Friday, December 2, 2016

Esperanza, Envuelta

TITLE: Esperanza, Envuelta (Hope, Enshrouded)
ARTIST: Angelina Kendra, 2016
MATERIALS: cotton fabrics, thread, metal embellishments, silk
SIZE: 28.5 x 42"
This piece represents a visual interpretation of the seven stages of grief, based on the work of psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. As an infographic, the piece reads like a bar chart, with Time beginning at the upper left and moving downward along the Y axis. The fragmented bars represent the stuttering progress and simultaneity of the various stages; I chose prints to reflect the emotional reactions (both my own and others') to this national nightmare.
Shock. The world is shattered.
Shock. Initial reaction to the realization that 61 million AmeriKKKans chose to cast a precious vote for one of the most repugnant megalomaniacs to cross our national stage -- it felt like the world was shattered, like the pieces of reality had cracked into a trillion shards -- could not focus or think or process or barely breathe -- there can't possibly be so many short-sighted, small-minded, self-centered, mythology-driven, anti-intellectual, fetus-fetishizing, cyber-paranoid, hate-filled voters [even though personal knowledge, empathy, and academic training tell me otherwise...rational thought is not invited to the shock party]

Denial. Floating through emptiness.
Denial. Nothing to look at here. Just a void of nothingness. Empty space. Nothing is happening. This is not real.
Anger. Pulsing and insistent.
Anger. Pure, pulsating red rage, throbbing in its insistence. [At least the physical nausea has subsided.] Violent fantasies. Poisonous toxic disgust coursing through every cell of my body. Vengeance fantasies. Nothing nice to say to anyone right now so it's best to seclude myself and let this fire burn itself out a bit. Finding comfort in rising death rates. Nothing nice to say. If there were Thought Police, I'd be in Double Plus Ungood trouble.
Bargaining. Chaotic search for answers.
Bargaining. A chaotic and frantic search for anything that will help...emigration plans, reassurance that at least my own children are healthy straight (?) white males so they will likely be fine in the short term, desperately reading poetry and viewing art, ordering books about the Holocaust, watching documentaries about Civil Rights leaders, volunteering, donating, [backsliding to indulge in more violent fantasies, anger coexists with bargaining, thoughts inseparably braided together], pondering career changes, seeking community, rioting, recounting, protesting, organizing, counting down days until the midterms, [another wave of nausea, hey at least it could keep some weight off, I'd hate to think our national leaders think I'm a Fat Pig], wondering how to galvanize nonvoters and new voters and burn off the apathy and rise up with a united voice for a better future for a rat in a cage with nowhere to go and everything to lose...

Depression. Mesmerizing depths.
Depression. A small square in this visual composition, but so mesmerizing, so enticing, an invitation into a black hole of self-doubt, self-pity, eternal grief, spiraling into an emotional abyss that lasts forever and stains everything and sucks every ounce of joy and humor and spark from the world...desperately clawing onto anything else, even hot boiling rage is a better alternative to avoid disappearing here forever...

Acceptance. A new normal.
Acceptance. Day by day. Agonizing minutes. A slow and steady crawl back to calm moments and a semblance of normalcy. Perhaps as many as five minutes at a time when I can forget about 61 million traitors to freedom and progress and human rights. [No, that's not right -- one can't be a "traitor" never having believed in the first place.] Dinner with friends. Maybe a game with my children. I might chuckle at one of their jokes or tease them about their music. I might vote for John Cena -- he's even got a great "My Time Is Now" slogan all ready to go. We laugh a little about that.

And finally, Kubler-Ross suggests that underlying the entire grieving process is:

Hope. Still hiding in Pandora's box?
Hope. I used one of my favorite prints here, a cosmic fuschia that bubbles with enthusiasm and suggests a dynamic power of barely contained energy. But in this moment, at this time in this place, I have covered this beautiful thing with an ugly shroud, weighed down by the explicit miserable reality of 61 million human beings who would seek to block hope for everyone else. I added the lettering -- en espaƱol -- both to signify the relevance to immigrant populations (not only Spanish-speaking ones) but also as a nod to one of the main characters in Barbara Kingsolver's moving book The Bean Trees, which served as the window that first opened my own eyes to a more worldly vision of compassion:
“A human being can be good or bad or right or wrong, maybe. But how can you say a person is illegal? You just can't. That's all there is to it.”
The matchstick quilting was a meditation. White machine noise to drown out the poisonous rage-filled accusations and nightmarish prophecies screaming through my mind...boring straight lines, made occasionally irregular when I couldn't focus through tears...thick black funereal border to enclose the whole thing and bind it to this hellscape of a moment in history.

