It hardly seems possible that I graduated from medical school forty five years ago.
It was a weekend of memories and catching up on classmates.
The first year was rigorous, filled to capacity with study, labs, lectures with the most demanding being that of Gross Anatomy.
Disecting a cadaver is not something done in a week—it took us the best part of two semesters to do so—the smell of formaldehyde forrever bringing that memory back.
We were grouped in teams of four. Three guys asked me if I had joined a group—and invited me. Sam and i dove into diseection; he became a gastroenterologist. Ashley, a medic serving in Viet Nam destined to become an ENT surgeon, and Greg who became the physician for the Olympic bicycling team were less enthusiastic.
They teased me—and admitted it was because it was so fun—. I grew up with five brothers, most of my college classes were with males–as I focused on math and science along with the engineers.
I had tried to get the grainery re-roofed but every contractor I called was not interested.
And so I took a few photos to remember it.
This was Dad’s workshop area. He did all his welding here. Attached was a cement tank with a tiny stove used to provide water for the cows. Dad would have the break the ice with an axe and light the stove to heat up the water enough for the cows.
The grinding wheel sometimes lived in the house basement but sometimes in the workshop. Dad used it to sharpen tools especially Mom’s hoe each spring. He also sharpened the blades of the plow and the sickles.
There was an old cabinet hung on the wall dating back to grandparents’s days on the farm.
There was a window overlooking the pasture and providing natural light in addition to a few bare light bulbs hung here and there. Dad hung his tools and products of his work on the walls—I have no idea what some of them are—but I’m sure if he was still around he could tell me what they were used for.
That grainery was used to raise baby chicks in the spring before harvest time required space for oats.
On our way to Madison we wanted to see if the swans had returned to a little creek off 131.
Last year, I spotted large white birds in a swampy area near the road, we pulled over and i took a dozen or more photos. It was easier to count the cygnets when enlarging the photo than with my regular eyesight—binoculars were in my truck—in Texas—not in Wisconsin.
We were not disappointed.
A mated pair herded five fully fledged cygnets in a largish pond but much farther away. Two other swans wandered around further away—guessing they were the previous year’s young.
and next to the road was this protesting red-winged blackbird
Our first stop in Wisconsin was the family farm. We decided we would sleep there–but didn’t expect it to be so COLD!!! It was in the 60’s—and we had just been in Texas where it was 90.
But we wanted to see the farmhouse and the progress made by my two brothers who have been working in between their other responsibilities.
Springtime/early summer in Wisconsin is always glorious and so appreciated after a cold dreary gray winter. We missed the lilacs and the tulips and crocuses but the iris was in full bloom.
The fan on the windmill fell several years ago and is somewhere behind the barn. Although we have a new pump, I’d like to get a fan put back on—just to see it whirling. It was the last working windmill on the ridge and for many miles around. Unfortunately DNR restrictions required the well be closed.
That maple tree is older than I am.
The tree next to the barn is not quite so large but its branches were on top of the barn roof. It was trimmed back and looks a bit ungainly but still an elegant tree.
That pile of wood is from that tree. Brother Paul will use it to keep his house warm this winter.
Tessie has a mind of her own when it comes to driving. Sometimes she eagerly races along and other times she panics when the lane lines are not obvious, painted over due to construction or just not there.
Still, it was a long trip and Tessie took us safely to Wisconsin, and back home again despite a downpour in Arkansas.
Tessie requires charging at intervals; that means finding the charging stations. Sometimes they are at a grocery store, sometimes at a gas station, sometimes at a restaurant. The time required is usually about 20 to 25 minutes. This seems long but then it is good for us to get out and walk around after sitting for two hours.
sometimes a fellow traveler will ask about the car, its mileage and so forth.
Then there are the regular rest stop stops—older gentlemen need frequent stops. Another opportunity to walk around–good for our circulation.
Lots of semis on the road, lots of other vehicles, no-one seeming to limit travel due to fuel prices.
I”ve been working on this piece for several days. Most of the working consists of thinking about the fabrics I want to use, looking through a lot of boxes of fabric to pick out just the right ones.
Some of you suggested the larger figure—and that is easier to work on than one less than four inches tall.
The fabrics had to sufficiently contrast with the sky and grass.
Choosing the clothing and shoes and the skin color was fairly easy. Choosing the hair much more difficult, I tried several different pieces and made three attempts at the head—taking them off—creating the head-less kite flyer. I’ll spare you that image.
Finally I decided on this fabric–it is a feathery small paisley type with just enough color to contrast with the sky. The face required several attempts—too much made it look like a Bobble-head—again I’ll spare you that image also.
I also sewed on the binding—it isn’t sewn to the back yet–so it still looks rather lumpy—but that will disappear when I take out all those pins.
there is more stitching to be done, kite tail to be added but I am pleased with the progress.
