Panning for Gold: Part II


I may have lied a couple of posts ago or at least need to explain.  When I said           “I have no words,”  I didn’t then, and for a good month beyond.  But I wasn’t referring to single, free-standing nouns…words that creep into my mind as I sit and stitch on projects and then capture on paper…single words that nip at a sense or the emotion of a moment, another word, word-waiting…


The words I’m referring to “not having”  are the cohesive strings that coast on the promise of knowing, that fill me with purpose and reinforce my belief system.

2015-08-07 bird nest close copy

This dichotomy of language happened, as expected, when I returned from a workshop this summer, where permission was given to wander capriciously behind imagination without having to explain or name…just do, freely.

Clouds from Plane

Not that I returned to my studio idea-less. I felt quiet and calm but thoughts were messy, like junk in a pile and a month passed before I could arrange them into collections.  Emotion and heart had disconnected from logic and concept, and strings of words that make good “blog” were absent.

Enter gold.  Third Thursday.  Roy-G-Biv.  And one single, shiny appelation began the untangling.  I presented my only gold photo,  the image of a shard of broken beach glass and a thought…
Gold is not the treasure I hunt.

shell and threads1

I consider myself an explorer of the ordinary. I covet shells etched by sand and time, a rare round stone, but mostly the imperfect ones.  A feather no longer necessary to one bird’s flight or a rusty nail, its neck at breaking point from holding its head against old wood and weather for a hundred years.  These objects lavish my imagination with honest tales that stir my memories on a journey of stitches.

feathers and shells

Stories rich with energy, memory, triumph and trauma.

Savannah Texture2014-09-25 15.29.02

I’m a survivor, like the old nail.  And generally positive, so I have been stitching until now on the high end of my stories, the outcomes, the triumphs, the half-full lessons.  But without planning too much, I left my “homeland,” dug a garden, set to grow something worthwhile.  I slowed a bit, embraced solitude and because I can,  I’m following the root way down.   


Then, I cut deeply into the center of my onion skin-bundled cotton like I was tending a wound.


So Where is The Cloth? (Making Do with Materials on Hand)

Cloth is a layered metaphor.  While my intent has been to discuss fabrics like cotton, linen or silk  and other materials of my art-making, I can use cloth to imply the intangible of ideas and meanings, like the cloth of my adventure: a very ragged, worn scrap, frayed at the edges, stretched as a shield, crushed between my fingers like a baby’s lovey, smoothing out slowing into a project.

With the cloth so transparent, I can see the movement of its meaning between two and three-dimensional art forms and the cloth of poetry, writing and story.  I am moving creatively between the forces of sight and sound in this place so full of beauty and profuse with newness.  Absorbing it all is today’s creative responsibility and sometimes all I can handle.

shell cup 150

While the act of making something is soothing , it is often difficult to jump toward trusting that notion and the known,  while so mired in the unknown.  The unknown presently radiates like awareness and armor. That shell is often hard to break – even with the known, even with stitches and cloth.


My dye pots are deep in storage, so I can only gather leaves, learn their names, imagine their imprint on cotton or silk.  No boiling of essences right now, just studying, cataloguing, saving.  Textures of tree trunks, tracking the egret (outside my door), absorbing the light between shadows, memorizing the palette.

Egret Crossing 150

In my Threads of Meaning Virtual Course, I must explain my process for the students,  admitting that getting started has been difficult during the transition.  I have confessed that it has been hard to pick up old projects let alone, start new.   I did bring a medium cardboard box of fabrics with me.  Sifting through them, in search of ideas is enough on one day.  Fascination with orange may be enough the next day.  After five weeks, I’m finding new ways to make do, process the constant newness and be kind to myself.

beach ripples 150