How gorgeous is this? I'm so proud to say I know the woman who designed and made it.
Paula Garbarino, Fine Furniture Maker
I had a problem.
With sewing machines.
Other than my ancient old Singer treadle, which I somehow managed to "misplace" during one of my Year of Seven Relocations (don't ask: an unhappy time many decades ago) I have always found sewing machines super-challenging.
Oh how I loved that treadle; it was just my speed, even when I was young. It was reliable. It never snarled up or gave trouble. Photo of a similar machine at the end of this post.
After the Year of Seven Relocations, I bought a small, inexpensive Sears Kenmore that had some basic bells and whistles and looked portable. I used it a few times, had the usual issues (snarled up threads causing endless cursing), buried it at the back of a closet and forgot it.
Fast-forward forty-five+ years to 2017. Having relocated yet again, I finally brought the Kenmore in for a complete tune-up--cleaning, oiling, and a bit of general loving. It was sorely needed. (Ya think?) I had not used it once in over 40 years.
Since 2017 I've only pulled it out a couple of times but now it positively hums and performs flawlessly. It's a joy to use. I used it this afternoon to zig-zag around the edge of my latest rug, and enjoyed the entire experience. It sews like a dream. It's a trooper, after 5 decades.
What a far cry from 50 years ago. I'm sure its tune-up helped, but I know that I'm actually the one who's had the major tune-up since then. I realize now the trouble was never with the machine, which in fact is extremely well-made. The "fault"--though I wouldn't use that term now--lay with my own inner unhappiness at the time. The impatience. The self-doubt. The insecurity. The determination to blame something or someone else, never taking responsibility myself.
A little meditation (OK, a lot of meditation) and an education in the School of Life have tuned me up quite a bit! It turns out I have always been the owner of a very well-made sewing machine, and only needed to grow up enough to use it.
If you're a runner, you'll certainly recognize what this refers to.
(The dime is just there to indicate the size of the piece)
I punched this with Valdani thread as a prototype for a friend who wants to learn to punch. This teeny piece is relevant to a project she is creating. Before I teach her, though, I needed to figure out the right tools to loan her. She will be punching many small pieces for her project and I wanted to make it as easy on her hands as possible. After a few hours of testing various threads and needles, I think I've got it worked out. A little textile mystery that was a very fun experiment.
Nope, I haven't abandoned the blog, even though it must look like it. It's a temporary lapse caused by necessary work on an external project, as well as the fact that I've been working hard on a hand-hooked rug. Then add in a dash of generalized holiday madness. Even though I don't celebrate the holidays, everyone around me does and it certainly causes madness!
Result: I haven't put my pen on paper to draw in a month. And wow, have I missed it.
So here you have me starting over. This is a piece-in-progress, one that I began last night. It's not even half-done yet. We'll see where it goes.
I treated myself to a new t-shirt and I love it.
Last, here is a sneak preview of an upcoming rug I'm working on. This is what has really been taking up most of my time. This and doing a lot of reading (see the t-shirt above), along with some teaching.
All in all a very busy end to this year. Wonderful. And now, I hope to get back to drawing in 2022.
I made hard-boiled eggs last week and after they cooled this is what I saw. I took a photograph because if ever there was an egg begging for kintsugi, this one was it.
However, I ate the egg in my dinner salad, so no kintsugi took place.
Not sure what kintsugi is? It's the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics using gold in the cracks, resulting in a mended object of striking beauty. Look HERE.
The beauty is in the brokenness.
The instant I saw that egg I wanted to paint it, though I've no idea why. Perhaps I've been thinking about kintsugi recently as I observe so much brokenness surrounding us all.
Compassion can be one way to join our pieces back together, to form a strong bond, and to heal ourselves.
I contemplate this, and then write:
Pick up your broken pieces.
Lovingly place them together.
Add the gold.
Allow time for healing.
And then, look.
So much beauty.
And here is one lovely article I saw on the topic.
Here is the "mystery" from yesterday--solved. Joanna Quincey of Zenjo taught a quick class on Teabag Tangling Now you know what I was doing with that mess of teabags in my previous post.
(PDS: thanks so much for collecting for me, since I don't like or drink tea! I have enough to keep me going for a while.)
