Minding my maps


Merriam-Webster defines  map :
1 a:  a representation usually on a flat surface of the whole or a part of an area
b:  a representation of the celestial sphere or a part of it

2 :  something that represents with a clarity suggestive of a map
~ the Freudian 'map' of the mind -- Harold Bloom

so I got to thinking ....
could photographs act just as easily as maps of a  life?

If I mapped myself, what might that look like?
And if I focused on, say, my creative life, would it be telling?
Could I show the route from back there 
to here?

So I gave it a try & here's where it led me ...

To the convergence of paper and books

to beads on cloth with an uncertain latitude

towards an elusive north star

with an ever present guiding light

and a dear navigator who teaches all the compass points.

Just a small smattering of map pages - old directions & new ...
so yes,  I can see how I got here

but perhaps the more important question is
just where am I going?

[ this is where a hushed voice offers, "Only the cartographer knows for sure..." ]


Considering a world view


There are many ways to say a thing.

For those of us who don't feel particularly eloquent in the political arena and
are far more comfortable with other forms of expression,
perhaps we can look more closely
at our other ways of speaking.

Because it is my opinion that now, more than ever in my living memory,
we somehow MUST keep speaking  out loud.  It's of critical importance.
So we don't feel lost.
So we don't feel helpless. 

Even the quiet work of hands and heart is not to be underestimated during this time ...
this time of which  -  to some of us  -  is looked upon
as a frightening & uncertain period in our world's history.

Again, there are many ways to say a thing....
and I think we can be a mighty choir if we don't feel so afraid.


Following the thread of a thought


page one ~ from, The Illustrated Glossary of Dye Plants

page two ~ from, The Illustrated Glossary of Dye Plants

page three ~ from, The Illustrated Glossary of Dye Plants

In retrospect, I probably should have named this playful compendium
The Imaginary Illustrated Glossary of Dye Plants
The Illustrated Imaginarium of Dye Plants
for I don't believe this will ever be anything but a little book
that lives solely in my mind, produced for a bit of fun on Instagram.
But I suppose it's been good practice should I decide at some juncture
to try my hand at the real thing ...

Along another line of thought, the title of this post is not original to me.
I'm sure I gleaned it from jude at Spirit Cloth at some point and
I sincerely hope she is given fair credit & attribution from others
for all she offers there.

This is a sore subject with me at the moment ...
the *borrowing* - no, let me speak plain - the stealing
 that I read and see running rampant on the internet amongst
artists, creatives, workshop organizers
and a whole host of wannabes, coat tail riders and ladder climbers.
It's a double-edged sword out here on the web; the need & desire to share work
counterbalanced by all those who are watching, researching,
and will so blatantly 
rip others off

Is it really so hard to come up with one's own original words or works?

Is it that difficult to ask permission first?

Or to put some dedicated energy
into coming up with personal work that is truly authentic
and not just a blatant copy of someone else's work?

I've seen this rampant in the world of photography for years
and now sadly, I see it running rampant amongst the cloth dyers
[eco-dyers, eco-printers, contact printers, natural dyers, and many stitchers],
a tribe I am somewhat new to and a little on edge about of late ...
it's incredibly disheartening.
And I'm feeling the need to take care.


I have no intention of getting into arguments with folks over this subject
and I'm half inclined to close the comments section because of it,
but there are some friends who visit here who I don't want to silence
so I'll leave it open.
Talk to me.


Life is not lived in a straight line


"There isn't one right path for you or anyone else.
And there isn't a set of timelines of milestones ...
You're allowed to backtrack.
You're allowed to figure out what inspires you
at different stages of your life.
You're allowed extra time when you need it.
Life is meant to be a series of zigs and zags.
It should look like a mess, but a beautiful mess.
It shows that you have changed and grown.
You've had your ups and downs.
You went down one path, but decided to change course ...
perhaps on many occasions.
That's how life should be."

~ Angel Chernoff ~

First, I'd like to start by saying  Thanks  to each of the kind folks who've written
wondering where I'd wandered off to and why.
A disappearance wasn't planned, but it began and then it felt totally natural
and right to follow and to somehow trust that'd I'd know where I was meant to go
once I got there,
which wasn't to be here it seemed, blogging.
Except now it  is.

Have I confused you completely already?

