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The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie
The Kitchen Tarot

A 22 card deck by Susan Shie

9 of Pentacles tarot card
9 of Pentacles (coins) card
from the Rider-Waite tarot deck

Quilt Life article
Read an article about this quilt (pdf)

ornament

$18,500

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In my sketches for this piece, I drew us three drawing Libby on Sweet Jane, all at the same time, and made us floating over Libby, who was sprawling on the couch. I made Eva, Olivia, and me all as mermaids, because of Eva’s “The Mermaid Tale” movie we watched (and because I’d just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s book The Mermaid Chair.) Oh, and the little girls also watched Olivia’s movie “The Dolphin Tale.” It was a fishy time, besides being a doggie time, indeed!

I had planned to make this piece be about Steve Jobs, who had died on Oct 5, 2011, and I’d read Walter Issacson’s really good new authorized biography of him, as well as watching the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley” and doing a lot of online research about Jobs. Then, later when I was airpen writing on this painting, I ended up making what I called a “Pantleg Biography” of him on his blue jeans, massively consolidating his life into what would fit on his pants!

On New Year’s Day, I shuffled my traditional tarot deck, so I could choose at random a minor card that would become this next piece. (There are 78 tarot cards in a deck. I’ve got the 22 major cards all done, and this is the 14th of the 56 minors in the full deck. This is a long term project begun in 1998, that will take 24 years in all, I think!) This time I got the 9 of Coins or Pentacles, which in my Kitchen Tarot project is the suit of Potholders. Nines are a big fulfillment, integrating what we’ve learned. And coins are wealth and well-being. This card stands for independence, self-sufficience, and freedom. It’s achievement in the world, based on one’s maturing and working hard. It can mean wealth, but more importantly it means a strongly developed experiential and emotional maturity. I guess I may have reached a tad of that, at age 61, but I think that Steve Jobs certainly could be represented by this card.

So I made sketches, after choosing this card, and it slowly morphed into Libby sitting on the couch, with us floating over her, drawing her on the iPad, which Steve Jobs was holding for us. He has angel wings, and is also holding my 3Gs iPhone. Libby has my good old iPod between her paws, and beside her is a tall stack of all the Mac computers we’ve ever owned. (Never had a PC.) On top of the stack is my 2004 laptop, iSally, and yes, all the computers have names, starting with Verna, the late 80s Macintosh Plus, that I bought used in 1993 from my friend Anne Warren. Sweet Jane is the newest purchase, but Arry, my new iMac is almost as new … I sold a big piece in late 2011!!! (Ardis and Betty!)

I really enjoyed writing out little stories about each computer and device, looking up, sometimes on Wikipedia, the hard drive sizes, processor speeds, etc, and seeing how all of that has really moved along! Hard to imagine what’s next, but I hear it’ll be touch screens on the computers, like the iPad and iPhone have, only with a regular keyboard to use with the screen! Wow!

I made the coins/potholders be round potholders with an Apple logo on each, numbering them 1 through 9 and giving them each a year and name that go with the 8 computers/devices, and the ninth one is the next, future one!

When I started to paint my big piece of white cloth, on January 10, I put away my sketches and just let it happen. But I hadn’t decided what would be the image we were drawing on the iPad, so I didn’t use my black airbrush paint lines to define what it was. Then I decided it would be a portrait of Libby, and I drew it in with just the colors of airbrush paint. Because it doesn’t have any black outlines, it glows. That drawing glows just like an iPad really does glow! I don’t think I could have figured out how to do that. It was a happy accident. Yea!

After a couple of days of airbrush painting at the wall, I moved to airpen writing on my new piece, on my studio table. With the airbrush I’d been using Createx airbrush paint, but now I put Jacquard Textile Colors fabric paint through the airpen. This achieves a really rich and crispy black writing line, which is archival, since paint, instead of ink, is made with pigments. Once I figured out how to use the airpen for my writing, back in 2003, I was able to let go of hand stitching over my words, which I’d been unable to make nearly so many of as I do now. This writing is pretty much my handwriting size, though lately I’ve been playing with letter size and am making some of the writing larger, especially when I print, instead of writing in cursive.

Jan. 12 was the second anniversary of the huge earthquake in Haiti, which killed over 300,000 people and left 1.5 to 2 million more homeless. Now they figure half of the rubble is cleaned up, and two thirds of people who’d been living in outdoor camps have found more permanent housing, but that still leaves a lot of homeless Haitians!

