September 2, 2014


what there aren't words for yet

What those hummingbirds in your chest whisper when you tell
your first lie. The toothy rumble of the lions that scare
your lungs into giving up. The edges of a leap - half-murmur, half-yell -
that steer your feet away. The guffaw from the shadows tempting you to ignore
your own magnificence. The boisterous roosters pecking holes in your plans. The tire
tracks cajoling you to stay on course. How we search for a plain sentence
to fill the cracks of heartache, for language to pull us, like a ladder,
out of each dark and muddled well. We think thunder is a metaphor. Or the fence
dividing one yard from the next, its own instruction. But the story's yours, you know.
There is no better way to say it. Make the words up as you go.

~ Maya Stein

: : :

stitch, shibori, indigo, photography
Some means of expression
but only a small portion of the longer story unfolding.

Is there any better way
than to make it up as we go along?
I mean, really ... is there.

August 13, 2014

Getting the hang of it

Someday I hope to unwrap a bundled article of clothing
and have it 
look like an old paint rag.
Assembling the right combination of ingredients isn't the key ...
choosing the right fabric doesn't seem to be the key either ...
nor is how I roll it up, tie the string,
the cooking time or whether the vegetation was frozen or fresh
or how long I've let time be my friend afterwards ...
and shoot, I may have forgotten to pre-mordant.
None of these is  the  key

that's the main thing I'm learning about this natural dyeing process,
the reason why it's so critical to keep practicing, work steadily, experiment,
build a knowledge base one step on top of the other.

Luck will only get ya so far.

there's that no-small-matter of
 intuition ... 
often just a quiet fluttering off to the side,
a barely noticeable nudge
 towards a choice I wasn't going to make.
Am I listening hard enough?

I will concede that
some paint rags are prettier than others
I've got miles to go before
purple blobs are gonna be skillfully arranged into a
worthy item of clothing ...
at least
that's how it feels today.
But I am a bit cranky.

Maybe I should just blame it on the Super Moon ...

I feel a bit like that button !

Tis one good thing tho:
thrift store stuff is cheap
and fairly plentiful.

TWO good things ...

nothing in the world like having the fine company of Her Fluffiness 
when I'm a tad grumpy ... 

August 8, 2014

Windfall for the dyepot

Foraged a bit in the garden this morning.  It's been a fine stretch of summer
weather - plants are filled to bursting with blooms.
Found these spent petals, a cache from the 'black' hollyhocks ...
known around my place as
* promises waiting to happen *
Powerful mark-makers are these little sputniks !
Am still as head-over-heels as ever
and can't wait to give them a try on paper ...

: : :

Photo mumbo-jumbo:
shot with iPhone
fine tuning & adjustments in Snapseed app
blur, focal point & vignette added with Jazz app
final adjust & copyright added with PicMonkey

Joining with the gang over at Kim's place for Friday Finds ...
lots of great stuff to be seen over there, go peek.

July 31, 2014

Take me to the river ::: Being (t)here, with India Flint

"Have you ever had that feeling ~ that you'd like to go to a whole different place
and become a whole different self?"
~ Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

While I stood on the edge of that beautiful tidal river for the first time
 - the expansive and ever-changing River Tay in Newburgh, Fife -
I had many thoughts about being more than 4,500 miles from home;
how far away that was, continents separated by great bodies of water.
Still, THIS place, somehow, felt so familiar ...
This was Scotland.
And after a long wait filled with the ups and downs that life dishes,
I had finally made it to
this river.

Two things ahead were certain, I mused: the first,
I intended to have a grand adventure ... no suitcase was big enough
to contain that excitement !  And second, 
India Flint was teaching a textile master class called
which I knew would alter my perception of 'place' forever.
Although I wasn't exactly sure  how  she would do this
there was no doubt in my mind that she most definitely would.

Why was I so certain?
'Twas an enchanting video [view here] that I watched last year,
a culmination of India's three week residency at Big Cat Textiles
describing her impressions of the river ... showing how her work was
influenced, guided by landscape ...
as she described, "...infused with the indefinable, individual essence of place."