The primary question that I have been asking myself over the past month is, What, exactly, am *I* grieving? I don't have a satisfying answer for this. Mostly I think I am grieving the loss of my own hope. My tenuous belief in the goodness of the people with whom I share a national identity. The end of my charade of a complacent suburban mom. My disgust is so profound I can taste it. I know that I will not be part of any "solution" to this schism, because I am not prepared to shine any beacon or hold anyone in the light or pray or wish for anything. I won't even waste my energy trying to have a civil conversation because I, quite literally, have NOTHING nice to say. And I won't be bothered learning a third language where words mean nothing and logic does not apply.

The best thing I have to hope for is a heaping helping of schadenfreude as 61 million delusional AmeriKKKans slowly realize they have just chosen a preeminent con man to preside over the rights-eroding, environment-despoiling, freedom-crushing disgrace that is about to unfold. No one deserves it more than they do.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Women's Words

The most recent challenge from my art quilting group was to make a 16 x 20" piece inspired by a story or anything literary. With the vitriol of the election underway, I chose The Handmaid's Tale, in which literacy (and therefore Scrabble) was forbidden by an authoritarian theocracy. When Margaret Atwood published her book in 1985, she described it as “Speculative Fiction.” By the time I read it in the mid 1990s, I cavalierly believed that earlier generations of feminists had pretty much solved the biggest problems for American women in the modern world, that there might be some ironing out and fine-tuning left to do, but that the bulk of the work had been done.


Even a cursory level of attention to news about women’s healthcare, body autonomy, and political voice makes it clear that for every inch of progress, there has been pushback strengthened by economic woes, a poorly educated populace, and shamefully misinformed male decision makers.
The question I want this piece to inspire is: How “speculative” is this fiction?
Women's Words (16 x 20", 2016)
The grid arrangement of Scrabble words are inspired by the novel itself, but in quilting the spaces in between, I added some contemporary quotations that illustrate just how very far women still have to go. In mostly chronological order, starting with the outrageous example that probably inspired me to read the book in the first place:
“The facts show that people who are raped -- who are truly raped -- the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work and they don't get pregnant," North Carolina State Rep. Marvin Warren “Henry” Aldridge (R-Greenville), 1995
Women's Words, detail (North Carolina State Rep. Marvin Warren “Henry” Aldridge [R-Greenville], 1995)
“if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” – US Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri), 2012
Women's Words, detail (US Rep. Todd Akin [R-Missouri], 2012)
“ ‘If you’re going to go down that road, you may have consensual sex that night and then the next morning it may be rape.’ So the way he said it was, ‘Just remember, Roger, some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning.’ ” – Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake), 2012
Women's Words, detail (Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard [R-Rice Lake], 2012)
“If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen….” – US Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), 2012
“Bimbos”… “dogs” … “fat pigs” … “slobs” … “bleeding from her wherever” – Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump (1946 - ?)
Women's Words, detail (US Rep. Ron Paul [R-Texas], 2012)
Women's Words, detail (Donald J. Trump)

Women's Words, detail (Donald J. Trump)
So, again: Speculative?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Last-Minute Q2 Finish Report

I started the second quarter of the year with an overly ambitious list of sewing goals, but I was sidetracked by some very rewarding printmaking class projects, then preparations for a summer of vending quilts and home dec items at local fairs and farmer's markets. Nonetheless, I managed to complete half of my goals. Here's the original list, along with results.

1. Cedric's zombie shirt -- DONE!! He cuts quite the figure in it, too:

2016 Mom Awards: don't even bother challenging me this year
Young artist at work, in bespoke zombie attire
2. Secret Gift Thing #1 (Birthday shirt for my husband) -- DONE!!

