copyright to kirsti macleod (and the hundreds of women embroiderers around the globe, along with approximately 10-12 men and boys. also to the amazing women who constructed the pattern and sewed it together, and all those who've shared in the work of bringing it into reality. 2023). THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EMBROIDERERS FROM 51 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD. 14 years of work to bring it to birth.
Although I could be writing about this for days, I will refrain and restrict myself to some (not all!) photos I took of this amazing exhibit at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester Vermont this week. Alas, it leaves Vermont on Sunday.
A friend asked me whether I'd seen it. I didn't even know what she was talking about, so she filled me in and I researched what it was/why it was made and knew I had to go to see it. I am so happy I did, and I urge you to as well. To better understand what it is about, go to https://reddressembroidery.com/ and prepare to be very, very moved by what you see and read.
Meanwhile, here are more photos from the exhibit.
I hope you are interested enough to click on the URL I gave above and read about the intent of this amazing project. Enjoy. Many children also added their embroidery to the piece, including some little boys. And as I mentioned above, around 7 to 9 of the 380 embroiderers were men. The Red Dress is gradually being brought back to the 51 countries, to the people who worked on it, so that all may enjoy the completed piece. Many of the women who've worked on it will get to try it on and be photgraphed in it. I've seen some of the photos and they are incredibly empowering.
Here's a page from my sketchbook showing some practice at drawing flowers. Kelly Barone of Whimsy by Kelly has a lovely free video series on FB on doing this. I think she began it last year but I'm just able to focus on it now. It was fun to try.
Below you can see all the stages, from line drawing to shading to this result directly below.
Oh my gosh. The last time I got to draw was May 5th. Way, WAY too long for me. Last night I finally got back to it and it felt sooooo good.
I am definitely rusty, rusty, rusty. This is overworked, and yet, I just loved every minute of doing it. I couldn't stop after such a long time of no tangling, and that resulted in the overwork (and the lack of sleep since I didn't start the coloring until after 10 pm). But it was worth every second for the pleasure it gave me.
Just the same sort of sigh-of-relief as when you finally get to scratch a bothersome itch.
The linework, before color was added, is on the right.
So what caused this long, long drought? I'm teaching rug hooking in the midwest later this summer and I needed to produce multiple samples for the upcoming class. That has been taking up all my time. I will post the samples soon but now that they are done, I just want to get back to regular rug hooking, punching, and DRAWING.
There will be another short delay while I finish prepping, traveling and teaching. By September I hope to be back to a regular schedule of drawing and blogging.
In the meantime, meditation is keeping me sane and happy throughout this long summer.
Meditation: Because some answers can only be found on the inner net.
– Shira Tamir
So here it is, with the colors added. This was great fun to do. The URL for the video is in yesterday's post, in case you want to try this yourself.
I'm using colors here I do not normally use--not sure what happened there. I am not a "pink" person in normal circumstances but this is what came out.
Contrast it to yesterday's black & white version.
This is only the finished linework for a Zentangle®-inspired piece; I will be adding the color for it, hopefully later today or tomorrow.
If you'd like to try this yourself, it's called "Circus Star" and is free on The Tangled Yogi's YouTube channel. She has an especially lovely meditation at the start of this one, using video footage from a morning walk she took near a lake in California.
AND NOW, IN THE "BEGINNER'S MIND" CATEGORY:
Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to take a digital design workshop with Lucy Richard from Wooly Soul Strings, called "Sketchbook for Hookers." (that would be RUG hookers, people, not the other kind.)
I've been wanting to learn digital art for years now but haven't had time, and I could tell that Lucy's workshop on the Sketchbook app (simpler than Procreate) would teach me the basic concepts.
This was a fabulous workshop and very much a lesson in Beginner's Mind. Talk about FLAILING AROUND. It was a humbling and hilarious experience. Fortunately Lucy is the soul of patience--I'm not kidding about this--and guided us through our bouts of flailing to success.
Or, what constitutes "success" for an abject beginner. Here's what i was able to produce. Yes, it is indeed hideous. But it's my hideous, and I'm proud of it. I can only get better. Right?
