Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tara and The White Cat

The Tara's love was so great for us that when she achieved Enlightenment,
She took a Bodhisattva vow, choosing to continue reincarnating until all "sentient beings" are enlightened.

In a story I read as a child, a white cat named Sinh who was the guardian/companion of an elderly artist asked Tara for help. His artist was working on perhaps his last painting for the Temple. It was of Buddha and the animals that answered his
summons.

The artist was grateful to Sinh for all the years of affection and companionship they had shared and wanted to add a portrait of Sinh to the painting.
Since according to legend the cat did not come at Buddha's call, everyone objected.

Sinh watched his unhappy, feeble friend and feared he would die before his masterpiece was complete. The night that the weeping artist finished the painting without the portrait, Sinh meditated asking Tara- She who saves- to bring peace to the old man.

OM TARE TUTARE TURE SVHA was the mantra Sinh repeated. In his mind, he came upon the green Tara and with a gentle touch of his paw told her of his love and sadness. All was lit with a golden light and Sinh was reassured that "You can rely on me, you need seek no other refuge"

On the morning the monks came for the painting they found that the artist had died in his sleep and lay in bed with a peaceful smile on his face. Looking around, they stood in awe of the beautiful painting before them. All the animals glowed with a heavenly radiance and the artist was there too... praying. But most amazing of all, the faithful and loving Sinh was sleeping in Buddha's arms.

This is probably my favorite cat story. It just seemed that my first attempt at an appliqu├ęd and embroidered piece should be about the brave and loving cat, Sinh. This is piece is called a Thanka. It is an embroidered piece that tells a Buddhist/religious story.

To create this piece, I secured the dark dreen tie dyed fabric with a piece of batting behind it to a scroll embroidery frame. I marked off the shape of the thanka and the width of the border with dressmakers chalk.

The figures were drawn on cotton fabric secured in a round embroidery hoop and stitched. I used a variety outline stitches, short and long stitches and satin stitches. I got the glowing effect on the cat by combining 2 strands of white floss with a single strand of golden yellow floss. When they were finished, the figures were cut out and satin stitched to the background. I deliberately varied the length of the satin stitches to add to the impression that the figures are glowing.

Finding the cotton fabric print that reminded me of Dharma wheels was such a lucky break. It was perfect for the border of this piece. I cut small groupings of the circles and carefully arranged them in an attractive sequence around the 2 figures. I used a satin stitch to secure these pieces to the background like I did with the figures.

The final steps were to embroider the tiny spirals in the back ground and the rays emanating off the Tara, quilt around the figures and the sections of the background and border I wanted to stand out. I then used Spider Wire to do the beading on the entire piece.

I cut piece of wood the shape of the thanka and covered it with batting. I stretched the finished piece over the wood and whip stitched it into place. I cut a strip of cloth to cover the edge of the wood and give smooth edge to the image side of the thanka. I whip stitched this into place. I used a piece of the background fabric to cover the back of the thanka. Sewing beads around the edge of the thanka finished this piece off beautifully.

3 comments:

kim* said...

Great beading work, it is over all beautiful

machinarex said...

Simply stunning Laura...seriously.

Laura Bartlett said...

Thank you Kim and Cyn!