raw materials

merging hemispheres/summer studio .1

Canopy252620

Back on a later May morning when the freshly unfurling spring canopy of hardwoods looked like the image above  J and I took a gorgeous drive to pick up our last bread order of the winter share season.  As we drove I noticed something with the eagle eye of one who was raised to see and swiftly respond to certain visual cues.   High on that list would be:

a cardboard box nestled just off the road very conspicuously labelled FREE. 

I made happy noises and talked to myself for a good 15 seconds during which J kept driving.  My internal joy stemmed from having not very successfully resigned myself to a summer season devoid of treasure hunting due to the [potentially permanent] closing of our town's freecycle shack at the dump.  I rapidly understood that, deprived of seasonal yard sale clutter busting options, any box by the road might contain more interesting pickin's than the usual sad college era mugs and commensurate coasters.

Somebody, I swiftly concluded, had gotten hunker-buggy and been unable to stop themselves from getting rid of stuff they never use/really don't like once and for all.  My first peek in the closest corner of box seemed to confirm my hunch:

Thekeys

I don't know what these keys were meant to decorate but as soon as I saw them I imagined them hanging right as they do above - on the southern corner of an enclosed space within the evolving sanctuary garden.  J really enjoys them.   We agree we wouldn't like them anywhere in the house.  But hanging from a post on a wire fence in the yard seems pretty close to perfect.

the wide shallow bowl below is (I think) 18 inches.  

Outsideofbowl But ... 'way before I got as far as seeing the keys or the above bowl I had the previous conglomeration of thoughts while J continued to drive until I suddenly found a collection of relatively cogent words. Hey!   There's stuff back there that I want!  Didn't you see it? I didn't actually know I wanted any of whatever was in the box but by this time strongly intuited it was likely.  My level of what he called 'imperious certainty' led J to conclude (and this was somewhat disconcerting for me to process after the fact) that we'd just passed a plant nursery of some kind.  What else [apparently. per my husband.] could possibly rouse me so?

I explained as briefly as possible.  Then he turned the car around while sharing the assumption I'd seen a nursery and couldn't just let us move on without stopping.   Is that what I'm normally like when we're out driving around in the non-pandemic reality??!?  To the point he'd think I'd also be that way withIN this reality????  The questions distracted me in a way that allowed me to keep the tightest lid possible on the ingrained Pearl-indoctrination that once you saw something FREE you had to be lightning fast before somebody else got to it first.  

Insideofbowl
  The first thing I saw beyond the keys was the bowl pictured inside and out above.  I thought, since I only touched it through gloves, and it was profoundly shiny in the bright morning sun, that it was metal rather than glass.  And my eye's mind saw holes drilled into parts of the edge and then attaching it somehow to the front of the potting shed.  Putting directly beneath it a birdbath and letting the blackberry canes I'd been planning to pull grow unchallenged all around it.  Hoping/intuiting this would keep the jays away from my tomatoes.

Alas it's undrillable.  This fact led to an awareness I intend to write about in more depth.  And from there  - all during the extended decontamination period we agreed mandatory because how do we know What Went On - I've had a series of increasingly impractical ideas of how to give this object a second life/designated purpose.  Followed by how to give it a single finite (but entirely appealing) purpose in another few days.

BrushmugAlso in the box - assorted glassware and the mug above.  Intuited it would be just right for holding my brushes here in the summer studio a/k/a our dining room.

  Didn't forget about attaining this stuff but got put-off and overwhelmed when I realized the big metallic disc was actually a glass bowl so shallow only a set-dresser (or possibly the exact right kind of instagram influencer) could love it. We had so many other things going on, after all!  so I left the box lurking in our garage until J started making noises about everyone doing their part to clear away some of the [admittedly out of control] clutter out there.  Earlier this week I washed everything dishwasher safe on the extended sanitizing function.  And then considered my pandemic-induced free stuff with a greater measure of focus earlier today.  

Newvignettedish
Understood straight along I'd use the not-my-style dish of some sort (at first I thought it was the lid of a particularly obnoxious butter dish) to hold stones and shells and crystals.  Had forgotten the simple enjoyment of arranging such display bowls.   And dallying among things brought to life by the addition of previously unknown things. This tableau will need some editing and additions but for today we're in prototype-land.

SandysglassesBecause I have zero clue what was in style last year-  or five or six or eighteen years ago - I did not understand at first that these shot glasses have bubbles trapped in the glass. Prior to going through the washing machine  I thought the bubbles and blurs were evidence of a DIY event gone bad.  Think their actuality is somewhat appealing and almost magical in nature.  Because. Soon after I set them out to consider how I might transform them into miniature containers filled with even smaller things I began to spontaneously narrate deep in my brain.  Just looking at the glasses there on the windowsill gave me a viable section of new skeleton territory for The Novel. The specific scene I envisioned in a whole cloth way gave me a much deeper way-in to a character who has always existed among this crew but she was never previously given her own narrative voice or even a shimmer of POV status.

CandlestickcomparisonI thought to compare and contrast the flower-shaped candle holder (there was a pair in the box) with a different glass holder that actively reflects my personal taste and style preference.    I thought I could use one of the pair as a marking tool on my gelli plate.  While taking the pic I realized I could fill the other with sand/dirt/very small pebbles and use it as an incense holder. 

