Sunday, December 7, 2008

Finishing up projects...75 or so years later

Something I like to do is collect old embroidery projects (preferably from the 1920s) that never got finished and then.....finish that last bit of embroidery. Most of the time it's just one square inch left to complete because for some reason the project got put away when it was almost finished to get stored in a box for what ends up to be a lifetime. Am I guilty of doing the same thing? Oh, most definitely. And I hope 75 years from now there will be someone who will have enough interest to finish my unfinished projects for me. I have a lot. I even inherited the unfinished projects from an old boyfriend's grandmother....a big box of them which sits in my attic. Most of her things are not that interesting to me because they're from the 50s and 60s but there are some transfers I should dig out and store in a more archival fashion because they really are very period. One in particular I remember is a portrait of a flapper's face in profile with a cigarette dangling from her lips. Charming.

I pulled these two pieces out because I want to make them into pillows when I have some time off at Christmas. I have the cotton velveteen backing, just have to sit down and do it. At least both of them now have their embroidery completed (still have to figure out a good way to get rid of all those rust spots though).

I just adore this mandala with all the spirals. It's got the eye confusing detail that draws me in every time. Lots of movement with lots of order. Love that kind of design.

It was pretty much completed when I found it. One outer row of red and green dots had not been done. Also, all the dots in the center three circles were not done. I hope I guessed the right colors. The spirals at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions don't have the additional red outline, they probably should, but I left them alone because I like it better that way.

Sometimes you're lucky to find something with your initial.

It was a sincere pain trying to figure out how to duplicate the bullion stitch but success!

However, don't try to embroider french knots or bullion stitches when a starling is on your shoulder. That's another thing I learned. Starlinka would bolt from my shoulder to pull out the knot in just seconds. I have to say I was guilty of the same thing when I was little. I have no idea why but I'd pull out the french knots in my pillowcase when I was bored and couldn't get to sleep. Kids are bad. Even when they grow up to become people who love this kind of stuff.

Hopefully soon I'll have these two pieces clean and sewn up into pillows and then some day, on to the other........uncountable number of projects waiting for me or someone else to finish.

I remember going to a basket making class years ago and most of the women in it were older (60s-70s) but dang, they were a busy bunch. One of them was late to class because she had started digging a fishpond that weekend and had to stop off at the side of the road and gather up some good rocks. She apologized for being slow but she was still sore from all that digging she had done the day before. The conversation became one of gardens and one of the women lamented that she and her husband had just moved and that now that she was in her 70s, she didn't know if she had enough time left on earth to put in one more garden. One of the women said, "Miracle-Gro, Mary. Miracle-Gro." I wish they had some sort of Miracle-Gro for unfinished embroidery projects because getting them done is a very slow process, sometimes taking close to a century. :-)


Mental P Mama said...

Those are amazing...wonder why they were unfinished.... And Miracle-Gro, Mary, Miracle-Gro may just be my new mantra;)

abb said...

I also collect old embroidery projects...and have not a clue in the world how to finish the ones that need it. I'm in awe of your needle abilities. Making a beautiful thing even more beautiful. Wow!

Maria said...

MPM-Might be mine too. Ha ha.

TSannie-I'm a pretty good embroiderer but not a great one. Satin stitch? That's one I have a lot of trouble with, which is why I was so proud I was able to pull off completing the one with those little dots. I was able to match the colors and texture of the thread too. That doesn't always happen. :-)

snakey said...

The designs are so modern-looking and, needless to say, they are all of your pallette...amazing!

Q said...

Dear Mary,
You are amazing. I love both of these pieces and they will make great pillows. It does take time but so worth it. Very cool that you honor the work that other's did and just did not get back to it.
I have some projects I left in Limbo 30 years ago. Think '09 might be project finish up year.
Thanks for the inspiration.

Maria said...

Snakey-I know. It's kind of weird (but neat) to find things that are not only my colors but with my initial too. Sort of like finding those old maid postcards with the cat and the parrot. I'm sure if I keep checking on eBay, a postcard with an old maid and a raccoon will show up...

Sherry-You're lucky that all your birds are outdoors and not indoors, otherwise I'd remind you of their sudden stitch pulling out skills. ;-)

Country Girl said...

Oh, Maria. I love your embroidery in this post. And the elderly women saying Miracle Grow . . . so touching. Thanks for sharing these memories with us!

Maria said...

That day was a blast. Those women were so funny and it's probably been almost 20 years since I took that little workshop, but I can still recall a lot of the day. Everything was perfect. Although... things could have gone a different direction if the neighbor's turkey had gotten into the house when we were eating breakfast. The turkey liked to hang out on the deck of the woman leading the workshop (I don't think she was very happy about that) but luckily he had not learned how to open the sliding glass door. We just had to endure a turkey with a "Whatchadoin'?" face while we ate our scones and drank our coffee.

Those women were so supportive of anything each other did. I really was touched by the Miracle-Gro comment too because the other woman was so sad about losing yet another good garden with a possible limited time to establish the new one. Gardens were very important to her. She knew the exact number of gardens she had created while married to her husband of many, many years and she knew this upcoming one was probably going to be her last.