CBS Sunday Morning +


This week on CBS Sunday Morning they presented a themed show on the topic of cancer. A group of women, myself included were interviewed for a subsegment named, “The flat movement”. Read the CBS article related to the segment, A Matter of choice: Mastectomies without Reconstruction.

And watch the individual segment here.

I love the women I am surrounded by in this piece. Rebecca Pine of the Breast and the Sea is a gentle giant. Read this New York Times article, ‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer, where Rebecca is pictured. Thedra Cullar-Ledford is an amazing artist!  Samantha Tiger West is a local friend as well as audio and visual artist. Marianne DuQuette Cuozzo is an artist whose big heart can be seen alongside Debbie Sue (here is her FB page, no website) in this video:

 

I took this photo, last month, after filming for this segment. Samantha West had to cut out before we took this photo in front of the Equinox ad which is featured in the CBS Segment. The ad features Samantha Paige, of Last Cut, whom I follow through social media. This ad is epic! It is an epic contribution to the ‘flat narrative’.

If you have arrived here due to the CBS Sunday Morning show interview. Welcome. Poke around. Check out my art galleries and my breast cancer advocacy resume. Soon, I will resume my regular program of art making here on my artist’s blog. 🙂 Until then…

 

 

Base Layer!

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This is a sample for my upcoming online class called Stitch Journal, which I will present through my teaching site, The Clever Guild. In this class, we will create a stitch-able sample, using the techniques you see here, reverse machine appliqué, fusing, raw edge hand appliqué and Mistyfuse and more. And then, we will hand stitch and embroider it.

It feels great to get into teaching again. I hope my efforts are well received, and that you are interested in working with me.

I have been working and reworking this hand drawn nude for years. You may remember Repose, which won entry into Quilt National ’07, and if you poke around my quilt portfolio (I will update it. Soon) you will see a few more small work interpretations, like Repose in Blue. Recently, I recreated this image as Breastless Beauties, to honor those of us who have had breast cancer and body altering surgeries.

Little did I know when I originally drew this image that it would become a seminal work and a series to boot. I am well versed in this drawings needs, I know where the curves need to be just right, I know which lines are essential and which can be covered or altered. It is nice to know a drawing in this manner.


Abrupt change of topic:

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Please, go straight to Pinch of Yum and make this, ‘Life changing 30 Minute Masala Sauce’ Make an entire batch and dispense the paste to an ice cube tray, 3 frozen cubes works for a family meal, 1 cube makes a nice fry-up for one! It really is life changing. And versatile.

 

 

LESS, a documentary and help with funding it

Hello Good People, Friends and Family.

Many of you know that just over 5 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I chose to forego reconstruction and to embrace my body as it is, without wearing breast forms or presenting a shape that is not my own.

Since my diagnosis and much to my chagrin, I have learned that almost 58% of women diagnosed with breast cancer, like me, choose -not- to reconstruct their bodies. Where many find comfort in reconstruction or the use of breast forms as a means to resume life after breast cancer treatment, many do not. I am happy to be a part of a growing group of women have chosen to embrace their bodies as the beautiful vessels that they are, simply and without the need or societal pressure to present an hourglass shape.

In the last two years, I have worked to increase visibility for the breastless female body. I have written articles on my own blog, worked with Play Out underwear and FlatTopper Pride to create editorial content that went viral twice, I have also posed for HuffPO and Women’s Health magazine. I was filmed by CNN and the Great Big Story, telling my story in video format.

I have done this in an effort to reach as many women as possible and to make space for those who, like myself, chose not to reconstruct their bodies after breast cancer treatment.

LESS

Last September, in Berlin, I participated in a fantastic photoshoot with Esther Haase, a high fashion photographer, where footage for a documentary called LESS was also shot. Myself and 13 other women were interviewed, we poured out our souls, made bonds of friendship and created a tellingly beautiful array of images to help us embrace our own bodies while also giving us imagery for editorial content to be used in our social circles, countries and web sites.

LESS Trailer from Nondual Productions on Vimeo.

LESS, the documentary, needs funding in order to make it to the big screen.

