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Be Still My Heart –

July 8, 2009

In creating my pieces things seem to happen as they should.  I may begin because of a bit of fabric, become inspired by a word or a poem or be taken by an image that speaks to me its unique story. 

I look through volumes of public domain line drawings, photographs, and engravings; quotes, literary works as well as considering personally authored things. 

Finding cast-offs at thrift stores, Good Will or garage sales can send me into wet-my-pants excitement.  Eccentric, I know.  Oh those single earrings who have lost a mate, the rusted baubles for a nickle, jewels of the past who beg me to take them in, “I still hold great value” they seem to say, and, “Just Imagine”.

Indeed.  Imagine my delight when our local dealer of antiquities and other interesting things gifted me with a bag full of old slips and damaged fabric-based debris.  I dug through the lavender-scented cottons and delicates, finding I was literally trembling as with the anticipation of Christmas morning.

There within the pile were delicate crocheted or tatted cotton strings which created flowers and dripping filigree as they were worked by some ancient hands – Maybe someone’s Great-Grandma who was from Germany and immigrated as a young child somewhere out East, but came as an old lady to Florida for the warmth and walks on the beach.  That bit will be honored in a botanical art piece, no longer forgotten, gladly rescued from the dustbin’s gaping jaws! 

And here was a slip, consistent with the ‘40’s with its fine opaque pleating and intricate lace.  So intimate and personal; it hinted at, almost whispered, its legacy. 

Whose young breast did this slip rest upon all of those decades ago?  Was it treasured for its sweetness?  A favorite turned over when the young girl who wore it became the old woman (she just couldn’t part with it even though it did not fit past her plump shoulders any longer); who died and didn’t witness the contents of her perfumed drawers as they were bequeathed to strangers, “just get rid of them” the grandchildren said as they began the chore of readying the house for sale…  and then it was given to me to be thought of again, and reincarnated.

Which brings us to my latest work.  Two pieces are offered for your enjoyment (well, hopefully you’ll enjoy them).  Introducing Moth to a Flame and Genesis 1:25.

Moth to a Flame has an interesting story.  I adored the public domain image of the moth (which I found on the web stating it was “the best butterfly” ever).  His wings were clipped and the colors muddied.  So I healed his wounds with PhotoShop and proceeded to choose my fabrics and the color palette for his presentation.  I wanted something bright and richly hued, that had sheen in its textures, something that would frame him and set him off to distinction.  That done and waiting for the final steps takes us to the text. I had chosen a poem, but just wasn’t happy with it so went on a search.  I found this delicious bit from Robert Browning:


Be still my heart!  Which of course prompted me to research what made him write that – It was Elizabeth, of course.  Oh how romantic!  I get squishy just thinking of them. 

In 1845, Browning met Elizabeth Barrett, who lived as a semi-invalid and virtual prisoner in her father’s house in Wimpole Street. Gradually a significant romance developed between them, leading to their secret marriage and flight in 1846. (The marriage was initially secret because Elizabeth’s father disapproved of marriage for any of his children.) From the time of their marriage, the Brownings lived in Italy, first in Pisa, and then, within a year, finding an apartment in Florence at Casa Guidi (now a museum to their memory). Their only child, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, nicknamed "Penini" or "Pen", was born in 1849.  – Wikipedia

410px-Elizabeth-Barrett-Browning,_Poetical_Works_engraving_flipped Robert_Browning_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_13103

‘Sigh.  So, I incorporated some more Victorian looking embellishments to honor the lovers they were.  Remember the ‘40’s slip?  I made a decoration out of that sweet, pleated part and crowned it with a rhinestone jewel.  Luscious.Moth-to-a-Flame-Jewel

 Moth to a Flame i   Moth-to-a-Flame-Poem-lft-i


Gen.1.25Genesis 1:25 celebrates my love for order in the world. 

Insects represent that every-thing-in-its-place-ness, in a random sort of way.  Plus they are uber-industrious which I appreciate and identify with.  So this piece is symmetrical, solid, and Old-Testament simple.  It reminds me of Shakers or Quakers or Amish.  “’tis a gift to be simple…”  I love its lines from the drawings to the placement of each lovely bug, which were printed with a hint of green.  I think the entire piece is so easy to look at and genuinely solid somehow.  Below is a bit of revered crocheting, see, I harvested its flowers.  Love it.


