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.
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!
How gorgeous is this? I'm so proud to say I know the woman who designed and made it.
Paula Garbarino, Fine Furniture Maker
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!
A quote from one of my most beloved poets.
Early Morning, My Birthday
by Mary Oliver
The snails on the pink sleds of their bodies are moving among the morning glories.
The spider is asleep among the red thumbs of the raspberries.
What shall I do, what shall I do?
The rain is slow.
The little birds are alive in it.
Even the beetles.
The green leaves lap it up.
What shall I do, what shall I do?
The wasp sits on the porch of her paper castle.
The blue heron floats out of the clouds.
The fish leap, all rainbow and mouth, from the dark water.
This morning the water lilies are no less lovely, I think, than the lilies of Monet.
And I do not want anymore to be useful, to be docile, to lead children out of the fields into the text
of civility to teach them that they are (they are not) better than the grass.
Today more than a hundred CZTs from around the globe gathered online with CZTs in Singapore to do an hour-long meditative tile on behalf of those who have suffered from Covid-19.
These were the same CZTs who last year donated $10K US and this year donated $12K US to Covid relief efforts as a result of their two very successful and well-run schools for tanglers.
What I loved about doing it, though, was that 3 or 4 different CZTs from the other side of the globe led us all through an hour-long meditation in which, as we drew, we focused our compassionate attention on anyone who has suffered from Covid. They did a superb job leading the meditation. I so admire the structure they've created to support humanitarian efforts. Thanks!
And now for the tiny treasure. Yesterday I went to my local bead-and-jewelry-repair shop to get my watch battery replaced. While waiting, I spotted this wooden box, which is no more than about 1 1/2" square. With what appears to be a tangled Turtle on top.
In fact the box is so small I had to take a picture and enlarge the photo in order to see the fine detail on the turtle, which just blew me away. The top of the box slides off so smoothly it's just a marvel of craftsmanship. It's so small that I cannot imagine what to put inside.
This continent was originally called Turtle Island by the First Nations People, and I still call it that. I am very fond of turtles and simply couldn't resist this tiny masterpiece.
And this leads us right back to the meditative nature of the turtle:
Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.
Looking for peace is like looking for a turtle with a mustache: You won't be able to find it. But when your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you.
Turtles always strike me as devastatingly serious. If turtles could talk, I'd believe everything they said.
Let's face it: I just don't have the photographic skills to do justice to the spring colors outside right now. The crystalline sunlight. The intensely clear blue sky. And the spring flowers! Oh my--absolutely no way to capture those colors. Crocuses everywhere, and squill all around them. I'm no gardener, alas, but I walk by this lovely garden every day:
It makes my heart smile to see these small flowery gifts rising from the soil after such a very, very grim winter. Indeed, after this winter, I feel lucky to be alive to see these gifts from the earth coming back to us.
Yesterday I did some wool dyeing in order to finish the rug I've been working on for months. Because I'm doing a major revision on this rug, I've been pulling out one color and substituting another--a color I hadn't planned on and so I ran out of it. Thus it was back to the dyepots. I surprised myself by getting an exact match. It reminds me of the purple crocuses, even though it needed to be grayed down for the rug.
A VERY grayed-down lavender. But, it'll work! Onward to finishing the rug.
And WELCOME SPRING.
Yes, it really looks this way.
This exquisite photograph of the Grand Canyon at Sunset was taken on the Martin Luther King Holiday, 2021, by Michael Quinn, a fabulous National Park Service photographer who has lived at the Canyon forever.
I think it speaks to his heart.
It certainly speaks to mine.
Eating Fruit at the Grand Canyon - A song to make death easy
Since this great hole in earth is beyond
My comprehension and I am hungry,
I sit on the rim and eat fruit
The colors of the stone i see,
Strawberries of iron cliffs, sagebrush
melons, white sand apple, grapes
The barely purple of the stonewashed slopes,
And every color I eat is in my vision,
Colonized by my eye, by me and everyone
I have known, so vast, so remote,
That we can only gaze at ourselves, wondering
At our reaches, eat fat fruit while we
Grow calm if we can, our folded
Rocky interiors pressed upwards through
Our throats, side canyons seeming almost
Accessible, the grand river of blood
Carving us even as we sit, devouring
Color that will blush on our skin
Nourish us so that we may climb
The walls of the interior, bewildered,
Tremulous, but observant as we move
Down in, one foot, another,
careful not to fall, to fall,
The fruit fueling us in subtle
Surges of color in this vastly deep
Where birds make shadow and echo
And we have no idea
Why we cannot comprehend ourselves,
Each other, a place so deep and bright
It has no needs and we wonder
What we’re doing here on this fragment
Of galactic dust, spinning, cradled,
Awestruck, momentarily alive.”