Gravyboat

Have always loved gravy boats and if I were a completely different person I would have spent some period of time heretofore tra-la-la-ing my way around flea markets scooping up an entire lifetime in the making collection.  But I'm me and in that capacity have only three - each with strong family significance.    And now i have this one, too.  I like the lines of it a lot and am fully cognizant it may be a vase.  In which case for me it will always be thought of as the gravy boat vase.

Today I studied it just as it appears.  And asked it aloud what it might like to become.  And then actively imagined it replying

think of me as a vessel of cosmic good will.

I mean, sure.  Why not?  And I can't think of anything that personifies 'cosmic goodwill' more eloquently than a cluster of amethyst crystal clusters.   What comes next for this combo remains unclear.

Amesthystclusterwet

Oldnanadish

The blue dish above has a peak old Nana vibe for me.  I mean that in terms of Pearl and her friends and my adoption of Emrie's name for grace as a collective name for them.  Between now and the autumn season of ancestors I'm going to collect small notations concerning details I recall from the women who set the tone as I grew into my teenage years.  Then some type of ceremony I might be right on the brink of visualizing somewhat cogently.

who knows.

guess this is just my as upbeat as possible way of welcoming myself to our collective new third world summertime. think we already know it's gonna be a challenge of noise and happenstance.

Buttonuncertainty


first studio day since last post!

Chrysochollawetfrombowl

Since then I've been spending most of my waking time outside in the sun-struck gardens.   Temps have been high enough to make this space largely uninhabitable even in the productive phases of early and middle evening.   I've brought painting and stitching supplies downstairs to the dining room and more or less found storage space that's functional.  

As I sit here and compartmentalize how I've been using my energy I see that not a lot of active "official" creativity is in evidence.  But there's been a lot of gestation time related to both writing and Pearl's log cabin deconstruction.

FirstglimpseinsideThe day after my last post I followed through on removing the log cabin borders.  Cut solidly through all layers and then carefully looked inside.  Saw just enough to need to see more.  To know Pearl's life in the cloth trail of, well, threadcrumbs.

Stood in front of the studios big front window with a candle burning on the cleared coffee table workspace.  The work of literally cutting ties with what the object of quilt used to be was as energizing as it was meditative.  I was moved through and through with a sense of my grandmother's spirit urging me forward:  Know me.  Understand the larger context of what you recall being told of my life's history.

I cut each tie with mindful care.   A couple of times I heard myself saying aloud "I believe this belongs to neither of us".  There was a lot of sadness being released.  I suppose from me but mainly, as the doer, I was conscious of confirmation concerning my original hunch that Pearl made this quilt in large part to stay constructively occupied while she healed more subtle layers from her despair to suffer two miscarriages after moving to the house where I was raised.

 I told the floating sense of dissipating sadness that I understood.   And me too'd what remained as drifting residue until it too had dissipated.  By then all the physical thread ties were cut and I'd gently pulled them free.  I peeled aside the cotten sateen then flipped the quilt face-up and did the same for the piecework.  What remained as a batting was a layer of brown flannel that Pearl had pieced to size. 

FlannelbattingStaring at that line of double-threaded running stitches I saw how honestly I come by all the things that I do - and yet.  When it came to needlework Pearl hoped to turn me into the second coming of her husband's sister, for whom I'd been named.  Thus she stressed methodology and a layer of excellent execution she didn't ask of herself - at least under the duress of what I presume is an accurate interpretation of where her head and heart were at during the time of construction.

The quilt is entirely handpieced.  She sat with the comfort of cloth wherever she could find it and moved steadily forward one strip of self-made life at a time.   And I came to realize how my ongoing yearning to know more of her as a woman who survived a great deal and never failed to go to bat to me until she was too sick to bat for herself was being fulfilled in an unexpected and entirely tactile way.  I smiled and imagined gently washing the pieced layer of living soul's comfort.  Became focused on rinsing it after washing and then doing a second ceremonial renewal clearing with rosewater added to the rinse bowl. 

As groundcloths for the individually constructed 3.5 inch blocks Pearl used serviceable scraps from old clothes.  This was a whole ongoing category maintained by the two sisters.  When handmade cloths were too threadbare for other purposes they were still given due respect because parts could still be salvaged for their serviceable scraps bundle(s).   In this case the scrap groundcloths (here and there I found some pieced examples) were sometimes oversized and in other instances barely serviceable.  All of the backgrounds appear to have been scavenged from old clothes representing her youngest married life.  It's as far as I'm going to deconstruct her efforts. Am not going to attempt a cleaning of the top's outer layer but I'm going to continue clearing the entire be-ing of it of sadness and other energies for as long into this calendar year as the windows are consistently open to keep residue moving out and away.

BlockbackingsectionSome portions of the inner quilt are quilt clean, as directly above, and then uncomfortably soiled in others.  Am beginning to wonder if at least some of the most corrosive looking damage is actually accidental water spillage (or deliberately spewn florida water) damage from times over the years when I employed this quilt as an Ancestor altar cloth.  

I am still immensely surprised by how poorly her joined seam lines are worked.  It was another tangible clue that she was keeping her hands moving without a lot of mental and emotional hook-ups firing as they did in my years of knowing her. 

