Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mom's Fabric Postcard and the journey to make it

You only have to type into Google an array of words followed by "art" to see the most amazing display of talent, art materials, creativity, and a new world of ideas.

This is how I discovered mail art and fabric postcards. Then I went off to the library where I found a wonderful book that talked about materials and techniques. Now, when I play with art materials I usually just go trial and error, or find a great discovery to use my stash of goodies.

I have always loved fabric--watching my mom hand cut individual patterns, hand piecing them together, appliquéing the pieces, and embellishing quilt tops with embroidery. The finished top was put into an old fashioned wooden quilt frame that was suspended from the ceiling then lowered or raised with a pulley system my dad rigged up.

Mom always had drawers full of scraps, and the shelves in the closet held the larger yardage and the muslin that she always used for a backing. There were the old fashioned calico prints, and every color you could think of. Mom taught me that a touch of black in any quilt would pull everything together, or a little bit of yellow could do the same thing. My mom learned to quilt when she was five years old from her grandmother. My mom is now ninety years old and with arthritis in her hands, and a finger with a torn tendon, she no longer quilts; instead, she makes potholders using the sewing machine and binding them by hand. These potholders are the most treasured gifts her children and grandchildren get and we use old potholders till they are ragged, torn, shredded, and beyond use before we will pull out a new one from our own private stash that we have accumulated.

I always loved going into the fabric stores and buying a half yard of fabric of something that I thought she would love and then take a bundle of these to her as a surprise. During my doll making days I used this as an excuse to buy fabric and built my own private stash that I kept in an old flat steamer trunk. Discovering altered art, or mixed media, has opened a new world to me and while my sewing machine is still a little daunting to me at times, now it is a tool in my studio, not just something to make clothing.

Needless to say I watch for the sales and clearance sales and my cabinets are slowly being stocked with bits and pieces of cotton, satin, felt, batik, velvet, and so much more. The biggest treasure was buying $75.00 a yard beaded bridal satin for $2.50 a yard and turning it into drapes for a guest bedroom with enough leftover to use in a future art project.

My mom will never call herself an artist even though her quilts are works of art--being completely handmade from start to finish and only ten stitches per inch--but she is an artist. I hope mom doesn’t mind the machine stitching, the rotary cutter pieces, the computer generated postcard template, and the purchased felt embellishment on this humble postcard made with love.

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