Each Thursday, I sit with a group of women and spill out writing under the tutelage of a teacher trained in the Amherst Writing Method as developed by Pat Schneider.
One of the key elements of this method is that all comments must refer to the ‘narrator’. Even if a participant writes in the first person — the rule holds. Is this a reliable narrator? A sympathetic character? Is she holding back, or giving us lots of details? If a participant strays, and refers to ‘you’ or directs queries suggestive of the assumption that the writer is the narrator, our fearless leader corrects course. “You mean the narrator…”
Why so important, you might ask?
Freedom, pure and simple. Afterall, our writing session is not therapy and it is not a support group. Not that we are impersonal with one another — not at all. But it is nevertheless the case that even with pledged confidentiality, the protection of writing as a narrator is essential for creative flow. It is actually a profound freedom.
In that spirit, I am working on letting cloth tell a dark story.
Here, where there IS no confidentiality, I am trusting my readers to hold the story of the cloth as if we were all trained in the Amherst Method. In other words, I hope you ask yourself, “is this quilt successfully depicting trauma?” rather than, “good lord, what happened to you?!!”
At the ripe age of 55, I have come to believe that although we are each born with certain gifts and certain curses, and that they shape our thoughts and feelings in profound ways, on some level the details REALLY DON’T MATTER.
And so, I begin a house quilt where the symbol is not Security, Safety, and Solace, but rather a place of upset and fear. I started with a simple muslin construct. I pieced it to a ground and sky, because I wanted it to retain some sense of place once I started cutting it up. I free-pieced some red fabrics that would be revealed when I cut open ‘windows’ and ‘doors’ in the house structure.This all happened in the span of an afternoon. A very sunny day before Thanksgiving.
It was hard to stay the course on cutting, and in retrospect, I wish I had left the rest of the roof intact.
Even though I wanted the idea to include that the outer and the inner are severely mismatched, I like the way the red trunk points downward to the linen/green branch of the foreground.
I used a dark green thread to baste the house, the red under sections, and a swath of grey linen together, and the minute I started doing more detailed stitching, I regretted that. The threads get in the way and I am spending a lot of time cutting and removing them. Not sure, now, why I opted NOT to use Jude Hill‘s invisible basting method.
I had gotten a little lost for awhile with THIS detour (above)… and forced myself to return back to basics, then making the muslin house of the other photos. Funny thing, though, when I laid the above-scrap over the basted quilt-in-progress, I found I liked it a lot more.
Not sure what I will do about that – if anything. I plan to keep stitching the existing layers together, and then I’ll see. The other little surprise, which goes to content here, is the appearance of an Indigo Angel. I had absolutely no plan to address healing or grace or serendipity with the piece, and yet, as is so often the case, the quilt had other ideas.
There she is, clear as clear can be (she even has feet, which you can’t see in this picture) – fluttering her wings next to a heart-shaped face!