I see-saw between the forest and the trees. The former is more comfortable. I’m a big picture wanna be. Yet I’m haunted by details. I believe what we have here is something quite pre-historic. A velociraptor perhaps. And something else, directly below, emerging from the void. Part fish, part mammal? There’s a sense of fertile potentiality, as though anything could happen. Tomorrow I will learn more.
I’m loving this time in the cycle of seasons. Only a few plants outside are showing signs of greening up. Leaves are nowhere to be found. And although it’s unseasonably warm, I think we still have a month or so before the lure of new growth begs commemoration. It’s also a slow time in terms of art & craft shows–a venue I’ve become dependent upon.
But right now I’m not thinking much about craft shows. Instead, I’m looking at all the cloth I’ve generated from eco printing
and anticipating the process of melding together disparate pieces into whole cloth.
I love these little etchings on cloth–the last hurrah of the heroic effort on the part of a tree, shrub or flower. A mark that will last linger long past this growing season. Sometimes these marks commemorate an event–an occasion–a time spent in solitude in nature, or a social event with family and friends. Times or joy. Moments of sorrow. Sometimes these marks recall weather patterns. Times of drought. Times of unseasonable rain. And although these little imprints on cloth may look like absolutely nothing at first glance, for me they are intriguing. Mysterious. Beautiful. Parts and pieces that, when combined, tell another story.
I’m going to document the birth of this next cloth–a cloth that right now comprises 8 separate scraps of botanical imprints–finding the places where lines and shapes connect–where the whole emerges from the sum of its parts–where it makes sense to me. Where on some level I’m able to understand how the puzzle pieces can fit together –forming the big picture.
And thank you Jude Hill. Slow stitch and slow cloth.
Much is held here in this cloth. Memories. Snippets and scraps. Like the oddly arranged, seemingly incongruent events of my life– held to the light. To be examined. Revered. Treasured.
Memory–like kantha– weaving the ground, holding the story, supporting the whole.
This morning I’m thinking about a warrior woman–one woman in particular–a scrappy keeper-of-goats living in the harsh yet beautiful desert of the SW. Not a place for the weak of body or spirit. I’m joining her this morning in solidarity, vowing to take back what I’ve been relinquishing–stepping out of this small, spiteful drama and reclaiming, to the degree that I can–a sense of perspective–a sense of how it goes. Viewing the big screen in high definition.
This warrior woman was part of a weaving exercise using a little box as the loom. She stands on cloth dyed with black walnuts. Mounted on fabric mordanted with sumac. Her head is one half of a sampler I made while practicing slow cloth with Jude Hill. And yes, Jude Hill is a warrior as well. As was my mother. As is my daughter. My sister, friends cousins and nieces. This is for you.
As far as I know the Bowling Green Massacre theory is an alternative fact. Not a truth.
This butterfly–slow stiched during a gentler time spent online with Jude Hill–is meant as a reminder of the value and beauty of truth. It’s a pocket–a safety net–to hold written words or ideas that clarify one’s world view. And it’s a reminder that butterflies aren’t alone in their struggle to avoid extinction.
This morning’s prayer flag. Stitched with cloth pieces from older incomplete projects. Patched together for unity. A truth holder.
This what-might-look-like-a rag pile is actually my hoard of earthly, material treasures. (No pun intended.) Things I would grab if leaving home in a hurry. On that little couch, and the shelves that surround it, I find remnants of work from the last ten or so years. Natural dyed fabric experiments, hand-dyed indigo shibori pieces, pieces of slow cloth that I labored over so intensely, eco print fabrics, pieces of silk hand dyed and ecoprinted, needle felted wool, etc. And this is where I go, these mornings of late, when I begin the prayer flag of the day.
This morning I was contemplating the importance of stepping into stillness. Especially as a tool to handle the maelstorm of current events. Contemplating stillness and casually examining pieces of cloth. What surfaced was a felted wool stork. Felted wool and pieces of linen indigo dyed shibori. Surfaced and coalesced with little effort on my part.
Curious about stork’s symbolism in light of the intent of these prayer flags, I googled stork. My take-away:
If we allow it to it can instill a sense of calm in us…. It reminds us to be careful with our words and attitudes, remaining calm, cool, and collected in the face of adversity. When we do this, we can be at peace.
Instill. In still. OK. Into stillness.
Thought threads. Lots of pieces. Fragments. But there is one thing arising that started a few days ago.
I’m taking a workshop with Jude Hill. “Considering Weave” is the focus this go-round. It has me outside my comfort zone. I like that. And part of the intention is to explore weave structures as weave strengthens cloth or embellishes existing cloth– providing a matrix for exploration as only Jude can do.
I missed the first week of the workshop and have been playing “catch up.” Looking at other student’s work. Not really “listening” so much as looking. And so I had an idea–based on a window screen I made in 1969. Then I had taken a piece of burlap–a big piece–dyed it purple, machine stitched various enclosed shapes and then pulled out the weft threads inside the shapes. I loved it. It created visually interesting open patterns popping out of the field of purple. So I was thinking about that purple piece when I took a piece of red linen and started cutting shapes. Shapes that would hold some amount of woven interest.
This is what it looked like in the beginning–hanging in the window–and what I liked about it was that depending on where I stood, the view from each portal was different. reinforcing an idea I just read– Thich Nhat Hanh –“Perception is deception.”
I had been thinking about perception/deception and point-of-view when I started hacking up the red linen. And I wanted to express for self the relevance/irrelevance of being attached to a point of view. That’s what I wanted. But it’s not what the linen wanted. And even though I really loved how it looked, I had chosen the wrong fabric for this project. The linen lost its integrity. It began collapsing in on itself. Folding and draping. Melting almost.
This morning, in an effort to return “spine” to the cloth, I re-wove binding strength into the holes I had excavated. They are just okay. So so. The cloth maybe isn’t quite as strong as it was…it’s changed…but it weathered the storm.
So. Respecting. Respecting the nature of . . . . Things. People. Self. Not pushing against. Not wanting to change something against its will. Against its nature. Ah. And that leads me back to–acceptance. Again, the lessons of cloth.
The pole bean trellis is straight out of Jack and the Beanstalk. Ladder needed for picking and yesterday one of the bamboo supports gave way while I was about six feet in the air. I had already scoped out my landing pad when it broke.
Groundhogs are wreaking havoc in the squash patch. The fencing on this part of the garden is plastic. The gate was one I made, weaving bamboo together. Clearly an optimistic gesture. Because it deters NOTHING. And to date I’ve hauled off 4 groundhogs to various locales and now I’m thinking they’re hip to the havaheart trap. It’s baited with honeydew but being ignored, and honestly, I’m always relieved when I look out the window and its empty. Squash will probably recover.
Sculpture in a downtown storefront. Asheville, NC. Sorry I don’t know the artist.