Friday, September 28, 2012

the uses of sorrow

-mary oliver
from her book, thirst, beacon press, boston, 2006

mary oliver is one of my favorite contemporary poets. i received a copy of her book, thirst, in the mail today from a dear friend and spent a few hours browsing its pages under the trees down by the river with sachi dozing at my feet. i found this short poem to be quite deep in meaning. it overwhelmed me and i sat there in the shade as tears ran down my cheeks. not tears of sadness. nor of joy. but...of release. suddenly, so much made sense and was at peace...

i believe there is a story cloth in this poem. i shall have to listen to the whispers and see what emerges...


Monday, September 24, 2012

stitching myself into a new perspective

i don't know that i can explain why i haven't been able to stitch lately, but it feels amazing to be needle chanting once again!  the background seemed to come together effortlessly. the salvaged linen moon (from an old resort shirt found hiding in the back recesses of my closet...unworn for many years) laid down as though it was meant to be there. usually there is a struggle, punctuated with sailor-speak, to get linen to lay down without endless distortions.

wanting a clean slate upon which to work the rabbit dancer, i decided to redraft her onto some plain white cotton. she is temporarily tacked down, ready to be needle-turned and then built upon with scrap and stitch. there is such energy in this cloth that i am feeling quite invigorated by it! but what is so different now?

it could be that i am reconnecting with a theme that always seems to predominate in my art. form. the body. and its endless variations. in this case, an anthropomorphic dancer. as i look back at the various bodies of my work, i am confronted time and again with this filter. i see it in my sculpture. find it repeatedly in my batik experiments. it appears throughout my sketch books. even in cloth, the human form is found again and again in various guises. i think i shall have to contemplate this... watch where it goes. how it continues to manifest. perhaps this is my filter. the bones upon which hang the flesh of my creativity...

meanwhile, i am delighting in putting needle to cloth once again!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

snip, snip, snip

these past couple of days have been filled with snipping and ripping. now it's time to start stitching...


Monday, September 17, 2012

something completely different

took a little break from cloth and thread to attend to something completely different. you may remember me entertaining the idea some weeks back of de-constructing some old industrial pallets to use the lumber on my walls. after countless hours of de-construction, i finally had enough slats to get to work on my first wall. going is slow as the lumber is not large. but i am already loving the rustic results! i can't wait to see it completed and counterpointed with curtains, artwork, and furniture!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

family is where you find it

while attempting to make some sort of order from the chaos in my studio, pulling together clovage (salvaged cloth) into workable "families", i realized that the idea of family is always forefront in our culture's mind. be it the often televised political organizations seeking to put forth their ideas of what a family "should" be, or a simple family of like-colored cloth salvaged from old clothes or purchased from stiff new bolts at the local quilt shop.

as i make my rounds through favorite blogs, and adventure to previously unfamiliar (un-family-ar) blogs, i frequently see family references. from jude's frequent jaunts to her mom's house to annnie's poignant remembrance of her beautiful mother (i still can't stop the tears from gathering in the corner of my eyes).

coyote toe bones in ancient tibetan begging bowl

i have been thinking a lot about bones and frameworks lately as a rather large group of very talented people have embarked upon jude's latest adventure, spirit cloth diaries. jude has been talking about "filters" and we have each turned our respective eye toward determining our own personal filters...either for working within the context of her workshop, or even beyond into the filters we use in our own work. our homes. our lives. while i have many discernible filters in my artwork, i am currently focusing on bones in the sense that they are the framework upon which our bodies are hung, and thereby our lives and interactions with others and their frameworks. their bones.

when contemplated from this vantage, i found that i frequently voice thoughts about being "without family" here under the big sky. having moved here ten years ago. a few years later finding myself alone. without the partner whose vision was shared for a time. whose bones once shared the framework of our lives with my bones. found myself thinking in terms of "consoling myself" with "at least" having my "fur-family". but i do myself, and my many loved ones, a great disservice with this direction of thought. for families are created and nurtured and grown. not limited to blood relations. or even distance. family is where you find it. not only where you were born.

my born family resides nearly a thousand miles away in idaho. further in washington and further still in southern california for siblings. but they are never further away than a few seconds of digital button touching. but families extend even beyond this. dear friends who live across the country are also merely a call away. other dear friends live closer to home and are seen throughout the week. and my wondrously talented and creative family of friends here on this blog are never more than a keystroke away.

all of these blessings that are my family of friends and relations hang upon the framework...bones...of time and space. it is a great family that stretches its branches deep into space and provides shelter and warmth for these bones upon which my body and life hang.

...i am humbled by the blessings you all provide. and full of gratitude.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

when one isn't looking

i spent the last couple of days in bed recovering from a rather nasty bout of food poisoning. i'm so grateful that it was me who decided to sample that leftover tuna pasta salad that may have been left out too long. it could have been much worse if it had been fed to my gentle elders...

while i was sleeping, it seems autumn has arrived here under the big sky and the leaves have begun to turn and let go their summery grasp upon the twigs and branches that have been their home.

it's amazing what big things can happen in so little time when one isn't looking...