Sometimes working on a project provides a great distraction from the news cycle of unhappy events. ones that are hard to ignore, ones that sharply divide people with both sides being right and both sides ignoring the other.
Doing something useful, something that has a beginning and an end is my way to deal with my thoughts.
Yesterday, I posted a photo of the beginning of a book cover.
Today I finished it.
It didn’t take long–some random stitching to suggest flowers, measuring out the size of the Marble notebook, sewing the two seams—and this time I decided to try serging the seams.
That worked well to limit raveling but was too bulky to permit the book to be inserted–so a bit of un-sewing occurred
I ended up doing a bit of hand-stitching to secure the fraying edges of the sheer—I need to be more generous if I try this again.
And here it is.
It looks quite delicate–and very feminine—I am more of the jeans and T-shirt type—I may use it or I may put it in the stack of books to sell at the next vendor opportunity.
I have been trying to be very orderly and complete projects before I start another.
There are two projects on my design wall waiting my attention—both involving some drawing skills and one a new technique that I haven’t figured out yet—not a run-of-the-mill technique I can easily find on Youtube or reference book. It would be far easier to scan the images and have them printed on fabric than it will be to use fabric and thread to create the images
While I am thinking about this project, I found a length of silk, some stabilized purple silk gauze and a scrap of brightly colored pink sateen.
Flower shapes begin readily at hand due to my work on Garden Party, I cut out shapes, added some circles for centers, put down another lengthe of a fusible and a greeny-yellow sheer and here is what I have.
I backed it with a scrap of corduroy, stained and not large enough for a project.
I will finish it up with some stitching over the top using a heavy embroidery thread and then convert it into a cover for a Marble notebook.
A fun easily accomplished project not requiring a lot of thought.
The fiber art group I started several years ago–now dissolved—had many challenges or assignments through the years. One of the most fun was the word prompt.
Each of us put a word or short phrase into a bowl, and every other month a word would be drawn out as our next challenge. None of the pieces had to be large and we were each free to interpret the word using whatever techniques we liked.
I cut up my ‘zipper’ prompt to make covers for hand-made books.
This is what I did in response to ‘chain’.
I did several pieces thinking about how we are linked to our past and to negative thoughts and finger-pointing and anger. The background is screen-printed with negative words, the chain links appliqued by hand, and the quilting is straight line horizontally on the background and vertically inside the links to suggest the difficulty we have in breaking free from those ideas.
Making books has always fascinated me. A decade ago, I made fiber books complete with stories I wrote.
During the pandemic, I discovered the Handmade Book Club and have enjoyed making the challenges and some of the monthly book projects.
I worked really hard on the last challenge…..the prototype was meant to have a soft cover and used Kraft-tex. I wanted a sturdier cover but with the feel of cloth.
I faced a piece of faux leather, created pockets to install mat-board for the covers and spine. I stabilized the holes for sewing the signatures with lines of stitching.
I am still perplexed as to how to note the type of paper used–I am not good enough at guessing paper content or weight to leave it to my guess—so this book I placed the paper identification inside the cover loosely.
The next book was a tacket. Dos a Dos Tackets were found in some jars in Egypt–and dated to early Christian churches. One side contained the Gospels, and the other the Psalms.
I made a small sample using a hand-carved stamp (two erasers) to make the covers.
I also did a single tacket model as I could not figure out how to make the covers firm and not floppy or fragile as plain paper would be.
The base for the covers was a smallish piece done for the word prompt ‘zipper’. I wasn’t fond of it and so cut it in half, worked away at making the covers more sturdy with the insertion of matboard and used eyelets to stabilize the sewing holes.
and again here is the inside. Using not so favorite fabric makes experimenting with techniques less anxiety provoking—and again I noted the type of paper in one of the books.
Those extra pieces of paper are for trying out colors before drawing or painting on the pages.
Blogging is a natural progression for someone who enjoys the written word and beautiful imagery. My photographs are hosted at sylviaweir.smugmug.com. I am slowly transitioning all my photographs to this site and will hopefully edit them to a manageable number. In the meantime, I have organized my blog photos by year and so you may wish to merely sample the blog photos
Feel free to contact me for any questions. My website here has not been fully populated but as I work on my smugmug site, I will update these pages.
My work begins with a word, a thought, an idea, or a bit of a poem. I search through my library of images mostly on Smugmug or sometimes I go out and photograph new images. A pieced quilt pattern is sometimes chosen, sometimes I use a piece of fabric I have altered in the past. The imagery is added on using hand applique and then thread is used to add details.
Each piece is meant to draw the viewer inward providing them with ample opportunities to add their own story to the piece. If the piece evokes the emotion or thought I wished conveyed, then I consider the piece successful.
Sometimes I play 'what if' with fabric and paint and imagery. These might be considered equivalent to scale work in music--something I always enjoyed.