Tag Archives: cloth as metaphor for life

A Stink Bug Moment

21 Aug

I’m sitting here watching a stink bug crawl across the window screen.  It grabbed my attention just as I was thinking about time.  The different qualities of time.   Times that speed by.  Times that don’t.   Thinking how months and years seem to be moving faster.  Remembering summer days as a kid.  Months between one school year ending and another beginning stretching on forever.  And so I’m watching this stink bug. It’s not in much of a hurry but it clearly has something to teach me.   My scalp is starting to do the funny thing it does when this sort of thing happens.  I have a hunch what this demo is about but I’m going to really sit with this one because I sense that it is important.  And I don’t want to trivialize the message.

stink bug

But besides just the quality of time’s speed, I’ve also been thinking about its structure. And before I go any further, I need to clarify this. When I say “thinking,” I don’t mean I sit around for hours or even minutes at a time really pondering time. I simply mean thoughts about time run across the ticker tape periodically. There they are, and then they’re gone. But still, time has been somewhat of a theme lately. And about the structure of time, I’ve been wondering–is it linear? is it circular? is it some other structure outside of our habituated 3-dimensional perspective? I think so. Yes. I think it is some thing else. But like the stink bug’s message, it eludes me. Teases me. Feathers my nose. Does that thing to my scalp.

So yes, I was surprised to see it’s been two weeks since I last posted. Two weeks of intense shepherding of the grandchild variety. All summer, actually, but much more so this past bit. And today school started. So.

This is what I want to show. The morphing of cloth. A project that started out with potential. Earth tones from black walnut and the pinks– Amma roses. Maybe I should have stopped there. Maybe it was finished. But it didn’t feel like it was. and then…heart with filter Then it stalled out. Completely. And waited and waited and waited. Until a Rumi quote came to me. I wasn’t looking for it but clearly needed to have it. And it seemed the cloth needed it as well.

Then this:back to sleep
and a step is missing. The way the cloth looked before the entire thing went back into the black walnut vat. That’s the missing step. And the black walnut bath–made the words almost impossible to read. Darkened things up way more than I wanted. It seemed unredeemable. Ruined. The cloth barely escaped scissors several times. Shuffled around the work room looking for a landing spot and ended up wadded in the corner. Very sad. Both of us.

Segue. I’ve mentioned Jude and spiritcloth frequently. No words really to describe the experience of being her student. And now her focus has shifted again to color and I have been inspired to play along–experimenting, exercising. With colors other than the “saddened” ones I get from backyard dyeing. I love those muted tones, yes, but sometimes nothing else will do but pure, vibrant color. So several samplers for sampler’s sake color chart

and then this:breeze at dawn

In person it’s better. The walnut stain is more pronounced. The colors are more vivid. The purple is really intense–not blue. But overall, this is what happened. The story of one cloth’s journey. It reminds me of my own life. The changes. A consistent underlying direction perhaps–but the unimaginable changes. And I think it’s o.k.

The Outer Banks of NC

17 Jun

I’ve just returned from a week on the Outer Banks of NC. Salvo was the destination, although now Salvo, Rodanthe and Waves all run into one and it’s hard to discern where one begins and one ends. Further south is the town of Avon–originally called Kinnakeet. A Croatan word that means “land that juts into something.” In this case, the “something” is Pimlico Sound. A large body of water in between Hatteras Island and the mainland.

The Croatan were a branch of Algonquins who lived on Hatteras Island. In 1995 or thereabouts, an archaeological dig down in Buxton, south of Avon, uncovered a 16th century English signet ring. Validating previous speculation that the members of the original Lost Colony really DID make their way down Hatteras and were incorporated into the native community. That’s what I hope. And after all the speculation about blue-eyed natives, it seems that perhaps they were given “shelter from the storm.” Virginia Dare raised by a Croatan family. I like to imagine that.

But the Roanoke-Hatteras Croatan Indians suffered the same fate as most other indigenous people. They were hunters. Fishermen. Farmers. With limited defense systems. Limited defense against European disease. European aggression. And the perhaps not-so-unique American concept of manifest destiny. It’s an old story. Old. Sad. True. It’s a spin we often don’t read about in American History. And even though the the Hatteras Croatan all but disappeared, genealogical descendants still get together in August. In Manteo, for their annual pow-wow.

I have my own history with the Outer Banks. Really a history unlike my relationship with any other place on earth. In 1963 my mother took me and my three siblings there. It was the first year the island of Hatteras had become accessible by bridge. Prior to that, the only way over was via ferry. In 1963 the Island was–how can I say it–pristine? And basically, although it’s a stretch, I could say it still is. But it’s a stretch. I’ve been back there many times. In many very different situations and can attest that A LOT has changed in 50 years. With the island and with me. And I never fail to be amazed at the island’s ability to open up my memory bank to things long forgotten or buried. That’s how it functions for me.

