Design I

Monday, October 28: Peer Critique

FiberPaperArt Club (FPA), October 16, 2013

The Challenge:

Molly Howell led the workshop:


Rowan went with hearts from Ikea:

Kim chose a faux shibori felt:

In other news, Alison embroidered:

And Maura engaged Molly's hand dyed turmeric mobile:

Design I
Problem 3: Color Extraction
Topics: Local color, Local value

Materials: Bristol paper, acrylic paint - Ivory Black and Titanium White,
full page/full color photograph
Choose a full page, full color photograph from a magazine.
Repaint 20-25 percent of it in grays, following the original values so closely
that the area you have painted fits logically within the unpainted area.
Value means the degree of lightness or darkness reflected off a surface.
In this exercise, you will essentially extract color from your chosen area,
leaving only value.
If a well-done solution is photographed in black and white,
it should be very hard to distinguish the area painted in grays from the original.


Iceland Calling!

Two Fridays ago, MSU FiberPaperArt Club (FPA) skyped with Guðrún Bjarnadóttir
to learn more about her natural dye process with native Icelandic plants
(as well as a bit of indigo and cochineal).

Guðrún walked us through the intricate, intuitive and lengthy process
of hand dyeing her Icelandic yarns.

To see some of her beautiful work, visit her etsy shop:

It was so great!

(Apparently, I abandoned my fake Mississippi accent
for a fake Icelandic accent while talking to Guðrún.)

FPA is so thankful to Guðrún for sharing with us her knowledge
and her inside stories on Viking lore and flora.

Special thanks to botanists from the MSU Department of Biological Sciences for joining us.

Here are a few screen shots from our talk with Iceland:

Last night I took to the kitchen.

I put a chicken in the slow cooker, set the oven to 400º,
cut and cleaned kale, mustard greens, and sweet potatoes,
grated ginger and ground cardamom,
greased pans and set dough aside,
diced onions and poured honey.

The oven saw bread rise on a stone,
kale dry out in a tray,
potatoes roast in a skillet,
while the stove sauteed greens
and the cooker stewed.

And all the time I thought of family.

Sunday, my mother called to tell me that Aunt Esther had died.
I never knew Aunt Esther. She was 97 when she passed;
she had been my maternal grandfather's younger sister.
That grandfather had been a brutal man.
More evidence of his brutality surfaced on Aunt Esther's passing.
For close to 80 years, Aunt Esther kept a secret:

I had always known my mother's father had had a sister named Esther and a sister named Viola. My mother knew her Aunt Esther and her Aunt Vi, who died long ago. She never told me about Aunt Irene and Aunt Ida (and no one has yet to mention Aunt Mary, though we learned this past weekend that there was an Uncle William and that he died in infancy).

On Sunday, my mother asked me if I had time to hear a tale.

Just before Aunt Esther died, my mother, Dale, and her sister, my aunt Didi, received a letter from three first cousins they did not know they had. The letter began: "We Are Your Cousins."

As a child, my mother knew she had cousins that she was not allowed to meet, though the why was never given. My mother's father was a violent man. He beat his family and no one questioned his authority. He made a lot of money and many people attended his funeral in 1958, but no one remembers him fondly. The only son of Italian immigrants, he was given authority over the family when his father died. He was fifteen at the time.

His older sisters, Ida and Irene, married African American men and so he turned on them. He excommunicated them. As it turns out, he really excommunicated himself, his children, and his grandchildren (me and my only cousin, David).

I am ecstatic to discover this family I did not know existed. On my mother's side, there have always been secrets. I have gone after them over the years and some have yielded, though not in accordance with my schedule. I had been told as a child that I had French ancestry, but pressed my mother on this in my teens and learned that her father had covered his Italian heritage with a false French identity. Aunt Ida and Aunt Irene's husbands were not good enough for him,
but apparently he was not good enough for him, either.
His wife and his daughters were not good enough;
and no doubt, had he lived to meet me,
I would have been inferior since my father was a Jew.

I can imagine Aunt Esther capable of keeping this secret had she not known her sisters' children and their children's children, but all this time she knew both branches of the tree. My grandfather died in 1958. Aunt Esther kept the family apart for another fifty-five years. What was her logic? Or had her brother been as brutal to her as he had been to his daughters? Had he committed acts of violence against everyone? Had everyone internalized the fear? Was everyone split on the inside the way the family was split from itself?

This is the beginning of the retelling.
There are more family stories,
but they are not mine to tell.
Legacy is a tricky beast.
This week, I am hopeful
and I feel a bit of triumph
over secrets and evil and ill-will.

I want to thank my
Cousin Audrey
Cousin Bobbie
Cousin Phyllis
for facing potential rejection
and tracking down my mom and my aunt,
me and my cousin Dave.

We were lost; and now we're found.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Remember these excellent turmeric dyed swatches from last week?
This week, FPA put them to good use.

The Golden Triangle Quilt Guild is donating mini-art quilts
to the Starkville Arts Association scholarship auction,
and FPA designed and quilted an entry for the event:

 Prof. Rowam Haug leads the workshop:

Kim cuts the fabric into strips:


Can you spot FPA's hand-dyed fabrics?

Brittney sews the layers all together:

 Here I am, looking useful!

Turmeric dye, front AND back!
 Nice intuitive quilting, Brittney!

 Hand stitched binding:

Corner pockets for the dowel rod:

Ready to hang:

What a beauty!

The Mini-Quilt theme is "Seasons".
There was much debate as to the season
represented in the FPA quilt.
Some say Summer; others say Fall.
I vote "Late August".

Suggested Readings: