• Various/Onna Carr

The Tapestry of Life

Updated: Oct 27, 2019

Post by Onna Carr

This summer, I pulled out a tapestry of felted wool I had made in a day-class when I was fifteen. The day of the class was a drizzle day—the kind of day when it is not quite raining, but it is moist and wet, overcast and gray, and I wore a Levi jean jacket in khaki. I remember taking the cotton gauze and backing it with thin pieces of clean, fluffy, white wool. This part of the initial process reminds me of how people have to prepare backstage to have a good Broadway production. Shakespeare said, “The world is a stage,” but I have often wondered if what is going on behind the scenes, backstage, is where the real show is.

I repeated the same process of applying the wool to the back of the gauze on the front of the gauze and added layers of color to create a design. I added orange for the sun and the roof of a cottage depicted in the tapestry, reflecting the light with light. I then incorporated blue wool and purple mohair with silver accent yarn to fill up the empty sky and to make an “X” to mark where the treasure truly is—heaven, for if my heart is there, my feet are lighter as I try to stand on one foot and draw Heaven down to earth. Mountains out of blue rise from the horizon to the one side of the cottage while a great hill rises to the occasion opposite in verdant green. As I worked on the tapestry, I liked the feel of the warm, soapy water and the pill bottle, progressing across the piece, rolling across my palms and the wool, felting the piece together as I got into the rhythm of things.

For years, this piece has hung on the wall of our previous home. After our recent move, the felted piece made it to the back of my vintage, green chair. I was concerned about how the piece would hold together, so I took a cotton fat quarter depicting sheep prancing up and down hills I had been saving back. Equipped with my sheepish fat quarter and a pack of vintage embroidery floss copyrighted December 27, 1921, I hand-quilted the tapestry to the fabric with a simple, embroidery stitch technique from India. After I finished backing the tapestry, I bound the piece with a green, blanket binding. During this process, I unearthed beads from two necklaces I wore from the same time period I made the tapestry originally. I grouped the one necklace’s beads in the top, left corner to cover the corner seam of my binding. I then grouped the other necklace’s beads in the cottage, where “Bree,” my nickname, is beaded above the door, akin to Pooh, who lived under “Sanders” as a name. I then took some sequins and jewels off the collar of an Indian shirt I had, and I used these to create a “Starry Sky.”

The tapestry is almost finished with part of the sky and the hill needing some bead-work to be fully completed. I love how certain projects are delightfully ongoing—how I can complete a tapestry at fifteen only to pick the piece back up many years later, to strengthen and beautify the original piece with saved-back fabric, antique floss, and beads and sequins from favorite necklaces and shirts, re-purposing the original tapestry into a more enduring and wonderful work of lasting art. The whole project reminds me of life and the journey of life. To start with, we are given a beautiful tapestry, and as we develop and utilize our talents with intention and purpose, we strengthen and beautify our lives, incorporating relationships that transform our lives into more wonderful and enduring works of lasting art.

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