On Jan. 13 I found Steve Jobs’ birth time online, so I made up his astrology chart and added it to the piece. I felt like I was learning a lot about what different planets in different signs mean, by looking at that chart, knowing the things I know about his intense personality. I wrote about listening to the episode of This American Life from Jan. 6, when a man named Mike Daisey went to China and investigated the electronics factories that make parts for Apple. It was a real exposé. A city called Shengen, which sprung up specifically to build things to sell to the West, has over 14 million people living in it, just since its founding in the 1980s! The Foxconn factory there has over 400,000 workers!!!!! There is a high suicide rate in the electronics workers, underage workers are very common, and many people have damaged hands from repeated motion work, by the time they’re in their late 20s!

The only defense of Apple I can say is that this is ALL the big electronics companies, contributing to the worker abuse in these factories, not just Apple. Apple says it’s working hard to correct the issues of human abuse at Foxconn and other of the factories in China which make Apple parts.

On Jan 13, the cruise ship Costa Concordia sank off the Tuscan coast of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. For unexplained reasons the caption hit barely submerged rocks, as he brought the ship close to Giglio Island. With over 4,200 people onboard, there was a panicked scene, much like with the Titanic, with lifeboats not being handled well, without much of a plan for orderly evacuation. As of Jan. 31, there are 17 documented deaths from this tragedy, and the captain is on trial for abandoning his ship and refusing to reboard, when ordered to, by the coast guard.

On Jan. 14 we gave Libby her first walk with her new Herm Sprenger prong collar. She still doesn’t seem to mind it and pulls along contentedly. Libby must be a super alpha dog, always wanting to be first!

I wrote of our girl adventures with my sister Debi and her granddaughter Olivia and Eva and me, on Dec 28, when the four of us tore around Wooster, having great fun. Not as much fun as when Debi and I had gotten an Amish buggy ride with John Erb in Berlin in mid December, and he’d wanted to talk a bunch about the big Amish mess, with the beard cutters, etc. This buggy driver turned out to be my age and a really interesting person to have a long talk with. But on the 28th we had great fun with our 7 year old granddaughters. Well, Olivia won’t be 7 til the end of May, but that’ll be soon! She stayed three days with Eva and us, and that’s when all this iPad drawing happened!

On Jan. 16 my dear friend Marti Kaufman and I had a good FaceTime and then Skype chat. She’s got a 7 year old granddaughter, too: Savana, who has her own iPad! Yikes! This is thanks to her grandpa Bob, my friend from early childhood on. We really want to get Savana and Eva together somehow, sometime, but they live in … Savannah! ?

Throughout this writing project, I’m writing stories about each of my different Macs. This time it’s about Twiggy, my 2005 iPod, the first model that had color on the screen, and you could store photos on it. Video came the next generation. This was the 4th generation of what became known as the iPod Classic. I got it when I was up at the Granny Pad in Lakewood and my friend Peach tArt was so into Apple and we both bought iPods! Twiggy has a 20 GB capacity, and after six and a half years, her battery finally died. I found a place online to replace the battery: iResQ.com, an Apple authorized repair place. Go check them out!

I wrote that whole Steve Jobs Pantleg Biography, and when I ran out of pant legs to write on, that was it. After all that research! At least I’d given him very long legs. I also gave him pink bedroom slippers, because I couldn’t draw the pink slippers on the girls, the shoes Debi and I bought them when we were all out howling together. I had drawn the girls as mermaids, so no slippers! On Steve Jobs’ slippers, I later wrote little bits of songs by Bob Dylan and the Beatles, since they were his favorite musicians. He’d said that the Beatles were his business model!

I wrote a little bio of Martin Luther King Jr on my piece, to mark his holiday and wrote about the Obamas doing service at a community center, to honor Dr King’s call for us all to serve the needy.

On Jan. 17 my friend Carolyn Robinson went to Libya to work in Tripoli and later Basara, for four months total. She’s working with reporters for Al Hurrah (pronounced HER ah, which means Freedom) to teach them how to run a news station. It’s Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday today. She was born in 1964.

At midnight Jan. 18, Wikipedia shut down its English language online encyclopedia for 24 hours, in protest of the US Congress getting ready to pass two bills into law that will end internet neutrality. SOPA and PIPA are the funny names for these bills, which supposedly fight online piracy, but in fact, could mean that the government could really change what can happen on the internet.

