Working The Land

Deb Sposa at Artisun asked to see a close-up of the stitches on The Land as the Crow Flies


At the time I replied that I wasn’t sure I wanted to show them …


because they’re not what I consider my “best work” …

But I reconsidered, because these pictures detail a learning process I want to remember. How the thrift store linen clothing, torn into strips, would not be held by Jude Hill’s invisible basting alone. Nor by kantha stitches worked in Deb Lacativa’s “Dirty Threads.” Only a final application of single-strand overcast stitch along all the raw edges finally effected a cloth that felt capable of fully being.

It will soon be done and shown it in its final state. But I will never again love it as much as I love it now, my hands traveling over its imperfections, working The Land.

Backing it up

Land of Flood and Drought 2016 is done …

Hard to capture because it’s 53″ long and 7″ wide …

But these slightly closer views of the front …

and the back are a little bit clearer …

So here’s what came to me in the middle of the night that pushed me to get this done: I realized the total annual rainfall of 50.8″ was close to the length of the cloth. So I drew a line with water erasable marker showing each month’s cumulated rainfall using the 1″ patches as a grid from the beginning of the year at the bottom …

through the end of the year at the top …

and everything in between, with the seams between the patches standing in for the fractured limestone that is such a critical part of our local aquifers …

The cloth was quilted using no.12 and no.8 perle cotton (thank you Judy Martin), a middle layer of harem cloth (thank you Jude Hill), and a backing of linen. Which is to say, it’s more sturdy than drape-y.

After it was completely quilted, I trimmed back the harem cloth …

folded the backing cloth away from the front edge and ladder stitched the two together …

Resulting in this, front …

and back …

The final step was trimming the excess backing to a rough 1/4″ from the seam, then snipping and fraying to achieve a stable raw edge …

Now all that remains is creating sleeves at the top and bottom for the wooden supports Don cut for me. I’ll be sure to post a picture once it’s hanging.

– Finished …

Patch #240 But not done

One year to the day, the project that began as patchplay has become Land of Flood and Drought …


Finished, which is to say backed, quilted and edged …

64 inches long by 10 inches wide, representing over five feet of rainfall in the year 2015.
The winter/spring months of January through April …

The first flood of May …

The drier summer months of June through September, especially July and August when only one inch of rain fell …

The second flood in October, one month which had rainfall equal to the entire year of 2011 …

Ending with more dry times in November and December …
But the cloth can also be “read” from top to bottom. The thermals and clouds in the skies …

water flowing from Hill Country creeks to rivers …

The earth rippling with the heat of summer sun …

cooled by rain …

water moving through cracks in the land …

roots reaching for the water below …

There’s so much more I could say, so much more I could stitch. So yes, it’s finished, but I hope it will never be done.