out of step . . .

. . . with myself.  That’s how I’ve been feeling lately.

I have allowed my natural rhythms to be interrupted in ways that are counterproductive.  In the interludes between very welcome and much-loved guests, I have not picked up where I left off and now it seems to be hard work out where I was.  I know that under these circumstances a repetitive activity helps so I spent five hours mending . . . just plying a needle through soft cotton.  I was carrying out more repairs on an Indian quilt that I have had for many years and I’m facing the fact that it has a limited number seasons left in it depending upon how tenderly I treat it.  I blogged about it as cloth as a metaphoranother beginning, and a job well done

Uschi came to supervise but she fell asleep on the job.

Uschi came to provide some close supervision.

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It wasn’t long before she decided I could be trusted with the job, burrowed in, and fell asleep on the job.

At one time I would never have thought mending would be so satisfying.  If it’s for someone else I think of them, what they mean to me, what hopes I have for them, and offer my love. If it’s for me, as in this case, it quiets me and I get drawn into this old cloth as a metaphor for my life.  I shall have to say goodbye to it eventually but for now . . . maintenance is key.

Settling into this feeling of unease, of inertia, is okay . . . it will pass and will be followed by a period of activity and I’ll continue my work but right now I’m as changeable as this fickle weather we’re having.  A few more hours work and I’ll be done, my quilt mended, my Self soothed and my mind clear. I’ll persevere.

 

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just sometimes

Yes, just sometimes when I’m feeling flat I have little to say for myself and achieve very little. Until I find more words you can have this image of another piece in my series of seed-pods to look at: An Empty Promise.  Not the best image for colour: it has a much rustier hue all over.

An Empty Promise Wire, fabric, vintage linen thread, 44 cm. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

An Empty Promise
Wire, fabric, vintage linen thread, 44 cm.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

where have I been?

I haven’t been anywhere . . . I was here all the time, sometimes working and sometimes just lolling around, however a lot has happened.

I’ve made lots of seed pods . . . a metaphor for a promise.  There are many promises made, some kept, some not.  Some promises are made unconditionally, others have strings attached or their fullfilment withheld for various reasons.

A Fragile Promise. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A Fragile Promise.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A Promise Reserved. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A Promise Reserved.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A Promise Withheld. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A Promise Withheld.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Apart from making some the seed pods, I have had some minor surgery on my nose and acquired a puppy and she’s unbearably cute.  Here’s the puppy, but I’ll spare you the nose.

Meet Uschi.  She would much rather sleep in the crook of my arm but that isn't always possible so in from of the fire with a soft tow will just have to do.

Meet Uschi. She would rather sleep in the crook of my arm but that isn’t always possible so in front of the fire with a soft toy will just have to do.  Right now she’s curled up on my lap, exhausted from her second walk on the beach where she discovered just how interesting rabbit droppings are.

That’s it for now . . . I’ll try to post more often now that things are returning to normal but you know me, it may or may not happen so it’s best to subscribe for updates.

squaring off

I seem to be making cubes lately.  Boxes, or rather containers, have always been something I like and I have collected quite a few over the years so it shouldn’t surprise me that these small boxes are forming at the ends of my fingertips.

I’m interested in containment and what we put inside a box, what precious objects or secrets they might contain.  Sometimes, what we hide away cannot be contained for long . . . maybe it grows and bursts forth, maybe the ownership becomes a burden that needs to be shared.  How we decorate the container might give lie to the contents or it can be misleading.  These are the thoughts that go through my head as I create and the box as a metaphor interests me.

Kozo, Manilla & Hemp paper, linen thread, encaustic medium.  10 x 10 x 10 cm Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Kozo, Manilla & Hemp paper, linen thread, encaustic medium.
10 x 10 x 10 cm
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Kozo, Manilla & Hemp paper, linen thread, encaustic medium. 10 x 10 x 10cm Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Kozo, Manilla & Hemp paper, linen thread, encaustic medium.
10 x 10 x 10cm
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Kozo & Manilla Hemp paper, linen thread, encaustic medium. 10 x 10 x 10cm Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Kozo & Manilla Hemp paper, linen thread, encaustic medium.
10 x 10 x 10cm
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Kozo, Manilla & Hemp paper, polished cotton cord, encaustic medium. 10 x 10 x 10cm Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Kozo, Manilla & Hemp paper, polished cotton cord, encaustic medium.
10 x 10 x 10cm
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

They’re not all black and white . . . but then again, nothing much in this life is.

 

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low growing fruit

There is a certain wisdom in harvesting low growing fruit however if that’s all you do, sooner or later you’ll forget how to climb trees, forget the triumph of getting to the top despite the risks along the way.   Your ability to stretch up and out will atrophy over time and all you will be left with is low growing fruit which is nowhere near as ripe and sweet and the fruit at the top of the tree . . . that fruit will be left to the ones who are brave enough scale the trees and those wonders who can fly.

A second problem arising from indulging in low growing fruit is that you get used to a varied diet . . . a menu dégustation or tasting menu is delightful however not a way to eat for life.  Being able to do a lot of things in a mediocre way is not, I imagine, as satisfying as being able to do one or two things really well.  And before there are objections about my work not being mediocre, that is my opinion based on how easy the result has been, the effort, the practise it required, and while compliments and admiration is lovely I want to feel I have worked hard for something I am satisfied with. Yes, there’s a perfectionist streak which, for the most part, I keep in check . . . but I won’t give up high standards for my work.