PLEASE HELP US AND SUPPORT OUR DOCUMENTARY(!) and the Crowdfunding Campaign for the documentary LESS that features breast cancer survivors on the photoshoot of Esther Haase. LESS is not really about cancer so much as about these brave and beautiful women who – with the absence of breasts, quietly question society’s presumptions about what a woman should be and are calling for something all of us desire – an accepting and compassionate society where we can all be ourselves, no matter what.

Click here to donate, please.

Check out our LESS trailers and PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD & SHARE the Crowdfunding Campaign for this important project on fb, twitter and with your email contacts. Every little bit helps.

PLUS! I have donated three pieces of artwork to this fundraiser, I would love to see my work on your wall!

 😛 THANK YOU!
Melly

One stitch and one day at a time.

I am happy to say, I have found my creative verve again. This year has been a challenge for me artistically. One where I totally lost my ability to create for a few months. This is not normal for me. Usually, when I become blocked and find myself unable to create, I will stop using the media I am focused on and start using a different media all together. This year, this did not work, at all. Instead, I stopped seriously making anything for a few months and did other work. 

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I did many things to try and lift the block. I Gathered my Sew-plies!! and sewed around the city, I made a quilt after printing all the fabric for the top, I posed for breast cancer awareness articles, and traveled to Germany for an exciting photoshooting. I know it sounds like I was super engaged creatively. And I was.

But what really gets up my gander is challenging myself to try new things. Like printing a series, which I have never done before. And while working with the same image multiples of time might sound boring, I don’t find it that way at all! Actually, quite the opposite. With each printing, I see differences in print quality, different color combinations, with each stitch I see the work individuate from its fellows. I guess sometimes, creative blocks really just need time. 

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I have just uploaded and completed 5 of the embroidered Breastless Beauties. Breastless Beauty 5, Breastless Beauty 6, Breastless Beauty 9, Breastless Beauty 10, Breastless Beauty 11. I hope you might like one! 


 

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I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1

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Today I stitch a Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1.

The Uniboobers are the ‘hardest’ Beauty to print. They aren’t actually difficult to print, it is just that… they are a combination of two printings, a Breastless Beauty is printed along side a Breasted Beauty, and the organza layer from each is switched with the other.

The hard part is keeping the layers together during steaming and washing! And not even that part is hard (!), it is just that it requires memory and I often loose that during the wash out process and end up making either a Breastless or a Breasted Beauty instead! 

Anyway. My favorite of all the Beauties is the Unibohbber Beauty for several reasons.  1. I feel women who choose unilateral mastectomy are the bravest of us all. For me, this choice would require that I wear prosthesis, because symmetry and ease of finding clothing that fits is essential to me. Knowing I did not want to engage with this, has made me open my heart to those of us who have chosen this option. 2. I so often forget to match the organza to the printed cotton layer after the wash out, that the Uniboober Beauties are a rarity. 🙂

I particularly like this Beauty because the organza falls upon the cotton in such a way that the dark area is crisp and stark. In the video below, you can see how the layers shift and can change the look of the piece. I think this is just plain magical.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on


 

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I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

#breastlessbeauty

If you are coming here after watching the Great Big Story piece about me, welcome.

Check out the Great Big Story video here.

 I am an artist and an activist for Flat Re/Construction due to breast cancer treatment. Going flat, not wearing breast forms, is a beautiful and vibrant option, one option among many-due to breast cancer diagnosis. Some women relate to and need reconstruction, some do not. All of us could benefit by investing in body positivity, love and respect for the one-beautiful-body you own.

Welcome to my blog and web site.

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I am working to bring 30 hand printed Breastless Beauties up to completion and hope to sell them directly from a gallery page, here on my site. I will be making a donation from the proceeds of the sales to a well researched breast cancer group, I will let you know the specifics soon.

The Beauty pictured above os Breastless Beauty 1, which you will see, by comparing the gallery image to the above image, has been stitched upon and appears different than the original. It is my hope that you might follow along, by reading posts here on the blog, as I finish hand stitching each of the Beauties in the gallery!

They are coming along quite nicely, I hope you agree.

