Saturday, June 25, 2011

Building a Bridge

Bridges often appear in Japanese art, ceramics and textiles.

Kintai Bridge in Suo Province (Suo no kuni Kintabashi) by Katsushika Hokusai

The bridge, particularly the bridge over water, represents crossing over from one world to the next...from the profane to the sacred, from this life to the afterlife, from the worldiness of "civilized" life to nature.

Bridges connect one state of existence with another. They're transitional. Even transformational.

Nothing's better than crossing a bridge on a long hike or car ride. And I don't know why, but something good happens to me on bridges.

All of the sudden I'm transformed -- my spirit lifts and I feel 10 pounds lighter. I like being up high...I like crossing over...I like the idea of traveling to the other side.

And I don't think I'm the only one. On our drive down to the beach, we were riding next to a young Army serviceman in uniform in this cool little red sportscar (with no muffler) pretty much the whole way. It's about a 120 mile trip and we cross over 5 or 6 bridges on our way to the shore. That sporty Army guy was a very good and disciplined driver. And in spite of his red-racer of a car, I was impressed that he actually went the speed limit the entire way.

Well. Almost the entire way. Everwhere except the bridges.

As soon as he would hit a bridge, he would move into the fast lane, open his windows, and kick his engine into high gear...cruising over the bridges at speeds close to 90 mph! Then at the end, he would slow back down again and go the speed limit. And we would catch back up to him.

I was wondering why he did it. Was it the bridge itself? Was it the fact that I've never seen a cop stop someone for speeding on a bridge? I would have loved to have asked him.

Anyway...that was an aside...back to my block...

I wanted to include a bridge in my Hearts and Hands for Sendai block -- to symbolize the passage from the losses from the tsunami to hope for a brighter future; to symbolize the connection of the thousands who lost their lives to their afterlife; and to connect them to me...East to West.

It took me while to figure out how to build this bridge.


I wanted it to have perspective and to have more depth than embroidering directly onto the block would likely give me. Yet, it couldn't be too three-dimensional since the block will be sewn and manipulated into a larger quilt.

My answer came in the form of heavy weight water soluble stabilizer and some vintage soutache braid.

I love this heavy weight stabilizer because it's transparent which makes for easy tracing and it can be stretched and pulled into an embroidery hoop.


And so I traced my bridge pattern onto the stabilizer and couched the soutache braid over the patttern to make the bridge railings.



And I used the same set up as a stabilizer for embroidering the wood planking of the bridge floor. I like being able to draw a line on the stabilizer to keep my rows of stitching even...


I'm telling you, this is good stuff!

The only down side is that it does take much longer to dissolve than the regular weight stabilizer so I trimmed very very closely before placing it in water.


Ultimately, I am pretty thrilled with the result. Here's a shot of how it will look on the block though it's not sewn down yet....


Next up is the bottom left corner...that's been giving me a bit of a fit.

See you next time!

21 comments:

verobirdie said...

Amazing what impact this bridge has an the whole projrct. It gives the landscape a soul.

Gerry Krueger said...

Fabulous bridge.... I'm thinking that heavy stablizer might work for birds... I'm going to have to find a source... I like being able to draw on it...... Fertile brain engaged.... Gerry K.

Mary Corbet said...

Oh, COOOOOOL. Your bridge is fantastic, Susan! And over the "water" fabric, it's Perfection! When I saw the pieces in the water, dissolving the stabilizer, I was still wondering, but placed over the pleated silk there, it's just glorious! Lovely!

Vicki W said...

Simply amazing!

Rachel said...

It's truly wonderful - breathtaking.

Marty52 said...

Damn your good! The bridge is so very 3-dimensional over that water. YUM!!!

Allison Ann Aller said...

So inventive and such a sensitive block. Truly, this springs from your love of that country as well as your experience doing fine stitching (and also doing those BJPs; I feel their influence in your approach here.)
It's wonderful, Susan!

Plus, I love that you dissolve the stabilizer in a pretty cut glass bowl!

Cathy K said...

OMG, Susan, you always do everything with such flair! Where do these amazing ideas come from?? Your bridge and entire block is so beautiful! Absolutely stunning to the Nth degree..... Hugs, Cathy

Cari said...

I am in utter awe of your amazing work... It just leaves me speechless. Wonderful, simply wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing.

Shirlee Fassell said...

Your bridge and what it symbolizes is perfect!! Great job.
Shirlee

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

this is FANTASTIC! i couldn't think of a witty thing to say...not a single one...this bridge is amazing

Suztats said...

Your bridge is fantastic! Love the symbolism, too.

Catherine said...

You never cease to amaze me!!

Coeur de freesia said...

So creative ! I love it !

MosaicMagpie said...

From the snow/lace covered mountain to the symbolism of the bridge over that fantastic water, this is work of art!
Deb

Ruby said...

A true masterpiece!

coral-seas said...

I should think that you are thrilled. I think you have surpassed yourself with this bridge. You have such flare and imagination! I love the lacy snow cap on Fuji, another inspired touch!

Jen said...

beautiful work, I am in love with this block!

Amy said...

Fantastic results with the bridge. and the pleated water fabric is perfect.

Balwearie said...

Brilliant work on that bridge -- my father (civil engineer ) would be most impressed -- I sure am!

Evelyn and Lise said...

Fantastic!!!The bridge, water, everything is coming alive. What a wonderful piece this will be. Lise

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