This new goofy circuitry one makes 14 (!) shirts in his summer wardrobe.
3. Secret Gift Thing #2 (Father's Day present) -- DONE, and even (briefly) blogged!!

4. Orange Hexagon wallhanging, with Basic Mixologie mini-charm pack -- DONE!! I love this pattern and I love this fabric.

5. Gypsy Wife quilt -- NOPE. Not even close. But two of my students have finished theirs, so that's something!

6. Kitchen decor for my aunt -- DONE, and delivered! Placemats weren't part of the finished collection, because they didn't fit on the table, so the full set included a runner, four pillow covers, dinner napkins, and a pair of hotpads as a fun little addition.
I combined the Charley Harper fish print with a rich plum that looked like suede. Two pillows in each color combo.
The plum pillows looked spectacular. The fabric was to die for. (I think it was a Ricky Tims Rhapsody print.)

She has a long narrow glass table, so I made the runner 10x80". It was a gorgeous coppery brown that looked nice with all of her prints, including the upholstery sample from her built-in bench. Thin strips of all the other prints and some coordinating scrappy ones stretched the whole way down in a single line.
The mitered double-sided napkins looked spectacular, and so substantial!
7. Craftsy BOM quilt -- DONE!! I love this quilt so much. I did some really impressive custom free-motion work on each individual block, then as I assembled it I added a little more feathering in the negative space (dark grey Plus signs) to anchor the pieces together. I couldn't be happier with the finished project!
Sampler blocks by Amy Gibson for Craftsy (2012)
The back of my Craftsy sampler quilt -- so much delightful orange!!

8. Kandinsky quilt -- NOPE (I have really been slacking on the art quilting)
9. Quilting my Vintage Spin quilt -- NOPE (but it's first up for Q3)
10. Seaside dress -- NOPE
11. Orange batik shirt -- NOPE
12. Summer skirt -- NOPE

Friday, June 24, 2016

Father's Day

As soon as I saw this design, I knew I had to make it for my dad, who lovingly introduced me to John Lennon (and the Beatles) early in my life. I stitched it on some beautiful lightweight denim and made a pillow as a Father's Day gift for his new music studio, which is a really impressive space! Peace.

"Imagine all the people sharing all the world..."
NB: This is Secret Gift Thing #2 (#3 on my list of goals for the Q2 Finish-along).

Friday, June 17, 2016


It took longer to embroider these 49 hearts than for 49 people to die. I don't have anything more to say about it.

Have we had #enough yet?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Finish-Along goals for Q2

Just a few more semester-weeks, which means stitch-related production is about to kick into high gear (despite my commitment to growing some vegetables this summer -- but most of that work is done by the sun).

Q2 goals:

  1. Cedric's zombie shirt -- now that we know how big he is, he's ready for me to make his summer button-up from the fabric he picked out in San Diego in January. This boy will cut quite the figure in a shirt made out of this:
  2. Secret Gift Thing #1 -- can't say publicly what this is, but it's a goal. Scout's honor.
  3. Secret Gift Thing #2 -- ditto. Scout's honor x2.
  4. Basic Mixologie hexagon wallhanging -- I did the first line of quilting on it, but I need to commit to finishing the thing.
  5. Gypsy Wife quilt -- I still have to do a bunch of filler blocks, all the strip assembly, and quilt the dang thing. And I might put a big scrappy border on this one just for fun. This is the most ambitious Q2 goal.
  6. Napkins, placemats, runner, and pillows for my aunt's new kitchen -- she picked out some wonderful fabrics at Loom (my favorite part of the Strip District, although lunch at the Smallman Galley gave it a run for the money this time)
  7. Finish assembling the Craftsy BOM quilt -- no problem, since I already have the strips together. I still have to decide how much more quilting to add in the grey negative space once the segments are attached to each other. Probably just some simple meandering for simplicity's sake.
  8. Kandinsky quilt -- this is my journal group's challenge for May. I haven't started anything yet, but the challenge was set in March.
    Composition in Red and Black (Wassily Kandinsky, 1920)
  9. Vintage Spin quilt -- I made the top last fall, and I want to quilt it soon. Too pretty to leave on a hanger.
  10. Seaside dress (left)
  11. Orange batik shirt (center)
  12. Summer skirt (right)

