And This Utterly Familiar Thing

landscape 3

I am returning for a bit to “the things I used to do.” Mainly it is the graduate work on a series of books about the men of Brasstown and my relationship within the group on a daily basis. I made a file box and then the books, all had to be black and white and all had to in some way reflect my favorite quote from Thomas Wolfe. Above is one of several simple Carolina moon landscapes in tapestry. Each previous page had a window into the next bit of stitch and weave.

Below is the progression of a variation on the old practice of changing collars. I will show the last page first as it has Thomas Wolfe’s quote in total. The entire book was shaped like collars.

turning collars last pageturning collars title pageturning collars

turning collars page 1turning collars page 2turning collars page 3

turning collars page 4turning collars page 5turning collars page 6

There are several books in the file box. Here is another with marks made from things found around their common work space.


And here is our separate places of “work”.

where we worked

I used black and white photography back then because I had access to dark room equipment or sent the film off to be developed. This process is so much easier now with iphone and photo programs.

tunnel book

A tunnel book of what the men and I would see every day….the common things.

men at work

good woman

And their clothes and rags collected and used to represent our common presence on a daily basis. I think this one is my favorite of all of the books. It is a book I could open and feel their very existence through the cloth. My time with them is represented by the passing through of the black stitching.

our clothes

our clothes last page

Funny how this format of the accordion book returns when I am telling a story.

The other day I was working on an idea I had about taking the decades of your life and placing the pieces that represent best that time. So lets say birth to ten years of age, then teen years, twentys, you get the idea. It was a strange and sometimes discomforting process. I chose eighteen inch squares of cloth of varying materials that felt right for that time of my life. Then proceeded to select bits of fabric, pieces of wallpapers, images, etc. A total of eight pages are somewhat finished as far as the selections and placements go, but now have to be stitched….lots of stitching. I want them to look and act like the very old scrap books we used to have. The soft pages folding over to the left and showing the marks of what held you together for the next phase of your life.

My friend, Patti, and I thought it would be a good class to teach because I do so much with teaching memory vessels. It simply won’t work. There is way too much that you need to have at hand and it is such a personal story. I won’t even get to the stitching part until later in the winter when holding cloth with needle and thread comes easier for me.

But to close off this return to the familiar, here are two of the “quilts” I made about the men with their cloth and my stitching. I used their tools to ink up and make marks and wrote a bit about them in places. The final image is a small bit of practice on type setting I made using my small wood block and type at the Women’s Studio Workshop in upstate New York during my time with the men…maybe 1998.

patriarch quilt 2

Patriarch quilt 1

the familiar

This is the decade of the fifties page. There is a few collected objects on it as well as cloth and papers. It is the time of going back to college and then graduate school and how that opened new ways of seeing for me, new ways of understanding the importance of the familiar.

I will come back to this as I proceed on the scrap book. But for now this is just a small return to the things I used to do based on a discovery in a fabric box.