I came home from the Community Quilt Project at Newlands yesterday with a request for a butterfly. The project is sponsored by Multicultural Victoria. The women in the group speak a limited amount of English and I can count my words of Arabic on the fingers of one hand--with a couple of fingers left over! So communication is always interesting.
We've being making flowers for the quilt. Each one is different: some embroidered, some crocheted, some beaded. One of the group suggested adding some butterflies. Why not? Flowers, butterflies . . . I had a go at sketching some outlines before someone else suggested I use the computer. They're getting to know me well--I'm definitely better at using the computer than I am at sketching under pressure. I found a butterfly, printed it out and then tried to think of a way to make it which wouldn't involve too much explanation. Meanwhile I asked about the meaning of "butterfly". I collected one more Arabic word, which I'm not going to attempt to transliterate here. "But what does it mean for you?" I wanted to know. It turns out the butterfly is a symbol of good news, like the arrival of some-one you love. It's "like the pigeon", they said. In case you're wondering about the "pigeon", we've designed a couple of white doves--symbols of peace--as a major feature of the quilt. Up went my motivation for butterfly-making.
We were nearly at the end of our time together. Today is Eid--a major religious celebration, and the subject of more interesting attempts at communication yesterday. I used my few Arabic words to convey my best wishes and respect for the Festival. When I got home I googled, "how to make a butterfly" Here's one of my attempts:
The French-beading technique is a natural extension of how we've been making some of the flowers. And the wired butterfly can be made to hover over the surface of the quilt. Later on I'll see if I can figure out a stitched version. Next week I'll see what they think, and we'll continue to explore possibilites and meaning. I'm learning so much from this project!