Friday, December 16, 2016

Creating with What Is Washed up on the Maya Blue Waves of Lough Foyle

Since we've been in Moville, we've taken to beach combing on the small beaches along the shore walk and another one that is at the edge of town. It's funny how different things are found in abundance at different beaches. Along the shore walk, the beaches are a treasure trove of interesting stones, shells, and some driftwood. The one at the edge of town has more wood and lots more sea glass and pottery shards. I've collected bits that speak to me and experimented with them--combining them with fabric and thread to make new things. I decided to make a couple such things for a friend this Christmas.

She loves blue, and has just recently published her first book, called Maya and the Book of Everything. She has had the cover art for a couple of months and the background is a lovely shade of blue, which she now thinks of as, 'Maya blue.' It is the colour of the first piece above--at least that is where I ended up, but the thinking was going on for months before Maya blue was even a thing!

We had a small quilted wall hanging that needed refreshing, as one of the embellishments had faded. One summer day, I took that bit off, along with some beads. I was deciding what I might want to do with it when I decided to rummage around in the sea glass, shells and pottery bits. I ended up with a sort of collage. I quite liked it. As I was poking through the pottery shard collection, I noticed one that had a red design of a castle on a white background and where it was broken left the castle image almost intact. I decided that one should be the focal point of its own small piece, so I stitched that up and liked it, too. So did Laurie, so I filed this information away and made a note to myself to be on the lookout for blue bits. I had one or two pieces that I could use in a pinch, if no more turned up, but I kept my fingers crossed for just the right piece.

Lo and behold, one day in August we were wandering the beach and picking up stuff and there it was--white with the blue bird design. As soon as it hit my hand, I said, 'There's Laurie's piece of pottery.' I brought it home with the rest, washed it, let it dry, and set it aside. Then the thinking began. How exactly would I use it? What would be the best way to secure it, especially given that there is a bit of a curve to the piece and it does not lie flat? I left this to percolate in my brain and every once in a while I would think of another possibility. Months passed. Ideas came and went. One night, I had the thought that I could sort of sit it on a small piece of driftwood to give it more stability. I tried that out the next day and it seemed like it would work, but I still had to decide on how to make the background. I concluded that needle felting would be the best thing. I sat down with my roving and needles and stabbed, stabbed, stabbed--and then decided that it wasn't right. I set that piece aside.

Different roving and more stabbing ensued. Then it was lunchtime. After lunch, I was still not happy, but, since I'd been chewing and thinking at the same time, I realised that I was complicating things too much. I wanted the found objects to be the focal points so I should keep it abstract and very blue. In fact, by then I had been introduced to Maya blue and recognised it as the same colour as the waters of Lough Foyle on some sunny summer days. Back to stabbing with Maya blue/Lough Foyle blue roving with a bit of white to indicate the motion of the water, which is what carried the embellishments to shore and left them there for me to find.

When I had my piece of felt, I backed it with acid free watercolour paper for stability, since the embellishments were a little heavy. I sewed them on through the felt and the paper, starting with the wee piece of driftwood before adding the pottery shard. Then as I looked at it, I felt it needed a little something else, so I poked around in the glass until I found pieces that were the right size and shape and I sewed those on. I added another piece of watercolour paper over the first piece on the back, which gave me a place to date it and added another layer for me to sew through when adding a small hanger. That is a piece of something that I found on a walk at some time. I pick up bits like that, wash them and save them to use for things like this.

In the end, this ended up being something completely different than what I thought it would be when I first started thinking about it. That's part of the fun of the creative process!

The shell ornament was another thing that I'd tried out in the summer. After I made a similar one for myself, but in purple, I kept my eyes open for more holey shells that are thick enough not to shatter. As it happens, when I found the one I used for the ornament above, I dropped it onto the concrete footpath as I was coming back from the rocky beach. I didn't mean to drop it, but since I did, and it was unharmed, I figured it could handle being posted across the pond! And it did!

Happy Maya blue Christmas, Laurie 😉