Wednesday, February 10, 2010

alicia's initial contribution to kim's book: fragments, vestiges & remains

although i am not entirely done with the first two pages of kim's book, i felt i should post an update nonetheless. when i finish the remaining page(s) i will post a few more updates of these.

first and foremost though, i must apologize for the illusive and evil little white string that found itself in almost all of my photos. where it came from, i do not know! how i missed it is an even bigger mystery.

because ms. kim has shared a bit of history of where she comes from, i felt i would share a bit about mine... though the darker side of portland, oregon, usa, as it felt more appealing to me. the very short story is that portland has a very dark past -- the portland underground or shanghai tunnels as they were called. able-bodied men were kidnapped and dropped through deadfalls (trap doors) from bars, saloons, opium dens, whore houses, etc., housed in underground cells, then sold to ship captains into "white slavery". women were also kidnapped and sold into prositution or sold overseas into slavery as well.

this is della. she was one such girl who was kidnapped and forced to live an undesirable life of... undesirable stuff. i don't want to give away the whole story as some should be a surprise to kim once she gets her book back.

the copper frame around the glass door will be covered in beeswax and carved into and painted -- like i do my wee apothecary bottles. if you enlarge the above photo, you'll see that there is a wee bubble in the glass that looks like a tear, which really fits into the story.

the little glass door opens to reveal della's photo. behind that are her sister's diary pages about her disappearance. the book pages aren't entirely attached yet but will be by tonight. and that string is gone now. grr.

you can see dell'a pocket watch that fell from her pocket when she was kidnapped. there are wee diamonds inside but one came loose when she dropped it so it floats around in its case.

on the bottom of the page, a photo of the family house and an older photo of della are tied to the page. you'll have to read the diary pages to figure out how an older photo of her was obtained.

behind the photos is a heart, sewn on by her adoring little sister who misses her like mad since her disappearance.

on page two, you will learn the history of the shanghai tunnels and portland underground.

at the top of the page, i've fashioned a pocket for photos of the tunnels and cells from 160ish years ago. two rusty old nails are threaded through he pocket for no real good reason other than that i thought it looked cool. ;)

basement walls were knocked out and doors were added to create an intricate network of tunnels and cells beneath buildings, streets and sidewalks. the nicer of cells had a single chair in them. grated metal doors kept the captives locked inside, and the only light offered was from an occasional lantern.

(dang illusive string again! -- below) the bottom part of the page looks, to me, like what i thought it would feel like to be snatched and thrown into the dark and dank places below the lovely city of portland. things are more rusty than they appear in the photo.

on the bottom of this piece is a handle -- sort of a deadfall on the actual page. a hatch, or trapdoor.

open the door to read a more complete history about the portland underground.

and beneith that, an old map from the mid 1800s of what downtown portland looked like from a semi-aerial perspective.

the remnants of portland's infamous history of the shanghai tunnels and the portland underground are still with us. the stories have lingered, along with the rubble, the trapdoors, the secret entrances and the catacombs that still extend their presence beneath the sidewalks, streets and buildings.

tonight i will get happy with wax for the frame, attach the diary to page one, do some stitching on the bottom of page two and put these pieces into kim's book permanently. more photos coming soon.


  1. i've posted a few photos of some of my additions to kim's book if you want to peek...

  2. OMG Alicia!!!!! I sooooo love this addition. You have completely outdone yourself. I am utterly fascinated by this little slice of history from your town! Love all the opening and closing bits that drive you further into the piece! Love all the layering and details you have added. What a dark side Portland has had! I love dark tales so this is just perfect! Those rusty nails are a great dark addition and are suggestive of the confinment those poor people must have found themselves in. Honestly Alicia I am bowled over and so excited by what you have done! I can't wait to pour over the details when this finally gets back to me. Now I am so impatient, LOL! Mwah!

