Category: Tone Poems

A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music which evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source. These are visual tone poems inspired by literary works.

New Work:  Back to ‘Mending’

New Work: Back to ‘Mending’

New Work:  Back to ‘Mending’

Yet another new work inspired by Hazel Hall’s poem, “Mending.”  Full text of the poem is here.  Written about 100 years ago (Hall died in 1924), it is the gift that keeps on giving!  Hall describes a mundane household chore as a subversive act, ‘a little travesty on life.’ It just seems to fit our zeitgeist, doesn’t it?

This piece combines several of the techniques I have used in the last year: layered sheers, cutting, burning, and visible mending.  It feels radical to me, but still beautiful.  Similar to Haiku III, but dimensional instead of fused flat.  Best of all, I have ideas for several more pieces in this style.

Stay tuned.

Yes, I have been Mending III, 40'' x 30'' by Mary Vaneecke
Yes, I have been Mending III, 40” x 30” by Mary Vaneecke


Yes, I have been Mending III by Mary Vaneecke, detail.


Fabric, dyes, fusible web.


Fusing, dyeing, burning, machine stitch, cut work.

photo credit: Jack Kulawik

Yes, I Have Been Mending

Yes, I Have Been Mending

My latest art quilt, Yes, I Have Been Mending was inspired by 2 ideas.  One is Hazel Hall’s poem, Mending. I recently discovered her poetry through’s Poem-a-Day program.  It is great to have a poem delivered to my in-box every day.  I don’t always read it, but it is there!  Hall used stitch imagery in several of her poems, so I was delighted to read her work.

The second idea that inspired me was the visible mending trend.   It’s a lot like it sounds, but check out the link or Pinterest for some examples.   ‘Yes, I Have Been Mending’ uses several gorgeous layers of hand-dyed silks, which I layered with eco-felt.  And then I took an Exacto knife and sand paper to it to create holes.  A bit of a travesty, but that is part of the poem!  I then patched the red quilt with green thread and some more hand-dyed silks.

My favorite line in Mending is the last.  The complete text of the poem is below:


Here are old things:
Fraying edges,
Ravelling threads;
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as you ply.
If you ever would be through
Hurry, scurry, fly!
Here are patches,
Felled edges,
Darned threads,
Strengthening old utility,
Pending the coming of the new.
Yes, I have been mending …
But also,
I have been enacting
A little travesty on life.


art quilt 'Yes, I Have Been Mending,' 2016, 38'' x 23.5''
‘Yes, I Have Been Mending,’ 2016, 38” x 23.5”


'Yes, I Have Been Mending,' detail
‘Yes, I Have Been Mending,’ detail


Haiku II

Haiku II

 Haiku II is a visual interpretation of its namesake Japanese literary artform .  Translucent silk fabrics were dyed using the Japanese shibori technique itajime, then layered with synthetic fabrics and machine stitched. Photography by Jack Kulawik.

But I could hardly name an art quilt Haiku and not write a poem for it, now could I?  So here goes:

Haiku II

Take two images.

Separate and relate them.

It’s not so simple.

Winner of an Honorable Mention at the Studio Art Quilt Associates – Arizona Chapter 2017 exhibition, Exposures.

Haiku II, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke. 54.5'' x 41''
Haiku II, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke. 54.5” x 41”
Haiku II by Mary Vaneecke, detail
Haiku II by Mary Vaneecke, detail




Haiku III

Haiku III


Haiku III

The silk remembers

The loom, the folds, the needle,

The thread, and the flame.

Shibori is a Japanese word for creating pattern on fabric.  In the shibori process, many items can be used–folds, clamps, string, needle and thread.  Haiku III  is a visual interpretation of the poetic literary art form.  Translucent silk fabrics were dyed using the itajime and machine-stitched Katano shibori.  They were layered and machine stitched with burned raw edges. While the four complexly dyed fabrics relate to one another, each is beautiful in its own right.  Photo by Jack Kulawik.

Haiku III, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke, 38'' x 46''
Haiku III, 2016 by Mary Vaneecke, 38” x 46”
Haiku III by Mary Vaneecke (detail)
Haiku III by Mary Vaneecke (detail)
Haiku I

Haiku I

 Haiku I became a study of sorts for a larger work (Haiku II) and launches a new series.  Both feature hand-dyed sheer silk fabrics over-layed with synthetic sheers, and machine stitched.  This allows for a fascinating interplay between colors, values, and repeating shapes.  Haiku I is more intense, and reminds me of a Rorschach test, if you had double vision.  The namesake poetry, and the dyeing technique, shibori, are both Japanese.

Haiku I by Mary Vaneecke, 2016. 29.5'' x 22''
Haiku I by Mary Vaneecke, 2016. 29.5” x 22”

Of course, I had to write a haiku to celebrate this new series.

Haiku I

Two colors: red, black

Layered to affect the mood–

Simple yet complex.


A Mind of Winter

A Mind of Winter

A Mind of Winter

This small art quilt (12” x 12”) is my submission for the Studio Art Quilt Associates auction, which starts online in September.  All proceeds go to SAQA, which works to promote the art quilt.  SAQA supports what I do, so I like to reciprocate!

The small work is made of layered, sheer fabrics, including hand-dyed silk organzas and lace scraps from a wedding dress, layered on felt and commercial cotton fabric and machine stitched. The title comes from a Wallace Stevens poem, The Snowman.  I think about the opening line of the poem–One must have a mind of winter–often as temperatures get into the 100s here at home.  I grew up in Michigan, where winters are long, and I wonder about the Nothing that is not there, and the nothing that is.  Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

I am considering making a larger version, so perhaps I will call this Mind of Winter I.

A Mind of Winter small art quilt
“A Mind of Winter” 12” x 12” 2016.

Below is the complete text of the poem.

The Snowman

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.