Inspired By... Tracy Chevalier: The Last Runaway

It's again the 10th of the month and time for the "Inspired by" creation! But what is Inspired by? Every month awesome Marsha and I choose a subject to be inspired by. It can be an idea (link)a word (link)a product (link)a movie (link)a designer (link) or a book (link). Or anything! Then we make something inspired by that theme or a piece of art and share it with you and each other on the 10th of the month. You can browse the past "Inspired By" posts from here (link)

I'm not sure if you have noticed that in the course of the years we've returned to some topics or rather sources of inspiration. We've used several movies as the source as well as books. So every now and then we just want to have a "book topic" or "movie topic" and start searching for a good source for the Inspired By. 

This time we had a book penciled out in our list for some time, but it was Marsha who "took the bull by its horns" so to say and sent me a list of possible books. She had even gone through the effort of looking if I would have access to the same book from Helsinki library site. The selection was big, but I noticed Chevalier in there. I've read several books by her previously and really liked the style.  They are "easy reading" - I usually finish the novel the same day I start it and the style of her narration paints the scenes before me. I can see the dusky corners of a candle lit room or the studio full of crisp winter sunlight. 

As I was given the choice of the book, I looked through the lot Marsha had linked to me but then went with Chevalier. I looked the synopsis of other books but not this one so it was a surprise when I loaned the book and started reading. All the previous books by Chevaliear I've read have had an art theme so to say - The Girl with a Pearl Earring (about a painting by Vermeer), The Lady and the Unicorn (about Flemish tapestries)... So while there's art in this book, it's not a well known piece that would immediately jumped to my eyes when I started reading.

The book is about Honor Bright, a young English Quaker girl who emigrates to the states in the 19th century. She's first following her sister and leaving some heart aches behind, but as her sister dies during the long voyage, she's forced to re-think her plans, her future and everything. The book is about finding one's place in life, about meeting a new culture and about standing your ground, staying true to yourself. The thing keeping the story together is sewing and quilts and the dark undertone of the whole book is slavery and everything connected to that. 

You can read more about the story of the book here (link) in Trace Chevalier's web page and there's even a section titled "Inspiration" in the site (link)

Like I wrote before in this post, Chevalier is able to conjure the images of the story before my eyes. I can see the corn fields, the wild, untamed forest, the fabrics Honor uses. I can almost smell the blackberries, the mud or the cows. But what caught my imagination the most were the quilts and especially how there's mentions of different pieces of cloths being gathered to a quilt. I'm reading between the lines that when Honor was back in England, the most of the fabrics she used for her quilts were new and bought just for the quilt. As her journey starts she starts to collect patches of fabric and in the end there's a mention of a quilt holding those patches. Like little visual memories, woven or in this case, sewn together.

This got my imagination rolling - how those little pieces of materials made up her story. I wanted to use same idea in my craft but of course there was the limitation of time available. I couldn't gather material for months and months or even years, but needed to do something a bit faster. And then there was naturally also the question of the project itself - what to do with those pieces.

When I started dating my husband my mother gave to me to my new apartment two pictures. They're little ceramic plates attached to a packing cardboard and in those plates there's Cancer and Leo, the horoscope signs of me and my husband. When our daughters were born I tried to find similar pieces with their horoscope signs, Pisces and Sagittarius, with no luck. I'm not sure how my thoughts turned into these horoscope pieces when thinking about the project but the end result was that I decided to do something with the horoscope signs of my daughters. I guess the thought came from history - like the patchwork would be made of things of past generations, leading to the young ones. Or then it all came from the American quilts mentioned in the book where there always was a main image in the center of the quilt. 

Above is something I came up with - two little mixed media pieces with Pisces and Sagittarius. Let me first explain the images and then about the background. The main images are of two very different style. The Pisces are two Japanese carps and the Sagittarius a Nordic huntsman. Why? Well, there's a simple explanation. When I was expecting our first child, we traveled to Japan and when I pregnant with our other child, we visited Sweden. I wanted to include these places to the designs so I search for images to go with the countries. The carps were easy but the archer proved to be a more difficult one. Lastly I found out about Ullr, the Norse god of hunting and an excellent archer and skier. 

I googled the images, manipulated them in Photoshop and then used a transfer technique to get them in place on top of the background. The background is done by gathering and saving - there's receipts, cloth tags and pieces of an old book in there. I used a hexagon die to piece all those bibs and bobs of one day and then made a patchwork out of them. The end result was fun, but somehow it was too little. So I used the negatives as well in the background layering some of them on top of the patchwork part. There's also some stamping and doodling in there.


So, there you have it! A project, or set of projects, inspired by Tracy Chevalier's The Last Runaway. Now it's time to go visit Marsha and see what she has come up with! Here's the link to her IB post (link). I have a feeling that she might have used the quilt theme, too, as she mentioned that to me in a message but on the other hand, the project might have taken a turn like it did with my horoscope pieces as well! 

Thank you for stopping by today! Wishing you a lovely Tuesday!

Materials: Sizzix, Prima Marketing, Sharpie


Marsha Valk said...

Oh! I love this!!!!!! I love the depth and the story and the history! And the colours. So cool! Do the girls like them? I'm also curious about your original tiles! And I had to LOL... apparently paper piecing a quilt pattern alone is not our thing! ;-)

Kathy Bradley said...

Beautiful pieces of art you created for your wall, and the history behind the pieces is wonderful!

Salla said...

I love reading your blog posts, as there is always a story behind your pieces of art! I'll have to make note of this book - I always love a book with a quilting and/or emirating theme!

I can recommend you the new movie Brooklyn, which is also about a young woman emigrating to the US by herself.

And I need to try that image transfer thing sometime!

Michelle Logan said...

The projects are just wonderful but the stories behind them are even better! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

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