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Monday, March 27, 2006

Wabi Sabi Completed!

I collect words and sentences that catch my fancy, and several years ago, the words Wabi Sabi caught my eye. I don't even remember where I saw it or in what context, I just collected it and the phrase with it's definition in my journal of "Ideas and Dreams". This is a page from my project book, and how I got started on this particular project.


Wabi Sabi = a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.

I've messed around with this piece for a couple of years. I had the sketch drawn out of how I wanted things to go on the piece, but I couldn't get the shape of the woman's body right. I put it aside for a while, and then we went to St. Louis for a weekend getaway. What should be standing in the lobby of the Mayfair Hotel, but this beautiful woman statue waiting for me! So, I took her picture, and then I used it's silhouette for the shape. Click on the pictures to see a bigger version of them. On the picture of the statue, you can see me in the mirror above her, taking the picture! I did tweak it a bit, but it is still the same woman! The way I do that is to put the picture in to Photoshop, make it be a black and white outline sketch, print it, then blow it up to the size I want. On this image, I had to cut her apart like a magician, and bend her torso a bit to make her a bit more pliable in the onion. I also found a picture of a water onion shape that I liked, so it went into my book too.

Don't ask me why I think a beautiful woman blooming out of a humble onion equals Wabi Sabi in my mind, but it does. Maybe it ties into an Awesome Blossom (a deep fried onion), or maybe it is the beauty of the earth and how we are all tied to it?

I thought I would use it for the Kansas Art Quilters traveling exhibit, "Layers" but I missed the date by a lot last year, but I was otherwise occupied with hubby and Mayo Clinic! Then this year, "Words and Images" came due, and I was still piddling with Wabi Sabi's leaves, and I missed that deadline too. So sadly, I don't have anything in the traveling exhibit for last year or this year. Oh well, that's life. Maybe Ms. Wabi Sabi, she didn't want to travel.

It's constructed of layers of prom dress chiffon, wedding dress organza, Waverly drapery weight fabric (on the left side), Chinese brocade under the organza, cotton sateen for the woman, buttons, ribbon, tatting, and green chiffon with burned edges, and embellished green silks for the leaves. The edges are bound by machine with an overcast stitch using white Neon Rayon thread.

The woman's hair is sort of my artsy-fartsy trademark made from collected threads and shreds of fabric; in this case, I also used some Angelina fibers. I use a Sulky Solvy sandwich to get the shape I want, and then stitch heavily back and forth and up and down on the sandwich until I think it is secure enough to dissolve the Solvy. It's really fun to do, and fun to see what it turns out like.

The onion is made of a small piece of silk linen that was in a discard bin at some quilt show I went to. The shapes on it were just perfect, and I thought they "felt" like the onion skin layers. Lots of bling bling beads on the edges kept me busy and out of trouble for a while, too. It was probably my favorite part making this piece. On the edges of the onion roots are wooden and paper beads that are supposed to suggest beads of earth still clinging to the roots.

The bottom is chiffon fabric that was folded over itself, filled with treasures, and then stitched on the squares to make pockets. Inside the pockets are found treasures: parts of a Buddhist prayer flag, beads, a candy wrapper, silk leaves, a little glass fish, and then along the very bottom edge are flat rectangular beads that have some sort of Kanji script written on them. I have no idea what they say, and I can only hope that they aren't obscene words! This part is supposed to be below the soil - hidden treasures that an archaeologist might uncover someday.

There are a few dandelion-like clusters of chicken scratch embroidery (my term) that I stitched to fill in some blank spots. The little circular pieces of white are cut from the edge of an altar cloth that was made by the Sisters of the Poor St. Francis for the chapel at their St. Margaret's Hospital that was closed in the late 1980's. My mother worked there, and brought home several of the hand tatted and crocheted cloths that are now in my workboxes.

I am going to play around with the label tomorrow. I think I am going to use Shrink Art and find some more of the Wabi Sabi references, maybe even some Kanji script to put on it. If it works, I'll post that picture too.

WABI SABI 20" X 29"

10 comments:

Tonya R said...

Wow. Just Wow. Incredible work. I'd love to see it in person to see all those incredible details.

Kay said...

This is wonderful. Besides all the layers, materials, and techniques you used to create it, I love the way you worked at it over a period of time until it all came together. I bet it finds an exhibit "home" too one of these days.

Thanks for sharing this. It makes me optimistic that what I have been struggling with for several days may finally "jell".

The Calico Cat said...

VERY COOL! Thanks for sharing & explaining the techniques and you thoughts/rationale so well!

cher said...

simply amazing. like Tonya said, WOW. I would love to be able to see this in person as well-love the details and the description-what a patient person you were to work on this for so long-and the end result sure is fabulous.

Finn said...

My gosh Sharon, she is incredible...love the play on words. And the amount of work and detail is just incredible....truly awesome!! Thanks for sharing all the steps with us..*VBS*

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

You are so creative...that's not fair...you have all the talent.

Your Wabi Sabi is beautiful and so original...I love it!!!

Dawn said...

WOW! That is all I can think of to say! It is amazing. Actually I think I would love just a quilt of that onion - your right - the leaves and shape of it are sooo cool! Ok, tomorrow I have to find something to share with you that your wabi sabi reminded me of....

Darcie said...

Ohmygoodness, Sharon!!! Wabi Sabi is a true piece of art. So much of *you* in that quilt. It's amazing...you're amazing!

It was so thoughtful of you to explain and share about the many components of Wabi Sabi. That would be the most difficult part of showing the quilt. They never give you enough lines to write about the piece to give it justice!

Holly said...

I have to say WOW, too! There is so much to see - I can't imagine the hours you have invested in this piece. My favorite part is the stuff waiting to be unearthed by an archeologist. Just amazing.

Samantha said...

she's gorgeous! congrats on the finish of such an amazing, thoughtful piece!