"The Calendar / Moon: Card #18 in The Kitchen Tarot," aka "Ukulele Lady."Full view and statement.

by Susan Shie Contact me

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The Calendar / Moon full view. ©Susan Shie 2007.
"The Calendar / Moon: Card #18 in The Kitchen Tarot," aka "Ukulele Lady." Full view. 2007. 90 "h x 69.5"w.

Begun February 3, 2007. Finished February 28, 2007. #336 Detail view.

#14 in the Peace Cozy series. Dedicated to my friend Suzanne Fisher.

Whole cloth painting on white cotton fabric from Test Fabrics.  Beginning drawing made with paint markers; then colors painted with airbrush; then small, diary writing made with airpen and black fabric paint.  Machine crazy grid quilted, in a super close-together style.  One row of hand sewing inside edge of border. One Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. One Peace Cozy appliqué.  The diary writing is from Feb 5 through Feb 28, 2007.

The Moon card in the traditional Tarot decks is about all things related to the Moon: intuition, gentility, flowing, reflection, night, change, feminity, and so much more  Since I’m following the traditional order of the cards in making my Kitchen Tarot deck as art quilts, this one is just after the Star (Punch Bowl) and before the Sun (not sure what that will be, but I can tell you next week, I hope!)  There are 22 major tarot cards, with this being the 18th, but the full deck includes 78 cards, with the 56 minor ones.  I hope to make them all, and I’m loving making them very large now, with the airbrush painting, airpen writing, and machine grid sewing, which I’ve been using for my main processes since early 2005.

I did a bunch of drawings to warm up, before putting them down and just drawing on the big piece of white fabric with my markers this time (I’m going back to drawing with the airbrush next time, because it flows so much better.)  During the sketch process, I was also adding little portrait photos of my tArts textile art group members, to their email vCards.  I had never done this before, but Peach and I were both doing it, relishing our Mac software ease of doing things, and I decided that, instead of putting women around a kitchen table, hanging out together, I’d get my tArts all into the kitchen via their vCards.  I wouldn’t put their contact information, which is what vCards are for, but would instead make little tArts bios on the cards.  Yea!  I love breakthroughs!

The kitchen object I chose to represent the Moon is the Calendar, after I looked over at my new 2007 calendar from We’Moon, and noticed all the moon stages, one on each day of the month, reminding me that our calendar is based on a moon cycle.  Before choosing the Kitchen Calendar, I had considered a bread machine, because you raise the bread dough up at least twice, punching it down, to let it rise again, before shaping and baking it.  And before that, I was kicking around using the Kitchen Light, because I grew up with one of those round fluorescent ceiling lights in my mom’s kitchen, and they kept it on all night.  It had kind of a bluish cast to it.  I loved that thing!  But ah, when I got to the Calendar, I know that was it!

When I actually put away my warm-up sketches and went to work on my actual drawing on the fabric, the imagery in this piece began with the calendar itself up in the top left corner, which I began filling in one day at a time, like I do my real diary calendar (my We’Moon daybook every year since 1990.)  I drew me holding it up above my head, but didn’t like the first head I drew for me, so ended up putting a new piece of fabric over that head and drawing me again.  To my left, on most of the right side of the piece, I drew a long, tall Gretchen, my daughter, in an elegant evening gown, dancing gracefully.  Then her daughter, my granddaughter Eva, in Gretchen’s skirt, playing a ukulele, which is true:  Gretchen bought Mike the uke for Christmas the year Eva was born, and he’s always allowed her to play it.  I put the vCards I told you about, for the seven tArts (West End Textile tArts) down the middle.  I drew Hattie, our dog, in my skirt, with Marigold and Evil Tulip, our older girl cats, looking over at the three little kittens, who are down at the bottom right side of the painting:  ours are Ottis and Ome, and GEM’s is Cricket.  They kept her shelter name, but we changed ours from Copper and Cupcake.  We kinda got these kittens by surprise, because GEM’s cat Isis died at the end of November, and all winter they couldn’t find any kittens except black ones like Isis had been.  The Wayne County Humane Society knew we were looking for GEM, so they called Feb 1, saying they had just gotten in three little kittens, who were still nursing on their mom, who was with them.  They were 8 weeks old.  We took pix of them, had GEM pick one from Lakewood, and ended up taking the other two for ourselves, finally making up for losing Willy, Rita, and Meeper, all within the last two years.  Gretchen pointed out that our new kittens were born at the time Isis died.  Is  Cricket her reincarnation??  We got them on Groundhog Day, and they were born around Dec 1.  Now they’re almost 12 weeks old.  Growing like crazy little weeds, and it’s Marigold who hates them, being jealous that she’s no longer the baby here.  Evil Tulip is almost nice to them.  Well, it sure is a change, to have all that wild young energy here, and Ottis and Ome sleep with us each night.  Oh, Ome is short for Cleome, the flower she’s named after.  I do flower names for girl cats.

