Monday, October 29, 2012

"THE CHRISTENING GOWN"...

 "The Christening Gown" Mixed -Media: Paper, Fabric, Lace, Paint, Beading, Found Object, Image Transfer, Journaling by Sandy Babb 2012

 I thought it appropriate to begin my Heritage Collection with a mixed media christening gown.  After all, to christen is an act of dedicating something new and I am trying to find new direction in my artwork.  This collection was inspired by an exhibit I stumbled upon by Sarah Mattingly Benson.  While our mediums are quite different the feel of capturing family history is the same.
My collection is based on things that would be handed down from generation to generation incorporating some of my own family heirloom pieces, in this case laces, fabrics, and a photo found in my grandmothers things, with other mixed media techniques to create a narrative piece that depicts a treasured family story. 
 While there is no heirloom christening gown or bonnet in my family, there is a story that involves a baby dress.  I decided to combine my love for paper sculpting, heirloom sewing, and my new passion for beading to create a fanciful ensemble that is aged and tattered to perfection creating something that looks like it could have been around since the 1800's.
 The main body of the gown and bonnet are paper that have been distressed and aged just enough to give character and texture but not enough to break down the paper fibers so there would still be stability to the piece... 
 Vintage French lace and trim mix well with the dollar store doilies, pillow case edging, curtain lace, and mother of pearl buttons that I found at the farm in my grandmothers things... 
 Pin tucked sewn paper adds another heirloom feel. Handmade rosettes were fashioned from a piece of cloth found in my grandmothers rag bin.  Hand made paper, wire, and glass beads appear between the rosettes. All the fabrics and laces have been hand dyed to various hues that give the finished pieces the feel of once pure white now yellowed with the passing of time. Tattered handmade silk flowers sport hand beaded centers.  A hem torn from a tattered sheet is embroidered with a chain stitch, beaded with glass beads, and handmade blossoms that have pearl centers from a vintage necklace.  Curtain lace gives a sheer break between each tier of the gown adding texture as well as authenticity to the design...
I figured out a way to make a faux fabric photo transfer that resulted in a dreamy faded image.  The image is my mother in the 1940's, she is the subject of the journaling...
 Hand beading is present from neckline to hem...
The gown in completely finished on the back also...
 The bonnet has matching elements of the gown design.  Both gown and bonnet are actual size that could be worn by an infant...
 The gown ended up being quite heavy after all the glass beading and metal work so it is mounted on a hand cut wooden  hanger...
 The journaling is at the heart of the piece and tells a snippet of a story of the angst and indecision of a young mother, my grandmother, raising a baby, my mother, on a remote farm in the foothills of the Ozarks.  Until the baby began to crawl and toddle morning chores of feeding the livestock, hauling in wood for heat and cooking, hauling water from the spring, and milking the cows had gone on a usual.  My grandmother would place my mothers cradle near the front window of the small three room home and dash from one chore to the other making a stop on the postage stamp sized front porch to peer into the window and make sure the baby was safe.
Once my mother began to crawl and toddle my grandmothers worries set in.  It was a bitter icy winter morning that my mother took her first steps, both elation and anxiety struck my grandmother.  She would no longer be able to keep my mother contained safely in the cradle and it was an impossibility to take her out into the bitter cold and try to accomplish the chores one handed while trying to keep her balance on the icy slopes to and from the barn and the spring.
The journaling reads, "Milkin' time had come 'round again.  The young mother mother was filled with anxiety.  How was she to keep the baby safe?  She could not leave her unattended nor was it wise to take her into the bitter cold of the barn and the dangers it could hold for a toddler.  Smoothing her hand over the bed covers she glanced at the child sitting at her feet, dress tail splayed out behind her.  In an instant the decision was made.  Hoisting the frame of the old iron bed, she pegged the babies dress tail to the floor.  It was the only thing she could think of to do."
 My grandmother said it worried her to death to leave my mother each morning and that speed and prayer were the only things that got her through the chores and safely back at my mothers side.
 I hope you have enjoyed viewing "The Christening Gown".  This has been an interesting experiment to see how an image, a few random finds, and a story can combine themselves into a piece of art.  I am looking forward to beginning the second piece in this collection!

I hope your day is filled with brightness and beauty!

28 comments:

Michelle Rose said...

Sandy, that is the most beautiful piece of art!

At first I really thought it was a real antique christening gown.

May I be a bit presumptuous and bold by saying that I really think you should sell some art prints of this?!

Seriously!

Have a blessed week!

The Feathered Nest said...

Absolutely BREATHTAKING sweet friend!!!!! This is so stunningly beautiful Sandy...the sheer amount of media involved is amazing!!! Just gorgeous ~ BRAVO!!!!!!!!! hugs and love, Dawn

Vee said...

Layer upon layer of not only media, but meaning. Loved the story of your grandmother pegging your mother to the floor. This piece is exquisitely beautiful.

Desires of the Heart said...

