Monday, February 1, 2010

"La Puerta" by Jan Girod -Sanctuary

Sanctuary, this word brought many images to mind. The immediate images were of my personal places of refuge; such as the forests of northern Minnesota where I grew up or the warm beaches found along the Gulf Coast. They are also where I typically turn for inspiration and I wanted to use these challenges to stretch myself. So I went back to contemplating the word, its definitions and synonyms; hoping for a lightbulb moment. One definition kept creeping back into my thoughts; "any gateway marking an entrance or exit from one place or state to another; at heavens door". For years I have taken photographs of doors, for me doors are the passage way by which we take refuge. Immediately a wonderful photo of a cathedral door in the El Socolo in Mexico City came to mind and the phrase from the definition "at heavens door" popped into my head. How could I create this piece and stretch myself? That nagging question played over and over in my mind, during daytime hours and even while I slept.

Finally I pulled an ugly fabric from my stash, using 1/4" tape I laid out a grid for the building wall on the wrong side of the fabric. Then I used watercolor pencils and textile medium to shade my blocks, after drying they looked like a wall. The door needed to look rugged, hand hewn, so I used brown packing paper, crumpled and flattened numerous times to break down the fibers, coloring it with shoe polish gave it a worn leather look.

Embroidery and embellishments were used to give the piece dimension and the look of age. I love it when someone looks at a piece of my work, see's the overall composition, moves in to take a closer look, discovers small details and becomes excited by them.


  1. This is so well done.. loved to see.. after reading about.. your various techniques.

  2. Beautiful use of hand embroidery to detail in the bricks in the wall. I also like the small embellishments around the door.

  3. Jan, my favorite part is the telling of how you came to this piece. What a great job. It looks both old and royal. I would love to feel it. I'll bet the paper is great. Good job. Helen Moreda

  4. I really enjoyed your definitions of the techniques you used. I'm hoping to see this in person some day.