Back to the Stitch

This is a detail of a very large quilted paper piece that asked the viewer to record on scraps of paper the first stitches they remembered learning.  The response was mostly predictable ….. from grandmothers and mothers teaching them how to sew. I still have this somewhere I think. Anyway it seemed that stitching was always there for me. Poking that needle in and out not with the intention of making a good stitch but more about holding ideas together.

Or making marks…

Sometimes the stitching went with words as part of illustrations. Like this in my artist retreat book. After all our time together as artists came to an end I made this book about what that felt like…to be with others who were just as passionate about their ideas. We all had egos to match our intentions and I love how I saw that and then recorded it here. The sound this book makes with the stitched in rattly pages is just wonderful. I love this book…the words, the images, the sounds and the stitches.

Then there are the books that are held together by stitched spines.

Many of them remain blank because they became about the binding and not about the content. I should go in there and mark them all up….maybe just stitch on the pages.

And this book was all about mending. I steamed and pressed the paper to get the pages to feel more like cloth and receptive to needle and thread.

Sometimes what is happening on the back side is a better story.

And this print on cloth done in undergraduate school. I was warned that I was getting “dangerously close to craft.” I love that and understood exactly what my advisor meant back then and held off on stitching into these prints until after graduation.

And another use of print with stitch and cloth.

I find it harder to thread the needle and notice the feel of the cloth more now. It needs to “feel” like what I am trying to say with it. So with the tattered shawl now being about dementia and the holes left by what we took for granted and now can’t quite put our finger on, I am working slowly on the holding it together part. It feels good….it really does.

And it has sparked a return to the shifu threads colored with the soils of home and travels. These will be used in my journal of the Land of Lethe…a map of what may or may not have happened.

I have moved all this cloth and threads and shawl over to a corner because I have two of my favorite students arriving for an extended time working here in the studio. What is important to me today will not begin to be as important as their plans starting tomorrow. I will be in their heads and well out of my own.

And the good news is I have been asked to talk about my artist books to students at my undergraduate university in a few weeks. They will be receiving many of those books along with my extensive pop up collection. It will be good to share them and talk to students who want to not just know how to do something but why to do it.

And in looking for images for this post I found this one. An altered image of cloth and stitch. It is sort of the essence of something. It is like poetry I think. More will come of this….later. But in the meantime it is an evidence of things held together. It is the holding close by jabbing something in and out that drags a line along behind it….knotted at both ends to stay put. Some very rich stuff in that I think….or it could just be sewing.

Til next week after the students have left me….maybe they will let me post images of their work and talk about the why….or maybe they won’t. Passions are sometimes hard to talk about.