Many websites got involved in this, the largest internet protest act so far in its short history. The Obama administration had come out, before this protest even got started, saying that it had withdrawn its support of the bills. Nina Paley, creator of the animated movie “Sita Sings the Blues,”and many other websites, voluntarily shut down on Jan. 18. Nina Paley is for open copyright, and I am rethinking copyright, thanks to her views.

On Jan. 18, President Obama announced that he was denying the start of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, because Nebraska had requested they not run it through a big wildlife sanctuary and reservoir area of their state, but no alternate route had been suggested yet. The Republicans pounced on Obama, saying he’s anti-American-jobs. 20,000 to be exact. But he’s just trying to get them to find a more safe route. Personally, I wish they’d just put all that money into new, alternative energy development!

My cousin Tamara, aka Sharazad, had her first baby, Chloe Jasmine, on Jan. 17, and on the 18th we sent her a pair of the deerskin baby booties Jimmy still makes. I made them when I worked with him in Barnfire Leather, back in the late 70s, but he’s made them now for many years. My neighbor Jamie Ozanich is due April 6, and you can bet Jimmy will make booties for that little baby boy, too. You can see his booties on his James Acord’s Leather site.

On Jan. 19 Libby and Jamie’s dog Carly knocked me down at the schoolyard. My yoga helped me fall and not get too hurt or broken, but you can bet I took soaky baths the rest of that week! I’m all better now. Thank you, dear yoga teacher Mary!

Then I was sandwiching a batting and pieced backing with my painting and machine quilting it, pushing myself to do it really fast. This is a middle sized piece for me, and I got the machine work done in a few days. On Jan. 23, it was the Chinese New Year of the Yin Water Dragon. This happened at the moment of the exact New Moon in Aquarius, at 2:29 AM. The evening before we’d been up in Lakewood to celebrate our son-in-law Michael’s birthday with him and Gretchen and Eva, at Cozumel, a nice Mexican restaurant.

Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Republican primary by 40% to Romney’s 28%. Everyone was surprised (and today, Jan. 31, was the Florida primary. I think Romney’s winning this one.)

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is resigning her Arizona seat, since she needs to work full time on continuing to heal from the gunshot wound she got on Jan. 9, 2011, when a lone gunman killed six and injured 13, at a Meet and Greet with Giffords at a grocery store parking lot.

I hand sewed the perle cotton border edge of this piece over several evenings. I use Laura Wasilowski’s hand dyed variegated thread and do a running stitch, late nights, while we watch Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson, etc. When I got it all done, one night I hand stitched the word “Steve” on Steve Jobs’ sleeve, since you can hardly see the black printed word on his black shirt. I used orange perle cotton. I was listening to the book Seven Years in Tibet for this week or more.

Then it was time to make the casings to sew onto this piece, which I hand stitched on, when we had our big think tank weekend here with Jeanette Thompson, Juno McClellan-Ryan, and Sherry Boram, to figure out a new show proposal for our social justice art quilt group. We chose to do a piece about women in social justice, which we named “Broad Changes: Women for Social Justice.” My next piece will be about two strong women working in the Arab Spring: my friend Carolyn and also Dalia Ziada. When I get this piece all documented, then I can start that new piece! And I did get the casings all sewn on while the girls were here!

When I had to write a little more on Sweet Jane, to say when she was finished, I added my peace roses to my cats’ tails and wrote song lyrics on Steve Jobs’ pink slippers. Oh, and I had forgotten to tell you about where I put the Peace Cozy (#43). I thought about putting it on Libby’s nose, on the iPad, but she’s already got plenty of peace vibes, and honestly it blended in too much there. I went back to my first idea: I sewed it by hand onto Steve Jobs’ heart.

Rest in Peace, crazy, genius pirate boy! Thanks for all the good things about having Apple in the world. And now that you’re an angel, please go get those Chinese factories all straightened up. If each Mac cost $100 more, would that be enough to make all those factory workers lives a lot nicer????? I really hope it would, and I hope Apple has enough profits now, and can start learning from Bill Gates, about how to quit sitting on all its money and learn to use it to help people in need … like those factory workers. We Apple users don’t want their misery on our behalf. We want Apple for Social Justice! Make it right, Steve! I’m counting on you, like never before, because now we all know, and therefore we’re all guilty with you.

End soapbox, for just now. Peace, love, and art to every sentient being, as the Dalai Lama would say, I’m sure.


Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

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Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)


Bottom left and right: Toward Barred Island (detail) by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade