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.


  1. love the thought behind your work and how you articulate that so well

  2. What a beautiful object, and a beautiful idea!

  3. so meaningful, this Making. and doing just as you say in the beginning...
    drawing you in, focus...around that Moment of the baby bird. isn't it how, too,
    a bird creates her nest?, one twig, one string, one scrap of something at a
    time? a way you are repeating this, kind of a nest for your Awareness.

    and light comes only once in a years passing....

    the concrete reminds me of the work of Theodor Schwenk, his book Sensitive
    Chaos. your university library may have this. and also as i write this, i think of
    maybe your found cloths and the places that hold them for you to find are in
    a way a sensitive Chaos too,

    love to you, Wendy.....and Thank You for sharing your world

  4. Pattern doesn't have to repeat. I like this variety of definitions:
    pat·tern (ptrn)
    a. A model or original used as an archetype.
    b. A person or thing considered worthy of imitation.
    2. A plan, diagram, or model to be followed in making things: a dress pattern. See Synonyms at ideal.
    3. A representative sample; a specimen.
    a. An artistic or decorative design: a paisley pattern. See Synonyms at figure.
    b. A design of natural or accidental origin: patterns of bird formations.
    5. A consistent, characteristic form, style, or method, as:
    a. A composite of traits or features characteristic of an individual or a group: one's pattern of behavior.
    b. Form and style in an artistic work or body of artistic works.
    a. The configuration of gunshots upon a target that is used as an indication of skill in shooting.
    b. The distribution and spread, around a targeted region, of spent shrapnel, bomb fragments, or shot from a shotgun.
    7. Enough material to make a complete garment.
    8. A test pattern.
    9. The flight path of an aircraft about to land: a flight pattern.
    10. Football A pass pattern.