It helped to use a couple of mantras throughout: "It's ok, I've never done this before," or "I'm just learning."
And so I'll practice. Begin again, begin again, begin again. Just like meditation. I loved this workshop. Thanks, Lucy! The design possibilities are endless.
Indeed, it's been awhile.
Another round of surgery for me (nothing life-threatening), much-needed but requiring a lengthy recovery. And I'm not done yet. What I mean to say is, I AM done with the surgery but not anywhere near done with the recovery.
However, I've recovered enough to produce one tangle. Just one, but my first one in two months. That long a pause is almost unheard of for me. I had hoped to do a lot more drawing and tangling in recovery but it hasn't yet been possible.
The good news: Everything is going along well, just as predicted. I may be slow but I'm beginning to be able to "art" again. I've also been doing some punch needle embroidery but that's not at a stage where I can show it. Soon, i hope! I think I have about another 6-8 weeks of recovery to go and then I hope to be back to myself.
Really, I do have plenty of other jewelry than brooches, but there are indeed a lot of those. So here is the next one. I'm really enjoying these tiny drawings.
Having said that, I actually never wore this brooch much--it wasn't a favorite and neither is my drawing of it (which takes liberties and includes the tangle Tipple) but that's ok since it is keeping me doing a little bit of drawing every day, which is the goal.
And here's the sterling silver version from which I did the drawing.
A good friend and I met in Vermont Tuesday afternoon for a textile tour (self-planned), the high point of which was a stop here.
Oh my! I had not been back there in SIX YEARS. Awful, because I absolutely love the place. And there have been so many changes in the meantime. It was fabulous to hang out with Amy, Heidi, and the others I hadn't met previously because they've all been hired since i was last able to visit. Of course I bought some goodies for myself too, the last of which was this brightly colored hoodie. It's warm and comfortable and I may never take it off.
Just an amazing class from Lynn Mead of The Tangled Mind today--a benefit for children in Ukraine. I loved every minute of the class.
Lots of discussion about MC Escher (of course), but also excellent teaching and plenty of time to tangle. Done on gray cardstock with a black Micron 05 and graphite pencil with some white chalk pencil for highlights. This was very much in the "quick and dirty" mode. Fun!
First 3 days of Inktober this year. I make a start but rarely finish. So far I'm not crazy about any of these tangles and so I changed 2 of them to such an extent that they are barely recognizable. (Tangles are: Rain, Delray, ISEA-U). In fact one of them isn't recognizable at all!
We'll see if I continue through the month this year. A class I'm teaching and some textile projects might interfere.
When I finished this tile I was really pleased with it--then I photographed it and blew up the photo and once I saw how incredibly shaky all the linework is (it doesn't show so much when it's this size), I was horrified. Yet another benefit of aging! But when I consider the alternative, aging is just fine with me. Being out of practice is also a likely cause.
Certainly not perfect, but good enough. Perfection is not the goal.
I took a break today from the Lunar Phase Project (see the last few posts) and followed along on a video by Tanglewerks CZT. She has many videos; the one I watched had no words, just music (and I shut off the music). She did her mandala on a white tile. I put it mine a grey tile, made a few changes, and added white chalk to spice things up. It was a lovely way to spend the first few hours of a day--just quiet practice. A meditation indeed.
I used to be able to draw any phase of the Moon easily from memory. This is the Moon in Waning Crescent mode, as I've positioned it above. (of course I could flip it around 180° so that the white "horns" point left and then it would represent exactly the opposite, but this is how I drew it--waning). I haven't been watching the Moon as much during the last couple of years, and sure enough, I'm beginning to forget what's what. Time to check back in with Her!
In fact, I have a series of tiles prepped as the Moon in Her various phases and I noticed confusion as I tried to put them in order this morning. Could. Not. Do. It. Had to resort to googling the Moon's Phases (what DID we do before smartphones?) in order to turn things the right way. Yes, definitely time to check back in with Her daily changes.
While trying to determine exactly how long those tiles have been sitting around waiting for me to finish them, I re-discovered this (below). If you asked me, "Have you ever drawn an elephant?" I would have said with 100% confidence, "Nope." But here it is. And I drew it. Memory is notoriously unreliable!