― Diane Hume George
This was the scene as I took a walk this morning. I do not live on a mountain, but this reminded me of one of my favorite instrumentals, Foggy Mountain Breakdown.
Such a lovely morning, and then in the afternoon, there was the sun and relative warmth.
Meanwhile, a good friend send me a greeting card I well remember from buying some of these myself in the 1980s. I haven't seen them in years and loved getting this. There was a whole series of these cards, based on flowers and vegetables. Here is the lovely Eggplant Deva, painted by Azra Simonetti circa 1986.
Some days have their own sweetness. This was one.
Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called "the present."
"Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
- JK Galbraith
Ah, here it is. The prime example of Don't-know Mind, that shocking moment of extreme uncertainty. I write this the day after the election, during a time when we still don't know the results.
Here we sit.
It's not comfortable. But that is the truth of this moment.
Even once a decision is clear, we still will not know what happens next. In fact, we never can know what happens next. We are always in Don't-know Mind; it's simply more obvious today than usual. Since we are wired to prefer certainty, it's so much more convenient to ignore the reality that Don't-know Mind is our continuous state.
Another thing I don't know : who stained or painted the small square of watercolor paper I used to tangle on last night. To whomever you are: thank you. The staining was faint but spread in lovely fashion across the paper and provided a wonderful smear-y background for linework and bits of color that I added. I like the way the original background spreads out beyond the border here.
I rarely do either of these tangles, so every line on this square is a product of Don't-know Mind.
Thank goodness for Zentangle®, which is amazingly relaxing, even in the most uncertain times.
"So much of our difficulty with uncertainty is that we've evolved to survive by trying to predict the future. The seasons, the crops, where the animals will be, if we're hunting.
But if we can really take care of what's right here, this present moment, what else is the future made of, but this moment right here, right now? The future is just a continuation of this. So there's no point in worrying and being anxious about the future, if we take good care of this moment, breathing in, knowing our heart is still beating, and how miraculous that is.
Breathing out, and feeling the gift of our lungs. That's the present moment."
- Kaira J. Lingo
See description of this workshop below. This was the result for me; I ran my black & white photo of the cutouts I did during the workshop through the Painnt app on my phone, with this result. I used construction paper and then parked the cutouts in this arrangement on a sheet of white background. Painnt did the rest. I converted the photo to b&w in order to let Painnt do its job.
I am in love with the London Drawing Group, a trio of women dedicated to doing and teaching art. When I saw this workshop on Matisse's cutouts--only £7 or about eleven bucks, and only 1 hour--I thought, what a great way to stimulate creativity. So I signed up and had an absolute blast. We made a number of cutouts in only 60 minutes, only a few of which I used for this photo. Here's the black and white version from my phone before I ran it through the Painnt app posted above this paragraph:
But I wasn't alone in attending. There were people from all over the globe. Two of them were good friends from my rug hooking groups--I had contacted them to tip them off in advance to the workshop and they both signed up. We all knew it would have immediate uses for rug design. And it certainly did.
Here is the work of one of my buddies, Kathleen K., who also attended. Rather than cutting paper, she cut her shapes directly from wool fabric. I love her results. She gave me permission to post this:
And below is the contribution from Lynda F, another rug hooking buddy who also gave me permission to use her photo:
Construction paper cutouts--they can be arranged in so many different ways. Thanks to Lynda F for allowing me to use her results and this photo! If you notice similarities between our cutouts in these photos, it's because we all worked from the same photo models during the workshop. Only our individual cutting techniques created differences. But the possibilities are truly endless.
"I wouldn't mind turning into a vermilion goldfish."
This lovely lovely mirror (with a portion of mirror part papered over to minimize distraction) was designed and made by a much-adored and longtime friend of mine, Paula Garbarino. The inscription, "Il faut fertiliser notre jardin," can be translated to mean, "We must pollinate our garden." Thus the honeybees, a favorite of mine.
That sentiment can be taken on so many levels. The garden of friendship. The garden of kindness. The garden of interconnectedness with each other. The garden of the Earth itself. We all need to pollinate, to tend, and to care for each other and for the Earth.