Sandy, this is just so very beautiful and extraordinary!! I can't imagine just how many hours you worked on this. Such great and fine detail all woven to tell this story. A precious heirloom for sure!! Thank you for showing us your gorgeous work of art!! Glad you are feeling better from your terrible spider bite. If you can do work like this when you feel bad, WOW, what an artist you are!! Linda

HappilyHidden said...

my jaw is on the floor! its almost too good to be true, such amazing art could be hand made out of papers and such?!? I would love to know what you do with your art? Do you have a shop? Online buiz? You have an amazing talent.

Beth Leintz said...

Oh Sandy, your Christening Gown is incredible, just beautiful- but I love the story behind it to- reminding us how much times have changed, but mothers always worry about their children.

The French Bear said...

Sandy that is so beautiful, is this a class you might offer? I love it!!! My mom smocked gorgeous christening gowns but she always had to sell them to feed all ten children.....so sadly I don't have one to remember her by......how darling would this be!!!
Hugs,
Mags
xx

Katherine Wolak said...

I LOVE this! I adore the colours, what you added, all the embellishments and all that history and love you put into this dress and cap! That is a masterpiece my dear! :D

Hugs,

Connie Eyberg Originals said...

Sandy, this is one of the most outstanding pieces of art! My jaw is on the floor too. It is just stunning! Incredible!

Sandy said...

Mags,

While this is not the class I will be offering in January, I can promise you it will provide you with opportunity to do some intricate detail to make your own fabulous heritage piece using many of your own keepsakes!

Blessings,
Sandy

bobbie said...

There are no words to fully describe how magnificent this is!! The details you've put into it beggar belief ~ I am in stunned awe.
Hugs ~

slowlaneblog.com said...

Wow Paper???!!! That is amazing!! You sure did capture that old look. I really thought you had actually used a Heirloom gown!!!

slowlaneblog.com said...

Wow Paper???!!! That is amazing!! You sure did capture that old look. I really thought you had actually used a Heirloom gown!!!

Createology said...

Sandy you have achieved such a precious piece of heirloom treasure with all of the elements you have so cleverly crafted together. This is truly historic bliss. Blessings to you and your Mother and your Grandmother for truly hardy survival skills. Creative Bliss Dear...

Dorthe said...

Dear Sandy,
you are making wonders with papers ,laces and pearls.
Your art is stunning and the story you tells so touching, I can so relate to your grandmothers worry,-as I am good at worrying myself, and would have felt the same.
The baby Christening gown and bonnet are just fantastic art pieces.You are a fantastic artist.
Hugs,Dorthe

Karen B. said...

Sandy, I am lost for words ~ this creation is so beautiful and breathtaking. You are an amazing artist!
mugh love and hugs
Karen B. ~ Todolwen

Robin said...

WOW! That about says it all!! Beautiful heirloom piece Sandy. Have a great week.

Hugs,
Robin

Celeste said...

This is the most amazing mixed media piece i have ever seen.

Lesley UK said...

Wow! This has broken down all the prejudice that craft can never be truly considered as art. It's so beautiful and magical that it transcends all boundaries. I love it.If this is the way that your work is progressing, then nothing can stop you. Congratulations

Thespoena McLaughlin said...

Oh Sandy! It's just an overwhelmingly wonderful piece of artwork. So much texture and depth of history. LOVE!

Laura Kirste Campbell said...

Oh Sandy, I'm so touched by your beautiful Christening Gown!! A stunning work of art that has a precious story and mesmerizing details. thank you for sharing your art, your history and your process. I'm deeply inspired!

God bless!

Tina Schiefer said...

Wow! This is REALLY beautiful!!!

I've been collecting vintage children's dresses, hankies, and quilts to create with...what an inspiring piece!!!

beadz said...

This is the most stunning work of paper art I've seen! I'm blown away - I could look at it for hours and keep finding something new.
Gini

suziqu's thread works said...

Oh Sandy - this is a stunningly beautiful piece of artwork. So much planning, so many different mediums, so many heart felt hours of dedicated love involving your mother and grandmother's history have been sewn into this gown from creating the paper in readiness up to the very last bead and stitch!

I could look at it for hours!
Congratulations to a most creative artist!
Now to go back and take in much of the detail and yes to learn a few of the techniques here would be so wonderful also!

Enjoy your Autumnal weekend.
Hugs,
Suzy

Debbie said...

One word, AMAZING!!!

glorygirl said...

Oh my goodness! This is incredible. Every. Single. Thing. About it!!!!

Kathryn Ross said...

Sandy - what a brilliant work of whimsy and art this is! I am completely captivated by the beauty of the faded gown designs - the photo of your mom - the STORY - of course something I would completely be swept away by!! Every detail is so engaging! Do you exhibit your works in galleries? I clicked on your etsy but you don't have anything listed. It is a dream of mine to have a studio in which to simply - dream - and create meaningful art pieces just like this. Not for me, though, on such a level. I shall live vicariously through you, milady!
Joy!
Kathy

Ineke van den Akker said...

Wow! How I love this!!!
greetings from Holland!
with love,
Ineke

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