So we began ...
our next few days were a gentle process of mirroring all the attributes of this river
using the materials at hand;
watching and listening, sensing, observing, smelling,
but mainly  paying attention ...
slowing down enough, taking time for that to happen.
Thirteen of us from different parts of the 'whirled' were about to interpret
just what being t(here) meant.

I thought a lot about how in my own work I use photography as a way to illustrate
how a subject  feels ...  not necessarily rendering true to appearances, but
making my world look the way it looks to me.
Perhaps I could express something similar with cloth, paper, stitch, local plant dyes
and a collection of written words ?

Each day included much walking ... mainly alone,
although I was very happy to make the acquaintance of an adorable
dog friend who also happened to need time walking.
I was lucky - she knew quite a few back roads
and was ever eager for one more jaunt to the river ....
so I spent a good deal of time down there.

"All the technique in the world doesn't compensate for
the inability to notice."
- Elliott Erwitt, photographer

While the River Tay daily ebbed & flowed
we made a few ripples of our own in the local alleyway
[much to the amusement of local residents]
with the beginnings of our stitched concertina books ...
the first of several environmental displays we would assemble in the village
and as it turned out, a potent way to stay melded as a group.

As anyone who knows India a bit may have already surmised,
well, things don't stay white around her for very long ...

~ our paper books wrapped in hand stitched silk bags ~ 

Ecoprinting on paper was new for me and I had purposely avoided doing any of it on my own
beforehand, wanting instead to attend this workshop as a "clean slate" in that regard.
But it wasn't long before I fell under the spell of those paper marks, just like with cloth ...
swooning & exclaiming along with my class-mates over the gifts from Newburgh plants,
both subtle and bold.

~ folded paper fresh from the dyepot, still wet ~

The studio atmosphere was sublime for concentrated work ... the old stone walls of
the [former] church leant an air of solidity with the added advantage of providing
fine acoustics for the eclectic range of music India brought along.

I don't believe I have ever worked within
a more friendly, generous & supportive group of gals.
Many of us spoke of this phenomenon afterwards ... what a truly special group this was ...
somehow - given our diverse backgrounds & locations - a perfect mix of temperaments,
creativity, good humor, and all out camaraderie was shared & appreciated by each of us.

I miss you all !
[and I do hope we carry on with our "pinkie" agreement ... winkwink]

: : :
"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you,
spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life.
No one is here today because they did it on their own.  You're all here
because someone gave you strength.  Helped you.  Held you in the palm of their hand."
- Amy Poehler, Harvard University commencement address
: : :

Part of our daily process was listening to verse & selections from great writers.
India provided a rich & varied mix,
reading softly to us for a few minutes each day.
Later, after writing our own impressions gleaned from the common experience of walking,
we read our chosen words aloud to the circle, each person's words
adding a unique cadence to the shared story.

Words from "accidental" poems written on my walks became new poems, reassembled.

This writing practice stayed with me throughout my journey through Scotland 
and has now come home with me ...
a powerful tool that I didn't even know I was in need of ...

~ torn scraps from one of my poems ~

Occasionally when something entertaining was happening with us below
we'd catch a little giggling from above.  These two sweeties, who run Big Cat Textiles
and Hat in the Cat [in Perth], took amazingly wonderful care of us during our stay ...
Alison [on right] fed us the most deliciously yummy healthful food - catering to 
all food restrictions, I might add - and Netti provided for any needs tossed in her path,
including places to lay our heads and doggy therapy.  Both went 
above and beyond the call of normal hosting duty
in every way.
Rockin' wonderful, the both of you !

~ Molly's flowers, morning inspiration, surrounded by class books ~

Book work progressed through many stages ... 
experimentation with useful mordants & clever solutions for resists,
unusual mark-making with found objects,
stitching with a wide range of thread sizes & types [Big Cat Textiles had lovely offers on hand],
and the addition of textile scraps ... silks, wool, lace & crochet.