***

Concurrently I'm going to consider making low-loft patches I plan to apply to the surface of piecework. Have decided I do want to have this quilt contain elements of my direct matrilineage but I don't want to use the worn gauze of a garment I took-over from my mother after her death.  At which time I inherited unused yardage of the gauze.  Sold most of it to my friends and other friends of theirs in three yard lengths.  Then had to deal with the unanticipated dissonance of going through a few summer seasons of seeing various people I knew using it for summer wear of their own style. 

JoycegauzeI have two pieces of roughly the same size.  Ripped in half at two in the morning a few nights back because I realized I wanted a curtain in our front kitchen window that wasn't thrown together from an ancient sheet until I came up with something better.   And then belatedly realized this cloth was less than useless in filling the need at hand. Sure would have been quicker than what I'm very simply and slowly stitching by hand but this is a lot more satisfying. Every time I start to over-graze the not unrelated territories of civil unrest and bottomless corruption I put it down until my head's in a better place.

obviously enough that's why the time it's taking to complete the straight forward endeavor is way overdue even by super slow standards.  Didn't quite put that together until this moment.


Altering the Dark-Dreaming of Grief Today

Dreamingspines

Yesterday I focused my studio time on the Lunar Annal I've committed to documenting and sharing in a step by step way.  But the resulting 'steps' were largely a matter of walking into various walls of my own making.  Need to synthesize how and why that happened before I can explain it coherently to anyone not-me.  Also my significant results were largely internalized in nature.  More needs to actually occur in an outward manner before there's any point in sharing with a dedicated post.  At the very least I need to reach a couple of firm conclusions rather than opening more and more doors of possibility.

***

Above is a picture I took this morning of my first altered book project which I began back in the mid-aughts.  Its thematic nature leaves it perpetually incomplete but I'm honing in on a shrinking number of blank pages.   Sooner than later the book will be filled even if the topic remains a work in progress to me.   Back when I started I was following through on the curiosity and interest raised by studying blogs that were devoted to various forms of master-class level collage as well as altered books.  It was clear to me that I would not be able to truly embrace such a project by choosing a theme and then finding a book and everything I felt needed to put in it. 

Such a format didn't interest me long enough to gather basic art supplies I already had on hand let alone ring my chimes enough to consider doing something with them.    Recall, if it's relevant, the kind of projects "everybody" was doing during that window of time. I had/have zero tolerance for even thinking about flea markets let alone 'haunting' them in search of the perfect vintage this and that.  And back then there seemed no way OUT of - let alone around - the rigorously exalted Vintage Fixation. 

Still - my hands and mind itched to alter a book my own way.  So I readily forgot what I knew about altered books that was based on what I'd been reading.  What did I actually want to do?  Landscapeofculture

For starters I needed to select something that was personally meaningful from my own bookshelf.  It would need to be a book that held great meaning for me - something I'd read more than once with sustained interest but felt certain I wouldn't have a need to read again.  Time after time I came back to my copy of Dreaming The Dark.  It had a glued rather than a sewn spine - which absolutely everybody on the internet strongly advised.   After a week of cogitation I decided to ignore the looming shapeless form(s) of Everybody saying (and then making ...) the same thing.  The first picture in the post illustrates why people stress the importance of a sewn spine and removing at least one folio per sewn signature.  It's because creative choices - just like elections - have consequences.

Crystalsstars

When my book began to fall apart I took it in stride once the initial reality check hit home.  It honestly didn't bother me and still doesn't - although for the record I've altered a number of books since then and they've ALL had sewn bindings.  When the spine split for the first time it broke my favorite spread in the book in half.    My fondness for the spread centered on the fact that it's the point in the book where I chose to begin the active alteration process in a "fun" way.  Prior to that I'd been focused on prepping all the pages by gluing three together with Yes paste and then pressing the results under a stack of books with the glued pages separated from the rest of the text block with sheets of wax paper. 

Now I'd start a lot differently but I'd undoubtedly make other mistakes because that's how I learn best and most quickly in the creative sense.   It's also the way I'm happiest learning.  And that's something I didn't know until this particular project fell apart right there in my hands.  Now I know why a sewn binding is important in a way I'm unlikely to forget.

Matrix spread

All told it's been a far easier lesson in releasing attachment to outcome than most others have been.   A book I was changing into some new thing fell apart and that's pretty much all that happened.  Then it fell apart again and yet a third time.  

but before any of that occurred

I picked a theme:  The Sisterhood.   I envisioned filling the pages with various impressions and conclusions I've reached about primarily positive and empowering female relationships.  It didn't occur to me at first to actively include things from women who had that kind of bond with me but I quickly caught on how invaluable it would be to make that shift.

Completingthespectrum

The page above is a good example of such incorporation.  There's a laconic note from Jude and two tiny rune cards from a deck I received from a friend in the UK.  The Tibetan Wishing tree is a photocopy of a postcard I received from a friend in Berkeley.   The batik fabric is from a friend who, for a time, lived close enough that we regularly exchanged fabric and paper scraps as well as plants and seed packets.

Turtlebirch

Some pages, like the one above, are tributes to women who shaped the woman I've become.  This particular page relates to my Grandmother - Pearl Margaret.  When I was young I used to spin out a lot when things were overwhelming and impossible for my mind and body to process gracefully.  I've written before about her practice of reading aloud to me from Walden Pond until I was calm.   When I was still too young for that to work - she used to put us both in the car and drive me to a certain rocky river bank a few miles from our home.  It was nearly always crowded with a large colony of snapping turtles.  She'd read Guidepost magazines while I observed the turtles.  Quietly because those were the rules.  After a certain vacillating known-only-to-Pearl block of time she'd announce that if I could that for the turtles I could do it for her and myself back at the house.  

