Two years ago my youngest suggested a family challenge, (also described by my eldest daughter at One Sunflower.) I have written in the past of the artistic talent that seeps through this family: marquetry, stained glass, quilts of various sizes and just plain drawing. Sia made the challenge to do something by Christmas representing the theme “Where go the boats”. We were all familiar with the Robert Louis Stevenson poem as the kids grew up with Dad reading the poems to them. They all, also, grew up with boats being a major part of our lives, from sail boats, to row boats. Dad loved boats and, in fact, worked for the Navy Department in their small boat division and later in Bellingham for Uniflite, a boat builder.
The challenge was accepted and the work began, sometimes secretly, sometimes openly, and sometimes very slowly. For my part of this challenge I dragged up all the pictures I could find of the many boats we have owned or traveled on. There were so many that were our boats as well as a Uniflite we borrowed to cruise the Washington coastline, and The Explorer, part of a cruise line:The Little Red Ship, that sank about a year ago. We traveled on it three times, most notably to Antarctica.
Slowly the work for the challenge appeared and was shared and then time went by. We all agreed we should do it again but no one took the initiative until I somewhat forced it on Carolyn, my wonderful daughter-in-law. The challenge came from an idea brought about by the confusion her eldest daughter had about the calendar. Lucy was born in July and her younger sister was born in May two years later. Lucy wanted to know why, since she was older, her little sister had a birthday party before she could celebrate hers. It was hard to explain, and Carolyn has often spoken about designing a calendar that would help explain birthdays and other events around the year: the key word being “around.”
I wanted to encourage her, and at the same time an idea was percolating in my head as well. So I suggested this year we work on the theme of “calendar.” We talked to the kids and threw out the idea that it could be focused on months, seasons, special dates. Thus the new challenge was born. (I don’t think we’ve set a deadline, so don’t hold your breath.)
One of the Otterbees arrived one morning with a very tiny drawing of a Sunbonnet Sue pattern (which is no longer being made,) showing Sunbonnet Sue in winter activities and summer activities. The characters were about an inch tall so I took it to be enlarged and the idea continued to steep in my head. Soon it was Voila! I would make Sunbonnet Sue and Sam around the year. I changed them, gave them more modern clothing and put them into a round quilt.
Aside from the characters, I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out how to make a 12 pointed star. That came to me in dribs and drabs as I tried to sleep at night. A pile of rainbow fabric surfaced when I was clearing out stuff in the basement. (It’s amazing how things come together some times.)
Done, but how in the world do you hang it. My husband, Sea, came up with a coil strung into the outer edge and a loop was sewn above each month so it can be rotated around the year. Whew… my art challenge project is done way ahead of time, whatever that deadline turns out to be. Maybe it will spur the rest of the family to have a go at it.