We all know how hardworking a honeybee is. Indeed it often takes a lot of work to tend and care for each other, especially at a troubled, stressful time like the time we are in now.
Normally Paula designs and makes fine-art furniture, and marquetry--a form of "painting with wood," is one of her specialties. She has been at it for decades and I hope you'll take time to go to her website and browse her luscious designs in the photo gallery there. Her work has been displayed in museums and is owned and collected by numerous people.
She does not normally make small pieces like this, though she has made a few. This mirror, about 17x10", showed up unannounced in my mail as a gift about two weeks ago and it took me a while to determine a place in my home to hang it so that I could see it frequently every day.
I am one very lucky friend indeed. Much gratitude to Paula. You are yourself quite like a honeybee--incredibly hardworking, kind, and of course, always building something oh-so-sweet.
The final photos from Deerfield's (MA) Memorial Hall Museum. Enjoy. See the previous 5 posts for the rest.
This post has some additional textiles and some non-textile surprises.
More photos from the recent show which included pieces from their permanent collection, at the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, MA.
See the previous four posts for more goodies.
I'm pretty sure this was called "The Last Rose of Summer," and is in their permanent collection. Embroidered.
Beautiful textiles from Deerfield's Memorial Hall Museum continued. This is the fourth installment--and there will be at least two, possibly three more.
And, here we go with more wonderful textiles and other goodies from Deerfield's Memorial Hall Museum. Some are particular to this exhibit which I think is over by 8/31 but others (most of these today, I think) are part of their permanent collection.
If you want to see the first two posts I did on this, they are from yesterday and the day before.
Last--and very definitely least (by comparison), here is my own bedspread. It's mass-produced and frankly, cheap. But when I was making my bed this morning, in between working on this blog post, I suddenly "saw" it for what it is--a pale imitation of these blue and white Deerfield embroideries that I've admired for decades! And I never even made the association before. DUH!
It gave me a huge laugh.
Stay tuned for more Deerfield treats over the next few days. I look a LOT of photos.
A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa, but people still line up to see the original.
More from the Memorial Museum's current exhibit in Deerfield MA. For the start of this series, see the previous post.
This may just look like a fussy quilt. But look closer. And look at the next 2 pictures (the white orbs are reflections of ceiling lights--the quilt is under glass). The closer you look, the more impressive it gets. Although I still wouldn't choose to own it, I can admire the EXTREME workmanship. See next photo.
Yes, that is my index finger NEARLY but not quite touching the quilt. I would not touch a textile of this type and age at this point. The finger is there to show you the size of the pieces. Smaller than my much less than 1/2" wide fingernail. I mean, these pieces--all hand sewn together--are 1/4" or LESS in size. Now go back up to the first picture and have another look at how many pieces this quilt contains. Mind-boggling. Story of the quilt in the next photo.
Last week I saw some truly lovely textiles at the Deerfield Memorial Museum. Here's a small portion of what I saw. I'll post more when I can.
I am heartbroken over losing a good friend to COVID 19. She had a long, gruesome struggle and it's finally over. At some point about two weeks ago it became obvious that she was too damaged to come back to us, but the struggle went on. And on. And on. Horrible. She finally died last week and I have to say I was relieved on her behalf. Now the grief sets in.
But, there are still plenty of other wonderful people in the world. One in particular--my 97 year old next door neighbor--called me last evening and told me she wanted me to come over to her property and cut myself a bouquet of her lilacs, "Since you don't have any on your land." I went over this morning and did just that. She even loaned me her garden shears. I adore her, and she has absolutely no idea that I just lost a friend. But somehow, she reached out anyway. It just made my entire day.
You can imagine--I hope--the fabulous scent spreading through my home from her marvelous lilacs. Thank you, Erm! Kindness makes all the difference.
I've learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.
This is indeed a silent spring, though not entirely in the way Rachel Carson envisioned in her book. I mean the term literally: traffic is down, people are staying in their homes, all due to Covid 19. It's very quiet out there. For all the suffering and misery it is causing, and the fear, the few benefits from this pandemic experience are mighty: the lowering of air pollution, the increased awareness of our interconnection with others. New appreciation for nature as many people are getting out on walks, not to mention sleeping longer, spending more time with kids and pets.
In honor of that I include two photos friends have sent me, of two marvelous harbingers of spring.
