Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jonah and the Whale

The Runner Up to the Grand Prize is Sara Gene Posnett's Jonah and the Whale - a truly out-of-the-box entry in creativity.   And for those who know Genie's work, not unexpected as she has been pushing the boundaries for years and sharing it with the classmates.  One of the many reasons I chose this entry as the runner up was the yards and yards of custom dyed lacet.  When orders went out of lacet in the last six months - I could sit back and guess what was going on.  When Genie ordered yards and yards and yards of cream lacet I could only think - "Well I really want to see what she is up to!!"

Jonah is both a needle keep and an emery and fits (fittingly) in the whales mouth. After sharing the end result with me, I asked for a few more pictures to understand some things and that was when she revealed that the Whale is a measuring tape!!  What?!? I won't give more details as you have to read below in Genie's own words - including her eloquent reason for choosing the subject!!

I think we can all be in awe of her pieces - and extra thanks to Genie sending me a whole bunch of construction photos to share with everyone as well - soooo interesting, I love the process stuff.  In one of the posted pictures, the whale is laying on top of paper that contains calculations of the materials needed, drawings, etc.  It is like he is on top of the architectural plans which I find delightful and I hope she keeps those papers somewhere for some museum curator someday!

While I would love to put all the photos here - there are just too many.  So for those followers on NING - I will be posting several slides there where more can be seen and enjoyed in large style.

“Jonah and the Whale”

Inspiration by Sara Gene Posnett       

Two works from the seventeenth century influenced the creation of ‘Jonah and the Whale,’ set of smalls for the Thistle Threads competition 2016. First, it was inspired by the story in King James’ seventeenth century English translation of the Bible of Jonah’s encounters with danger, when he tried to avoid visiting the people of Nineveh. It reminds me of myself and my tendency to avoid uncomfortable tasks.  Second, in researching to create a Cabinet of Curiosities depicting Historic St Mary’s City, Maryland, images of ships in the ceiling at Hook Manor in England came to my attention. A whale’s tail is visible at the lower edge of the plaster works.  That started my imagination going, and when the Thistle Threads challenge came, Jonah and a whale seemed a perfect subject for a set of smalls for my St Mary’s City in casket of curiosities.

Techniques - by Sara Gene Posnett

Tricia Nguyen advised that we make mock ups of projects, so I made three paper versions of the whale while developing the final shape.  Finally, an armature of hand-made paper from scraps of old clothes at HSMC was covered with buckram for increased durability, which when dampened allowed me to give more shape to the form. Then row upon row of over-dyed lacet was stitched together over the belly and back forms, as well as the wired shapes of the tail and fins to form the “purple cow.”  The edges of the fins, tail and lips are over dyed and braided kumihimo, worked of Soie de Paris and silver passing.   My husband soldered aviation wire to my specs for the spout, which comes out of the blow hole. Flat silver tape covers the reel, on which to wind a four-inch paper measuring tape inside the whale’s head.  A surface-stitched fish, my young granddaughter’s suggestion, serves as a pull tab on the end of the tape measure. The whale’s barnacles are silver hammered rick rack from the Frostings Club. The cone of the whale’s body is filled with needle-felted wool, and doubles as a pincushion where I cut away the paper armature from the blow hole to tail.

In the whale’s mouth, behind the baleen made of flattened silver coil from the Frostings Club, lies Jonah.  His green cloak is filled with emery sand to sharpen my needles, and his head is stuffed with needle-felted wool for parking a needle.  Jonah’s cloak and hair are composed of lacet stitched together. His beard is lacet and silk wrapped gimp, with crystal beads for water droplets.

What a fun project this was to make! I couldn’t foresee the final product, but it developed  one step at a time over the course of six months. Now complete, it’s such fun to play with!  Thanks Tricia for challenging us!

I had to read Genie's description many times before I understood that there were water droplets as
beads in his beard!!  What wonderful attention to detail!


  1. I'm running out of superlatives. The creativity and skill and thought put into all of these astounds me. I hope you are really proud, Tricia.

  2. amazing! just found your blog, and have added it to mine...I am enjoying looking through all of your previous postings here and SO looking forward to many more ~ thank you!

    1. Tricia's Thistle Threads blog is a fascinating site to follow, isn't it! Genie

  3. Wowee, wow, wow! I love this - so creative and clever. Can you tell me how the baleen comes out of the whales' mouth so you can get at Jonah and the wonderful tape measure (that looks home-made, too - is it on vellum?)

  4. The frame for the baleen, when flat, was mustache shaped, made of .032" stainless steel wire, wrapped with dyed lacet. The flattened silver coil segments are stitched top and bottom to the tape covering. The filled shape was molded to fit in the whale's mouth. The whale's upper lip is pliable enough to lift it to remove the baleen. The little fish fits between the baleen, but I haven't used it to remove the baleen. Yes, the tape measure is modern velum paper made into a 4" measure. That's as long a piece as would fit inside the tiny river cane segment inside the whale's head. Genie