The Outer Banks–a narrow skinny sand bar that’s constantly shifting and changing. It’s a barrier island. As much in need of protection as the mainland it’s protecting. The Audubon Society has stepped in because several native bird species are disappearing. Those little birds that used to be there, running one step ahead of the surf. I didn’t see any this time. Not one. It took me a few days to realize that. That some thing was missing. The sand pipers. The Outer Banks are for me the only place where water and sky meet to form the vastness of ocean as I understand it to be. Still, in order to continue appreciating the wonder of the place, I must struggle with the changes wrought on it by encroaching development. That’s a challenge. A huge challenge.

On this trip, we had wonderful weather even though Hurricane Andrea was brewing. Around Manteo on the way in, we drove through a pretty fierce storm
storm front
but we drove out from under the front as we crossed Oregon Inlet and the only other rain we experienced happened while we were sleeping.

First morning heading through the dunes to the ocean:through the dunes

and then the beach

logan running

lunch at the beachshell searching

I worked on several cloths while we were there–a family cloth where each of the eight of us created our own representation of self from scrap pieces–and a second cloth. Here’s a sneak preview through a hole in an oyster shell. A shell fragment for face. I became fascinated with imperfect shells. More on that later. This post has become too long now. I will post cloth images later on.
parallel realities1

Evolution

4 Mar

Sitting in stillness this morning. Then noticing. The play of light and shadow. How both are essential. How one part will either recede or move forward, wholly dependent on where I place my attention. homer Yet each part of this lightness/darkness image requiring the other.

At a workshop this weekend I  experienced what I can only call a fundamental shift in the arrangement of pieces of self–the experience of coming together of disparate parts. A melding. Into one.  And I’m calling this evolution because it was an organic experience–  an adjustment, adaptation–natural selection.

For ever, my m.o. has revolved around “getting rid of.” Banning, removing, resisting,  purging the disparate pieces of self that seemed problematic.  This “getting rid of” model was a futile Promethean endeavor–exhausting and depleting.  So this weekend’s epiphany –that the getting rid of paradigm simply DOES NOT work for me–was both profound and a huge relief.    And the experience itself –well really words diminish it.  But put simply,  all that was required was a “welcoming” attitude. An embracing. A shifting–a making room for– a scooting over to offer ALL these pieces of SELF a place at the table.

And as a post script: One of the guests at the table is voicing doubt with this post. Wanting to be sure I clarify something–that being this: the welcoming is on-going. Never finished. Sometimes guests leave and return. This shift is only that–an opening, an awareness–and it will need be applied to almost each moment, each day, from here — to here on.

And as it happens so often,  again  the metaphor of whole cloth.  The integration of disparate parts and scraps that eventually merge into a unified, strong fabric.  Here is the continued evolution of Primordial Soup.  More kantha stitches completed on the tree curtain.  More on the way.  The addition of a few more thread bumps in the soup itself.  More on the way.soup2

Seeing the Whole

5 Jan

Noticing how easy it is to see  the daily dramas/events/interactions/comings-and-goings of life in isolation–separate from the whole.  Noticing how easy it is to fixate on one THING and that THING becomes EVERY thing–the ONLY thing.  For a while.


5

until attention shifts to the next piece …8

and then the next2

…all the while noticing how some parts are easier to look at than others–and some parts so much easier to BE WITH than others…

yet knowing–somewhere in that deepest place–that without each scrap–as lovely or as lonely as it might appear– the whole could not exist.
whole picture

Stepping Up

6 Dec

For months and months I have been hanging out at various fabric artists’  blog sites–sometimes leaving comments but generally just viewing from afar.  And for several months I have been taking what can only be described as a journey through cloth–and in to self– with the fabric artist Jude Hill at http://spiritcloth.typepad.com.   So now it’s time.  Time  to share.  Time to give back, in a sense, to the community of cloth at large.  Time to reach out and probably time to sometimes ask for help.    But like so much we encounter in life, things are often not as they seem.   So I’m beginning this process having no idea where it will lead but ready to “follow thread” nevertheless.

It has often occurred to me that working with cloth is, in many ways, a metaphor for life.   Perhaps the process of blogging will be the same.  It feels like a commitment to self, a commitment to record the moments in between what we generally call the “big things” that happen.   Those little moments that actually define the warp and the weft of our existence.   I’m guessing that process and perseverance in blogging, as in the creation and re-purposing of cloth, are two elements of equal importance.    So I will proceed now with the intention to continue–remembering the lines of the I Ching:  Perseverance furthers.

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