Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Castaway Returns

Long time no "sea" dear friends!

So long in fact that my secret project is no longer undisclosed.
As such, how about we start back at the beginning.....
.....the very beginning, which just so happens 
to involve an introduction to this young at heart lady here,

Having once lived a good number of years on Cape Cod it was a given 
that I would be familiar with the whimsical work of Ralph Cahoon
Reproductions of his seaside paintings were in abundance as framed prints, 
his museum was passed many a day as I made my way to Dick and Ellie's Flea Market, 
and I do believe I received more than one birthday card featuring his lovely mermaids. 

It wasn't until many moons later, when I actually took the time to step foot into the museum,
that I discovered the remarkable Martha. She was an artist in her own right both before 
and after her almost 50 year stint of marriage to Ralph and, in my mind at least, 
a huge inspiration behind the direction his work took.

She is also a tremendous inspiration to me.
Wife, mother, housekeeper, cook and still quite prolific in her work...
...what is there not to admire about such a woman?

I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of  
Simple Pleasures: The Art of Martha Cahoon while visiting the museum that day. 
It's a little gem of a book that led me to explore seacoast themes in art of all sorts....paintings, hooked rugs, and especially Sailor's Valentines. 

The thought of creating something in that vein tickled my fancy 
but the outlet in which to do it had long evaded me until dear hubby gifted me the solution in the form of a book that celebrates the art of "painting" with fabric...

This book is almost as amazing as Takahara herself.
Being another one of those "young at hearters," I cannot help but imagine
she and Martha would have gotten along fabulously!

Now, somewhere along the way in this story a wedding invitation was received. 
Had I thought it through I would have taken a picture of it 
but since I didn't I'll substitute this one of 
the courting Martha and Ralph instead.
Kinda cute isn't it?

My own courting couple is pretty cute too, but better yet, they are very much
kindred with the Cape and Islands. Their wedding was to be on the the Cape, they often visit  Nantucket, and nautical themed art frequents their walls.

In them I found the kick in the pants I needed to try my hand
at some whimsy and should all go as planned
I'd have a wedding gift to boot! 

Some serious perusing of the ins and outs of  
Sailor's Valentines.....

,,,along with an exploration of the more romantic mermaid depictions, 

led to a shopping trip for fabrics inspired by my discoveries.

The day I actually sat down to set sail with my first stitches was very exciting to say the least.
It also looks a bit crowded but I don't seemed to remember feeling that way at the time,
probably because I was so hyper focused on that 8x8 inch  
"canvas" sitting in front of me.

At first it was truly smooth sailing,

and the only waves were friendly ones!

As the project progressed however, and the applique pieces became smaller and smaller, 
the devil in the details reared his ugly head. There was definitely a learning 
curve involved in this process.

Round about the "hankie"clouds on the horizon is where I left off with my earlier blogging posts.
Not only was the stitching time consuming but I often spent just about as
much time ripping things out as I did putting them in.

The islands were my turning point. 
While the pieces might have been on the smaller side 
the fabric itself was sturdier  
and my needle skills a bit more practiced.

I found I could telescope my vision and see the ultimate destination within reach.

Bit by bit pieces fell into place...

...until a cute little couple of my own making came to be!

Another vintage hankie was put to use. 
I loved the trim on this one and thought it would be 
lovely along the border edge...

...but I will admit it was very hard to make the first cut into it!

English paper piecing lent a hand,
and what better function for some miniature hexie pieces...

...than to use them in the construction of some corner units that help create an octagonal frame
reminiscent of those that house a Sailor's Valentines? 

Since every sea needs some shells I considered myself very fortunate to get access
to a handful of  teeny tiny specimens to scatter about.

This lead me to become severely tempted to nestle a single pearl
in the half shell on the bottom but, since pearls at a wedding are considered 
bad luck, I played the superstitious sailor 
and refrained.

A desolate horizon was remedied with a lighthouse,

a ship, and of course some seagulls.

And then, all at once, it was done.

My first story block...
but fingers crossed, not the last.
Next time I'd like to see more english paper piecing,
more 3-D elements,
more varied materials,
and of course a pearl or two!!!

Until then, however, this one still had a journey to complete...

thus it was signed,


and delivered.

May they sail away 
into the land 
Happily Ever After!