I put two big circles into the drawing, one up by Gretchen’s dancing, swaying arms and face, and one down below Hattie, on my skirt.  I pretty much knew they were two moons, but didn’t draw their faces in til much later.  I kept trying to figure out if I should be drawing in some kitchen objects in those big circles, like teapots. Teapots are very moony, I think. But in the end, I added big luscious Moon faces. Maybe they are Luanne and Mary Helen, back when they were both doing chemo, and the steroids were making their faces so puffed up, they joined together as the Sisters of the Moon face. Aha!  So THAT’S who they are!  Luanne Moffett is the top one, because she died and went into the sky.  So Mary Helen is the bottom one, still here, still hanging around Earth, blessing everyone she knows! And that Moon Face caper was back in 1989-91!  To your health, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart!

I drew Jimmy with a trout and Mike with a guitar, but they are small on this piece, which is about women, being the Moon piece.  I guess they can be biggert on the Sun piece, coming up next!  That’s for men!

Some things I wrote about, besides the tArts and the new kittens are (and I put the dates with the writing, so you know when things happened): liberal writer Molly Ivins’ death Jan 31;  Cindy Sheehan’s new book Peace Mom;  Gayle Pritchard’s talks for her new book Uncommon Threads; Richard Reich’s blog on politics; spilled lemonade in Pearl, GEM’s computer; Barbara Tannenbaum being on NPR re the new Akron Art Museum work; finding out my Tower piece is on the cover of the QN ’07 book, which we can see on Amazon!; Tim Russert testifying at the Scooter Libby trial; reserving our room at the OU Inn for QN ’07 opening; Nancy Pelosi being picked on for needing a big plane to go home in; a possible Wind Farm on Lake Erie above Cleveland; buying Eva a stash of underpants for her potty training caper; the Feb WAGE meeting at our show; BushCo building up its lies against Iran, so they can invade and make yet more fortunes on the backs of innocent people everywhere; Gayle (Quatty) is doing a book on my work!; Nurse Skillet is in the hospital!; Jimmy’s gorgeous cases for the TU Founders’ raffle; Heather Robinson works now at the Parlor, and her 7 kids!; the big history of Gretchen’s girlfriends and the places we lived while she was growing up; Karol Crosbie’s cover story on the Wooster alumnas who are art quilters – came out, and Quatty got the cover!; Barack Obama announced his running for Prez 2008!; wrote the lyrics to Ukulele Lady around the edge of the paining; I put Obama’s mini bio on the lower moon face; Freddie and Karlie visited; thinking back on my nanny gig with Eva; Dixie Chicks got 5 Grammies for their new album, my thoughts on their ordeal re free speech!; making GEM a Dan Zanes valentine; the big fat snowstorm; JA got our snowblower going finally; my hero Dennis Kucinich from Lakewood on NPR on the Diane Rehm show; interview with Andrew Tonn from Wooster Weekly; Pearl (Bridget) called from Ireland; I figured out my problem with Kairon, the only Mac astrology software, and now need to buy it; Chinese New Year of the Fire Pig and 3” more snow; cancelled co-op meeting; Gayle signed her books in Oberlin; Mardi Gras!!; Brits start to withdraw from Iraq; Shawn Quinlan offered to edit the video Stephanie and I plan to make of my solo show; Mike has his hernia surgery; Hillary Clintons’ people attack Obama’s people, because David Geffin switched his huge donations to Obama; Quat and Peach come down and see my show; I made a terribly salty soup for then, ugh; AP brings out stats on the many more Americans who’ve died and been injured in Iraq, but not counted in with military stats, because they’re civilian contractors; Rene cut my hair; we howled a little; I’m ahead of schedule on tax figuring!; Gretchen paid off her 10 year student loan today, Feb 28, the last day of my diary on the piece, and I was able to write about that in the topknot on her hair!  Last place left to write on the whole piece!

When I make these pieces, most of my writing is on, over the painting, before I quilt the work.  But I always write in the new backing-fabric border and add any more writing I need on the painting, after I quilt it.  In this piece’s case, I was adding one diary entry to the calendar each day, well after the stitching was done.

I do not write from another writing, like a first draft.  The writing on the painting IS the first draft. Now I jot down little notes each day, about what I wrote on the piece that day.  That’s what  I referred to above, when I was writing all those topics that are covered in the writing, and there are more.  I could never remember what’s on there later!  And I’m sure not going to make a transcript!  Yikes!

Well, I don’t expect YOU to read this piece either, so just enjoy it with the writing as a kind of texture, like the tiny hand stitches I used to sew all over my paintings’ surfaces.  Read any part of it you want to.  I’ll be using it later to remind me of what was going on in early 2007.  Or maybe somebody else will.  I just know I really like this one a lot!  I really caught people’s faces this time.  I sure strike out on that one a lot of times!

Wanna hear the very last verse of Ukulele Lady, as sung by Arlo Guthrie?  Here ya go:

"Someday I’m going, where eyes are glowing, and lips are made to kiss.  To see somebody in the moonlight, and hear the song I miss..."

I dedicate this piece to my dear friend Suzanne Fisher, in Cincinnati, whose stepfather Russell Nahas died unexpectedly on Feb. 28, 2007, with Suzanne, her mom, and all the other children there with him, in Hudson.  It’s awful to lose a parent.  I love you, Fish Girl.

-- Susan in Wooster, Feb 28, 2007

Turtle Moon Studios: Outsider Art Quilts and Paintings
Susan Shie and James Acord

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