I suspect this list is a little too ambitious, but it's nice to have goals.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wrapping up Q1

The first quarter of 2016 is behind us, and it was a productive few months here. I had nine specific goals for the 2016 Finish-Along, and I worked through six of them (so so close on the seventh!). 
  1. Junk drawer challenge (Poseidon) -- DONE
  2. Hexagon suns quilt -- DONE (but not blogged yet -- I'll take some photos and do that tomorrow)
  3. Best. Day. Ever. herringbone quilt -- nope. I'll probably finish the quilting tomorrow, and the binding is all ready to attach, so I'll just slide this one into the Q2 goal list.
  4. Triangle Tiles pattern finalization -- nope. But I'll be teaching this as a class in July at Lisa's Clover Hill Quilts in July, so that will be done in Q2 as well.
  5. Allure hexagon placemats -- DONE
  6. Skinny Mini quilt swap -- DONE, although I never received one from whoever my partner was. Sad face emoji. I posted a photo on Instagram, but I can't seem to get the link to work from the laptop and my iPad screen shattered today. Weeping face emoji. How sad is that -- I have to type out my emotions instead of using the handy options that the good people at Apple (apple fruit emoji) have pre-coded for me.
  7. Zombie shirt for my 12-year-old -- nope, he asked me to wait until the weather warmed up so it would be the right size for him to wear all summer. I like his optimism that he could grow through an entire (oversized) size in three months. The zombie fabric still awaits my attention. Zombie emoji.
  8. Two beer shirts for my extra-tall and hard-to-fit brother-in-law -- DONE, although I didn't blog them earlier because he wants to keep them secret until his big festival sometime this month. I won't tag him or put the photos on instagram with a million beer hashtags until I get the go-ahead, but I suppose his tribe isn't creeping my blog too often. Winky face emoji. I think (I hope) I finally have the pattern sized correctly for him, which means before too many more holidays he will have a closet full of custom barbecue shirts of the zaniest fabrics on the market. My husband has over twenty of these, I think -- I'll have to compile a photo collage sometime because his closet is an absolute hoot. Photos of the new beer shirts are below.
  9. Rocky Horror challenge quilt -- DONE. Thanks to my Loyal Readers I got over 100 votes!
Shirt #1
    For scale, this guy is 5'6" now.
Shirt #2, a little extra length in the sleeves. I think I got the pattern right this time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rocky Horror Badass Challenge

A few months back my wicked children strong-armed me (they're big enough to do that literally now) into signing up for the Rocky Horror challenge sponsored by the Badass Quilters Society. I dutifully did so, and received a lovely collection of Moda Grunge fat quarters in white, red, grey, and black plus a little chunk of pebbly gold pleather. I am deeply in love with Grunge. My boys are deeply in love with the sheer naughtiness of ths delightfully weird movie, which they saw in a double feature along with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog last Halloween. They lobbied pretty hard for me to use at least one Bad Word, but--although I am not conceptually opposed--I ultimately decided on something that would be hangable in my husband's chemistry office. Maybe next time, boys...

Without any further blah-blah-blogging, here is my creation:

See what's on the slab...
Public voting starts on March 24, so please plan to pop over to the site ... Vote early, vote often!

ETA: this was #9 on my list of Q1 finish-along goals.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Junk drawer challenge: Results

[ETA: This was #1 on my list of Q1 finish-along goals.]

My journal group has recently adjusted the schedule so that we make a group challenge every other month with general show-and-tell/technique-oriented meetings in between. Unfortunately, winter got the best of us this month so we cancelled our February gathering. I had been hoping to get photos of the remaining one or two projects that were not shown in January, but I will just edit this post later to add them.