I always enjoy these wonderful reminders of Spring when I see them in the woods. This year for a number of reasons I won't be in the woods, so it was lovely to get the photographs.
Yesterday I got a small package with something I had ordered from Etsy. Inside were the things I had ordered, along with a slip of paper I found utterly charming:
What a fun message. And I'm sure it's true.
If you, like me, are "Staying Home to Save Lives" during this pandemic, and if you're ordering things online I hope you'll consider buying from a small business when that is possible. You know they need the help.
(And no, I do not sell online. But I do like to buy from small businesses when I can.)
Two years ago I started hearing about this show, which is only run every other year.
Because I was sick, I missed the 2017 show and was determined to get to this one. I made it to Vermont today and am glad I did. This show is held at the Pompanoosuc Mills home base in Vermont, a gigantic workshop building where their signature furniture is made and the location of their flagship showroom.
Why a rug & fiber show there? Because Ed O'Keeffe, the Showroom and Web Manager, is also a rug hooking artist. Ed teamed up with Jennifer Davey, another rug hooking artist and a past president of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild (GMRHG), to mount this show on an "off-year" from the big show that is put on biannually by GMRHG. Because the Pompy showroom is simply immense, there is a lot of wall space. It's the perfect place to hang rugs! And hang they did--check out these wonderful pieces below. Note that I did not get pictures of all the rugs, only about half of the ones on display.
I should add here that all these rugs came from the talented members of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild. I'm thinking that Jennifer and Ed selected them from the Guild's bi-annual show and curated them for this display.
Another of Dana's astounding rugs, Red Riding Hood, was also on display here, but I have already dedicated an entire previous blog post to Dana. Her Red Riding Hood rug is so spectacular that an Australian rug maker did a blog post on it that's in-depth and quite good. Don't miss it! You can find it HERE. And to see more of Dana's work, check my previous post about her HERE.
Despite these many photos, there were at least as many, if not more, rugs and wall hangings on display (and of course, the beautiful furniture everywhere as well). If you are in the area, this show is well worth a visit.
Details on how to get there and the duration of the show are on the postcard at the top of this post. Enjoy!
My form of church, that is.
I left very early today to meet a friend and fellow textile artist on a rural road 45 minutes from my home. Each with rugs in tow. Our goal was to drape the rugs we brought over the stone wall that looks over a meadow and then down, down, down into a huge reservoir (part of which is just barely visible over the tops of the trees and under the surrounding hills) and get a decent photo. I ran the resulting picture thru an iPhone app and got this. I'm pleased. It's a mix of a few of my rugs and a few of her rugs.
This picture describes my spiritual life--the natural world plus a meditative form of craft such as traditional rug hooking.
The light, the earth, the stones, the colors, the sun, the clouds, the wind, the water, the trees, the hills.
I can't think of a better place to be on a Sunday morning in the autumn.
“The sun shines not on us but in us.”
― John Muir
This image adorned the cover of my old 1979 calendar, one of the many I bought annually from rubber stamp artist Susan Riecken, who seems to have disappeared; I can't find any online presence for her and the last calendar I was able to get from her was in the early 1990s. After that she closed her Cambridge studio and I couldn't find a trace of her. Here is the actual cover of that calendar:
I completely adored her work. Each calendar was a labor of love. She carved the stamps from erasers and in the early years I *think* she hand-stamped each calendar, though I'm not sure. Pretty soon she had the hand-stamped pages reproduced so that she could produce the calendars in bulk, but that never interfered with the delicious colors or the funky marvelous designs. She was/is an art idol of mine. Wishing her well wherever she is, and hoping she's well and happy and making more art, even if I cannot find her.
About my interpretation/copy of her sunflowers: I knew when I ran across this calendar the other day that I wanted to try making a "stamp-like" design by scratching away on an Art Scratch tile. Using a wooden stylus would, I thought give the same chunky effect as a carved stamp. I think I was right.
First try at the Trinity (the Celtic-Knot appearing tangle) and Balloya (the one with the multiple lines). I enjoyed doing both, and could certainly get better at both with practice. Why did I choose these two? Because they both began with triangles.
But never mind that. Look what just arrived from my kind and unbelievably talented friend AE. She MADE this. Since I can sew but only very badly, this boggles my mind. She sews like a pro, weaves wonderful things, beads exquisite pieces, does punch needle rugs, dyes her own yarns, and I know I'm forgetting other talents. And all of it beautifully.
I love this! Am I lucky or what?
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