A Portal for Crossing – A Beaded Art Quilt for Meditation

Portal for Crossing - Small Beaded Art QuiltNancy Smeltzer, MFA

I’ve written several postings about the beaded art quilt that I made for my mother as a Christmas present and how she used it the last days before she died as a source to focus on to ease her crossing over. She was so absorbed with it, that the day before she died and could still talk, she got rather annoyed with my brother and his wife whenever they would get in her line of view from seeing the picture on the wall opposite her bed. So, when “Quilting Arts” magazine came out with it’s new Reader Challenges contest entitled “Passages”, I knew that I needed to make another version of my mother’s quilt.

“Quilting Arts” magazine has a Reader’s Challenge in each issue in which they invite you to interpret a word or phrase. (The June/July 2013 issue has another one of my pieces featured in it, “A Sky Map Somewhere Over the Midwest” as part of their challenge – “Maps”) The new Challenge, “Passages”, seemed like a perfect topic to re-interpret the larger piece that I had done earlier. One of the things that I like best about all of the Interweave magazines challenges is that they’re small. This piece had to be 10″ X 10″ or 25.5 cm square. Such small pieces take me about a week to do instead of the months that some of the larger pieces require.

Detail - "Portal for Crossing: - a beaded art quiltI used a number of the same materials in this small piece as I did on the larger one for my mother. There are the same double squares that I use for the portal in all of my “Meditation Gardens” series. I also had the same sheer green, ribbed ribbon to make the “paths” to the portal. There are 3 of my favorite glass buttons visible in this detail shot; two that have a bluish cast because of the angle of the light, and a “cathedral window” glass button to the upper left of the square, gold portal. There are also two of the green, lily motifs that were used in the original piece, one seen in the lower left and one in the upper right. Unlike the larger quilt, however, I used a number of two hole buttons stamped out of sea shells and dyed green. I fastened them on with black embroidery floss to give a subtle detail to play off other places on the surface where green and black are found together. However, these were the last of those green shell buttons that I had. They show up every few years in the popular chain craft stores, disappear for awhile, and then show up again a few months later. I always try and buy as many as I can find (and afford) at a time, as I use them a lot. I like shiny things!

Working on pieces this small causes me to really focus on the details and making every square inch of the composition count. I don’t have the luxury of throwing hundred of buttons and beads onto this size of a piece, so I have to carefully “audition” each new addition and try several out for a given location before sewing them down. There is the excitement of finishing the piece in its entirety more quickly. Besides, if you didn’t know that those circles were buttons, but thought they were blobs of paint or cutout circles of fabric, you might not even know the finished size of the piece.

 What scale do you like to work in? Some people think that anything smaller than the wall of a building is too tiny, while others won’t deal with anything that’s too big to not fit in their laps. What happens when you think about changing the scale of what you usually do?

You can find this and other terrific art quilt blogs at http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

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  1. nadia says:

    Hi, Nancy. Came over from Nina Marie’s and have enjoyed visiting your blog and seeing your work, which is exquisite. Such attention to artistry and craftsmanship is a pleasure to see. Personally, I seem to work larger as things grow on me. Although working smaller is a good exercise, it feels like fitting into a girdle and I no longer have time for that.
    best from Tunisia,

  2. Dear Nadia, thanks for visiting. I love the people that I meet from Nina-Marie’s blog site.

    I, too, usually work on a larger scale, as there’s LOTS more room to spread out and use all of the buttons and beads that I want. However, these small pieces are small because of the size restrictions put on by “Quilting Arts” and “Cloth, Paper, Scissors” magazines. The first is one of the premier art quilt magazines here in the States; the second is for mixed media. They run “Reader Challenges” in each issue, and if you’re chosen, you have to mail them your piece for professional photography. I imagine that the small size in their requirements is to keep down the insurance costs, as my bigger pieces sell for +/- $8,000 US. It’s a GREAT way to get yourself noticed. So far, I’ve been in Quilting Arts 2X/ this year and because of the exposure, got asked to be in two other magazines.

    So, yes, I like working bigger, but LOVE that relaticely publicity..:) (+/- 1 week’s work and about $20 US shipping there and back, here in the States.

  3. A great idea to submit this to the Passages challenge. It is a very good interpretation of your larger piece. Such deep meaning in this one. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. What a wonderful idea to provide your mother with a meditation piece to both focus on and let her thoughts drift as she transitioned from this life. It seems that making the piece is another way to meditate.

    Most of my work, I consider midsize, ranging from 30 – 40″ give or take 10″. My least favorite scale to work is small, as in 15″ or less on a side. I can’t really tell you why. Just that it is how I conceptualize my work and seems to fit the scale of my fabric choices, natural piecing style and free motion quilting motifs.

  5. Dear Gwyned, giving my mother something to focus on is much like what people do when they use a mandala to meditate, but I explained it in terms I thought she would understand (I doubt if she had ever even heard of a mandala). I guess as for size, it’s all relative. My largest pieces these days are in your midsize range, as that’s about as large as I can manage while sewing and beading in my lap when I travel.

  6. Dear Regina, Yup, for me, portals and passages are the same thing. I also use the name “Transition Portals” for my healing web site…. http://www.transitionportals.com
    I made another entry with that name for the “Passages” challenge which I’ll write about next week.

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