Like this?  Please, Pass it on!

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2009 3:08 pm

    Love it all. Geesh, I’m speechless. But, thinking of you.

  2. July 9, 2009 1:56 am

    These are beautiful. The Elizabeth/Robert one is the favorite. I’ve always loved them and thought they were so romantic too! Thanks for stopping by today and please feel free to use the spinning lady. I got her in an email and Googled her to get her code. There are several slightly different videos of her so you can take your pick. I thought she was lots of fun and I STILL can’t make her turn counter clockwise. How irritating! I thought my brain was smarter than that!

  3. July 9, 2009 2:29 pm

    This post is oh, so very rich! Your words, the stories behind the phrases, and your beautiful work! All that, and a lovely gift of treasured fabrics — if not by the original owner, most certainly by you! Isn’t it fun to imagine their story?

  4. July 9, 2009 6:20 pm

    Jennifer! How very gorgeous! Beautiful words and beautiful work, goodness girl! Your always amazing me!

  5. July 10, 2009 9:11 am

    This is beautiful and I love the story you added with it. I wouldn’t even begin to know where to begin to create something so lovely as the moth……the colors are spot on. I love the deep colors, rich hues, you did a perfect job. What a beautiful site, Char

  6. July 10, 2009 2:33 pm

    Hi Jennifer! My gosh!… LOVE your post today!! Beautiful words, and beautiful work!

  7. July 11, 2009 12:37 pm

    Very cool. Glad to hear you are busy creating. Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog. It has been a crazy week here. My daughter has had horrible back pain and we can’t figure out the cause. Ended up in the ER for 5 hours this morning too. Hopefully it will resolve itself soon. Hope all is well with you.

  8. July 11, 2009 1:33 pm

    Jennifer these are truly such beautiful works of art. You put not only yourself into your work, but also the spirit of the beautiful pieces that long ago belonged to another. How I would love to see your art displayed next weekend. If the circumstances were different, I would be there in a heart beat. Thank you so much for your kind words. They are a balm to my spirit, and I am glad to be back at my blog so that I can keep up with all of your lovely posts and interesting things that are going on in your life.


  9. July 11, 2009 3:56 pm

    Absolutely stunning, very moving. You write so eloquently! So glad to hear you’ve been busy – I can see why! You should be very proud of yourself – both pieces are exquisite.

  10. July 12, 2009 2:40 am

    I’m right there with you! I would be giddy with excitement over that precious gift. I so love the vintage…the souls that were comforted…, the memories that they hold and that we can bring to life in a new light as you have. Your creations are stunning. I have that same is such a beauty!

    Have a great weekend,

  11. July 13, 2009 1:22 am

    Oh wow! You are an artist – right to the very core 🙂 I love how your creations have stories in them. And that story of those two lovers is a delight to hear. And you do show in your post that in everything, there you’ll find inspiration. If we only open our eyes and see things more differently and not just as is. Beautiful work.

  12. July 13, 2009 2:15 am

    Where ARE you Jennifer?! Busy as a little bee, I’m sure. I hate to add more to your work load, but I’m gonna just the same, lol! I’ve tagged you to play along with the 6th of 6th photo game. You’re welcome to turn down the “tagging”, no pressure. It’s just for fun if you feel like playing. Hope you have a great week!

  13. July 13, 2009 8:10 am

    I love the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning and I have works from both of them. I love poetry. Your projects you have completed are amazing! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  14. Dru permalink
    July 13, 2009 9:22 am

    Oh Jennifer, these are just too beautiful. Elizabeth is probably my favorite poet. And I love how you describe your feeling going through these cast-off items. I too feel that very way and hope that when I am gone someone will love and care for my lifetime of treasures the way I love and care for those I have found over the years. I always wonder – especially when I find very old family photos – why I’m finding them at flea markets and thrift stores – what made someone just discard them. I could go on forever, but probably shouldn’t. Thanks for visiting me – I just love reading your writings and looking at your wonderful art. For some reason I did not know you were an author – when I get down the hill to a bookstore, I’m definitely going to be looking for them. Have a wonderful week!

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