Monday, September 10, 2012

a little brainstorming

click to enlarge

i spent a little time today with paper and cloth. brainstorming. just a little, in lieu of the promised rainstorms that were not forthcoming.

i found myself wondering if i enjoy the brainstorming as much as the stitching because i also enjoy the feel and sound of old paper beneath my pens and pencils. like the salvaged fabric i use in making my cloth, there is something special about old, yellowed paper salvaged from the linings of old books, ledgers and other discarded or overlooked folios. the marks made in ink and graphite in attempt to capture fleeting thoughts and ideas seem at home with the ghosts of other fingers...scribblings, stampings, and old typefaces. torn edges echo the frayed edges of their fabric counterparts. each a continuing of the other. both being steps in the continuing of mind and thought.

it feels like there is an allegory in there somewhere...

now it is time to start getting it down in cloth and thread. a little late-night needle chanting, i think.


Friday, September 7, 2012

things gathered

i am always intrigued by the things we collect. be they for inspiration, function, or simply because we feel an emotional attachment to them. even more interesting is how we display, use and alter them. it can be something as simple as arranging them on a straw sushi mat. wrapping it in rubber bands. or simply allowing it to dry out and crack and then see what interesting re-imaginings result.

sometimes function and form come together to beautiful effect. these hand-carved indonesian printing blocks are a perfect example. they create wondrous markings on cloth. yes. but they are beautiful in their own right, simply gathered together. displayed. admired. i can't get enough of these delightful little gems...whether or not i actually find time to use them as they were intended or to simply admire them.

still other collections offer vignettes of simple charm, like these dishes. gathered together with beautifully bound books filled with words that are meant to inspire. to instruct. to mark thoughts. for me, one of the small pleasures that rivals the tactile quality of aged fabric is the sent and sound of an old book. it doesn't really even matter what the volume is about...or even if it is in a language that i understand. just the feel of the leather cover. the slightly musty smell of the yellowed papers. the dry, age-ridden sound of the pages. the memories whispered quietly in the text of bygone eras and long dead authors. there is such a romantic cloud that hovers when enjoying an old book!

whatever it is that inspires you in your collecting habits, there is a decided pleasure that things gathered provide for us... i don't believe i will ever grow weary of reacquainting myself with my collections.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

just looking...

feeling a little out of sorts today, so decided to head downtown and walk around. surprised by these little late season treasures, i found myself wondering how on earth the keeper managed to force blooms this time of year? it's still a mystery. one of many that i may never know the answer to. but i'm okay with that...

on my way back home, i noticed clouds beginning to form. blow in. meteorologists are talking about a cold front moving in today...but cautioning before too much celebration, that it will only be here for the day. they are also promising a smattering of rain. they are usually wrong. but i am hoping they are not...

while piper seemed to be content to have me back home for a bit, i think it's time to go find a quiet spot down by the river with a tablet and a few writing impliments to do a little brainstorming. maybe the clouds will take a hint...


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

a day of shopping

 with the heat finally abating for a few days, it seemed the perfect day to hop on the old kawasaki and get in a little exploratory shopping... there is nothing quite like a partially cloudy day in the mid 70's for a spontaneous bike trip into town.

at my first stop, the montana rescue mission thrift shop, i found some wonderful men's shirts that were just begging to be de-constructed and re-imagined!

also hiding in a little corner was a box of old thread spools filled with wonderfully neutral colored threads! a quick burn test revealed them to be cotton so they will be perfect for over-dyeing...

stopping next at st. vincent de paul's yielded a large bag of wine corks. several years ago, a friend of mine and i embarked upon a carving odyssey for stamping in art journals. i don't know whatever happened to all those wonderful stamps....but i'm thinking these will be perfect for carving new ones to experiment with mark making on cloth!

the a quick trip out to the red barn antique shop on the outskirts of laurel brought me to this little treasure. at first i was excited to find such a wonderful little tin box (given my passion for collecting boxes of all sorts). imagine my joy to find a full set of round tin cookie cutters! of course, these will never cut cookie dough in my house since they are destined for the rust pots for making moons and suns on cloth.

a small tin box (!) full of rusty little tools were also to be had...including an old working padlock and key. these will be happily joining the cookie cutters in the rust pots.

then a quick jaunt into laurel proper to the good shepherd antique and thrift shop brought me to this marvelous stack of old 78's.  i had such a difficult time deciding which to buy for my victrola. there were big bands, blues, classical, and even a few crazy old doris day cuts!  of course, the blues won out and i now have 12 new blues albums to listen to... i'm thinking, however, that i may have to make another trip out there for some of those big bands albums!

most intriguing, however, was this large crate of rusted old door knobs. my soul ached when i decided to pass on them...mostly because i was still on the kawasaki and could only purchase what my old leather back pack could hold and it was already at capacity (if not slightly beyond). i would love to have had the entire box...but may have to settle for picking up a knob or two when i go back out there for more of the 78's.

meanwhile, it's time to settle in and get some needle chanting done tonight. i've pulled out a couple of my "mindless" projects to keep my hands busy while my elders sleep.