Eleanor Levie HomeAboutEditorial ServicesBooksGallerySpeaker TopicsWorkshopsPast BookingsFree StuffLInks Contact Me

Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

Archive for the ‘Pomegranates’ Category

Pick a Pomegranate, Perhaps

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

“Choose a motif to represent yourself,” said South African contemporary quilt artist Rosalie Dace (rosaliedace.co.za). In this extraordinary class called “Signs & Symbols” that I took at Quilt Surface Design Symposium four summers ago, Rosalie explained that even basic shapes can be used to express your essence. Circles and curvy, round shapes, for example,  are intuitively feminine forms. Rosalie, hot as a teacher as well as quilter, frequently uses the sun of Durban, her hometown, in her work. Me, I tend to be pretty fruity. My body, I figured, brings the pear to mind, but I picked the pomegranate. The rich colors, the bulbous form, and that crown–it says diva to me.

I’ve just pulled out that class piece I worked on in 2007 and brought home to finish…but never got around to. In showing it to you here, the pressure is on to go back and make it ripen it to fruition! Please share a critical comment–plant a seed in my brain to help me organize and improve the composition, or to motivate me to just get it done! As a thank you, I’ll enter you into a drawing for my book, Unforgettable Tote Bags: 20 designs too cool to leave in the car. 


NEWS FLASH: The amazing Pamela Allen of Canada just honored me with more than a mere crit, but a dynamic, digital rendition.  Had to add right here, right now. Because it’s such a  brilliant idea, with potential to work in many other applications–your work, perhaps! What Pamela did was to adapt elements from my piece and echo and elongate them for unity, cohesiveness, and flow.

Pamela pitches pomegranates to perfection!

I can’t wait to play with this concept, using my cut and paste, er, pin way of working. Now, back to the blog.

Ahh, the mystery, the history of this fantastical fruit!

Embroidered panel I saw recently at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels.

Did you know…?

  • The forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden is thought to have been a pomegranate. (Since when did you ever see apple trees in the Middle East, the cradle of civilization?)
  • Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. (A few of these fancy fruits–to dry and set out in a big bowl–is gonna set you back quite a few dollars, so you better have a good amount of disposable income for this showy decorating effect.)
  • In India, for generations, the rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree has been used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and hemorrhoids; to stop nose bleeds; and, in combo with mustard seed oil, to tone skin  and firm up sagging breasts! (Note to self: add pomegrates and mustard seed oil to the grocery list.)
  • Jews have often used views of this fruit on coins, coronets, and to decorate the handles of the Torah scrolls. My people like to co-relate the many, many seeds with the many, many laws in the Torah (613–don’t ask me how many– er, how few I observe).
  • All those multitudinous seeds means the pomegranate symbolizes fertility in many cultures. (Hey, I may only have one child, but let my publishing and quiltmaking efforts be fruitful!!)
  • In paintings of Mother Mary or baby Jesus, pomegranates are shorthand religious symbols for Sandro Botticelli, and for Leonardo da Vinci, code.
  • The French term  for pomegranate is grenade. Soldiers noted the similar shape of early explosives and the name stuck. (Can I maybe get a little credit for using of pomegranates in my work as an anti-war statement? Even if I didn’t know about this at the time I began?)
  • To “seed” a pomegranate, break pieces of seeds and pithy membrane and put in water. The pith will float, the seeds will not.  Scoop up some seeds and sprinkle over a green salad. The sweet, juicy pulp is a wonderful enhancement. (And in moderation, the crunch of the seeds is not half bad.)
  • You can make your own pomegranate juice or syrup (grenadine). I don’t though. After all, Pom comes in that great bottle, and you just need to pour a tiny bit of  the dense grenadine slowly over OJ on ice for a very arty effect. Plus, a jigger of tequila turns it into a Tequila Sunrise. Cheers!

Here’s a plum offer: Mention other cool pomegranate facts, mythology, and recipes, and I’ll enter you into the drawing for my book, Unforgettable Tote Bags: 20 designs too cool to leave in the car.

Much more recently–last week, in fact, I was lucky enough to take a class with Judy Langille  (judylangille.com) called  “Cut, Slash and Tear Your Way to Innovative Fabric Design.”  It was, conveniently enough for me, held in my local area as part of the FiberPhiladelphia 2012 extravaganza. Judy had us students using silk screens and making thermofaxes, but freezer paper was the key tool.

Determined to avoid adding to my stash and coming home with yet another unfinished class project, I began with one of my grandmother’s linen dresser scarves.  Hemmed and edged with tatted lace, it dictated the parameters and the old fashioned, feminine mood of the finished piece. Following Judy’s cue, I ironed freezer over the whole linen rectangle, and then cut out various pomegranate shapes to color with dyes. Then, I masked only the pomegranate shapes, and went to work on the background.  Longtime buddy Sammie Moshenberg’s photo of a dune fence, taken during a joint family beach vacation in 2007, provided the repeat motif. Fed through the thermofax, the image gave me great visual texture I applied in yellow, tan, and green paint. In addition, I utilized some of Judy’s thermofaxes (rings, a gridded dot designs) and my own– well, text cribbed from the Internet, the definition for pomegranate, printed out in a florid script font. Plus a few dots and rings from stamping with a pencil eraser.

The best thing about my class project? It’s done!

Hey, do you ever do surface design, applique, quilting, or embellishment over vintage linens? If so, leave a comment and tell me about it, or point to your website or blog for a picture. Would you believe it, you’ll be entered into a drawing for my book, Unforgettable Tote Bags: 20 designs too cool to leave in the car. It’s a green book, so I’m prepared to give away 22 copies by Earth Day, April 22. (Note: Flat rate postage to be charged if winners reside outside the contiguous USA.)

Remember, I’ll be pleased as, well, pomegranate punch if you leave a comment!