To backtrack: I resorted to a few fairly strict measures to bring my body back to
some semblance of rightness, and again, I felt inclined to keep my concentration there
and not out here telling everyone about it.
Which is not my way anyway.
So while that was on the slow road to sorting itself out
I unexpectedly found myself on a new threshold
- literally -
when a space I'd put my name on a waiting list for suddenly became available.
This was a dream come true.
A small space for a textile / beading / photography studio ... at last.
Room to stretch my wings, dive into multiple projects at a time, close the door
on big beautiful messes  without having to clean up first  and then 
return the next day to pick right up where I'd left off.
And one of the best bits is that I can bring my dear doggy.

That's her new sleeping spot over there on the left wall
although I think she prefers the little rug by the door actually.

That quote up top from Angel popped into my email this morning and
as I read it, I knew today was the day to say a little something here.
I'll keep it short for the moment
[in truth, I am feeling somewhat rusty at this]
but I have quite a few tales to catch up on,
many pictures to share,
and I'm greatly looking forward to being out here with you all again.


She can't eat what?


Sometimes your body screams at you so loud 
there is no choice but to listen
and take heed.

I've long held the belief that the majority of modern day ailments in
Western society are, without a doubt, strongly linked to what we eat.
Or don't eat in some cases.
In the last 10 years or so I've had this belief put to the test within my own framework a
time or two, and if my current health adventure provides the same positive results that I
was blessed with before, I shall be kicking up my heels quite well thru this decade.

You know that expression about making lemonade, right?
A short tale follows ....

While over in America the other day (that's what we islanders call the mainland)
I found myself driving around in circles.  Was a hot day (for here), just past 80F, 
and I had my dear woofie with me in the car.  She loves to travel so she goes 
with me whenever possible.  Anyhoo, on this particular afternoon I was taking
care of some body testing & adjusting and my fluffy one was in need of
a cool place to be parked while I was otherwise detained.
Hence the driving in circles.
Finally, rounding a corner somewhat near a park, I spotted a wide leafy stretch
of available curbside underneath the most magnificent trees.  I was gonna
have to walk a fair bit to my destination, but the deliciously cool shady spot for my 
dear fluffy one was absolutely worth the trek.
As I got out of the car and looked up to actually identify the gorgeous 
canopy we were parked below, I stopped dead in my tracks.
For there we were underneath two enormous black walnut trees
which happened to be dropping all their fruits over sidewalk & parkway
in great profusion.

Now the backstory to my stopping dead in my tracks is that last year
I looked high and low for one of these trees because I wanted to try my hand at
brewing some black walnut dye - deep, dark, tannin-rich goodness.
I asked around amongst all my island friends - and they of their friends - and
even went so far as to place an ad in the local online news rag ...
"Who's got trees??"

Nada.  None to be found.

Some suggested I go to eastern Washington where they're farmed in abundance
and then there was the ever present option of mail-order.  But I was keen for local so I
finally put my little dream on the back burner & moved on to something else.
So this particular day, which could very easily have been viewed as one filled
with one lemon after another, suddenly had me grinning like an idiot on the roadside,
chuffed to no end that this part of my particularly grueling adventure had brought me to
the very trees I'd been seeking for so long.

All this to say (in my somewhat roundabout sort of way) there will be
a slight delay to my next posting of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  installment.
I've been somewhat sidetracked by the inner voices so I'm more than a wee bit behind
although my iron cauldron is gratefully, now quite full.

I'll be calling this my black walnut "lemonade."


Despite everything


the amphibian inside us

Because it's summer.  Because the air is heavy with heat and nostalgia.
Because this is what we have to keep remembering, the way our bodies
know the waves, the amphibian inside us unafraid of going under,
of what ripples beneath the surface.  Because waiting on the dock
for the signal to jump is like thinking someone else is responsible.  Because
there is no one else responsible.  Because despite the current,
it is possible to swim against it, or even stand, inverted, balancing
on a slippery mulch of murk and mud, and stay perfectly still.
Because when the world tips from view, we have to do everything we can
to tip it back.

~ Maya Stein
:  :  :

from Maya Stein's "10-Line Tuesday" poetry series
... the backlog can be enjoyed  here


bead sketches : month six


June was my birth month and I was having very mixed feelings
about growing older, like we all do I suppose.  I try not to dwell on the negatives
and instead, steer any introspection that occurs right towards that which
is beautiful and calm and filled with positivity.
And that's where doing an enterprise that we love
can save us.

Not to put too dramatic a spin on it, but it's a challenge to not be
brought down by the goings-on in the world.
It seems so important to keep going 
in the midst of all that

I didn't follow particular prompts in June, not like previous months. The natural dye pots
were fired up, sewing was at hand, the garden was being tended & revamped for
dye plants (instead of food) ... then, the new space needed arranging, many
photographs to take & play with, resting to give attention to, dietary changes to make
 and so all became one big swirl of activity,
each one seeming to feed off the other
with hardly any separation or pause.

