Go to the previous gallery pageReturn to the Gallery index pageGo to the next gallery page

Freestanding, fabric sculpture of a woman in a dancer’s pose.

Height: 24 in. (60 cm).

Body of hand-dyed cotton, hair of white Tibetan lamb's wool.

She wears a bias-cut wrapped skirt in black, white, orange and fuchsia print, beaded with tiny antique French seed beads.

She has silk leafy leis at neck, ankles and wrists, and a cream-colored silk flower lei with red and orange highlights.

Base is slate-patterned ceramic tile with pieces of lava rock.

I created her especially for the “Go Figure” invitational show at the San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum, November 1998-January 1999.

Still available (9/5/00), at $1000.00 plus shipping

When I start a new project, I often look for inspiration in my fabric. I found this lovely piece of hand-dyed cotton at my quilt guild meeting. Ellen Anne Eddy was the speaker that evening. She uses fabric like this as a background and source of light for her wall hangings.

In this case, I intended to create a figure that interpreted the Hawaiian fire goddess, Pele. Because there was so much light in the piece of fabric and the colors evoked the firey energy I wanted the figure to portray, I felt it was perfect for my purpose.

In the stories, Pele appears to people as either a young or an old woman, recognizable only because she always has light-colored or white hair. Don’t insult her, the stories say, she will send the fire to punish you. But, she’s not always destructive—Pele also rules the volcanoes of Hawaii that constantly build up new land from the lava.

When I started to work on the figure, I envisioned it glowing from an inner fire, like a lava flow. I used the fabric to make the feet—that are in contact with the cooler earth—appear glowing cherry red, the heat builds up the legs and belly, the color getting brighter, reaching the breasts, neck and face which glow yellow and orange.

Pele appears as a Hawaiian dancer, bare-breasted and barefoot in my interpretation of a traditional dancer’s costume. During the process of creating her costume, she decided that my choice of fabric for the skirt was not what she wanted. The fabric I finally used is an African print—she likes it; it looks like lava. The tile that she is standing on reminds me of the teture of a lava flow. I’ve added small pieces of lava rock to be arranged as desired.