Our project for January was to use a collection of junk drawer items; each of us brought in fifteen identical (or mostly so) items, which we then exchanged so everyone would have the same collection of random items to incorporate into a piece no larger than 18" on any side. The items were varied:
Ribbons, beads, bells, doodads...
Mostly because of the purple tassels and all the spangly bits, my initial thoughts were of desert horses in costumed riders...then carousels...but I ended up taking the equine shape in a more watery direction. I don't have a lot of process photos, although I did post a few onto Facebook ( and Instagram (@quiltingafterdark). I started with some lightly textured mostly-solids (something like Moda Grunge for the sky and a darker more washed green-blue for the water), added just a little pearly paint for some foamy texture in the water, then stitched the two pieces together with the wiggly white ribbon sandwiched between for a whitecap effect. The rest was an exercise in fabric collage and heavy embellishment. I'll let the photos and descriptive captions do the rest of the talking.
Poseidon's Chariot (2016, 18 x 18") -- see the original inspiration image
Poseidon's Chariot, detail -- extra beads (not in challenge packet) used for hair and beard; seashell as codpiece (get it? cod? It's funny because it's Poseidon!)
Poseidon's Chariot, lower left detail -- chariot is fussy-cut from a commercial nautilus print; heart clips attached as tail fin; folded hexagon cut into scallop shape with pearl embellishment; painted ribbons and yarns used as kelp and sea ferns
Poseidon's Chariot, jellyfish detail -- made by quartering a felt sphere, hand-sewing beads along edge, securing decorative ribbons to bottom, attaching in front of transparent "bubble" sequins.
Poseidon's Chariot, hippocampus detail -- made by folding tassel trim in half, hand stitching along applique as "mane" with tiny decorative bells interspersed; heart clips attached as "fins"; additional charm (not in the challenge packet) added as headdress.
I took photos of the other group members' "solutions" as well. These are identified only by name below.
Paula Fullar
Mary MacIlvain
Marlene Shea 
Susan Kozikowski
Gerry Terninko
Patti Slason
Rosemary Dziubinski
Anna Tufankjian

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February Minimalism: v1

The February challenge for the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club involves making a minimalist composition. I dug up some mostly-solids (not buying anything for these challenges is a second-level challenge) and slapped them onto the wall to audition a few ideas and colors. I pulled down the box of upholstery samples that my friend Hope gave me a few years back, lots of gorgeous linens and sateens in natural shades. The bits of satin-stitched sheeting were perfect linear elements, and I am pleased to say that I made this entire piece without any rulers or rotary cutting. Hand-driven scissorwork all the way.

Minimalism, improvised (Trial #1)
I'm going to put some simple quilting on this, then stretch it onto a frame. I have three or four frames the same size, so my hope is to do a few more pieces in a minimalist series. I'm already thinking about which fabrics I want to use for the next one...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Particle Decay (in bias)

I am incredibly grateful to Krista Fleckenstein for her bias-strip tutorial, and to the folks who put together the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club -- I bought the full-year subscription as a Yule gift to myself, and in my opinion it has already had a great ROI! I am very pleased with my finished project from January's challenge:
"Decay" (26.5 x 32.5")
Working with the bias strips as an interesting experiment. The thicker strips, more than a half-inch wide, were trickier to curve but easier to turn sharp points. I made Decay using 1/4" strips, the same width as the Wonder tape that holds them in place. I'm taking a class with Timna Tarr later this month that uses very thin bias strips like these, so I'm eager to find out if she has any other suggestions and tips for their use.

The original photo from CERN that I used as my inspiration is here; it shows the results of smashing a neutrino into a neon nucleus. I chose this beautiful fuschia Stonehenge fabric as my background because I loved the cosmic look created by the shading variation. The strips are vibrant lime with a very faint stripe in metallic gold. The line ends represent particle annihilation, where matter becomes energy; I attached tiny sunburst charms backed by lime sequins to catch the sunlight -- this is difficult to photograph, but very eye-dazzling in person.

"Decay" (detail of annihilation)
Even the back of this quilt looked spectacular, because I quilted through all three layers to stitch the bias strips down first, then filled the spaces between with tight meandering. The variegated thread blends beautifully into the cosmic background on the front, and the design really pops on the coordinating batik on back of the quilt:
"Decay" (reverse view)
Even the practice piece that I made to try out the technique turned out to be a Lovely Thing:
Bias strip sampler
And just like that, another 2016-Q1 finish! I'm eagerly anticipating the February challenge later today...although today is my baby's 12th birthday so some fun family time is in order after my classes are over this afternoon. Life is good, my friends.