Sunday, May 9, 2010

Becoming Big Alice

When I am in the middle of a project and you don't hear from me for three days...

That usually means I am struggling.

And struggle I have been.

I knew that both the Mad Hatter and Alice were going to be tricky for me to figure out...and they were.

Anytime I have to draw faces and bodies and hands...let alone stitch them...I'm challenged.

Add to it the issue of making hair and you might as well give me a valium.

But I knew that I just couldn't do this block without those two characters so I set off to venture out of comfortable territory and into my own version of slaying the Jabberwocky.

I drew at least twenty profile faces of Alice, traced 5 onto muslin, stitched two....decided on one...

It looked great until I went to cut it out. I cut some of my outline threads...and then I ruined it further by using a marker to cover some of the white threads that were showing. The marker bled onto her face and made her look like she was the daughter of Quasimoto.

My crazy (CQ) girlfriends were over yesterday and they all encouraged me to keep her and try to fix her. By last evening, I was cursing and swearing and exhausted...and I feared I would have to start a new Alice this morning...which almost made me cry.

So, I woke early this Mother's Day morning and went on a bike ride with a group of great women. And while I was out passing the fields and the honeysuckle...I gained back my perspective. And I thought about Alice...

This is a story, afterall, about a young woman who finds her strength and her courage within herself to do what she needs to do when she needs to do it. She holds the key to her own destiny...and so do I.

There's a reason why we all love this story so much. It helps us to imagine and test out our own responses to challenges and adventure. So I can say to myself, if Alice can slay a Jabberwocky, I suppose I can figure out how to fix her facial disfiguration.

So, I woke up this morning and performed an enucleation (that's the operative term for an "eyeball removal" - I know, you get so much for your price of admission...)

Here she is after I painted over my marker bleed with white fabric paint...but before she had her surgical procedure.

And here she is post-enucleation (I'm trying to use the word three times so I'll remember it...)

And I am happier with Alice. I love how her dress turned out...especially the little embroidery around the bottom...

While I was out riding, my friend Maura suggested that I think about direction...rather than perfection. I liked that a lot.

And even though Alice isn't perfect. She's my Alice and I'm heading in the right direction. I'm stretching myself to a limit and vowing to try to keep growing, even if it's painful.

Is this still about embroidery?

I think it is. Or about anything else that we strive to do and do well.

It's all about the journey after all...and we each have to find our own way.

Let's hope I don't disappear again for three days...or, heaven forbid, need an enucleation! (tee hee hee, that's three)

I need the next step to go a little more easily now.

Maybe it's time for tea...

Happy Mother's Day!


Camilla La Mer said...

Oh my Gosh!!~! She is so beautiful...Can't wait to get back from my Mother's Day ritual and restorative, wrapped in blankets by candlelight Yoga class to catch up on your AMAZING inspirations and transformations.

Happy Mother's Day my friend!!!!



Gerry Krueger said...

Great save my dear!!! and the hair is absolutely fab.. the hair alone will carry her through her trials.. I should have such hair!!! Also love the clock and rabbit detail on the dress...

Hugs Ger

flyingbeader said...

Susan, this is truly a work of art above & beyond. I think you did a great restoration of Alice...and yes, it is about the journey & not the finish project. So far, your journey has been full of trials, tribulations, and discoveries.

Illyanna said...

Your Alice is very pretty, but more importantly, like someone once told me and I think it sounds pretty true.
Your art is an expression of you.
Which there is no right way or perfect way, there is just your way.
And just for the record, I love your way :)
ps the embroidery on the dress is such a sweet detail of her! :)

Carol said...

Hmmm...lots to comment about here.

First of all you MUST really be a surgeon because who in the heck else would know what in the heck enucleation is or even that the word exists! You have been holding out on us.

Second, you have brought Camilla out of hiding...wonderful.

I could make some smart a** comment about screwing the eye up, but I'm thinking about how you DO strive for perfection in all that you endeavor. I've seen this before in your work. You get stuck a little and think of a solution. And as we watch you create, we see perfection in your work, and pride in your accomplishment, and humility as you aren't afraid to show an imperfection.

That's why when Cyndi Lavin asked readers to tell who inspires them, you were one that I chose

Thanks for sharing Alice. I love the rabbit embroidery on her dress. I'm glad you made her big. Its unexpected and unique.

I know you had a great Memories Day. And I know you mother is looking down with pride on your accomplishments.
Much Love, Carol

Allison Ann Aller said...