I based the coloring and the stars on an amazing photo I saw of a man in India riding an elephant for a spiritual celebration of some sort (to Ganesh, perhaps?). His elephant had been covered with light blue blue dust and he or someone had painted stars all over it. It pretty much looked like this. I completely changed the blanket, though, and left off the man, and used a template for the outline of the elephant from Ben Kwok of Ornation Creation (he has tons of animal templates). So this is not a copy of the photograph, not even close. I rarely tangle anything representational but my friend Julie adores elephants so I framed and gave it to her. And I drew it exactly 7 years ago today. A lot has happened in that time--she got married and now has a lovely little boy. I'm betting the elephant picture is somewhere in her house, maybe even in his room.
Finally, since I've been on a Moon kick, yesterday I had fun with a Zendala I'd prepped with a watercolor wash a long time ago. Just playing with the tangle Ibex. I started off like the photo on the left and then somehow ended up like the photo on the right. Not my best work but oh boy did I have fun playing.
Really, it is the same tile, just taken on 2 different backgrounds under different light conditions and clearly I'd done more drawing in the version on the right. Still, when you look at the color differences, it's hard to believe it is the same tile. I think I prefer the one on the left, before I overdid the work on it. Live and learn.
Ah--I just heard that Queen Elizabeth has died. I know she was still working as recently as the day before yesterday, when she greeted the new PM. Talk about taking to a role in life with utter dedication--how serious she was about it! She wasn't perfect, but she was wonderful anyway. She was born to become an archetype, and perfectly lived the role. Go in peace, Lady.
Well not really good enough to eat, unless you enjoy a mouthful of wool?
This morning I went looking for some sock/fingering weight yarn for my next punch needle embroidery project and what should I happen upon but this hugely expensive, luscious-looking hand-dyed skein. I'll be building my next textile piece around the colors in this yarn. Plus a few other colors. Stay tuned. I hope to be back to full speed soon, with more rug hooking, rug punching, yarn dyeing, drawing, and who knows, perhaps even some beadwork.
I don't own undyed yarn in this weight, so I can't dye any myself. This gives me a great excuse to stand in the yarn store and drool over what other people create, and then buy some. Hey, anything to buy more yarn, right? I will file this under the inspirational category, Other People's Work. Gorgeous!
...or am I just incredibly messy?
Hard to tell. Both, I think. I'm at the beginning of a new rug (one reason I haven't been posting drawings much is that I've been so busy doing punchneedle embroidery, finishing off my last traditionally hooked rug, and now starting a new traditionally hooked rug).
Here's what my studio floor looked like last night and still today.
I guess I know myself well enough to know that I need to throw stuff all over the floor and leave it while I look at it for a few days. This mess with its stumble-inducing health hazards--you take your life in your hands trying to walk across the floor--will in fact result in much trial and error but eventually I'll be able to work out a color plan.
Many rug makers I know can pull a few wools from their neat shelves, roll them together for testing purposes, decide on an initial plan, start working, tweak a bit and then boom! They are on their way. Not me. My mother would probably ask me if I was raised by wolves in Lower Slobbovia, but in fact, this is how I need to work. Yes, for me, it's all about creating chaos and allowing things to arise out of the mess.
Pretty much like the way our minds work in meditation. Until we learn to let things to arise out of the mess and begin to sort through them, allowing them to pass on their way, we just have the mess on our hands. But eventually we're able to sort through it and clear the space. Or perhaps it's just that life unfolds as it will, and things get sorted on their own.
I'm very moved by chaos theory, and that sense of energy. That quantum physics. We don't really, in Hindu tradition, have a father figure of a God. It's about cosmic energy, a little spark of which is inside every individual as the soul.
What happened to these people, the Mimbres, who created such dramatic and elegant pottery?
Emerging from the Mongollon culture, they were a later version of that group which lived around the Mongollan Mountains in Arizona and New Mexico from about AD 200-1450. If I am correct, the Mimbres peoples lived toward the end of that period (1050-1200 or so).
Eventually, it appears that they abandoned their homes and cultural centers for unknown reasons. Just walked away, probably dispersing into other groups or other areas of the country.
