Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cooking up Something

Mmmm, yummy spicy Indian food! That's what came to mind with Helen's palette. Almost immediately I thought of a spice market and those wonderful piles of color.

This would be fun to make with all my lovely brown fabrics, but doesn't it just look like a Brandon Mably fabric (though we all know I love his and Kaffe Fasset's fabrics)?

How about just the spice? A pile of colorful powder that looked like someone ran their finger through. I could do all French Knots in luscious embroidery flosses. I've done two knot-heavy projects in the last month though, and I think I need to do something else.

Reading up on the odd spice out, I learned that Asofoetida has a lot of medicinal uses in addition to it's cookery ones. That made me think of an apothecary and all it's jars, or mysterious drawers.

I kind of like this one.

I was certain that Helen had chosen this palette because she wanted us to think deep thoughts about Asofoetida and it's anti-flatulent, antimicrobial, contraceptive, abortifacient, balancing, and repelling properties. She says she was just thinking of the nice warm browns, but I told her I didn't believe it and would make a piece with a red circle with a line through it to indicate "no fart clouds."

I was loving all the names for Asafoetida based on it's fetid smell. How about a lovely redwork style botanical embroidery, with a bunch of "crappy" names (pun intended)? OK, there's potential in that design.

I was curious about the ancient uses of the spice though. Apparently, it is an inferior version of the ancient herb Silphium, which was so valued in the ancient world that it's image was used on coins, and it was over harvested to extinction by the Roman era. There's some speculation that because of Sylphium's contraceptive effectiveness the heart symbol we use to represent romantic love (that bears little resemblance to a real human heart) is actually based on the heart shaped seed of the plant. It's also possible that use of Sylphium is the reason there wasn't a huge population explosion during the Roman Empire despite much improved nutrition and medical care.

Connecting the dots from the spice palette, to Asafoetida in particular, I think I can make a case for using it's cousin Sylphium as inspiration. But what do I want to say? I think I want to say that for millennia, women have wanted, needed, and sought, choices. We need to accept that.

But I'm feeling that words are to obvious in a quilted piece -- a kind of a cop-out for me. They are much better suited for printed material, or that in the realm of words and letters. Besides, I found a website with bold, thoughtful imagery that is essentially what I was imagining.

I need to be more subtle with my Spice piece. I want to convey something visually without having to explain it in words. I want it to be more subliminal as well. I don't think I need to knock anyone over the head with my Sylphium reference. It can be an intriguing discovery.

Now, back to the drawing (sewing) board to see what I can pull off. What kind of fabrics could reinforce my theme?


JB said...

Wow, that is a lot of "food" for thought. I see what you mean about the bold graphic images in the link you provided.

Kristin L said...

Upon reflection, I realize what I said about words came out wrong. In THIS instance, the words are better suited for something poster-like and I think I can do better in my little quilt. However, I don't oppose words on quilts as a whole. I've seen (and sometimes do myself) very effective journalling on fabric and/or words as pattern -- our own Deborah's work is a great example.

Deborah Boschert said...

I totally understand what you meant about words being too obvious. Every element included in an art quilt -- including words if they are used -- should serve the whole composition, medium and design. Thanks for the shout out! Back at ya!