So I'm dense, but I can't see the difference in the before and after surgery pictures...but I trust you on this.

Her hair, as Gerry said, is to die for. Very nice job! It looks so real...

Your practice with faces has served you indeed well.... ;-)

I am loving how this looks. It is your own very personal interpretation of this archetypal story. Completely awesome.

Front Range Stitcher said...

I'm thinking...No doubt about it I love your Alice! And the hair is perfection. So perfect in fact, I'm wondering if there's a blonde running around Baltimore missing a tuft of tendrils? :) This journey has been so much fun and as always you leave me patiently craving for more. Thank you Susan.

Loralynn said...

She's absolutely lovely! I'm so glad you made her big too! She was so much larger than life to everyone in Wonderland, no matter her physical size, that making her large on your block just makes so much sense to me. I am really enjoying watching the evolution of your block, it's fascinating!

Linda H said...

Oh Susan, Alice looks sooo great! I too love love love her golden hair, and I think you've done a fabulous job on her face. The embroidery on her dress is wonderful, Can't wait to see what you do next...

Judy S. said...

You did a great job, Susan. As everyone else has said, her hair is perfect, the embroidery terrific=just think of all you're learning during this piece. And remember our quilt mantra: "If you can't see it (the imperfection) from 30 feet on a galloping horse, it's FINE!" Hugs. Hope you had a happy day.

Cathy K said...

Susan, you are a first rate "plastic surgeon". Can you do for me what you did to Alice?!? She's gorgeous and her hair is awesome. Oh1 And the bunny embroidery on the dress... so sweet. :-) The Master does it again!! Hugs, Cathy

Tracey N. said...

Oh Susan! Is there nothing you cannot do? Your skills and problem solving leave me in amazement! I have been watching this master piece develope and I have to admit, I got all tingly with excitement when I saw you had another update! This is so amazing on every level. I cant believe your talent. I feel humble to be able to watch you weave/stitch/create your amazing piece of art!

Laetizia said...

Well, it is really marvellous. I am looking at the on-going of your project since a while without putting any comment. But this time, i cannot keep quiet.
... Félicitations, ... and I am looking forward the next step.
Kind regards,

Hélène H said...

It also took me a very long time to spot the enucleation... It's a lovely piece.

Rachel said...

That's a smashing piece of work - well done indeed!
And yes, like several other commenters - just love the the rabbit on the hem of Alice's frock!

Dees said...

So there you are after numerous trials and you have done it again! Your Alice is, I'd better say: YOU are beautifull!
It is indeed cunning and stunning how this story appeals to every single one of us. You are one step ahead of me in slaying your Jabberwocky. I was just yesterday working on a post on my april BJP and having to slay my own.
These rites of passage come at every turn in life don't they, and they are all every bit as scary as the ones before... and still we do pass, day after day, error after error and then hit the succes-button!
Hurray for you perseverance! Hope you don't dissappear for to long and please wear some safetyglasses if you will.
(BTW: I just love the wisdom of your friend Maura! Wonder what character she is?)

Catherine said...

So glad you touched base - I thought maybe you went down the rabbit hole!! I truly feel like I am in Wonderland! You just keep amazing me!

Can't wait to see what's next!!

Barbara C said...

I know you struggled with Alice's face (which looks great by the way) but my god, her hair ROCKS. Those are some lovely locks.

It's been fun following your progress. I can't wait to see the finish.

Robin said...

You wrote a lot about Alice (and she's fabulous, especially her hair and her embroidered-just-like-in-the-movie dress), but not much about the Mad Hatter. You did a great job on him too... Ramrod straight in his chair, he's a whoooot! Becoming Big Alice is becoming on you, m'dear!

Hugs, Robin

Elizabeth said...

She is fabulous and I love the things that we all learn when we visit your stupendous blog!!!
I LOVE the emboidery on Alice's dress- it is wonderful. I love revisiting Alice again thru your eyes- the movie will mean so much more to me when I do finally see it!!! At this reat e I think that I ahve to wait for it to come out on DVD!!!!
Wish that I had a bunch of gals to gather and stitch with and another to ride bikes with!! You ahve a great group of pals!!!
Don't disappear for 3 days and take care of your dear eyes!!

tongfengdemao said...

She looks great and the whole thing looks so wonderful. Showing us, step by step, what you are doing, including the difficulties and blunders, has been very inspiring for me.

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