Who were they and where did they go--and why? So far, we have no answers to these questions. They leave us their inspired, graphic, dramatic pottery, from which this tile is drawn. Here we have the fish, the deer, the turtle, and the caterpillar, all very precious and symbolic to them. We have the four directions, a stylized sun, some stylized feathers. While we can say something about what modern generations of Native/Indigenous Peoples would say about these symbols, we can only guess at the full extent of what they mean to people from this era. It's a definitely a mystery.
Only their art speaks to us about who they were.
To a Mimbres Woman
by Marty Eberhardt
I see your thousand-year-old thumb print
On the plain brown potsherd.
My own thumb fits perfectly
In the curve you left.
Other more elegant pottery bits
Lie among rocks and junipers
On this hill of dry grasses.
Red-on-white interwoven geometry,
A tasseled quail,
Designs fine as any
In the art galleries of the town.
But it is this plain brown piece that draws me.
My thumb seeks the curved place, again.
I see you forming the pot
From coils of clay,
You look out over fields of corn and beans
In the valley below.
Then, as now, a red-tailed hawk dips,
A horned lizard scurries under a stone
That forms the village wall.
Beyond the fields
Green cottonwoods mark the river
Between jagged hills.
The wind shakes their leaves like a gourd rattle.
In the quiet between gusts,
The river rushes below, monsoon-strong.
It is in these wild places,
Where our thumbs
Feel the curve of another’s hand,
Places free from cement, neon, asphalt, smog,
And deadened water,
Across cultures and countries,
Beyond all reason,
We find each other.
My first try at a new tangle called Kivka, from Jo Quincy, CZT (Zenjo). She just offered her second fundraising class for Ukraine. As a result, this time she'll be donating around $3000 to UNICEF for Ukranian aid and relief, based on participants' donations. In her first class she raised somewhere around $2500 I believe. What a lesson in how one person can make a difference.
"Kivka" is named for Petrykivka, which is both a small village in Ukraine (southeast of Kiev) and also the home of a style of painting called Petrykivka, a folk art of great beauty. I plan to work more with this tangle and make further donations when I can for relief there.
The new dawn blooms
as we free it.
For there is always Light,
if only we're brave
enough to see it.
If only we're brave
enough to be it.
Here is another version of work I did in a class with Shie Naritomi, CZT. What a wonderful teacher. See my comments from yesterday on the background of this work.
As one person, I cannot bring peace to Ukraine. I cannot restore what they have lost: lives, livelihoods, homes, family, and peace of mind. No one person can do this alone.
But I can join with others to protest, to support. And I can take the time to sit quietly and calm myself, so that I make wiser decisions when I protest or when I support.
Drawing and meditation both do that for me. So does drawing AS meditation. The more peace and compassion I can develop within myself, the more peace and compassion I can bring into the world. Perhaps only in small ways, but if each of us were able to do this, it would be powerful.
So I have taken the time to draw this afternoon, breathing deeply and working line by line, one line at a time. It is calming. It gives me courage to watch the news tonight. Again. To witness the inhumanity. Again. It gives me courage to keep protesting, to keep supporting, to keep loving, despite it all.
Two views of the same luscious hearth-rug designed, dyed, and hand-punched by my buddy AE.
You haven't lived until you've sunk your toes into a hand-punched rug. So luxurious.
I would love to say "I taught her," but it just ain't true. I spent about half a minute several years back showing her how to punch and ditto showing her how to dye wool (yarn). She already had killer textile instincts in other media, and with basically no instruction developed her own style and vision. Now I feel like I'd recognize her work anywhere, and she's far surpassed me in her dyeing skills. Really beautiful work here. She also weaves, sews, embroiders, beads, and draws. Some folks just have the gift!
Well shame on me--it took me weeks to get around to just putting a hem on this but I got it done today and it was extremely easy and quick. I don't know what took me so long. Nice to have this done at last. 9" x 20" hemmed.