(if whatever made me spin out involved my mother we wouldn't go right home.  We'd go to a fast food hamburger place pre-dating one of the big chains that now dominate.  I would be ordered a plain hamburger which I ate in dainty bites while Pearl inhaled most of a large order a fries with a few here and there doled out to me because there I was, after all, stuck with my mother and her many terrifying guises.  This is how I learned it was possible to leverage dysfunction and unhappiness - and more to the point, that others would willingly do that for you in ways that gave you access to things normally denied or outright forbidden.

When we eventually got home from the kind of thing I to this day mentally visualize when somebody says the words pity party - I'd be allowed to look through Pearl's curated clippings of sales throughout the region.  Depending on what level of awful my mother had been, I might be awarded a pair of shoes that were never as cute as anything full price, a new hat I didn't (ever) want, or some type of educational book on a subject important to me.  This, unfortunately, is how I learned that if somebody causes you disturbance or emotional pain you could always bribe yourself past it with Something New yet sensibly priced)

Also when I was super young Pearl and her sister Grace used to construct booklets out of birch bark.  one of my older cousins tried to "help" them one time and it turned into the kind of fracas that to my mind should have piled us all in the car to view the turtles for a good long while.  I smile as I type all these things.  I smile a lot any time I look through this book.  

Nocirc

I also add to it any time I see something I feel belongs to The Sisterhood as I've experienced it.  Above a photocopy of some gifts I received from a French friend who traveled to India.  We've lost touch but I always hope she might find her way to my main blog or this one.   I included a sticker that was further embellished with a different sticker by Jeannine Parvati Baker.   Many years after her death, the first time I saw a selection of Social Justice Kitten postcards, I thought of her with great longing.  I wanted so badly to send her the version I wound up including in this spread.  Any time I look at it I think about how deep and wide-ranging our friendship became BANG! just like that once I introduced myself to her in an email.

Emilydimnobody

And of course there are also pages dedicated to other people who are "gone" whom I never actually knew but feel deeply connected to nonetheless.   Emily Dickinson is right at the head of that list for all kinds of reasons.  Once I was describing my kinda unusual relationship to my written output in terms of how little I cared if I ever became 'known' for any of it. I happened to be talking to Jeannine who kept making appalled and disbelieving noises the more I warmed to my theme.  Finally she interjected in a scandalized voice.

"You - You're - You're just some sort of Emily Dickinson aren't you.  You probably have a WHOLE TRUNK (actually at the time I had two but there's been a lot of burning and other forms of shedding since then...) full of writing that nobody's ever SEEN! -" and when I said yeah maybe she positively exploded with a specific type of frustration that wasn't new to me.  Various people have gone through the but think of the recognition!!  Don't you want it?  Or at least feel you deserve it?? shtick with me many times but nobody's ever come close to saying what she said.  So that I wound up feeling seen and heard and understood - if only through a back door way In to that - rather than alienated and lonely and very much wishing to scream why doesn't anybody ever accept a person who has a whole different orientation towards Meaning and Success?  Why is it assumed we have some kind of 'problem' that must be fixed in the same way everybody else imagines it ought to be fixed or else an individual's life will have no true meaning or value?

For once I was not inclined towards such inward screaming.  In a very back-of-the-mind kind of way it occurred to me that perhaps we were having our own unique version of an argument.  Should that concern me?  Before I could answer the inner question Jeannine brought out her really BIG guns.

I mean you might as well be Emily's direct reincarNAtion!!!

Despite how affronted and rebuking this very unique and irreplaceable friend clearly felt - I fell over sideways on my bed in pure delight.  There was no higher compliment/soul recognition a person could have offered me.  When I told her that she made a final noise of complete vexation and informed me she hoped this would be the very closest she'd ever have to come to feeling she had no choice but to hang up on me.  This ... was revelatory on a whole other level.   Levels of levels because that's how she was and how I am and damn do I ever miss her still to this day.

The Sisterhood is eternal and never-ending.  Grief only feels that way.  Addressing the conclusion of something that doesn't ever end while beginning something that sometimes doesn't know how to begin let alone finish feels - and I'm gonna say this sincerely rather than cynically as I usually do - very much on brand for me..  I hope the combination and juxtapositions will inspire you somehow.

Who's your Emily?   What friendship lives eternally within a longing to have it last just a few more hours or days?   If you had to pick one book from your shelves that you loved and learned from in more ways than you can even remember - what book would it be?

What way(s) are you happiest working?  Were you taught to work that way or did you cobble it together for yourself over time?


private chaos .1

Notsoprivatechaos

eta:  by the time it was tonight and T. was at last home from the end of his work shift until whenever, I was able to sincerely make light of my freakout.  J. was mainly on the stuff all over the floor track but T. quite kindly informed me that typhoid is a bacteria and that was what required so much burning.  Thought that was rather chivalrous of him.

