It is raining again this morning. It might be this way all week and I am missing the early walks. Maybe just put on a raincoat later today and go anyway.
Now I am down in the studio just playing around instead of packing up papers from a flat file. There is a wonder and a doubt as I look at the materials left in here whether I will ever get back to doing much with it. It is the “maybe” that makes the decision for me. I did love having friends working in here a few weeks ago and found it inspiring to get back to it. What to do with it all when it is finished is the problem. So….
This morning I cut an eight foot by one foot piece of linen in half lengthwise, giving me two strips only 6 inches by about 100 inches long. I wrapped them loosely and they are now sitting in a dye pot of just rust and a few leaves that had been left in there.
I found the linen textile while packing up some fabrics. There was this natural linen one that had a bit cut off and a full length grey one the same width. Remember when we just had to have those strips brought in by textile importers at the fiber conferences? These like all the others of this size and material came from Thailand. They were irresistible because of their “exoticness”, possibilities, and so easy to pack in a suitcase.
I boiled what was left in the dye pot from sampling on papers and cloth a few weeks ago. In the bottom is a rusted curved part of an old wood burning stove that I bought on one of my first teaching tours in Australia. It was a junk shop in Mittigong where a textile conference was being held. Australians are the best to go to places where used things come up for sale. They call them Op Shops and the good ones anticipate the needs of artists and sort their goods accordingly. The man running this one wanted to know why I wanted not only this piece, but a couple of rusted drill bits and an old small wood handled garden shovel. “Don’t you have rusty bits back in the States?” I told him we did but it was simply not as good as the rusty things from Australia. From there I went to the post office to have it all sent back home and faced similar questions from my husband when it arrived several weeks later.
That day was only the start of buying whatever I could afford from that country. The thought that I may not get asked back made me think each trip was my last and the opportunities would come to a close. Now I am dealing with fourteen trips’ worth of those irresistible things that will go with me, not one left behind.
So when I take these two tied together strips from a cold pot, maybe tomorrow, I will dry them, stitch the two ends together and have what will look like an endless strip to stitch into. I miss the stitching since my last sketchbook was filled up.
To get ready I have dug out this very old sewing basket I made with the guidance of Grace Kabel, my basket teacher back in the eighties. The compartments were woven in place.
Like most baskets that were woven to hold sewing materials, sweet grass was added to the rim if not in the actual weave structure. You can still dampen the rims and get that wonderful smell. I found it being a catchall on a shelf in the den. So cleaned it out and found the scissors my grandmother gave me years ago, some scraps of cloth and buried deep down in were the two strawberries for holding needles and pins respectfully, and tied in place with a satin ribbon.
Now cleaned and packed appropriately it is ready to lift off the top of another basket to travel around the house with me whenever and wherever I want to do some stitching.
Isn’t that an inviting basket of bits and pieces?
Sometimes the sewing is simply not right. I did not like the bird stories book with the thread stitched in. So I pulled it all out slowly so as not to tear the pages. Then I did not like the rows of holes. the solution was to just add more holes!
And more sketching along with those holes.
The biggest problem with the stitching threads was not the maneuvering of the needle but the stitching pattern affected the opposite side of the page. After I get all the holes I want on these pages then I can use this book for drawing and pricking patterns only. I will still be able to close it because there is no added materials.
I still plan on adding watercolor to work into before drawing…that’s the plan anyway.
In the next hour I should have that flat file emptied with the good bits rolled into an upright carton that will be easier to move and fit easily into a closet at the new house. Whatever I don’t want will stay in the drawers for the new owner of the flat file or be given away to a friend who could use it.
So I will get to it.