Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Something Almost Finished...

I started this way back in Jude's Contemporary Woven Boro class, to help me think through the process of using found cloth.

The base is made of this sheet, a strip of a flannel sheet, part of an embroidered tablecloth and the lace edge of a pillowcase. I dyed the pillowcase strips with black walnut husks.

The bits assembled as appliques on top- Jude's mosaic method- are some of these cloths I wrote about a couple of days ago, and some from a quilt I found in the garbage years ago.

This little jewel was a gift from Arlee, and fell into place one day after I saw Grace at Windthread use her similar shimmering orb from Arlee here on The Daughter Cloth.

Arlee's gift to me (not to mention her gift as an artist) is reflected by this little jewel printed on a cotton patch from the wormy train track quilt. This is THE flaming pearl so sought after by the dragons that often populate Chinese textiles, symbolic of the human pursuit of wisdom. This one certainly did give me plenty to think about.

I used lots of stitches on this, in part because the base cloth needed it. It is a poly-cotton blend (it is a hospital sheet, made to endure the rigors of commercial laundering), and so it is tough. It is also very worn, and so it rippled, pulled and gaped. The stitching makes it supple, smooth and soft. Kind of evens it out.

I also used lots of these cross stitches. The yellow ones are from the embroidered table cloth that makes up part of the base cloth, and to me they look like sutures. So they function to hold the seams together. And I think they look like scars.

My initial feeling was that I wanted the tablecloth and pillowcase here to refer to a safe domestic life- that is what they mean to me. And I wanted them to confront the tragedy of homelessness which the sheet carries. I wanted to fuse them (back) together.

But that impulse continues to make me uncomfortable, because it oversimplifies the meaning of the sheet. 'Homelessness' isn't just the opposite of 'homed'. Sometimes it is also a story of autonomy and being 'vagrant', as in unrestrained and exceeding control, trespassing. My own habitual trespassing is why I found the sheet in the first place, and brings my world and the sheet's previous owner together after all.

So the orbs and these little off-grid squares remind me of this trespassing and passages-that-aren't-usual, but that have their own integrity.


  1. What a wonderful story this piece holds in its provenance! Its smashign and would be a joy to see and touch am sure.

  2. grace
    this is beautiful. i am really impressed how this really became story cloth..

  3. Congratulations on this deeply meaningful piece. I hope to learn to tell story like this someday with cloth. I like all the strong contrast with the little bits of color, I'm sure you've planned that to convey its meaning. Very cool.

  4. The stories from the fabrics...the stories from the stitches you add...what a deep and meaningful piece. Thank you for sharing.

  5. this is deep and beautiful, as are your words about it.