Above is an unapologetic image of how my corner of our bedroom looked this morning before I had a few hours to contemplate and then begin to implement organization. The melange of finished work, WISPs and 'raw' cloth looks a lot more coherent at the moment.  My quest for this day and early evening  weekend is to have everything organized and at least most of it successfully relocated and stored up here in the studio.  As an unexpected bonus a box of family relics that's currently lurking in the studio will be going into the closet that used to be too full of everything above (but the pile of jeans and my bathrobe) to contain it.

Fiftyquestionmark

 Every now and then it's good to examine the contemporary embroidery sampler I made to commemorate my fiftieth birthday.   I worked on it mainly in a weekly stitching group that met just across a modest parking lot abutting our side yard back at the old place.  Other members of the group really liked the question mark factor.  It had been unplanned.  I merely "saw" a spiral of half a Century releasing an unexplored seed of promise courtesy of a beneficent cosmic Beyond.  The question mark overlay has come to mean a lot to  me over the past dozen years so.

Clothtoday

I'm sharing these particular words and pictures today because somebody known and accordingly cherished for her quiet wisdom suggested it might be good medicine for us to afford each other peeks into our individual scope of private chaos.  Specifically as we all evolve into something we've yet to become.  Indeed - here we all are in uncharted waters.  About to experience something unprecedented - and here in the US going through a profoundly unsettling existential crisis in an unpresidented condition.  While also constantly shedding layers of what simply isn't relevant to moving forward.

Hence the reason all this stuff is in my bedroom piled up like somebody was running for their life.  Right before I fell asleep for a few hours I thought:  what if one of us has to be sequestered in that room and then we have to burn ALL the stuff (as with typhoid) I've made and/or hoped to complete before

The End. 

Openstashboxes

That particular question mark woke me up and adrenalized just enough of my motor control to get everything cloth-related out of the room right then and there.  Also had the presence of mind to create a safe path around the bed's corner.  Only then did it feel safe/prudent/advisable to allow myself to rest.  When I woke up this morning I thought this abrupt change in life/style/focus is dis-ordering our minds because any real organization of thought in today's world has grown more precarious than most of us can realize or fully understand.  It was a daunting a-ha moment and I was pleased to burrow back closer to sleep until J. arrived home from his first foray into early seniors shopping hour.  He told me he was the only one he encountered who seemed to be actively practicing social distancing protocol.  

Alicesguesttowel

Above is a fragment of family predecessor Alice Mary's perfect needleworking skills.  She for whom I was named looms large in my sense of who I am not.  And that's a sentence that never would have occurred to me before perpetual crisis mode changed the kind of thoughts I'm having. A few are fairly astute - like my Alice Mary realization.  But a lot of them feel like lost ants who can't find the scented trails that will lead them home to the safe core of their society.

  I find it very uncomfortable to be unable to sit quietly with a thought or difficult feeling and slowly unwind it.  Sitting quietly belongs to a part of myself that reflexively packed itself away while in my first rush of baseline survival instinct.  Am now thinking that earliest part of my process might have been overly efficient because I've no clue at all how to be or what to do in the absence of longform attention span and ability to focus well within it.  It's something that hasn't been a problem - not even after sustained brain trauma - since I left my mother's sphere of influence back in my late teens.

All the same A is for Anxiety is back in a way that needs unwinding and sustainable deconstruction as and when necessary.  The other night I had two back to back 'attacks' (first since Kavanaugh shouting on that horrible summer afternoon ...) that went unnoticed by the household because that was what I deemed best.  And must have imagined I could rely on as a game plan moving forwards: Oh don't mind me.  I'll be upstairs out of the way freaking all the way out in a dark room by myself.

  As reality unrolls I have uncomfortable portions of each day where I confront personal unraveling in ways that make me realize I spend a lot of unacknowledged time thinking about what's best at the widest scale possible.   But this global situation - while embodying wide scale by definition - is also a spiraling-down process that pushes into the core of our sense of individual self as well as our sense of community, culture, and how close to larger reality we're willing to live at any given moment.

Thelittledyedpocket

Stuff in progress

In the process of sorting and folding and planning a major ironing binge fest I found things that are ready to be backed and bound for display.  Stuff to be pressed and stuff that can be finished or moved much closer to that end goal.  Stuff I can think about instead of spiking adrenaline every time I realize there's no existing plan on any level - not just my own universe of Place and family but you know - out there in the world beyond this place where we're actively waiting to be told we must shelter as best we can.

my to-hand bio/phyto-chemical self-prescription of the day and weekend to follow:  aromatherapy once the evening/back in the house portion of the day is at hand. Stitching a few easy seams on the long quilt until then.  This is not the time to compete with myself - and certainly not for the reflex reason that it's what I always do.  And you?

Bjps

[noticing big-time the way time is warping more than usual :  earlier today I asked J. if it had been two or three weeks since he started working at home.  He stared at me before replying It's just one week today.]


long solitude moon cloth

Longsolitudemoon

[I have to cut the heart out, I know.  but am not ready to do it yet.  no matter.  there are other things for me to stitch until the time feels right to sink more commitment into this unplanned Statement Piece.]

Apparently I'm coming all the way back to where I was when I first-ever blogged in the direct wake of Katrina: stitching a couple-few hours a day as a primary centering and coping mechanism.    Between that and gardening I could do a lot worse, eh?  Thank you Grandmother Pearl, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me both such gifts and life passions.  Add to that her trifecta most-favorite item of bird watching and it's pretty much my plan for how to keep my head together over the next few months.