If you would like to follow along and read some of the articles I have contributed to over the last year, please do. Huffington Post invited me to pose for an article called 24 Women Bare their Scars to Reveal the Beauty in Imperfections. Women’s Health magazine invited me to contribute to 4 Women Show the Reality of their Mastectomies in Stunning Photos. I participated in a Play Out underwear photoshoot with the essay called, Shirts Off, Underwear On: Play Out, Breast Cancer and Gender Expectations. And I participated in Grace, debuting that photos release with this essay called, The Grace to be Flat & Fabulous. I also participated in Jamie Courville‘s audio portrait called Squirrel Stories. I keep a Pinterest board specific to flat sightings across the web!

I would very much like for you to use the hashtag #breastlessbeauty. If you are a flattie, a uniboober, if you wear prosthesis or not, tag yourself with #breastlessbeauty. That way, we can find one another!

 

The Breastless Beauties

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You will soon find a sales gallery of what I am calling ‘Breastless Beauties’ on my website. I am very excited about this work as it integrates my advocacy work for body positivity and flat reconstruction due to breast cancer with my artistic, multicolor printing endeavors. I have not previously printed so many pieces in a single go, nor have I worked to bring so many pieces up to a salable point as a group. 

The Breastless Beauties are based on my 2007 Quilt National entry, Repose. Seen here:

Repose

I would like to tell the story of sharing one of the Beauties to a flat related peer support group of mine. The Beauty I showed them was what we fondly call in the breast cancer community, a uniboober, (or a single breasted woman). The first response I got after showing the piece was, ‘Wow. I never thought I would see my body in a piece of art!’

And I must say, I was touched beyond measure to hear this.

Throughout the last few years, I have worked to create visual representation within the media for the bilaterally flat chested women like myself. I have done this because I understand  the importance of having our bodies reflected back to us, and for those images to be positive, strong, fully embodied and filled with hope. Beauty is not the end all in life, but when we are forced to make bodily changes due to cancer diagnosis, self esteem can take a big hit. Seeing our changed bodies in the media and on the wall, reflecting our new reality, serves to heal the soul. 

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For the most part (there are still a few projects that will be released), I feel I have done enough breast cancer advocacy work. It is time for me to step away from the public eye and back into my artistic endeavors. Printing and stitching the Breastless Beauties has been a great segue in this respect.  I hope you will follow me in this more artistic form of visual representation.


 

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I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

TV taping and Gathering your Sew-plies!!

 

Check out the blog post related to this video: http://melanietesta.com/2015/10/tv-taping-and-gathering-your-sew-plies/

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

This week, I found myself in the unique position of needing to Gather my Sew-plies!! on the quick! I was asked to tape a video segment for a major media outlet. The original idea was that they would come to my home and film me while I was printing the Breastless Beauties. But at the last minute, they had a change of plans. (I was excited that they would come film me printing!!! Their loss. Haha!!)

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So, 15 minutes before needing to leave to get to the meet up spot, I grabbed a Gather your Sew-plies purse, some thread and all of the printed Beauties I had made so far. Wow!! Talk about thinking quick on your feet! Talk about needing your supplies at a moments notice!!!

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It is strange, I can’t really talk about this project yet, but I can share vaguely.

So…

To be honest? I feel blessed to be able to have done this video shoot!! It seems I have made waves this year. My perspective and the narrative I am speaking to; body positivity in the face of breast cancer diagnosis and its treatment, or even more broadly, loving your body no matter if you had a cancer diagnosis, is being considered, discussion is occurring.

What more could an artist wish for in her lifetime?

Wear them close.

So, what do I carry in a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse? Embroidery/thread snips, thimble, thread, a hank of hand dyed embroidery flosses, needles and a few pins. That is all. The purse has a backpack styling, fits snuggly against the body. Does not swing or make its presence known, as you work about in the studio or wherever you may be. I have been known to wear them on the subway, it is a great sewing in transit purse! 

I will be teaching at Craft Napa January 7-9 2016 There is a stitch class where we will begin making a Gather your Sew-plies purse. I hope you will join me! I would love to work with you. Throw knowledge nuggets, share laughter and have fun with you. I need a teaching retreat and I am ready to teach again! Please join us.

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I will be teaching You can’t resist this, a soy wax class.

Small Works, Big Impact

and the Stitch Journaling class where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse. PLEASE Join US!

Melly

More updates to come!