since i missed last week's iron craft challenge (i still have a little pile of gold fabric and gold rickrack on my cutting table), i was pretty determined to do something this week. the theme this week was "Hometown", which fit really well with some things i've been thinking about doing and posting anyway.
if you've ever scrolled all the way down to the very bottom of my blog, you'll recognize this picture. this picture is HOME to me.
this is the dirt road to my maternal grandparent's house, which was a big brick house with two stories, a closed off sunporch that i was terrified of as a kid, and a kitchen with at least 5 layers of wallpaper covering the stenciling my great grandmother did when the house was new.
the field to the left, with the bales, is where my mom picked potatoes as a summer job when she was a teenager. the field on the right was my grandfather's, though we farmed it as well. one of my very first memories is of that field, of riding in the combine with my dad. the very slight line at the end of the field is the lane down to the farm, where we took my first day of school pictures, and where i caught the bus to school when my mom won a trip to jamaica when i was 6 and us kids were farmed out to various relatives for a week. just past that lane, at the treeline, was my great aunt and uncle's farm. included in those trees were the most amazing crab apple trees - i haven't had a true crab apple in more than 15 years, but i can still taste them.
i took this picture thanksgiving weekend of 2004, when i was back home just for a weekend, celebrating my maternal grandmother's 75th birthday, and gathering with my paternal family at hunting shack out in the woods for a party. both events made it very clear how different we are from everyone else now, but also how you never really lose your roots.
i come from farm stock. i come from people who loved the land wholeheartedly, who struggled to live off of it, who fought against government policy and wet seasons with the same fervor, driven by their passion. people who taught me to question authority, to value creativity, to work hard for things that i believe in, and above all, that family is key. i am blessed with parents who took the best of how they were raised, and multiplied it.
i have lived more than half of my life out here on the west coast, but i am still prairie at heart. as cheesy as it sounds, there is nothing that makes my heart sing as much as driving across the prairie, with that big huge open sky above me. i can't even put into words the comfort that i feel when i look at patchwork fields scattered across the hillside. my heart swells when i drive down the highway on sunbleached pavement that somehow looks different than it does anywhere else in the country.
i want to post two projects today. one of them doesn't fit the iron craft requirements, because i made it last fall, but i realized that i haven't posted it yet, and it fits the theme of hometown perfectly.
remember when i took that encaustics class with Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch? i started this for my mom during that class.
if you aren't familiar with encaustics, it's an art technique that uses wax, oil colours, collage, image transfers, and so much more, all in multiple layers to create an image with an incredible depth to it. i don't know how to photograph it to show the true depth.
this piece started with an 8x8 piece of board especially designed for encaustic work. i burned wood glue with a torch to create the dark brown and creamy yellows of the bottom layer, and then started layering beeswax. after i had done enough coats of wax to create a smooth surface, i did an image transfer of an old map. my great uncle moved into a senior's home last fall, and while cleaning out his house, which was on the family homestead, my mom came across a binder full of maps from when he was an insurance adjuster, and drove all over Manitoba inspecting crops. i used the map of the rural municipality where my mom grew up, blowing it up and reversing it to transfer it.
after i transferred the map, i built up more layers of wax, adding dark brown wax on the left, and drops of yellow scattered throughout. once again i added layers until i reached a smooth surface, and i transferred one of my mom's poems onto the board.
it still needed one more thing, and i wasn't sure what, until i found a small box of my great grandfather's pen nibs that my mom rescued during the house clean out. it was the perfect final touch.
i really love this piece, and my mom was so emotional when i gave it to her. it made the unexpected cost of framing it worthwhile (ouch! who knew framing was that expensive!)
so that was my encaustics "hometown" piece, now for the piece i made for the iron craft challenge! this piece is also prairie themed, as a more general "hometown".
interestingly, Design Sponge posted a guide to Winnipeg recently, which was a great guide, and the comments were amusing as well. Winnipeg is Canada's 8th largest city, and almost 60% of the population of Manitoba lives in Winnipeg. i always think it's funny when people from Winnipeg say that they're from Manitoba, and seem to think that it's the same as being from a small town in Manitoba, because it's SO different. my parents found me a shirt that says "i speak Manitoban", and has all sorts of slang terms printed on it - i only understood half of them, because the rest were winnipeg-specific, and then my mom and i brainstormed up a whole other list of slang that was specific to non-winnipeg manitoba! i really love winnipeg - i spent very little time there as a child, but as an adult, i adore it's history and gritty realism - so i'm definitely not anti-winnipeg at all, i'm just fascinated by the differences.
anyway. back on topic, considering that this is an epic post already.
i actually multi-tasked a bit with this project. i'd thought about making a wallhanging for my front entry, which is the "prairie" themed part of my house, with grain elevator images and pussy willow plates all over the walls.
but one of the challenges at our February VMQG meeting was to make a table runner or placemats using a flip and sew technique. honestly, my table is never clear enough for a table runner OR placemats, but my parents have an actual dining room that's only used for sit down meals, so their table stays pretty clear, and i decided to make my table runner for them. once i'd decided that, it was pretty obvious that i'd be making it prairie themed!
my mom and i are both huge suckers for anything with wheat on it, and i found this wheat print cotton at a local quilt shop a few months ago. i took it to the fabric store with me and picked out some other fabrics to go with it, mostly quilting cottons, though i also included a linen blend, because i've been obsessed with linen recently.
i pieced my centre piece first, and i wanted it to look good regardless of which side of the table you were sitting on, so i alternated the direction of the print.
the batting provided was batting leftover from an industrial upholstery shop, and was a LOT puffier than i'm used to! i ended up basting my centre piece down, though if i'd been using a cotton batting, it probably wouldn't have been neccessary.
from the centre, i applied strips in a log cabin formation, and once i'd reached the width of the table runner, i added more strips to each end.
once i completed the top, i pieced together a scrappy binding, and machine bound it. i took it over today so that i could photograph it on it's real home (a table that my grandfather refinished, that once fell on my sister's head when we were kids), and i showed it to my parents. my dad thought i was sending it away, and i was like, no, it's not for a swap! it's for you guys! my mom really loved it, and seemed really touched.