Monday, June 20, 2011

A bird in the hand

The spring banner is still slowly unfolding - even though the summer solstice is almost here . . .

Adding a few more birds seems like a fun idea, but I've struggled with how. Tonight, I finally put all the pieces together.

Pink 3D bird for spring banner

The body is a simple stuffed shape. The eyes are French knots. The beak, wings, and legs are all made from "fabric paper" (a la Beryl Taylor), which is a layered concoction of muslin, bits of interesting papers, and tissue paper, all held together with watered-down glue. (You can find a tutorial about it here.)

One reason that I like working with fabric paper is that it's fairly stiff, but you can sew through it. I placed two pieces back to back when I created the legs on my sewing machine. The wings are a single thickness, sewn through the buttons, so the back of the wings flare out from the body a little, making it more three-dimensional.

Pink 3D bird for banner (side two)

Now I can create a few more birds, and then assemble the flock to finish the banner!

Friday, June 10, 2011


I have not given up on finishing the spring banner - even though it is months late and summer will be here soon. (It's still quite cool in this neck of the woods, though. I've heard estimates that spring is about 3 weeks behind "normal.")

I had originally thought that "O" would have a sun on it. But after creating a bunch of these organza leaves, I thought they'd be pretty sprinkled on the vintage doily.

Spring banner - "O" with leaves

I sandwiched the organza between layers of Solvy (a water-soluble stabilizer), then stitched the leaves with free motion on my sewing machine. They pucker and buckle in places, which adds to their character. You'd have to put it in a hoop to get the leaves to come out flatter.

Spring banner - "O" close-up

I didn't think about the leaves unraveling with wear. After I finished sewing the leaves to the doily, I re-read a book - maybe Fragile Fabrics by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn? - that talked about heat-sealing sheer synthetic fabrics so that they don't unravel. Well, it's too late for me to do it this time around. I hope they'll hold up okay over time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A letter to Sue

Dear Suzee,

Part of me keeps hoping that if I don't write this blog post, it never happened. You didn't die. You should still be working and playing and breathing in Manhattan.

But you're not. I flew back to our hometown in New Hampshire, to see you one last time, to kiss you on the forehead before the casket was closed.

How can this be? How can your beautiful life be over so soon?

You lived with gusto, with guts, with joy. You sang, you laughed, you cooked, you loved. You faced heartache and you came out a better person for it. You did not hide. You embraced your life and welcomed so many into your circle.

I was your smug older cousin, but I came to understand that I could learn a lot from you. I admired your ability to let your hurts go, and to live in the now. At the wake, your mom said that I was the one who taught you how to read. I don't remember that, but I know that you taught me to sing - to lift my voice, loud and proud. You helped me to see that I could be my free-spirit, uninhibited self. Why would I waste my time trying to be anybody else?

The morning of your funeral, I went for a walk in the woods that we roamed as kids. I took my camera, and found some comfort in noticing the beauty of the flowers on the path. Bluets were everywhere. Small, humble flowers, ones that we must have noticed every May, as the days grew warmer and the peepers began to sing in the blueberry pond.

Bluet clump

As I finished my walk, I noticed - or felt? - a particular clump of bluets in the middle of the path. I kept walking, but something told me that I had to go back. It was somehow important that I photograph them. I put my camera down and pushed the shutter a couple of times.

Bluet with five petals (first photo)

As I reviewed the second photo, still crouching on the path, I finally saw what I was supposed to see: one bluet had five petals instead of four. Totally unexpected - I'd never seen that before.

Bluet with five petals

I thought it looked like a star. And I smiled, thinking that you are a new star, too.

Thank you for being a part of my life.
I love you!
-- Judy