Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lobsters! What Was I Thinking? - Part 3

This is part three of a series called "Lobsters! What Was I Thinking?"

The idea for these postings came from someone I met in Etsy chats who asked, "Why on this green earth did you pick lobsters?" Once I stopped laughing (it was meant as a kind-hearted comment), I started considering the question in a more serious way. This is my attempt at an answer. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, you can find them in the July 2008 and September 2008 postings on this blog.

The photos you see here and in the previous articles are by Liz Grandmaison, a photographer in Bangor, ME. She is awesome to work with, so if you get the chance to hire her for a project, I strongly recommend it. Otherwise, please do check out her website.

Today's featured lobsters evolved over time. As you recall, I started with plain lobsters, then developed vested lobsters and, now, occasionally, I get excited about fabricating a whole scene on the little creatures.

I have started seeing the lobsters not as stuffed toys or pieces of cloth, but as blank palettes on which pretty much anything goes. I am only limited by my imagination.

The older (or, rather more mature) I get, the more I value Maine and its way of life. Living in Maine is rugged and beautiful at the same time. Some of its mountain and ocean vistas are simply breathtaking. The more connected with Maine I get, the more its influences appear in my artwork.

While working on a vested lobster, I realized the actual piece work was very similar to the quilted wall-hangings I make. At first, it seemed far-fetched to quilt a lobster, but then I thought "Why not?" I did a few sketches to see what might fit on an 8 inch long by 3 inch wide lobster (body and tail) and took the plunge.

What is fascinating to me is how the lobster takes shape through the applique and piecing process. The creature comes to life in fabric. I just love how a speck of an idea grows and changes with the limitations of space and fabric. It pushes me to learn about and make the most out of the materials I am using. I have come to see the soft sculptured lobsters as quilted wall-hangings that happen to be shaped like lobsters.

Reflecting the dichotomies of Maine, I enjoy making each side of a lobster different. Sometimes, I choose a city and country theme. Sometimes, I go with a mountain and ocean theme. Sometimes, I think about the hikes I have done in Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park and I try to imagine what is on the other side of the mountain or forest path I have created. I like embellishing the lobsters with buttons and hand-embroidery to add interest or break up an open space.

Almost more than anything else I do, these soft sculptured lobsters feel like art to me. They symbolize a life style and philosophy that is difficult for me to put into words. Quilted scenes on lobsters will have to suffice. And, if people see them as silly or interesting or weird or beautiful that is cool with me. I have grown to love these little creatures and am happy to share the lobsters with anyone who finds a connection to Maine within them.


ceevee said...

I'm lovin' those lobsters!

FabricsNQuilts said...

I love your lobsters & love the embellishments! It is great that you have a creature that everyone associates with your area. I don't think I could make mosquitos :)

Well done!