Curtains I made 25 years ago did not survive the wash today. Hot water and bleach were perhaps a mistake. These were upstairs hall curtains and filtered a lot of morning sun in a quarter century. The muslin was friable! Some had shredded in the wash and some disintegrated as I pegged the cloth to the line.
For some reason, their ruination did not bother me — quite the opposite, in fact. It nearly felt as though something sacred was taking place as the fabric fell apart in my hands.
What the ragged cloth did with light was extraordinary.
Hanging laundry on a line satisfies a person in a way that most chores do not. Cannot. Is it because it hearkens back to our mothers in the same way that certain recipes do?
Listening to this * yesterday got me remembering the Irish belief that the Other World can be accessed through ‘thin places’ in our world. Thin places are places of transition, or inbetween times. On this point, from Fire in the Head**:
“For Irish poets, the edge of water — where bank meets river or shore meets sea — is a place of wisdom, enlightenment, and mystical knowledge. Water, fog, mist, and dew have long fascinated the Irish, possibly because the island nation is surrounded by the sea… But any edge or border between elemental realms, any liminal zone between two complementary terrains, or a place where opposites meet is, in the Celtic imagination, a place filled with magic.”
Here is a sampling of ‘Edge Pictures’, some of place, others of time, and a few of both.
New Hampshire, The Flume
Shaker Workshop, Arlington, Mass.
* (Krista Tippett talking about her grandfather and faith on “The Moth”. Her website is onbeing.com).
** Fire in the Head, Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, by Tom Cowan
I had to laugh at myself yesterday. For a few days, I have been traveling up and down our staircase with a yogurt-container filled with Oyster Bisque paint, happily covering over chipped paint, smears, and — horror of horrors – even dirt that could have been removed with a little elbow grease.
Then it hit me. I’m whitening the stairs.
After months, and more months, of wanting to do this, planning to do this, hoping to do this, and NOT doing this, the exploration of white* just let it happen. One stair at a time.
As for the shrunken and distressed muslin curtains, which I made when we first moved in here, I no longer feel compelled to replace them (with curtains made with PRE-WASHED fabric). I am loving that gap. Look how it allows the light to glow through! I am loving the darkened rim of the hem. And I am especially loving the holes where daily life and sun have worn the fabric through.
I am not even trying to understand why I love the worn curtains and am not loving the chipped off paint on treads and balusters. I don’t have to be consistent in these matters, do I?
*in the ‘What-If’ online class over at Spirit Cloth
P.S. This is my 500th post. Am I supposed to celebrate?! 500th post, and second EVER, from my laptop.
I might be finished piecing “Middle Passage I” – shown here. An African ritual beaded belt helped me ‘see’ the bottom edge. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be daring and violate copyright laws to show you.
I finished this felt house today by adding satin cording and a bottom and closing it up into a 3-D structure. Need to find bead for closure.
Did first “Whispering Hearts”‘ online class with Jude Hill yesterday – signed up, whaaa? – last year sometime – only now going through the entire class (I signed up at a time when I was working full-time — it was an act of hope more than anything). I love her idea of keeping things simple and getting to know the subject before departing from it. On American Idol, they’d say – ‘more melody’ or ‘stick to the tune’.
I like the way Arlee Barr’s beautiful ecru silk is imprinted with leaf shapes that almost look like ribs.
While piecing “Middle Passage II” today, this little piece emerged – just for fun!
Cleaning out paper boxes, found the heart doilies… once you investigate a theme, it starts showing up everywhere (but, I have to announce for the record, that I’ve been sewing hearts of one kind or for more than a decade!)
Tonight, after WISHING for curtains for our back sliders for years – honest to god – and puzzling over the nine foot expanse, wondering about support for the rod, brackets (do they match others in the room, or not?), where to place the fullness of cloth and still move in and out the door readily – I JUST DID IT!! Had the spring rods. Dug up the curtains.
Maybe it’s the NIKE track poster of C’s that I just hung on the other wall that spurred this long over-due act!!
Whatever the reason, it is heavenly to have the room completely enclosed at night – especially when the leaves are still not out.
Some of you are familiar with the profoundly moving work of Jungian therapist, Wendy Golden-Levitt. Her work has been featured in HandEye Magazine and rightfully exalted in the SlowCloth facebook circle. She has successfully incorporated textiles into her work with traumatized and troubled young clients, finding that the process of relating to a special cloth can facilitate healing.
Well, not long ago, Wendy commissioned a piece from me (YEAH!!!**!!) She had quite a few favorites from my website (not surprisingly, quilts with animals or huts — quilts that one can imagine a young person populating with characters of their own). However, some of them had been sold and of the remaining pieces, none seemed quite right. And anyway, the more I thought about making a quilt specifically for her practice, the more excited I became.
So many things to be considered! The inclusion of fabrics that are lovely to the touch… being sure that the four elements are represented… including figures, both animal and human, that could be repositories of secrets or foils for the imagination… making the landscape mythic, without being scary…
And then I got distracted and busy with other things. Or did I get stuck? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell.
As usual, the way “in” for me was a piece of fabric.
Many years ago, my mother-in-law gave me the curtains that she had lovingly made for two of her three sons’ bedroom (we are a blended family, so my husband is not one of her sons).
Initially, as with many well-made gifts of cloth, it was hard to cut the fabric. These curtains were lined, with beautiful hem stitching, and still clean all these years later!
Probably because I am raising boys, I wanted to make this project for a boy. When I remembered these curtains, I just knew that they had to be the back of the quilt. I like the idea of a two-sided blanket, with the narrative on one side supporting and enhancing the story on the other.
Here are things a boy will love — ships, pirates, buried treasure, adventure!!
The more I thought about what it means to be troubled by one’s home of origin, the more the pirate print seemed like a good fit. If the home is NOT a place of solace and peace (at least MOST of the time — no home is perfect), then one would expect a little soul in search of wholeness to look outside, initially.
To go on a quest to an exotic island and find buried treasure feels like an apt metaphor for the healing process.
The front of the quilt is still being mulled over — but the idea is to create an island village, (African in feel), where there is a central hut — a central hut that is calm and cool in the heat of the savanna… a single structure that visually issues an invitation and that represents a doorway up and into healing. I plan to include several animals who can be helpers along the way.
Island? Savannah? Not quite adding up yet, but the feelings are starting to correspond to fabrics, and that’s how I start.
The strips were woven thinking about creating an island mass, like the one I found in the flickr stream by Yandi (below). This island is made from reeds and floats in Lake Titicaca. I made my ‘reed island’ while thinking about the commission, but it probably won’t make it into the piece.