About an hour ago I realized what I was trying to create for myself and then overlapped that insight with thoughts of what I was longing to hold in my hands as these strange times collage into their own way of life at an internalized acey-only level.  I want to make a long cloth to hang in a particular spot where I'll see it frequently.  Whatever's coming I know there will be a lot of valuable lessons and insights.  Am hoping I don't choose to move beyond any of what was offered once we emerge as individuals, families and countries.

Restlessness

  J. and I are both actively anticipating what we see as an inevitable state-wide shelter in place mandate.   Pretty soon I'll steel myself to look at MA updates for the first time today.  Then I'll go out and pull pachysandra for awhile.  Envision what I plan to create in that space.   Listen to the birds and the way human stillness is settling more fully on the landscape.


notions

Notions

Yesterday I had the luxury of shifting my studio back to its usual frame.   Was good to do that and better still to see the results strewn across my coffee table workspace once I got this far today.  Am planning a few hours of same right now.  Then it's back outside to the field to continue clearing the existing garden and perhaps beginning to dig up clumps of spearmint and goldenrod right in the center.  In their place I'd like to create a sunflower house. Have never done that and this seems like a good year to see what it's like.  Both to successfully make it happen and also to step inside of it.  Feel like it would be a more organic/feral version of stepping into this little place.

Sewinboxdeets

Have been thinking a lot lately about my friendship with jude and, more concretely, how satisfyingly deep and long-running it has been.  Have also been thinking about Flickr more generally and how I really loved everyone posting lots of close-up shots of sewing boxes etc.  And further thinking it's the thing I most miss about in-person sewing circles:  gawking across the table at other ladies' Things.  Asking questions and hearing backstories that draw everyone closer.  Making something that's in turn closer to the true nature of circling together. 

Larimaretc

Right now we're having propane delivered.  The driver's wearing a mask ...


balancing. sorta.

Mama030720

A lot of my studio time during the second half of this week felt like one long practical application of all the times I've stayed awake far too long running through various mental lists and scenarios related to emergency/disaster preparedness.   A lot of people I know in the walking around world started doing this as a feature rather than a bug after 9-11 or Katrina.  I've been doing it - with long offs and then painfully intense on cycles that feel like they'll never end - since an exceedingly boisterous fireman came to my 3rd grade class.  Grinning as wide as Dick Van Dyke he enthusiastically described all the things we must do to keep ourselves and our families safe in the event of a fire.

Fast forward to the now in which J. and I reflected on our past while taking a break from inventorying and collating/date-coding our amassed non-perishables.  I reminded him of whatever hurricane it was that roared all the way up the east coast when T. was quite young back in Boston.  We'd barely had enough extra money to get the duct tape we needed to put on our windows as per neighborhood watch request - plus extra ice for our battered cooler and a gallon of water each for the three of us.

We spoke of how many hundreds of millions of people are in that place now.  

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As far as leading with a kitty pic on Caturday - Mama detests the survival assemblage making havoc of the usual mudroom arrangement and she also had a little hissy fit knocking things over upon discovering there was also a lot of other stuff scattered  throughout the kitchen and hallway floors.  Obviously most or all of these full throttle irregular activities are by default a feline ordeal.  While I was taking her picture above I told her the story of everything we'd gathered especially for her.   To me her expressive gaze says: I don't care why or how I just want it to stop.

Todaysfodderadds

After partially digesting this morning's news cycle I felt a renewed need to rip apart and consolidate a few more text blocks and part of an old calendar.   

Stashbaggie

Tomorrow I'll start a new daily collage week with a greatly amplified stash baggie.   It will be a great thing to have all ripe and ready to go because if life keeps throwing us enormous things to be processed ASAP we'll all need to maintain a super reliable brainwave fulcrum.  Stitching and gluing pieces of paper to each other - plus hopefully maintaining my morning reading routine and yoga practice - may have to be suffice in scattered pieces throughout the day.  "morning" pages in my writing journal may need to take a less expansive form depending on what any given morning brings.  In earlier portions of my life that were largely structured around the overlapping structures of my husband and son I embraced evening pages.  In the most maxed-out stretched thin portions of the past I've kept lists of Five Beautiful Things at the end of every week.   This eventually funneled into keeping an ongoing gratitude journal with morning and evening entries in the brief but hugely rewarding and clarifying method described by Angeles Arrien - more than likely within her book Living in Gratitude.

Woolnfelt

Also accomplished this morning:  folding up my strewn wool and wool felt collection and putting it away.  Before we got our catastrophe game plan mapped out and task lists divvied-up I was cleaning out a cloth-based storage drawer.  Whittling down and streamlining.  As I was examining the wool I understood I should make sure to savor the afternoon's slow and unpressurized pace.  Knew once J. got home from work our regularly scheduled Friday evening programming would be overwritten.  All the energy we didn't need to expend since we haven't been dealing with extreme winter weather or its aftermath (or J.'s mother having an anticipated but so far not-yet health crisis) kind of exploded out of both of us all at once just as I thought it would.  Have consciously chosen to live with the strewn pile as a sanity beacon/nurturing promise to myself: when everything has been as solidified as it can get for now I'll come back to this and relish the experience of colors and texture

which I did.