Jo is a terrific and inventive teacher. Here are my first tangled teabags.
Massively fun to try out! Thanks, Jo.
More to come on this tomorrow or early next week.
The prep for a grand experiment.
(this is Teaser #1)
I know the general outline of the experiment will be, but I have no idea if it will work or not. Hmmm. This could be the first & last you hear about it.
Teaser #2 is below
It's the same little punch needle "ruglet"--which I showed here a few days ago--only this time, it's lying on part of my new rug. I'm now binding the rug, and will show it in full once it's done.
"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it."
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.
I spotted this bumper sticker on the back of a car a couple of blocks away from my house as I was out on a walk this afternoon. At first I walked past it, but I was laughing so loud I had to circle back to take the photograph. There were a few other things on the car that suggested to me that the owner might be an amateur or even a pro astronomer. Some type of scientist.
I want this on a t-shirt. They do make them, of course. I found them on amazon.
What a year.
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."
In my mail today was a small flat envelope with the return address of a place from which I could not remember having ordered a thing. Huh???
I puzzled over it, put the mail down to do a few other things, and didn't open it until just now.
This cracked me up! I had recently sent a donation to the Insight Meditation Society, or "IMS," in Barre, MA, and in response they sent a lovely thanks and included these three masks. A total surprise!
IMS is renowned for their meditation instruction, and with good reason. In times when Covid-19 isn't interfering, it's a tremendous place to go for a weekend program or on a meditation retreat. As you might imagine, they are offering a full slate of programs online at the moment to keep people safe during the pandemic. These messages of lovingkindness really made me smile.
With a bit more time now, I'm back into mindful drawing techniques. This is based on one of Sadelle Wiltshire's classes. More of this to come. Very easy, very mindful. And very small, hence the title of today's post.
My latest completed rug. This is one of only 4 rugs I've ever put up on a wall. For a closer look, see the October 1st post. Just to the left of it is the wonderful handmade mirror a dear friend created and gave me--I blogged about that on October 5. And on the side of the stairs you can just see my "Hooker" sign. Got that a few years ago and love seeing it every day.
I don't normally enjoy putting rugs on the wall--I prefer to walk on them. But the colors in this one are so subtle I finally decided the wall would be safer. It's all scrap wool that I had lying around.
I've also run out of room for rugs at the moment and may have to put a few more of my patiently-waiting rolled-up rugs on walls around the house.
Less than 3 minutes was all it took to hang this, once I had some assistance. A very small amount of time (title of today's post), and something I've wanted to do for weeks.
Today I made it (with mask on my face of course) to a new shop called Swanson's Fabrics in Western Massachusetts. I'd heard about it but hadn't gone until today. It was large enough to feel safe inside. Part of the time it was just me and the owner, and there were never more than 2-3 others at any one time, all distanced.
But oh, the treasures! Kathryn Swanson, the owner, has more than fabrics; she also has yarns, threads, sewing notions, and braiding equipment.
NOTE: All her fabrics are $4/yard. No matter what they are made of. Seriously! Cottons, upholstery and lots of other fabrics, and even wool yardage (the wools go out the door nearly as soon as they arrive--I grabbed 1.5 yards of the light colored wool you see above on the right, for $6 total).
And I'm pretty certain she mail-orders, so feel free to contact her and ask.
All of her fabrics, yarns, and notions are rescued from people's basements or from fabric stores or yarn stores that have gone out of business. You could go one day and find nothing, and go back the next day and find tons of wonderful new rescued goods.
When you click the link to her website above, be sure to go to her "About" tab and read her mission statement. I'm in awe.
I also got seventeen 100-gram skeins of off-white, 100% wool yarns, very high quality if a bit grubby from being stored for quite a while. I'm pretty sure they were originally from Sweden. Some are worsted weight and some are DK. I can overdye them all. Very exciting. I cleared her out of these, however, so you'll have to find your own treasures some other day.
This was a Big Find, and therefore doesn't fit the title of today's post. But I didn't think any of you would mind...