  3. oooh, i am so very glad that you like it, kim! i was worried -- but that's just me. always worrying. i knew you liked dark stories and hoped this wasn't too much so. it's such a fascinating story about portland that many people who've lived here for years don't even know. you can now take paid tours through the catacombs and tunnels -- things have evolved a bit as there is electricity in some areas and such, but much of it remains the same. some of the old tools are still there, lanterns, wagon wheels, etc. if you're ever in portland or semi-close i will take you there. :)

  4. IF???If we want to peek? You are joking right? This is a fabulous addition to Kim's already fabulous book. I love how you kept the historical aspect to the story and managed to include some clever story telling as well. Really loving your farbric page with the heart and that black stitching...and all your extra details. I can't wait to play in this book!

  5. I agree with Kim, OMG! YOU HAVE OUTDONE YOURSELF! and how awesome to put the tunnels in the book! I have toured them and it is really unreal, a whole world down there, and very creepy. your work is just spectacular!! xoxox

  6. oooh, you've been there, cat??? i haven't even been there so i had to guess about how it would feel, etc.

    thank you both so very much! you are too kind!!

  7. this is fascinating Alicia..really wow.. what an amazing addition to Kim's book! Love the story of you've illustrated it in Kim's book and your lovely fabric collages. That page with Della is gorgeous and the transition to the underground photos and description and pages designs.. all very, very, cool and well thought out. Wonderful visuals and textures.. can't wait to see in the flesh!

  8. Oh yes!!! I'm even more in awe after first seeing this on your blog. I agree about the nails. They do look so cool on there and that is reason enough for them to be woven in like that. very very cool!! And that old hardware . . . yum!!!!

  9. Oh wow! God you're so funny - I know you were worried whether Kim would like this! I TOLD you she would. Alicia, everything you touch turns to gold. You have teh magic touch. I just love the layering and the use of so much fabric! I'm so glad you stuck with your guns and kept to your style! AND I agree with Kerin - the nails are totally awesome!!!

  10. Oh man...I'm back, I keep scrolling up and down to look at all this gorgeousness! The tunnel concept - how cool!!!! I want to go to the real spot and do the walk through...
    Goodness girl, you rock!!!

  11. Ok...I'm back to leave another comment. The nails!!!! How awesome can you get?? I love the photos of the tunnel entrance; it's almost dungeon like presence and the trapdoor is such a cool concept. OMG, when is this coming to me? Soon? Yay!!!!!!

  12. you are all so very sweet. thank you!

    i'm always worried, debs. always. this is why i have something i made lisa j. months and months ago and haven't sent it. i just keep adding things to the box to make it more appealing. see how i am!

    you are just too damn kind , seriously. and come on over, sugar -- i'll schedule a tour for us. :) it's not but 10 minutes from here or so.

    it's coming to you soon, sweet thing. you'll have it within two weeks or three or something. f! i have to get started on the rest since we have to send off next week!?!!

  13. oh, and i used that soluble fabric to sew the burlap. can't sew that stuff otherwise. ;)

  14. This is stunning!!! Great work!!!

  15. As I noted on another blog. The project is pretty cool. You will need to get permission from the Cascade Geographic Society for the use of any images or information you picked up while on a tour. The material is intellectual property. Best on your project.

  16. thanks dennis. if you read above, you will see that i've never been on a tour. and as i responded on my blog (since you commented in both places), i obtained the photos from the owner and was granted permission to use them.

  17. This is amazing Alicia and what a fascinating and sad story. I had no idea that any of this existed when I was in portland! Didn't see hints of it anywhere- although of course that would be the case. Your details, intricacy and incredible story is so gripping. You always weave such layered work into such layered stories to end up with such treasured masterpieces. Just love it!

  18. Oh my, if I could wish ,I would wish to just hold this book in my hands ,to go through it aND read, This is awsome, a beautifull masterpiece, and a wonderfull story, and all you did is to happily sigh over, -such a wonder.
    I realy love it.
    Thanks so much for showing.


  19. OMG love this!! What amazing work! Such great eye candy. Thanks for showing. Riki