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15 @ 40 // day seven

15 @ 40 // day seven

I love Easter Bingo each year, for the ways it pushes me out of whatever rut I’ve fallen into and stretch my creative muscles in new ways. This year, we mixed up the prompts a bit, and one of my suggestions was “remix”. Once upon a time, Car & I attempted a 365 journal prompt challenge (which I failed quite spectacularly), and one of the prompts I did manage to finish was “time travel”. In that case, I remixed the leftovers of one of my major quilt projects into a different quilt, and had quite the blast doing it.

As a prompt, it leaves so much room for interpretation and creativity, regardless of what creative medium our fellow bingoers enjoy. Maybe they might remix neglected stash materials in a new way, or upcycle something, or try a new twist on old favourites.

I chose to remix a photo I had seen on Instagram. The softness of the low-contrast, desaturated colours made me think of watercolour, and, inspired by another recent mixed media exploration, I thought it would be fun to keep the watercolour nice and loose, and add detail with embroidery & beads. The watercolour indeed got done over easter, and then set aside as other projects caught my attention and the weeks drifted by.

When I started dreaming up this “Fifteen At Forty” project, though, I knew this would be the perfect base to work from, to bring in multiple inspirations and creative influences and create a piece that would fit nicely in the series. Those soft colours reminded me of nothing so much as the pinks and sages of my small collection of silk ribbons, and their matching Perle cottons, and embroidery wools.

One of the first craft classes I did as a tween was a paper tole class (very 90s, I know), and it ended up being just my sister and I, so in the end the teacher bounced between us, and teaching my mum silk ribbon embroidery. It looked like a bundle of fun, and I ended up having a play with mum’s supplies at home. As part of my sewing classes, everyone made a hot water bottle cover – a wool outer, and a liberty-style floral lining. Of course, this became the perfect project to fancify with some embroidery. With increasing confidence, I decided to tackle one of my biggest projects – a hand pieced, embroidered bear.

Then, because I am me, something new and shiny came along – another Super Nineties craft, folk art. The ribbons and the wools and the Perle all got set aside, and for the most part have been languishing in my stash for the better part of two and a half decades. Somewhere in the depths of my mojo though, those pretty ribbons have been sitting there, waiting for me to remember them and let them out to play.

They were the perfect addition to this piece, and to really round out my walk down memory lane, I sifted through my vintage bead stash (vintage in the sense it’s my childhood collection, not vintage I the sense I paid a hipster on Etsy a fortune for what was once a 30c scoop of bead soup) and pulled a mix of my favourite Mill Hill beads, along with a couple of those bead soup lucky dip beads, that were just the right colour. To be honest, digging around in a rainbow of tiny beads, listening to the satisfying rattle as they knocked against each other and the side of their container, was almost as much fun as working on the actual project.

The piece itself, I feel like it still needs *something*, but that perfect something hasn’t quite come to me. Maybe one day I will revisit it and add to it. Maybe I won’t. Maybe it will always existing in this not-quite state, a testament to some of my early explorations into crossover mixed media. For now, it is finished enough.

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