The table displays at the end of each day were steadily growing more beautiful
and our bundle 'displays' in the village were sights to behold.

~ double exposure, India laying out bundles ~

~ below the Newburgh railway arch ~

As we neared completion of our river books
India presented us with one more surprise [our workshop was full of them, bless her] ...
an unexpected technique for felting a small blue "river,"
a long piece of textile goodness to tie around our finished books.
Having just attended Michel Garcia's indigo dye workshop the previous week,
India recycled the spent dye liquid [that which usually goes down the drain]
thinking perhaps it might still be useful ... and this was to be our color source.
We were thrilled to give it a try.

positive results and a very pleased dye master ...

Finished books in hand, we walked down together as a group
and joined our self-made rivers
with the great River Tay.
Seemed a supremely fitting way to draw our time together to a close,
by making this symbolic gesture.  I know I'm not alone when I confess
these were some very emotional moments.
I won't be forgetting this experience any time soon for not only
have I come home with new & important tools, I've brought home
a deeper understanding of how to *be* ...

Thank you, India.

~ my river book ~

: : : 

The second day into our class, Maya Stein's weekly '10-Line Tuesday' poem arrived
via email.  I've included Maya's poems several times on this blog & made mention
of how often her words are completely perfect in their timing, apropos to life in that moment.
So it was with this one.
I'd like to make special note of it
for posterity ...


Just east of certainty.  A little south of courage.  A hair's
width from ease.  Clicks away from ready.  A turn
or two from acceptance.  A shuffle from faith.  A set of stairs
from achievement.  A riverbed from happiness.  A handspan from
peace.  A wink away from freedom.  A few lines until the poem's
done.  A highway, a night's sleep, a phone call, a touch, a rotation
of gears away from that certain yes that tells you where you are is
exactly where you need to be.  I know, the signs can look as if they're missing,
and the map so distant and unclear.
But I'm telling you, you aren't lost.  You're never lost.  You're always here.

: : :

July 16, 2014


Shortly after stashing my bags at the guest house
and not two hours into my arrival in Scotland,
I went out for a walk and came across this ...
a most thought provoking sign.
Local residents would certainly have pegged me for a tourist
should any of them been watching as I maneuvered for a photo angle,
but I couldn't pass it up.
I was having one of those hairs-standing-on-end moments
about good things to come; as I stared up at that sign
I just knew I was in for a mighty special adventure.

How true that was !

Now, as seems to be my way,
I'm needing a bit of time to let everything percolate ...
I'm busy editing photos, gathering thoughts from memories & notes,
and spending some precious hours exploring new directions in handwork
while that fire burns bright.

I've posted a few images over on Instagram,
for now, a wee small taste
of my delightful journey to bonny Scotland.

Very soon, I'll have some tales to tell ...

June 24, 2014

Towards another edge ...

how to dive in

Be afraid. Tremble at the thought. Sleep poorly. Eat potato chips in
nervous succession.  Get angry when you least expected it. Feel
impatient at small talk, how much it delays and distracts. Yearn
for silence, that necessary blank canvas. Take note of the way clouds steal
across the sky, shaping themselves into the faces of celebrities, or a rabbit.
Find yourself, unexpectedly, advancing toward an edge, electric and unsure.
Notice the texture of the ground under your feet - loose pebbles, hot granite.
See what you do when no one's watching, how you lean in, how you want more,
aching for that first kiss of wind on your face, that smile of sun, beaming.
Catch your breath, close your eyes, then remember: you're not dreaming.

~ from the 10-line Tuesday series

: : :

It's not the first time one of Maya's poems has arrived in my Tuesday box
somehow being so perfectly tuned
to here and now.
For you see, I'm heading out on a wee adventure shortly
to another edge,
or two,
some 4,450 miles from home ...
and I am feeling all these things Maya speaks of
[although I may have to admit to French fries over potato chips].

Shall be quiet here for a little while
but surely I'll have some tales to tell when I return.

The happiest of summers to each of you ...