Flamingheart

Within my storage drawer excavation I came across a stack of WISPs I'd thought were in a completely different place.  Am now hoping my indigo stash I was sure was in the drawer is actually located where I thought I'd stored the WISP's.  Remembered the above without recalling I'd layered raw-appliqued scraps of silk velvet to the base heart in order to give it some depth and texture.  Oftentimes when I re-connect with something still undone that I haven't seen in awhile I'm pleasantly surprised at how much farther along I am than I'd estimated from memory.  In this case I was shocked at how little I'd accomplished.  I thought this was ready to bind but it's nowhere close. 

Flamingheartexpanded

Practically a blank slate.  Due to the frail antique kimono scrap and the looser weave of the silk taffeta behind the heart I elected not to baste or pin into shape.  Consequently I will need to quasi-block the piece as you would a sweater only I'll use in the ditch quilting to ease the piece back into shape.  Have done this many many times and am confident of pulling it off  but it requires mindfulness and care, same as blocking a sweater.  This project will be a good foil for whatever the next week (or hour) will reveal in terms of both world wide crisis and one of the species' biggest ignorant mendacious assholes ever born being 'in charge' of this particular country and the condition/scope of it readiness/response. 

Right now the big quilt feels too overwhelming as a stitching process.  Am quite near the end so it's not that.  It's a physical sense of being boxed-in right on the edge of claustrophobia by the size and physical weight of the quilt.  But it's comforting to have it one hand so for now I've spread it out on the couch for the classic hippie slipcover effect.  Only I did it specifically for the cat. The quilt is her comfort object and she is mine.   Just watching her blissful sleep posture warms my heart and evokes tenderness.

Botswanaagate

When not inventorying non-perishables, towels, sheets and first aid supplies - I've been inventorying my tarot card collection.  This process has led me to realize that I don't have many tarot decks (3) at all.  But I do have a number (11) of oracle decks.  Oracles of all kinds fascinate me.   While inventorying and whittling I found the above loitering with clear intent to be found just then. I love that the white "moon" has a slightly more opaque waxing crescent shape within the circle.

Firstbud

The first narcissus bud is fully emerged from the group's protective sheath.  So far there are ten emergent flower stalks.


need more of this

Bookcoverslices

Yesterday I called a wildcat strike due to week two of the flu being just as draining and unpleasant as the first and, also, people/politics/unsolicited personal opinions overload.  Wasn't up for much but definitely felt capable of dismantling a book or two and some magazines.

 I began with the cover of a book about wreath making.  Got it at the library book sale maybe six years ago because I liked the smallish square size and originally intended to alter the contents.  Now want the covers for a sketchbook filled with a backlog of paper cutoffs that's gotten out of hand.  Two birds/one book.

Morningcollagepile

Moved on to ransacking the removed textblock and also a brochure about Chinese dancers.   Went over to the house to rustle up a low key flu-lunch.  Let the cat in and out a number of times and then returned to my day all the way Off.

Tableoffodder

By mid afternoon I'd gone through a number of other magazines, catalogues and brochures.  Also started ripping up a brightly illustrated book about songbirds throughout the world. Tomorrow I'll have time to sort and begin gluing down items from the stack of cut-outs that seem just the thing for inclusion in a modest variety of art journal projects.  Will store the rest with the projects they evoke or my general fodder collection. 

Sewingoriginaspouch

Also stitched a tarot card pouch for a deck containing my favorite card image to date:

Originsmagician

plus found an attachment weaving sampler I made during Jude's second round of cloth-to-cloth.  Loved making this.  Attachment weaving has remained my favorite technique learned in that class.  Took the big light blue glass butterfly bead off and steam pressed.  Hanging it in place where I'll see it a lot and smile.

Attachmentweavingsampler


finding & receiving

Graceandpearl

On Tuesday I started slowly breaking down a narrow six foot long artist's altar here in the studio.  It was 6 or 7 years in the making - stacked solid with layers of mementos, gifts, talismans, and artifacts of all kinds.  Was inspired initially by a truly massive stacked altar glimpsed in the background of many talking head segments of a documentary about Wavy Gravy.

Above is a picture of my aunt Grace and my grandmother Pearl.  The sisters stand wreathed in prolific plant life within their back yard in Bethlehem PA.  Grace is on tip-toes so she can stand while bending her knees to simulate riding a horse or donkey.  Her smile shows real affection for the handsome well-spoken outsider Charlie who her younger sister's engaged to marry. 

Beneath her Pearl, at 19, is doing this whole thing strictly for her man.  He's sweet talked her into it - is undoubtedly sweet talking her even as she acquiesces - kneeling there in her good skirt and favorite blouse.  Because clearly her sister, the eldest, isn't going to do that.

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More than likely  Charlie promised Pearl a trip to mountains and a lake.  Grace went too, of course.  The couple won't be left alone until their wedding night save occasional Sunday mornings when Charlie manages to convince Pearl's entire family that his sister Alice was meeting them directly at their family's church.

(who reading this believes they went anywhere near a church or the lady for whom I'm named?)

I found the picture during the final clearance phases of my altar.  Knew it was there and was looking forward to sharing it here.

Fadedheartblg

Have managed to find another Thing I need with me.   It's a heart my son made in kindergarten Valentine's crafts.  In this picture it looks roughly half as bright as it was when he first brought it home in all its dayglo fluorescent glory.  In actuality it had faded to a very anemic pastel.  The heart is one of the last things I removed from the altar.  Earlier this morning I brought it back to life. From now on it's going to live in the drawer of my nightstand within a small grab-and-go clutch.  Just realized while typing that almost everything in that clutch was a gift from T. at various points in his life.

