Yes, I know: it was all finished, and had been sent to Spoonflower. But I just couldn’t leave it alone! Somehow, having it finished, I figured “well, now I can just play around and see what else it could be..” So….I gathered a whole new cast of medieval women:
And arranged them in the same cathedral:
I made the title just a bit stockier, heavier, and only used the three main characters,
I kept playing with Heinrich Kramer. He’s such an evil, horrible man, and the more I read, the more it seems like he was the main instigator of this whole mess. Not just writing the Malleus Maleficarum, but promoting it, lying so that others seemed to endorse it, making his evil text into a successful best-seller (really - second only to the Bible at one time) and a tragically influencial book. So his image grew in my design, looking more like a macabre puppet master, floating above…
Yes, the text is back as a transparent layer, but this time it also floats in front of the women
And then I had a great idea: since MM is all about making women seem to be evil witches, why not show that? Show their individual identities being covered, obscured by the mysogynist propaganda. Using masks, perhaps? I gathered up all the Medieval witch faces I could….but couldn’t find a way to make them work.
Then I googled ‘ vintage witch masks’….BINGO! Yes, what better way to show how insanely awful this inquisition was? To show how ludicrous the charges were?
Which is how we come to have Heinrich Kramer and Pope Innocent VIII handing out Halloween masks (Spenger isn’t giving masks. He has long been credited as an author, but it now seems he wasn’t). I’m really happy with this:
But the next day I spent a long time just looking at it. At the way the multiple reddish garments draw your eye away from the center. And how that one bright red mask near the center draws your eye in. I need to change some colors:
Now, the neutral clothing provides a great contrast with the ghastly red masks. The red edging around the lettering (including the title) perfectly blends with the red masks to form a smothering downpour of evil on these women. This is much better. Don’t know about the top section - if I should add the howling faces, or just STOP ALREADY… we’ll see.
Last night, lying in bed, I realized that I should blur the women’s features, to reinforce their loss of identity. And an over-the-top addition to Heinrich:
This version is now off to the printer. I think this is the one I’ll sew. And here are my jumbled thoughts at the moment:
-I’ve spent over a month working and reworking just this one design. After all those years sewing buttons under cloth, making art with no pictorial element at all, this is such an enormous artistic change for me.
-Making that baby quilt - which was supposed to be a one-time side trip - led to the tablets. Which I kept telling myself were just temporary…and then there was all that boiled wool.
-There are people who jump from one media to another, trying all different techniques. That’s fine for them, but I have always needed to keep pushing, blinders on, down my own artistic alley. To take ONE technique and beat it to death, to learn every variation, each possibility, until it was stitched into me like multiple darnings on an old sock. Yet now, here I am jumping!
-The NJ Arts Annual, in Montclair, has one of my boiled wool pieces. At the opening, other artist friends kept saying “THAT one is yours? But there’s nothing embedded!”
-Having figured out the extra woolen backing layers (last week’s post) these banners now seem to fit a little better into my unconscious mental map of where this is all supposed to go. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either.
OK, next week we’re on to something much more fun: Medieval marginalia.