Above is a detail of my art quilt "Heifer - UK (Cheeky Pigeon)," which I made starting on August 17, and finished September 9, 2010.
So scroll down, look at the pictures and read my stories about the piece, and at the end of this entry, I'll tell you how you can make an online bid on this piece between now and Nov 5, the day before the auction.
This is a whole cloth painted art quilt on white kona cotton fabric. Beginning drawing made with paint markers, then colors painted with hand brush and fabric paint, then airpen writing made with fabric paint. Machine crazy grid quilted with Aurifil Mako cotton thread, using Nature-fil bamboo / cotton batting. One row of hand sewing inside edge of border, using perle cotton. One Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. (This is the first piece in which I used the amazingly beautiful Aurifil thread to do the quilting, and I love it!!! It looks AND sews better than ANYTHING I've ever used before.)
All the images below are my detail shots of "Heifer - UK (Cheeky Pigeon.)"
Story: My purpose was to make a piece about Heifer International, to donate to its November, 2010 fundraising auction. But I was so amazed by my experiences on my first-ever trip to England, that when it was time to draw and later, to write, I had to balance Heifer with Big Ben! (Never mind that I was nowhere near London!)
My class in England had nine students from four countries, and as a group we created a list of theme ideas for the three days’ worth of paintings to be made in the class. We voted in the theme “Shoes” for the first day. So now my piece would be about Heifer, England, and Shoes. Quite a challenge!
Heifer is the Church of the Brethren’s world service project to help people in many countries become self reliant for food and other sustenance needs. Heifer uses the money it collects to buy heifers and other farm animals, which it gives to needy people who’ve been trained to take care of their new livestock, and then to share their animal's female babies with other families in their village. See heifer.org, if you’d like to know a lot more about Heifer. Or buy this piece, so you can read at least a little bit of their story, at your leisure!
On that first day of class, I made a few little drawings for the piece, in my sketchbook, but the thing that popped out most in my mind was to make the shoe thing be a Shoe Fly Pie. It was when I started drawing that I thought of the four-and-twenty blackbirds that were coming out of that pie … and how the housekeeping lady who came to my UK hotel room to help set up my wifi, told me to close the window, so the CHEEKY PIGEONS wouldn’t come in! She must have used that phrase about five times, and my picture-conscious imagination was … well, it was flying!
NOW, while drawing the piece about shoes, I had to, I just HAD to make the fly part of the Shoe Fly Pie be a Cheeky Pigeon. Give him a top hat, so he looks English. Does that work for you? Wait! He now looks like that bird toy thing my Grandma Shie had, that dipped its beak into a glass of water and kept swinging up and down and dipping. And it wore a top hat! ☺
I included myself as Twiggy, since my friend Rita Chewning had cut my hair short, to look like Twiggy’s, before my trip. And I got her to put a streak of blue dye into my short hair, so with short white hair, I wouldn’t be mistaken for a normal old lady. ☺ And I included a big platform shoe (for the pie to be a Shoe Fly Pie!) and a big palm tree, to be one of my Peace Palms, since the Church of the Brethren and Heifer are all about promoting world peace, as am I.
I drew in Big Ben, of course, as he represents not only England, but also the Roger Miller song “Engaland Swings like a Pendulum Do,” which kept playing in my head all through my 10-day trip to England. It doesn’t look like Big Ben, I’m sure, because I’ve never seen Big Ben, but I covered myself there by writing his name on him, which is my usual way of guaranteeing that people see something as what I want it to be seen as.
Wait! Gotta put that Heifer in there for the auction, right up at the top, so even tho it’s kinda small, it hits you right away!
When I got around to doing my actual storytelling with my airpen and black fabric paint, I looked up some good Heifer International history and at least paraphrased it, when the class and my solo show were overwith, and I was back home in Ohio. I also told stories about the trip I’d just had to England, so The UK and Heifer stories are all in there together.
My favorite Heifer story is that when I was doing research about the history of the project, I ran across a few diary entries from Church of the Brethren farmers who volunteered to take the first cattle across the Atlantic to other countries in 1944. One of those first guys was Wayne Hostetler, who was my parents’ age and belonged to our church, East Chippewa Church of the Brethren at Smithville, Ohio. The weird part was that I never heard Heifer stories all the time I was growing up in the church.
I asked my best friend from church and high school, Mavern King, and she told me that her own father, Vernon King, was also one of the volunteer "cowboys," along with Wayne Hostetler. So with this little piece about Heifer, I’m connecting with my own church’s history. I haven’t attended church there since high school, but Mavern says that the Heifer Project has been an important part of the service work our church does, for a long time now. So they revived it. Good!
The story of the Cheeky Pigeon is written all over the pink bird (it really IS a pigeon), and the stories of my trip to England are mixed in with the Heifer history stories. There wasn't a lot of room to write on this 20”h x 28”w piece, but I’ll be writing more about Heifer on my next very large piece, which I think will be called “The Kitchen Tarot Café: 4 of Wooden Spoons.” It will be the seventh minor card (of 56) in my Kitchen Tarot deck, for which the 22 major cards are already published.
But before I start that next, large piece, I need to set up an online bidding thing for THIS piece, here and on my facebook page, so we can hopefully end up getting the piece’s retail price of $2,250. for it, to contribute to Heifer’s wonderful work of ending world hunger.