The little magnolia tree I planted a couple of years ago has charmed us with a few blooms this year. Actually, it has bloomed once or twice, but with only one flower each time, so I had been reluctant to pick them. But, this year is a different story, lots of blooms, and I could not resist. The entire room is filled with the fragrance of summer. And to think, only a short while ago I was only dreaming of them, as I stitched them up for the state flower quilt.
So, continuing on from the last post (June Bloom) about Helen, my art teacher and friend. Now, all these years later, I still think about the sandpiper curtain. Oh yes, Helen, as it turned out, was not only a gifted artist, but she was an avid stitcher who loved embroidery. This came as a complete surprise to me. One day, I was visiting her home, and saw an unusual curtain hanging in a small, oddly placed window above the stairway. The strong coastal sunshine had been a problem for her, she explained, as it would stream into her studio making it difficult for her to work on her paintings. She welcomed the light, but needed to diffuse it. So she came up with an idea for a "curtain". And not just any curtain. No, her curtain was a work of art! She'd taken white voile, or something similar, lightweight and sheer, and executed a border along the bottom depicting sandpipers in shadow applique. Just layers of white on white. The embroidered details were also done in white, and worked in various fancy stitches. Wavy lines were chain-stitched to indicate the foamy water along the shoreline and clear seed beads were meticulously tacked in here and there to add sparkle to the water. When the light shined through the curtain, it was just the most beautiful thing, with the tiny beads glimmering in the light like the sea upon the sand. It was simply, exquisite.
Helen inspired me in many ways. I was married on a hill between two ancient oak trees, overlooking the Pacific ocean, a favorite location that she had painted many times, and it pleased her to attend and take part in the festivities. But that day, she did not look particularly well, although she insisted everything was fine. A few weeks later, Escrow closed on our first home and we moved away from the coast and up to the foothills of suburbia, leaving my little "cottage by the sea" and my friend behind. As I began embarking on a new path in life, Helen's was coming to an end. She never mentioned her illness, probably not wanting to cast a shadow on my happiness. It wasn't her style to impose herself in that way. Without family, she left the bulk of her estate to the colleges she taught at, and scholarships are still being awarded in her honor to this day. I have hung on to the few silk-screen paintings she gave me, and will always remember her fondly. Especially that "curtain".
Unrelated exciting news...Hey, there's a stitchin' contest happening! I am going to be one of the judges and prize givers along with a host of other wonderful folks. Check it out over at the New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns group on flickr. This event has been pulled together and organized by bookwormbethie AKA Beth. So hop on board for some fun, creative stitching (and prizes!!) to kick off the summer, starting June 20, 2012.