Friday, August 16, 2013

The Altar Cloth, a new little thing

Inspired by Grace of windthread, and wanting to make something small and easy to carry around to work on, I have started to make a little cloth. An altar cloth, I guess for me meaning a something meant to concentrate thought, a focal point for reflection. The story that I have bonded to the image is the story of the robin rescue, when I was offered the chance to be part of other people fulfilling their own commitment to compassion (it is two posts down if you are interested). Sticking with this core notion- of being bound up with the life around you- I am sticking with the tiniest bits of found cloth, and gifted cloth. This is the beginning. 
The base is a gorgeous, well worn linen napkin, a brocade and a gift from my neighbour up the street. The yellow block is a gift that came from Jude Hill, just like this. It seems right for it to be whole here. Directly beneath the nest is a piece of blue jacket (found at the traintracks), again, found just as it is here, layered under a fragment of netting. I think this netting is what is left when broadloom rots away, I can't imagine anything else it could be. Beneath that is a pink cloth from a found quilt layered under a piece of gauzy cotton. And so on.
I realize making this as well that I am no longer just fascinated by found cloth, by gifted cloth, by the way these ways of getting cloth are not just 'outside of' a system of commerce. I can't quite put it into words, but there is something to composing something like this just as the cloth appears. I guess I am imagining a cloth that just keeps getting bigger, thicker. Where each new piece just fits in where there is room. Piecing itself as a kind of record of time passing, seasons changing, people coming and going. Not stopped. No fixed pattern?

I included these two images, the above is a decaying finished cement floor from a factory that was torn down years ago. The surface is fragile and crumbling, you can kick it apart with your shoe. But in places this network of rifts is visible. And it seems to me always to imply motion.

And another kind of pattern, the sun streaming in the window and reflecting on a mirror-tiled lantern my mother found in the garbage and brought to me. This only happens for about a week every year when the sun comes in the west window just right, but it reminds me of the image above, of things kind of flinging themselves apart.  Is the sense of motion I get because there is no easily perceptible pattern?

I will continue to think about this, thinking about the kind of 'pattern'- or avoidance of pattern- that I am working into this new cloth.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jude's Stones on the Year of the Snake Blanket

An update on the Year of the Snake Blanket. In the Fall/Winter/Resting section of the blanket, I decided to replace one of the lost plate appliques with a circle of stones. I learned to make these from Jude Hill. If you search for 'stones' at Jude's blog Spirit Cloth, you will find them.

When Jude first showed these, I loved them. I loved that they looked like stones, not symmetrical, but  neither are they just randomly shaped lumps. I loved how much the cloth I've dyed myself is really the right colour for stones. How rusted cloth is the right colour for stones. To make them you have to THINK about the shape of a stone, a river stone, polished by the flowing and just going of water. To make them you really have to THINK about the colours of stones, how different each is.

The circle of stones on the rest/stillness part of the blanket is the hibernaculum we built for the snakes- a deep hole filled with stones, mounded up, a large part of it covered with a bed of flowers. This is what it looked like when we started it. The snakes can overwinter in here if they choose, we cover it up with layers of brush.

Each of the stones one of us carried here, found at the river, by the train tracks, at one or another abandoned building, some from the lake. The biggest stone above, with the rings around it, I found on the Albany River where it meets James Bay in Mushkego, also known as northern Ontario. Each of these stones was chosen. I hadn't thought much about this, about picking the stones, until I decided that I could use Jude's stones for this blanket. I had thought about most of them getting here on foot. These below are a couple of weeks' worth collecting on the porch. With the rock searching companion's white toes.

So it's a circle of stones on the blanket, thanks to Jude. I can't imagine figuring out how to make them without Jude. Thank you Jude.

As a bonus, and thinking of stone, I want to share a true mystery. This is a photo of the base of a tombstone in the rural cemetery where my grandparents (and so on) are buried. This portion of the stone was underground until sometime last year. For some reason the stone was removed, and because the proper, once visible, portion is now so worn it is illegible, it seems no one knows where it goes. So it rests among some other monuments.

Comparing the carving here to the carving on the proper face of the stone (above the soil), this is quite inexpert; as an 'inexpert' myself, I fill up with wonder looking at these sketches, graffiti, experiments, whatever they are. But they are funny and charming and full of some kind of spontaneity.   
Thank you for stopping by- and thank you to everyone who stopped by and spoke to my previous post. I am still thinking about that project....