Yes, we're finally back to the tablets! Why the long delay? Well, during all of 2017, I was able to complete only 11 tablets (as of today, I'm up to 14!! While I was able to sew during the holiday season, there was no chance to finish tablets). Each one takes a l-o-n-g time to make. Let's start with the tablet I used as the basis for my holiday card:
Baghdad, House of Wisdom
When I was in school, teachers focused almost exclusively on western culture. America was most important, followed by Europe: the rest of the world was taught only enough so we'd know who the enemy was in all those wars. In doing this series of tablets, I've happily been researching other cultures, and learning of their incredible scientific discoveries (back when Europeans hadn't discovered soap, hot water or the New World).
The picture on the right: the shelves behind the scholars hold piles of books. I took the shape of the shelf openings in my design.
As you can see, there are several variations of one image.
Researching online is complicated: on the one hand, everything is all right there! I can sit in my pajamas and access a universe of knowledge. But....being so effortless, it's easy to get sloppy, to delight in the wealth of images without checking them too deeply. Which is how, when I went back to investigate a little further (after I had started sewing) I found that my image of the House of Wisdom was...the one in Istanbul, not Baghdad. Oops.
I found this error while trying to name all of the devices being used in the picture. I did get most of them, but there's a long oval with something red on it (under the astrolabe) which defied identification. I sent it to a professor of Medieval History, who suggested it was their lunch.........(really? just say "I don't know")
I did my usual Photoshop tricks to create this design:
Painted it with dyes, and realized I had to do it over:
I went back and changed a few bits in the design, reprinted, painted again and sewed (see final tablet below). What's different? The scholars on the far right are now facing in, not out, the shelves of scientific knowledge go all the way across, the globe is larger, and a design has been added under the bottom lettering (wouldn't want to have any empty spaces...). Just minor changes, but they give a more coherent design
Baghdad, House of Wisdom, finished tablet. Look closely, and you can see the word ISTANBUL embroidered on a paper on the table.
Now, you may ask "when you found this major mistake, why didn't you go back and start over?" I've re-done several others. But, I've come to understand how much of what we call history is a vast collection of errors and exaggerations. Considering how many times people have worked to expunge history (this 'erased' stone carving being just one very tiny sample) it's a miracle we have anything left to study. So I decided to acknowledge the mistake, and move on.