There were words, some phrases, even memories that cropped up
while working with these littles so I'll share those instead
and you can make of them what you will ....

walking a thin line
full pockets
order from chaos
solace undermined
the wee lass who collected abalone shells on her 10th birthday
"nostalgia is not indulgence"
sunset tidelines
stay calm; wait, hope
delicate balance
relative symmetry
frayed around more than the edges
flower  power
"to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves"

: : : :

To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


bead sketches : month five


Bead sketching in May was like wrestling a dragon.
But then, most everything in May felt like a wrestling match.
Here, all of nature seems to "wake up" at this time of year ... spring  positively explodes ...
and most afternoons I find myself wondering just how I'm going to fit in a nap between 
all the items on my long list of tasks.
Bone weary might be an apt description.

Those are the moments when the strong commitment I made to this project
becomes its own guiding force,  nudging (sometimes shoving) me to the beading table
while the other half of me feels like she should be outside accomplishing x, y, or z instead.

From assembling the base, gathering the materials, stitching layers of cloth,
solving how-to-attach-objects issues, then onto the bead embroidery itself,
each sketch requires between 6 - 8 hours to complete.
This is a relatively small amount of time in a week, all things considered.
But I've realized that if I didn't place value on the process of doing this project
- if I hadn't vowed to myself to show up and do the work no matter what -
I would be allowing a million other things to pull me away.
Excuses are easy.

So here is May.  Duly wrestled.

~ Local skies were lit with dancing lights early in the month so I wondered if I
could illustrate my own perception of them with some over-the-top bead stacks ~

~ Circles of friends; how imperfect they are with their loose threads .... 
how simply they can unravel without care & attention ~ 

~ What happens to the tons of used clothing we as consumers donate or "recycle"?  Much of it 
 makes a voyage overseas ... the somewhat disturbing afterlife of American clothes ~

~ From my collection of purposeless vintage keys (keys with unknown or missing locks),
not suited for much now except for illustrating idioms like this perhaps ~

: : : :

To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


Sweet, sweet spring


An explosion of petals everywhere I look!
How I love this time of year ....

purple-leaved plum in the parking lot at the post office

variegated dogwood, 'Blue Muffin' viburnum, 'Midnight Masquerade' clematis, and a
spritely pink volunteer aquilegia in the front garden

a rose and her bud in the back garden

street rose gone wild behind the grocery store in Friday Harbor

and my favorite petal of all, snoozy in the back of the car,
riding with her new cotinus bush ['Royal Purple' all a'bloom]
and baskets from the Thrift
for the new studio digs  ...

More on that wonderful story in the coming month.

to all my pals in the northern hemisphere
(and a beautiful autumn to you southerlies)


bead sketches : month four


April's quartet ...

which felt more like a kind of poem evolving than a
weekly exercise in making;
more like a continuous thought that moved quietly from
one color palette to the next - which I will explain further 
at the bottom of this post.

Without further ado ...

Once again I'll note the source, or the word prompts, or where my inspiration came from
below each photograph (with links, if applicable).    

~ New beads! called 'Rose Petals,' which started as an exploration of mandalas but grew into
a green study revolving around this term  ~

~ I wondered how I might create a different twist on an old tradition ... ~

~ Off-loom bead weaving can be an incredibly meditative activity & a welcomed mental state of
mind it was this month, so I included a short journey with the freeform version of
this stitch in order  to practice mixing bead sizes & shapes  ~

~ In March of 2015, I had rather an amusing *failed* attempt at dyeing with madder and only
achieved apricot colors.  Since then the shade has grown on me & I've wanted to use some of
that cloth in a beaded piece.  A water-inscribed twig of driftwood, some pearls

: : : :

Now, about that evolving thought I mentioned earlier ...
I didn't realize until I took this quartet outside to photograph her that there is a certain
running through this batch that I haven't seen in the others.  This month
feels like one cohesive journey tied together by an invisible equilibrium.  Am I 
making sense?  Its as if I'm starting to work out some triteness, some of those cliches that
crop up when doing improvisational bead work.  There was definitely more of an ease this
month, a kind of level of intention that never left me.  It's hard to explain but let me tell you
what I did at the beginning of the month:
I drew a card ...
a prompt card from my dear friend India's "wander cards for wonderers."
The words were
I kept them in front of me on the beading table for the entire month.

It is where I held my focus.

And from that came a great, soothing calm
along with an unmistakeable affirmation to keep paying attention
to that which is most important.

: : : :

To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,