Focussing on a few things won’t mean I lose my range of skills, not does it mean ‘ll never exercise them again but for years I’ve fed low growing fruit, often because I’ve squeezed in time or the financial ability to indulge in what I want and sometimes because I’ve been scared to push myself, however lately, I’ve wanted to stretch up higher and find sweeter options.  Which fruit are my favourite though?  I don’t really have favourite colours, types of music etc. I like variety!

While I thought I might sort out, finally, what I want to focus on during the completion of a diploma over the next two years, it just wasn’t going to work for me.  The alternative was an accountability partner.  Someone who would help to keep me on track, working to a plan, and because they receive my reports of triumph and stumbles, that will keep me honest with myself.

I’m really fortunate that one of my talented friends, Trisha Findlay, has offered to take on the task and for two weeks I have done most of what out set out to do. I plan (too much) for the week, write my objectives, review them the following week and write more.  To reach my goal (the top of a tree) I’ve decided to start by spending part of my time clearing away some of the underbrush, the unfinished work that is weighing me down and part of the week doing some work from Experimental Textiles by Kim Thittichai.  I have the book from the library and want to do some work from it to get some ideas flowing before I need to return it . . . how I would love to attend that course but unfortunately I’m half a world away.

Next up, and it is up, through the branches, getting the odd scratch, snagging my clothes, will be more of this earlier experiment . . .

Making mesh detail . . . unfinished and full of promise.

Making mesh detail . . . unfinished and full of promise.

. . . among other things of course, after all, it is a while since I did much tree climbing.

a job well done

I think the job has been done well but time will tell . . . it depends on my expectations about how long I have extended its use, which in turn depends on how much care I am ready to take as I spread the quilt out on my bed, whether I lie down on it to read or take the time to move it aside . . . will it last another year or five?

When I began mending my old Indian bedspread (another beginning) I knew there were quite a few rips and holes where the sun had eaten entire patches of colour away and that the fabric was whisper thin in places.  First the rips where no patches were needed were mended and then the holes, where a piece of recycled unbleached calico was underlaid and stitched in place.  As I worked I inadvertently created a few more holes . . . ending up with somewhere in excess of 120 (I stopped counting).  If the mending had not given rise to so much reflection I doubt I would have persevered . . . I have a low threshold to boredom.

As I worked I gave a lot of thought the what I hold as precious, what beauty means to me, that crossover between practical and beauty as if they were on to separate continuum and the was a sweet spot where, for me, the meet.

If something is truly practical, it does its job better than I had hope for, perhaps the look doesn’t matter so much . . . perhaps the truly ugly tights I wore under my ski pants, the rusty old bottle opener (although there is sentiment attached to it).  And if something is gobsmackingly beautiful, that alone is enough . . . beauty is its use perhaps?

And then there is age and sentiment. From newly minted, the loveliness of the just created right through to decayed, not wearing but truly worn, when an object, or person, can take on a new beauty, one where sentiment plays a part, where life is visible in every crack, every scar, every wrinkle.  Is there a sweet spot where the continuum of new to old crosses over the others?   (This could turn into a rant about human beauty, societal expectations, roles, power . . . but that is not my intention or at least not this time.)

So I pondered on all of this as I sat patching in pieces of cloth on a bedspread I am not quite ready to hand over to recycling . . . running stitch, back-stitch, simple stitches in simple cotton cloth.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed, fabric whisper thin.

another beginning

I have started to mend the Indian bedspread.  After some lines on paper to plan how I would reinforce the fabric and repair some of the rents on the outside I chose to use simple untidy running stitches that are wonky and without much of a pattern.

I needed coverage for irregular tears, stitching that would suit their shape and complement the overall appearance of the bedspread.

I needed coverage for irregular tears, stitching that would suit their shape and complement the overall appearance of the bedspread.

Like me they travel west to east, north to south so that they show up on both sides.   I’m not one for taking the needle through to the back and then to the front . . . I scoop, several stitches at a time.  I guess this has been my approach to life . . . take a stab, draw up all you can and trust that it will all come through okay.

The side with rents in it, now mended, strengthened.

The side with rents in it, now mended, now strengthened.

The side without holes but still strengthened.

The side without holes but still strengthened and lending it’s strength to the injury.

The birds in the centre have a problem.  The sun has eaten their orange feathers so some patching is needed . . . some soft unbleached calico set into the holes and leave the edges raw?  Perhaps.  Or patch them over with some old table linen I have found in my efforts to clear out the things that are trying to take ownership of me.

A bright bird . . . from the fold protected from the sun.

A bright bird . . . it wisely hid in the fold and was protected from the sun.

The sun has weathered away the orange feathers . . . it has lost its ability to fly.

The sun has weathered away the orange feathers . . . it has lost its ability to fly.

I’m loath to hide their scars, the ravages of time, any more than I feel the need to hide what time is doing to me.   And so the metaphor continues . . . time has an impact that can be read if you use eyes, and ears and heart.

There are many who would simply discard this cloth, deciding that with so many holes (about 30) it has reached the end of it’s decorative life.   But it can still serve its purpose because I have turned it over to the birdless side.   It has a place keeping warm someone who remembers as she stitches.