Recollections in Cloth, Paper and Thread

Scrapbook first decade stitched

I could just be my age. For something different to work on in the studio I decided to break down my life into decades. Now I am into my eighth, not by a lot, but enough to make some choices of how I see that decade unfolding. There are eight panels of cloth all close to 18″ square. They were selected as a background feel for that period of my life. Here is the first decade. I am a child in a rural community who spends an enormous amount of time outside in the woods and meadows. Old farmhouses in northern Michigan.

I am not a very accomplished stitcher. It takes a while just to get that needle threaded and knotted at the other end. Then it is poke in some place and come up in another.  All the added pieces of papers and cloth were fused into place with a fabric bonding film. Loose bits were tied into place until they could be caught with the stitches.

This piece is trying to capture how those years felt to me, the things that stayed with me. The constellations in a very dark and star filled sky, old wallpapers, some falling away, marked cloth, grandmothers’ influences, the dullness of winter and snow, using only two crayons to wander out of the lines of coloring books. But most of all was the freedom to come and go, come and go and be by myself.

Here are some details of this “page”.

scrapbook first decade grass

scrapbook first decade snow

And now I have finished stitching the second decade. Those teenage years. A move from the woods and privacy to the suburbs of St. Petersburg, Florida in 1955 was a unwelcome adjustment. But being a teenager is constant adjustments, constant changes.

These pages will be bound into a very large scrapbook like we used to have many years ago. The kind we pasted in all our plans for the future. Now it will be pages of how things actually were or at least how I recall them to be. As the pages turn, there will be the marks of the previous decade shown to the left of the new decade. The viewer can see the marks of influence more or less of what is happening next. I think that this is where being a lousy stitcher is an advantage. Those threads and how they travel around on the back of the previous decade’s page is very narrative in its own way. Here is how a section of the two pages will be seen where they intersect.

scrapbook second decade pairing lo res

Wandering in the woods no longer possible with sandspurs everywhere. A red tide that came often enough to make the beach un-navigable. And finding it hard to fit into a predetermined system. I managed like we all do and actually found this a fun page to work on.  See below.

scrapbook second decade stitched lo res

I was now making my own clothes and still maintained my freedom for most of the time. Some details of the page.

scrapbook second decade if you alter

scrapbook second decade detail of shell lo res

I may go back into both of the pages. More is bound to develop in thought and manipulation. And some of these details I really liked and took them into a photo program to play with. I see possibilities for etchings using my press or maybe even collographs. Maybe drawings.

What I do like is finding the marks that are possible with needle and thread that capture my thinking. Better stitching may come as I work on each page. Before I show you the altered image of a detail from my first decade, take a look at how much my eighth decade shares a similar palette. Interesting I think because those other pages get pretty colorful with marriage, family, entering the craft world, then graduate school and travel. Interesting.

Here is the roughed in eighth decade that will take some time to get to as I must do them in order.

scrapbook 8th decade lo res

And the altered image of my first decade detail.

scrapbook first decade detail adjusted 2

I will show more as they develop.