After watching my friend Jo Quincy, CZT, create a Mooka-Tipple combination tile, I thought I'd have a go. I've done this tile before but not for ages. Jo has damaged a finger on her dominant hand very badly and has been tangling with her non-dominant hand and producing work as gorgeous as if she was using the dominant one--she is really amazing. (NOTE: I used my dominant hand to do this one and it's not half as good as hers, done with her "wrong" hand.)
I tangled with a blue Micron 05 over a pre-prepped watercolored Zendala--on the left. And then tarted up the piece with some watercolor pencils and gold gellyroll, on the right above. Which one do I prefer? Don't know. My tile is totally inspired by Jo's piece, but of course it came out differently as tangling is like handwriting. Hers is much more subtle. To see hers, go HERE. And as you watch, be aware she's using her "wrong hand." Amazing!
Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.
Finally, I had to play with them on my iPhone apps and producted these 2 versions:
Playing with "special effects" is always fascinating, especially any shift in color. Knowing that we don't always see color the same way makes this even more intriguing. Which version(s) do you prefer?
Continuing with zenAgain21: Here's a Dali-inspired tile. Mine looked quite different from those done by others (they were better at listening to the directions).
I know, scary stuff, huh?
"When we are asleep in this world, we are awake in another." - Dali
He's not one of my favorite artists, but this was a fun idea to experiment with.
This was done with brown and black microns, graphite, watercolor pencils and white chalk pencil with a touch of white gellyroll on a 3.5" white tile.
Somewhere during the four days, we worked on an Opus tile (10 inches square). I have plans to re-do this one, since I liked the idea but felt a bit too rushed during the execution. It was fun though.
I have a few other things to finish or re-do, so that's it for now. What an opportunity. To be tangling for four days straight was just wonderful. And exhausting. As Molly Hollibaugh says, "Drawing is a physical act." True!
It felt great today to just sit and tangle awhile. Quiet and relaxing. I'm rusty but the annual 'Inktober" Challenge adapted for tanglers got me going and I couldn't be happier, even though we're already nine days into the month. I plan to do what I can and thoroughly enjoy doing it. It's good to be back.
Why "done but not finished?" Because this is the piece that I'll be using to demonstrate finishing at the class I'm giving a couple of friends on punchneedle embroidery. The punching is done; the finishing will wait for the class.
If you look at this sample, there are some loose threads that have popped up on the front and need to be trimmed. That's one part of finishing a piece. On the back, which can't be seen here, there are many loose ends to trim. And there are two other major finishing techniques waiting to be done--I'll use this sample to demo at the class.
This pattern is GREAT for beginners--not only do you learn to punch, but there's some additional hand embroidery involved (the red petals on the echinacia flower), plus the border is punched using a deeper height on the needle, which gives newbies a chance to see what punching much longer loops will feel like. The design is simple enough for a beginner. This is the Old Tattered Flag's design called Under the Blooms. You can even buy it as a kit with all the threads required. Highly recommended if you want to learn punchneedle embroidery, or if you plan to teach it.
The people we tend to call Huichol in Mexico (they call themselves Wixåritari, or, The People) have a long history of art. I've admired their beadwork, small glass beads pressed into wax lining the bottoms of gourd-bowls and other objects coated with a thin layer of wax, using bright, bright colors. Check it out at the link above. They work in many media in addition to beadwork--textiles, paintings, et cetera.
This tangle is based on a shape common to their culture and others. We see it in quilting patterns everywhere, and in many other cultural contexts. Mexican CZT Celina Bonilla Martin gave a class using the form as a template. I decided to go with a different colorway and did my own thing.
Tangles included: Printemps, DoDah, Wadical, Umbler, Flux, Ko'oke'o.
What interested me was that most of the way through working on this, it looked like it was going to turn out as an epic failure on my part. It looked horrible. I wish I'd taken photos during the progression. And then I began adding the tangles and it turned around. While it may not be a masterwork on my part, I quite like it now.
How many times have I said that here, and drawn a parallel to daily life? Trying out new things often brings on a feeling of, "Oh my god, this is never going to work," and then somehow it turns out better than expected. And with practice, we just learn more and get better and better. This is certainly not true in all situations in life, but it's the case far more often than not.
The critical mind is always predicting epic failures.
Just ignore it. See what happens instead.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society