"Rain Garden: Ace of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot."
by Susan Shie Contact me
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Rain Garden. ©Susan Shie 2011
"Rain Garden: Ace of Pyrex Cups in the Kitchen Tarot.”
©Susan Shie 2011. 60"h x 91"w. inventory #412. Peace Cozy #42.
Began 10-29-11. Finished 12-17-11.
Materials: White kona cotton, airbrush paint, fabric paint. Aurifil cotton machine thread, Artfabrik perle cotton embroidery thread, one Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. Nature-fil bamboo and organic cotton batting. Backing fabrics include Lunn Fabrics batiks.
Techniques: Whole cloth painting. Freehand black line drawing and color areas painting made with Aztek double action airbrush and Createx airbrush paint. Small journal writing made with Silkpaint.com’s basic Airpen and Jacquard Textile Colors fabric paint. Crazy grid machine quilting and one row of hand stitching (just on the border edge.)
On October 29, 2011, I shuffled my traditional tarot deck, so I could choose at random a minor card that would become this next piece. I got the Ace of Cups, which in my Kitchen Tarot project is the suit of Pyrex Cups. Aces are about gifts and miracles. Cups are about love and compassion, and they also rule the element of Water. And that made me think of Osorb, the new nanoglass silica invented by Dr Paul Edmiston at the College of Wooster (my undergrad school) in the Fall of 2005.
He and his research students had a grant to develop a chemical that would detect TNT and other explosives on people’s bodies at airport security. Instead, they found that one of the nanoglasses they’d formulated, which they named Osorb, absorbs all kinds of water pollutants, but not water itself. This invention was a miracle, to my thinking, and when I pulled that Ace card, I knew I wanted to tell the story of this game-changing silica, being created in my own hometown, but going out more and more into the world of water reclamation. What the world needs now!!!! Osorb’s uses include cleanup from oil spills, fracking, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, etc, etc. Osorb is not a chemical pollutant, and after it absorbs the poisons in the water, it can be separated from them and reused over and over.
You can read all about Osorb at the ABSMaterials website.
After pulling that card and making that choice for the theme, I started sketching on October 30th and by November 12, I was ready to start painting, without looking at my sketches. Because of the sketches I had my “plot” figured out and knew in my head what I wanted to do. I began with a kona cotton fabric panel that was 60”h x 91”w and used black paint and my airbrush to draw the scene, then paint in the colors. The airbrush painting only took three days, but really, that's my favorite part of making my work. I was scared to start this piece, because I liked my last piece "Ardis and Betty" so much, and I was worried that I couldn't do that well again. But I like the theme I figured out for this piece a lot. And maybe that was the hardest part of getting a new piece going: having a good topic again!
On November 15th, I finished airbrushing "Rain Garden," and you can see my photo essay of that work in an album on my Facebook page.
Next I started doing my diary writing on the painting, and that lasted til I finished everything for this piece, including writing on it more, after I quilted it, even writing on it as it hung on the wall to be photographed. The writing is a mixture, as usual, of my own personal life stories, comments and reportage on current events, and detailed information about the main subject of this piece, Osorb.
My stories included notes about the Occupy Wall Street movement; about selling “Ardis and Betty” to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska; about buying a new iMac and iPad and reading Steve Jobs’ life story by Walter Isaacson and going to the Apple Store at Summit Mall with Rita; about Josh Krajcik (from my town) being one of the big contestants on the X Factor (which we don’t watch, coz we hardly watch any TV.)
More stories are about the “Women Who Rock” show at the Rock Hall and the documentary based on that show; about Jackson Browne’s song “Lives in the Balance” and how a blog called “Occupied Palestine” referenced that song and its politics; about how the new Libyan government caught Gadhafi’s son Saif; about students at UC Davis being pepper sprayed by campus police for their passive protesting; about how my dog Libby now has three dog friends she can play with on weekends at the school playground; about the protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt going on, because the government now is as corrupt as was that of Mubarak; about the College of Wooster having two rain gardens they planted this last June, with one of them containing Osorb.
I told about helping an Amish couple get directions, when they and their horse and buggy were lost in my neighborhood, due to road construction on Melrose Drive; about Jimmy’s 58th birthday on Nov 26, two days after Thanksgiving; about the largest solar panel display on a US college campus being right here on the new sports center’s roof; about Early giving me a used Rowenta steam iron!
I wrote about Col. Potter on M.A.S.H. (Harry Morgan) dying; about the US getting all the soldiers out of Iraq by Dec 17, after almost 9 years of war there; and about my sister Debi and I taking a buggy ride with a really sweet Amishman named John Erb, in Berlin.
My friend Charlene Gross's husband Steve Spoonamore is the CEO of ABSMaterials, and I've included them both in my painting here, along with the research people, my family, Libby, and me. The giant green pyrex cup is the Ace and also the Rain Garden. There’s a famous College of Wooster building, Kauke, in the piece, as well as the two buildings in town that ABSMaterials is working out of, and I included a gigantic tanker truck, to tell the story on, about them using Osorb to clean up some of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill water in the summer of 2010.
I've been interested in water cleanup for a long time, and am so happy that this landmark research and development is being done right here. This piece’s title "Rain Garden" comes from the Osorb research rain garden at The College of Wooster. I didn't know the term, but it has to do with capturing and filtering rain water that runs off of hard surfaces like roads and parking lots, and keeping the runoff with its pollutants from the parking lots, etc, from going directly into storm sewers. The Rain Garden here at C.O.W. has Osorb included in the soil under the garden, so that what ends up in the water table is even more clean than if it only ran down through earth first.
After most of the writing was done, I sandwiched the painting with Fairfield Processing’s Nature-fil bamboo and cotton batting, and made a big backing panel of many fabrics that I sewed together, like I always do. (Some day I’m going to make a cover like that for our bed!) Then I pinned it all together a LOT, and machine sewed the whole thing without marking it, like I always don’t do. Adding more writing to the border, I did another heat set of the paint, which I have to do after every step of painting. (I have lots of heat setting time in each piece!) I hand sewed with Laura Wasilowski’s hand dyed perle cotton around the edge, like usual, and sewed on my casing and made my label. I had to find where to sew on the 42nd Peace Cozy, and settled on putting it on my dog Libby’s ear, so she’ll stop pulling on walks and mellow out! Then I sewed on the shrink art label I’ve made and also the little green temple Buddha boy bead. Did my big photo shoot today, and now I’m a happy little clam!!!!
I've gotten this piece done in time for our annual WAGE (Wayne Artists Group Effort) art group's show here at Wayne Center for the Arts, in January and February. The theme this year, created by Jenna Waggoner, is "Eye of the Beholder." Clearly it took some genius-style “beholding” on behalf of Dr Edmiston to see the potential of the silica he was looking at, when he saw that it had swollen up and absorbed some acetone spilled into it, one significant day in 2005.
There you go! Enjoy, Susan 12-19-11
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