Tag Archives: essence

Expressing Essence

21 May

I pick up boy-in-purple-shirt after school. Observe completion of homework. Listen to his interpretation of the day. Sometimes offer opinions, but not very often. He’s finding his own way through it all.

There are challenges to this routine. I question–should a first grader have homework? And if so…should it be done right after school? Or later? After play? But we’ve fallen into this routine because it seems to work. “Later” doesn’t. His focus, which can be tentative at best, is near impossible to harness “later.” So.

I’m thinking about the beginning of the year…months ago…the learning-to-read process. A struggle. Math a different story. I remember thinking, “I wonder at what point I’ll be useless with the math component?” It won’t be long. But reading…well I can read. In fact I love to read…but accept that it’s not something everyone loves. Including this boy. He does it. He does it just fine. Now. But he’d rather be doing other things. I get it.

So the progression of reading material over this past year–from the early stuff–pretty boring — to Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series has been interesting to watch. And yesterday, the completion of a fantasy book about the Japanese poet, Basho. At the end, I asked if he’d like to try his hand at haiku. OK. I would transcribe. First effort was more of an epic tale. Shorten it a bit, I suggested. OK. A condensed version of the first. How about just pulling out the essential feeling you want to express? That resonated. So a haiku-of-sorts–

The words. Yes, a from-the-heart sentiment–essence distilled to a few words. But I also had the privilege of hearing the words spoken. Heard the love. Heard the sincerity. The honesty. So now it has me thinking about that …about essence, about distilling expression to the most basic common denominator.

The process of expressing through cloth seems similar to creating a haiku–with cloth substituting for words. But the challenge is the same. Distilling form to essence.

This green cloth, a sampler of many pieces of naturally dyed fabrics–earthy. And the intention– to capture the essence of the life force of the earth right now–the small patch of earth behind my house where a lovely garden vibrates with energy–
It started here:

then changes–






like the creation of a haiku–writing and re-writing–editing–paring down and re-doing–throwing away and starting over–pieces added, removed, rejected.
Still searching for truest way to depict the essence of something nearly indescribable.

Personal Shields and Cliff Palace

21 Sep

I’m attending a workshop today–well this afternoon and evening to be more accurate.  A felting workshop offered by Jude Lally, friend and artist.  A workshop for women.  We will be creating shields.  Our own shields.  And as i write this, the idea of shield takes on a different meaning.  Not “shield” as in protecting against something–but shield as in manifestation and expression of.  Shield as in that which holds and represents our strengths. Shield as in essence.  Figurative essence.  There will be fire, tonight.  It’s all very outside the arena of my normal activities.  And I’m excited.  Here are two links to Jude’s artwork.

http://celticsoulcraft.com/hat         http://celticsoulcraft.com/otherworldly-doll-gallery

As I’m writing this, I’m looking at a photo I took at Mesa Verde–Cliff Palace– many years ago.  1979 I believe.  We had three weeks at the end of the summer to travel.  Kids would have been 6 and 8.  They are the two littlest people in the bottom left corner.  I know them by their walk.  Their legs and feet.  How they move across the earth.mesaverde

It was a camping vacation. A budgeted vacation whereby as a family we spent $5 a day for food. And it was, in the best sense of the word, a “trip.”

I’m looking now at these kivas in this picture of Cliff Palace. At the towers. All the structures that held life then and hold memories still. The pared down pure bone, skeletal essence. That which remains after everything else has been removed.  It is beauty full.   And  impossible not to think of this as metaphor for our human lives. The awareness that at the core of each of us there is an immutable presence, a structure perhaps,  and it is the one true thing.

So as I’m thinking about this, and imagining today’s workshop, I’m curious. There will be guided meditations. Sharing. I’m thinking it sounds like a vision quest of sorts. And then those visions will be felted into personal shields. And wondering what will arise.  Yesterday morning, early morning, I started this:


not thinking what it was or where it was going. But now I’m seeing it.  It’s a shield I think. Twelve sticks. Twelve ribs? The pared down essence of my bone self. My own Cliff Palace.  Today I’ll be looking for the more figurative expression.

White and Birthright

14 Apr

This “what if” series of cloths–working with whites–totally surprising me.   Up until this point I was  crazy for color.  Entrenched in color.  Couldn’t do w/o color.  Didn’t think I could even DO white–too monotonous?  Dull?  Predictable?  Whatever it was, this is coming as a real eye-opener.  The opener that reminds me NOT to limit myself by preconceived notions of what I like.  Reminds me to listen to the advice I give young boy–“you won’t know until you try it.”  And something else.  I’m thinking about new borns.  Infants fresh from the womb.  Maybe a day or two out.  I’m remembering a picture of my daughter at that age.  Lying on a blanket next to a friend’s 3 month old.  The comparison was astounding.  There was something about the infant–having nothing to do with me–that  had some sort of –I hesitate here to say radiance–or  purity.  But something akin to that.  Some thing so sublime that, as you see, I’m at wit’s end to express.  And that’s what these white cloths are bringing to mind.  That sense of fine-ness, untainted perhaps.  That intangible essence we come in with.  A birthright that seems to get buried by the doings of life.  So white, now, is another reminder for me.  A reminder that it’s still all there, beneath the muck and junk.  That glowing “first light.”  So when I ask myself “why?  Why do I do cloth?”  It’s because of glimpses like this one.  Reminders of magic and mystery and wonder.  All of this.

And night before last I woke up thinking about enlightenment–fine concept that!–and sketched a cloth called “In Light ‘N Mint.”  And this is how she’s evolving.

in light 'n mint

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