Marti Reponds to Recent Events
wishing happy hearts for all

the luxury of cloth .1


Last year around this time I started looking in all the wrong places for this particular friend.  My intention was to create a bathroom curtain for a room I'd say I dislike if it weren't entirely functional and easy to clean - even at the deep detail level. We don't need a curtain there in the green months.  In the winter we don't need more cover than what you find from a single layer of batik such as this.

When I couldn't find it in the places I looked I pinch-hit with a resurrected quilter's cotton curtain (dark green printed with white hyper-basic morning glories sporting incorrect leaves.  They form staggered vertical lines across the green) from J's music room at the old place.  It's serviceable and okay but ... thought I was looking forward to making the switch ASAP until I finally found the above batik yesterday afternoon.  Then I recalled, in slow delicious layers, how the fabric came into my life and specifically why I bought it rather than another satisfying armload of books.

From there I further recalled that throughout my younger adult years I'd put so much stock and blind trust in my largely unimaginable future Old Woman form - as I hazily envisioned her already nestled in what I thought of as a Sleeping Walnut somewhere near the center of my heart.

 Have recently been unpacking, admiring, and re-evaluating aspects of my fabric stash that aren't sitting on open shelving here in the studio. The extra-significant specially treasured stuff in other words.  My efforts don't have much of a plan to them - I've simply been inspired by both Jude and grace - specifically their recent posts about the importance of handling and dreaming over cloth for however long.

My takeaway from both of their shared experiences is that the cloth we make a point of keeping shows us who we are.  who we have perhaps for quite long imagined ourselves to be - be-coming.

and.  what I now realize to be far more relevant -

I have an old white cotton comforter that's the perfect weight for several months of the year.  Everything about it is entirely cotton - as cotton used to be and it's perfectly worn-in, to boot.  Needs patching that's likely to lean closer to total recovering.  Know this but couldn't quite find the incentive to additionally know where to begin.  Since coming into the studio earlier today I've been thinking of cutting this batik apart at the edge of the repeating pattern.  Using that panel length as the centerpiece of the comforter re-covery process.  Keep the top portion as-is and hem with something else I really love too much to actually use - to become a dedicated studio altar cloth.  Don't currently have one.  Whenever I feel the need to move/work in that particular way up here I 'import' cloths from other parts of the house. 

This seems remiss.

[I bought this on my 34th birthday - It was an impulse purchase after I'd dodged into a large glass-fronted store just beyond Coolidge Corner on Beacon Street.   This piece of cloth was the first gasping half-unfocused  thing I saw when I entered a place I'd never been or previously noticed prior to seeking escape from an unexpected lightning and thunder laced summer shower.   The store was full of batik and ikat yardage as well as beautifully understated clothes made from both. 

There were also store-length tables brimming with every imaginable style and price point of beads.  And, I later discovered, frequently these were peopled by a casual handful of women making staggeringly beautiful jewelry from them.  Along the other store length wall were glass shelves full of Day of the Dead shadow boxes, Nicho frames, carved bone pendants and parquet curio cabinets.  These shelves were interspersed with drop-down accessory displays.   Mostly hand woven shawls and belts or braided cord finger-woven versions of same.

There were also wooden/pottery/porcelain bowls and plates and all sorts of other well-off gewgaws such as elaborate hair combs and custom-made miniature brocade couches/wing chairs for a cat or small dog but these things didn't interest me at the time.  Now I'm sure I might have envisioned wall displays of such things.  Not for myself to live with but just as an aesthetic exercise to create a cohesive collection/statement wall.  Along the lines (although clearly QUITE different vibe) of the wall display featured here.  Back then I was mainly concerned with the rain stopping promptly so as to get me back home in time for a carefully planned birthday supper  - that I wasn't supposed to know about - with J. and T. 

I bought the fabric - stopping only briefly to consider its price - because I'd picked it up when I arrived.  Once my eyes did fully focus on the colors and pattern I knew it would mean something of a glad-hearted/hopeful nature to me later on in my life.  Just knew.  And so I spent the money meant to be my yearly solar return Book Binge without a blink of regret.]


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Grace Maestas

Our stories. Are they not Beauty Full?


They are when we share them, for sure. Otherwise they're just memories and that seems to be a far more remote/solitary and moon-like kind of beauty. I like to know & share the details that keep us grounded to Place and earthly mindset as well as space and time.


Your long cloth reminded me of how it was that I decided to make my dresser an altar. We were living in WA, I was not at all into dyeing cloth, etc. that would come about 8 yrs later but I always foraged for treasures. Got a call one morning that my niece had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and our world tilted...

It was at that moment that I created an altar for her, with candles, her photo, photo of our nephew her husband, their three little children, a birds nest, shiny rocks, springs of thyme in a vase, we had a lot of thyme growing in the backyard of our rental home, one perfect peony from the front yard...wrote out words of hope to help me with daily prayers/blessings spoken. She is fine now but the idea of sending our daily blessings to those I knew and loved and to the world in general, stayed with me.

From then on, I decided that my altar would continue: it changed over the years with items that I felt were needed at the time and it had many "altar" cloths, one a gift from grace and another friend, a dyed green cloth stitched by the two of them, adorned with interesting totems. Later I created an altar cloth of my own, after I learned about eco dyeing, crudely stitching many pieces of dyed cloth together, adding a Japanese reed place mat, a gift from one of our daughters who had lived in Japan for 4 years.

Over time, it seemed that each time, we moved, I changed my altar and so it was when we came to New Mexico. I knew I wanted a different cloth, something long that would go the length of my dresser, something simple and something with green- a rustic pattern if I could find it. but as often happens, life goes on and my search for this cloth faded. One day, at my favorite thrift store, on an errand to find a flannel shirt for my husband, I wandered over to the textile section, table cloths, random bundles of cloth, pillow cases, place mats, bed spreads, towels, etc. and there on a hanger, was my altar cloth. A long woven cloth, green and white, with an abstract small square pattern that in a way spoke to me of Native American designs in all shades of green. It was Senior Citizen day so it was 30% off- cost a little over $3.00 so I figured if it didn't fit, I would re-donate it. Brought it home and it was as if it were made for my dresser.

Now my altar holds: family photos, gifts that my grandchildren have made for me, a soft green candle that holds intention for my daily blessing ritual, a newly acquired white round candle from one of my daughters that she calls my healing snow ball candle, a small paper cutout of two Celtic mandalas. mounted on a little stand from a favorite Irish calendar,a small green glass container filled with rocks that my grandchildren had collected when we all had a family vacation in Colorado, a magnet with the wonderful word, DANCE, a silver leaf peace pin from a sculptor in Australia. Once in a while as is needed and indicated, a few sprigs of rosemary, lavender, juniper are also placed on the altar.

In the center of the dresser are two very important books that were gifts. One, from the niece I mentioned, who after surviving her cancer sent me a beautiful book of photographs of women, titled, "Wise Women" by Joyce Tenneson. The other book, a gift from a dear friend as we were leaving Maui: "Voices of Wisdom, Hawaiian Elders Speak" by MJ Harden.

Standing in front of my dresser aka altar, with all of these items in front of me, with these books of inspiration, I begin my day with gratitude and blessings for all.


Marti - this deeply nourishing and beautifully detailed comment makes me very glad I decided to post what I did as a first "stitch" in whatever I make of this blog.

I'm so moved and filled to the brim by your sharing that I have no words of my own beyond the most important one:



good to see cloth here

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