Although it's too bad they are necessary (although they certainly are necessary!), a kind friend just sent me 3 masks that didn't fit her but will fit me. Recognize the the fabrics? Designer: William Morris. (A.K.A. "That wallpaper guy," as a good friend calls him, which cracks me up) I adore Morris and will be so happy to wear these.
As mentioned in yesterday's entry, I went to a meeting with CZT Tomomi Galeano where she had us practicing the tangle Waybop. Many people find it hard to do. I knew it would be a fun practice. We all just used scrap paper, and I used cheapo printer paper--in fact, I did this on the back of a bill, or what I thought was a bill, that I was planning on recycling.
Tomomi just did this as a free meeting for anyone who wanted to come. Another kind friend. I feel very fortunate with the number of kind people in my life.
Want to see the plain unvarnished first version? It's in yesterday's post.
The misshapen exterior is caused by my just cutting out the paper around the tangle. I did this exercise as pure practice and you can tell by the wobbly lines I was making decisions as I went along. I didn't expect any result, but was sort of charmed by it when it was done.
I finished it with some shading and color this morning. It turned out to be a good day for Waybop, or "bopping around." Suits my mood. Of course we still have turmoil ahead, but I believe we are up to the task. And today's weather where I am: absolutely exquisite. Warm but not hot, unexpectedly.
Similar to meditation, where some days are a slog, and others are just full of unexpected delights. Today is one of the latter.
Then, to my astonishment, when I finally flipped over the cheap paper, I realized I hadn't done it on a bill. I'd done it on the back of an email a friend sent me with a list of Peace Songs we would be singing together (on Zoom, of course). Interesting "coincidence" with the news today. May we all find peace in the years ahead.
It's a day for relief, and delight.
"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
My goodness, isn't that a busy page! Yikes. But the Inktober challenge is meant to be an annual sampling of a wide variety of tangles, so unless I do each one on its own tile, it's always going to be an "eye-crossing" visual experience. And this one is certainly no exception.
The process is really fun, though. I get to sample things I might not have considered otherwise.
A few of these have become new loves; a few really left me cold.
A few that I've always had trouble drawing just smoothed right out and were easy.
And a few that I know very well somehow turned into hot messes on the page as I ran into unexpected trouble with them!
Sort of like the experience of a daily meditation practice. Or to quote Forrest Gump, "...you never know what you're going to get."
Meanwhile, our fall foliage season is rapidly winding down, but for some reason, this sugar maple didn't get that memo and is just getting started. Sooooo pretty.
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.
Here it comes. Right on schedule, too. I saw a few of these beauties on the path of my morning walk. All the trees are still looking green and lush, but this is evidence of what will be here soon enough.
The weather has turned from horribly humid to dry and cool-ish, although that won't last. Fine with me, as I prefer it. I don't believe summer is quite done with us yet, however.
My latest meditation course (I'm teaching) appears to be off to a good start with absolutely wonderful students, all of them Certified Zentangle® Teachers (CZTs). I am always reminded how CZTs are some of the kindest people anywhere. It's a pleasure to get to know this group.
I'm also aware that today is the 19th anniversary of 9/11, a nightmarish day with a nightmarish aftereffect. A good friend lost her brother on one of the hijacked planes that day. His family will never be the same. May all those connected with that event continue to heal as much as possible.
It's a bit early for the following poem, but I cannot resist. I'm having autumn thoughts today.
Song for Autumn
by Mary Oliver
Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for
the fires that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow?
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
The big: I spotted this amazing old stove for sale in the window of a business downtown today. Imagine having to polish this! Holy cow. But it's such a great example of what the workmanship of every day objects used to be like.
And the small: I dyed ten grams of yarn this afternoon; that's hardly anything! But I'm still working on binding my rug and don't want to end up with a large amount of yarn that I likely wouldn't use for other projects.
The thing I love about the Wooly Mason Jar Dyeing system is that it allows you to do this and reliably replicate a color. No matter how large or small the amount. The entire project today, start to finish, took me no more than 10 minutes, including heating in the microwave. It's a Canadian small business and Lucy, who created and runs it, is a dyeing genius. Thanks, Lucy!
Ooops, I forgot to include this great poetry I spotted on Facebook this morning. I wish I could attribute this to the author but I don't know who wrote it.
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.
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.
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