for an empowered position.  The empowerment is not always achieved, mind you, but I often feel compelled to fight for it.  For instance, when I’m stopped at a red light, attempting to take a left onto Maine Street from McKeen Street in Brunswick, there are no cars in sight, and the light refuses to change for like a minute or more, I simply must gun it and show that light (and the Town of Brunswick, Maine) that I will not be held hostage by their faulty traffic system.  I do not regularly run red lights but that particular light seriously needs to be schooled!

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Often when I create artwork a similar, much more invisible power struggle takes place.  I like to break rules so-to-speak.  Sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much.  Last year, I used cardboard from shipping boxes as a mat for some prints.  I stitched the prints onto the cardboard and hung them in a month long show.  Before I did this though, I told my grandmother how I was planning on putting my stuff on cardboard.  Usually a most wonderful supportive lady (my biggest fan really!), she actually told me not to use cardboard in this way, that it cheapens my work.  Some synapse fired off in my brain the moment she said this to me and I was absolutely compelled to use cardboard to frame my art.  I loved the fact that most people who saw this wouldn’t think it was appropriate, or “nice” looking.  I’m sure there is some Freudian reason I do this kind of thing…

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I create regularly, on a weekly basis, with an artist friend, the aforementioned Abby Robbins, quilter of vaginae.   Abby is a amazing artist and true outside-the-box thinker.  Her recent work making little hand stitched books inspired me to get on a quilty/stitchy kick.  But I have to break the rules of the quilting world, even if it’s subtle.  So I pieced together some simple wall hangings, using depression-era reproduction prints and some photos I printed on fabric.  
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So I have this cute, kistchy sort of nine patch going on, but to break the quilting world rules, I must use ridiculously awesome photos.  I will not put my kids picture in there (ever) not because I don’t love and cherish my kids, but because that’s what most people would do.  My current imaginary power struggle with the assembly of “normal” quilters is unfolding before you.

Then I build my quilt sandwich with Warn N Natural needled cotton batting and a backing.

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I use the above DMC Pearl Cotton floss (a delicious, silky, doubled plied thread) and hand quilt a slightly imperfect, somewhat long clunky running stitch around the photos.  Several strategically placed cross stitches (again, slightly crooked) are a nice touch.  The stitches sit on top of the quilt, all textural and yummy.  Their crookedness adds interest to the piece.

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I run a machine stitch around the edge and will eventually bind each quilt with a double fold binding, complete with mitered corners.  I’ll use a complimentary print and make my own binding.

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How this empowers me, I’m really not sure, but I feel confident that all is right now in the quilting world.  I told them how it can be done!  Ha.  So silly it is, but it’s my silliness, and it keeps me motivated!

I’ve taken these long, clunky stitches further and have constructed several sweet little cloth books with more fabric pictures.

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I first backed the fabric prints with an iron-on stabilizer and then stitched them on the back of the page.  Like a reverse applique, I snipped out the center, revealing the fabric photo beneath.

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More large wonky running stitches to over turn the stitchy powers that be.

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I especially LOVE the above edges of the books.  Big clunky stitches rule!

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I added a single stamped word to each page.  It finishes it off nicely.

To quickly bring this rambling post to an abrupt end, I will say that, like the traffic light at the intersection of McKeen and Maine Street, I am being schooled on how to assume a submissive role by my feisty, often overbearing, kids.  As they grow they are trying so hard to establish their own empowerment by pushing the boundaries that we have, somewhat haphazardly, set in place.   I’m learning to let go of a lot of minor struggles. Choose my battles, you know?

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