Inkedupheart

Also found upon the altar - this wayback treasure from jude

Judewheel

This patch has always reminded me of a medicine wheel.  But on the altar it represented solely what it is:  a talisman from a very unique and authentic friend who once said to me "i think we already knew about each other."

Electricbluesilk

Yesterday afternoon I put my hand in the pocket of a jacket I'd washed and machine dried the night before.  Apparently I didn't check it before I banished evidence of a very unpleasant yogurt container mishap.  The results of habotai silk self-sculpturing are pretty phenomenal.  am not going to iron it.  Will keep it 'around' so I can touch and gaze.  Eventually I'll want the silk for something else but that's off in the future.

Linenshibori

Also this week:  for absolutely no defined purpose and even less relationship to anything that could legitimately be defined as 'need' - I treated myself to a pack of six indigo dyed linen scraps from Cape Cod Shibori.  Above is my favorite.

Linenshibori2

Shibori3

What's yours?

Ccshiborimoon

Shiborilinnen4

Narcissus22820

We've had a lot of sun (although not at the moment) and the narcissus are doing quite well.  Sure is a lift to see fresh-life green in strong sunlight.   It's been very chilly outside and the bare ground is frozen again.   Hard to believe just day before yesterday I was optimistically envisioning myself planting garlic after the next full moon.

Definitely time to stop procrastinating my seed order though.
 


mercifully mellow

Robinfortressblg

Today has been warm enough to open windows on both sides of the studio.  The pleasure of naturally fresh air - and the fact that it's still possible to say we live with such a blessing - left me hungry for spring.   Am in the throes of pretty much going through everything I own here in the studio and elsewhere.  It's been an ongoing process for about a year now.  The more I lean into it the more it picks up speed and volume. 

Think it's my sane response to the increasingly insane world.  I want and need this space to have energetic flow and practical workability.  In addition to very lo-fi yet optimum storage reconfiguration it's become really important to me that all dust and bits of debris be corralled and removed.  (note as is obvious in above image I do not consider flaking bark fragments to be "debris")

There is much going on in my family - thankfully nearly all of it of a purposeful and positive nature - that's pulled my energy back to the basics of the Householder path.  Last night I had a chance to sit quietly with the new moon in pisces vibration.  That's when the phrase mercifully mellow popped into my head.

Bulbsplantedonsolstic22420

Here in the studio we have two very unglamorous pots of bulbs I planted on the winter solstice.  Sunny yellow and orange sweet scented daffodilly energy is on the rise!  It's a ritual I've enjoyed since a friend and I declared ourselves the Inventresses of the practice roundabout '81.  Then we had an old fashion metal milk delivery cooler to store our pots and now I have a left-behind refrigerator that just sort of hulks at the edges of our garage.  For the two months of winter the bulbs give it purpose.  At this point (other slower to rise bulbs are still sequestered) the narcissus have been slowly acclimating to light for 5 days.  Tomorrow or the next day I'll put them in their permanent spot for budding-up.

Malachiterescue

Have also been breathing life in a long-neglected and pretty much ossified tube of discontinued (malachite) Daniel Smith watercolor from their primatek line.  The color doesn't handle reliably and it's streaky.  But the specific green itself is rather marvelous and I've been thinking of ways I could use the smaller chunks as mark making tools.

Herbacrafterspouch

Today I also sewed a silk-lined storage pouch for a tarot deck I acquired very late last year - The Herbcrafter's Tarot.  Although I'm quite aware dandelions aren't pink it's the scrap that kept calling to me.  I lined the quilter's cotton with a green dupioni silk that stops just short of chartreuse.

[note:  per a request I'll soon be posting about Herbcrafters in relation to the way I approach a new deck upon unboxing.  Will do that on my main blog as I know some who read there but not here will be interested and inspired by the card imagery.]

I just cut long rectangles of the outer fabric and silk, eyeballed to leave sufficient room for a front, back, and tuckable flap.

Pouch unsewn

The two fabric's raw edges are folded inward (sometime with unravelling silk involved it winds up being as much as a half an inch for the silk and then easing-along the cotton to keep the edges even.  Below you can see how the folded seams look when the finished rectangle is positioned in the proper place for its intended contents. 

  Pouchedgedges

You can also see how the two fabrics are folded inward to self-seam with a continuous well spaced running stitch and (sometimes gently botched) mitered corners. 

Today I had to work with set dimensions based on what I had of the dandelion print.  And within that constraint long experience has taught me that if I set further folding and sewing lines based on the booklet and cards placed horizontally as it is above...

Herbcrafters

When all is said and done the cards and accompanying booklet will be housed in verticially snug comfort with just enough space to slip in a polished stone or crystal if you do that sort of thing.  

Pro-Tip:  Join the finishing side seams of the pouch with a continuous backstitch. 

Begin at the BASE of the sides rather than the top. When you get to the top take one or two small but sturdy stitches that are perpendicular to the rest of the stitches.  The top edge of the pouch will receive the most stress and wear.  Mindful stitch planning significantly increases the timeline before you have to repair or outright re-stitch the joining seams.