Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Throwing Stones

This small quilt was made for a unique collaboration I took part in where a group of artists each took a page from a children's book "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" by Chris Van Allen . We each used the illustration and title/sentence as a jumping off point for a piece of artwork as well as a story. This was so fun to do! And the results were quite awesome as a completed piece of collaborative art. The organizer of the project bound the copies into an actual book.

One of the rules was that we had to add something to the color copy that we were giving to each artist. I scanned one of my favorite rocks on my scanner, and then printed out the number required on card stock. Then I sewed them on to each color copy.

It was interesting to me to see how different the full size color copy of my quilt (about 8.5 x 11") looked from my actual quilt. The reflective quality of some of the fabric used versus others, the shine of the rayon threads actually reflecting a bit from the glare of the copier light, etc.

Here is the beautiful illustration from the book.

Another rule was that we had to use the sentence that is in the book, somewhere in our story. My picture was titled "A Strange Day in July", and my sentence was "he threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. "

Here's my very strange story!:

A Strange Day in July
By Julie Zaccone Stiller

Based on The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Kurt wasn’t happy about the long car trip to the family reunion. “At least I get to meet my cousins and it is at a lake,” he consoled himself. As the city gave way to small town, which gave way to farms and then finally to forests, he resolved to at least try and have some fun. After all, it was July, which is when a kid was supposed to run wild.

His aunt welcomed him into the large cabin on the lake, introducing him to her two kids, about his age, Jenny and Walter. Walter was a slightly bigger kid than he was and he lived there, so he got to be in charge. Jenny shyly allied with Kurt against her big brother, “He’s always bossy, so watch out,” she whispered. Walter made it clear right away their agenda for the day. “Let’s blow this popsicle stand, the squares won’t even notice we’ve split,” announced Walter.

Jenny and Kurt followed him out the back door and down the pebble strewn pathway to the sparkling lake. There were small plants all along the lakeshore, some sodden logs and lots of rocks. Actually, it was mostly rocks, the flat rounded kind that are perfect for skipping. “I can do eight skips, watch this one!” boasted Walter. He skillfully tossed a rock and it skipped six times. “Ha! Walter that was only six” chirped Jenny. “Well squirt I’m just getting warmed up.” Walter retorted. He flung another rock over the still, smooth surface of the water. This time it skipped seven distinct times. “He can’t really do it,” Jenny stage-whispered to Kurt. “Awwww, enough of this bull,” Walter angrily threw a third stone. It bounced across the water’s surface eight times. “See, told ya.”

He went silent as the third stone came skipping back towards them out of the water. He seized the stone as it landed on the lakeshore and threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. Jenny and Walter and Kurt looked at each other with widening eyes. “Did you guys see that?” asked Walter quietly. “Uh, huh” they nodded in reply.

Slowly, together they turned back towards the lake. A wall of grey fog had appeared out of no where. Blocking out the view completely, it was just about where the stones had sank. As they watched the fog approach they heard a faint susurration, sibilance and some quiet rippling in the water. The three children stood frozen, just as still as the lawn gnomes out front on the lawn.
Transfixed, they watched as a dripping, small, green horse appeared. It was pulling a small stone encrusted chariot right out of the water towards them. They were amazed to see that the chariot was occupied by the biggest, ugliest rockfish they’d ever seen. “Ssssoooo whhhoooo waasss throowiiinggg zeeee ssstooonesss?” the fish enquired.
Walter replied as if in a dream, “Uh, I did.”
“Youuu musss commmee withhhh meee” announced the strange creature, with an air of finality.
Walter walked slowly and smoothly towards the chariot, almost as if it was a magnet and he was a piece of iron. He stepped in and sat down with a squishy thud. The fish made a gargled cluck, click sound and the green horse circled around and began to ride back under the lake’s surface. The water swallowed up first the horse, the chariot and lastly the very top of Walter’s head. Again they heard the susurration and sibilance and the rippling water. The obscuring fog began to withdraw.

Jenny and Kurt were finally able to move. They shook their heads, trying to clear the horrible image from their minds. Kurt asked quietly, ‘Jenny, what just happened?” Jenny dazedly answered “My brother’s just gone.” She shook her head once more and scooped up some stones. “I’m going to throw stones and make that fish come back right now, and bring my brother back.” She tried, but no fish appeared. And no brother. Kurt tried too, but to no avail.
“They’ll never believe us,” sobbed Jenny. “I know they won’t, what should we do?” gulped Kurt.
They ran back up the pathway to the cabin and found Jenny’s mother. She looked at them with a bemused grin after they told their fantastic tale, “Oh really, a fish huh? Well I guess Walter will miss the barbeque, too bad for him.”
Jenny and Kurt looked at each other and mouthed “told you”.
They trudged back down to the lakeshore slowly, not wanting to do anything now. There in the spot where Walter had last been standing were his glasses, set atop three flat, round, perfect-for-skipping stones.
The End

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