June 19, 2014

Human Marks: Part Two

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah. The "final project" of Human Marks.

We made a bound book showcasing our marks. It rests in a black cloth wrapper decorated with an entire week of kantha stitching. Dorothy asked that we model the many incredible examples she showed us from India,ie,fill in every possible space, explore direction, and take a stab (hee hee) at a border from her handy-dandy handout of options.

We stitched these covers slavishly. While waiting for the lectures to start....after yet another glorious home-cooked meal on the deck...beneath the bedside lamps that should have been switched off hours before. It went like it has always gone with stitching since the Beginning...idle meditative musings when alone, sharing of stories when in each other's company.

Here's how far I got, with a deep bow to Jude Hill's Patchwork Beasts class.
And just look at what emerged around me, from those wonderful strangers-turned-colleagues...turned friends.
On the last day, we worked our marks into stitched signatures, adding  in the various personal items we brought from home or collected while on the farm. I brought handmade papers, anonymous journal pages and letters rescued from flea market, and tiny 100+ year old newspaper pieces I unearthed outside of an abandoned mine in Death Valley. I also made rubbings of interesting words on the gravestones in the cemetary that borders the farm and, at Dorothy's uncharacteristically strong push, worked them into the pages.
In retrospect, had I known how all the markings would be asked to work together, I probably would have done it differently. But that would have been in the service of a final piece and completely against the process of process that brought me to the class in the first place.

Which brings me to what I learned:

#1. There is nothing like the completely satisfying--and creatively productive--process of just making something. For its own sake, or to learn what it feels like to do it. Without an image of a finished project looming overhead like the shadow of a black pterodacytl. When I came home, I immediately gave birth to perhaps 25 little stitched pairs. They went into the wooden box, where they will jump out when drafted in service of #2.

#2. You get a much richer final project when you choose to do one if you've spent time exploring the components. Or collecting them from Places around you.

#3. I have a deep but totally unexplainable affinity for the artifacts of the American West in the 19th century. (So does Himself, leading us to wonder whether we were together in another life back then. I say I was Butch Cassidy and he was a Dance Hall Girl.) I need to remember that when creating new work, because everything I saw that week shows me that Deep Affinity gives birth to Heart in one's creations.

#4. Black India Ink stays under the finger nails for a long time.

#5. It is infinitely easier to create when you are surrounded by creative souls who support one another, give and receive critiques and opinions without judgment, and show their work with conviction and without apology. Whether they make ceramics, fiber art, woven dish towels, or quilts, everyone around me was committed to making stuff.

#5. I was one of them.


  1. what a great gathering in all senses of the word

    1. she teaches in Australia a lot, too, although you are already a mark master, in my opinion

    2. I attended a lecture by Dorothy at Object Gallery about 10 years ago here in Sydney, a quietly inspiring and lovely artist

  2. #1 as soon as I opened this post and the beast was revealed I fell in luv'
    #2 yes to all your points mentioned here
    #3 that second image of everybody's pieces gathered together: priceless
    #4 this contrast of white stitches on dark cloth: dazzling, and I'm gonna use that
    # 5 I am inspired, Julie

    1. She brought a complete quilt that one of her classes in Australia made her...they sewed all their blindfolded stitchings together, backed it and bound it, and gave it to her for a thank you present. We put together a tiny little book of all our marks for her (she's looking at it in the Part One photo) but probably still likes the Australians better...

  3. your post reminds me of #6. We need to get our creative tanks filled with high octane every once in awhile to fuel inspiration.

  4. ooooo......i got all undone by kids visiting i guess and hadn't come to look and now, seeing Saskia mention this on Dee's blog...so i rushed over and OH....WOW....ALL this...just
    WOW. What a beauty full detailed Telling of the experience...you are so so Lucky to have had the opportunity and then to have gone and then to have put yourself so unselfconsciously and wholeheartedly into it. Just look and what happened, how it all
    evolved over the week, the sense of comradery and your own vision coming through....
    Julie, this is such a gift to give us. I have read other's description of who she is as a person and a Master but your words truly give the sense of her. It's all just so GREAT!
    Thank YOU!!!!!

    1. Gol-lee Grace, am I glad to have you back here...hadn't seen hide nor goat hair of you on this blog in awhile and I just figured, because I am stuck in junior high, that you fell out of love with me.

      I am lucky in so many, many ways and this was just a place where it all came together. And you're right, my vision is starting to peek through and that makes me feel good. Gives me something to look at, a real something, if you know what I mean.

    2. o Dear and Best Julie...no....i have been off balance for a while i guess and just
      looked back and i guess i didn't even hit the little blue publish button when i
      made the comment about lying in your onion patch watching your back door
      for you to appear....???....! oh...i will Always love you...always. For Sure.
      and also for some reason i am unable to get email alerts when you post like
      i used to??? and i clicked the Follow me by Email box and they say i am already signed up...ack. but anyway....i really am looking forward to hearing
      how all of it has "marked You"...even small things that come to your mind from
      being there. any little thing...
      So..LOVE and i think i am back in my more normal mode (?).....

    3. smooooooch

      And I don't know what to do about the email alerts...is anyone else having this problem?

    4. Just checked...you are definitely listed as an active subscriber, with your grace.porvida email address.Did THAT change?

    5. no...it's really odd. i'll just keep on trying to resign up...or,
      just know that i need to walk over to your house on my own, like back in
      the day....

  5. A friend of mine sent me the link to your post . I laughed when I read that you were just about to cancel...I remember being on the brink of a nervous breakdown when I posted my first Piece of work on Jude's Forum and I felt like that again before attending a class with India Flint. But the truth is, as we both now know, that you only learn from the masters...and having no fear is the first step to success.
    Oh I envy you so much!!!!
    Kind wishes,

    1. Hiya Eva! Yup, it is always best to be surrounded by talent (as long as it comes in the package of kind and gentle spirit). When I first told Himself that everyone was going to be so much better than I am, he burst into a big grin and said, "that's GREAT! Think how much you will learn!" I hate when he's right.

    2. ...and that is Exactly the sort of thing my man would say....oh isn't it just wonderful at times to be able to share here and be amazed at how predictable we all are, and yet we Think we're Alone....but we're Not!!

    3. oh julie. i was laughing so hard just as you said dont laugh.bcz of course. I Relate.your adventure sounds so fabulous and thank you so much for the gift of sharing it so eloquently ( and hilariously ) i admire you talking and listening to self and carrying on with such positivity and confidence .love your beast and kantha stitches. love your Weave on book spine .see you in Considering. xo lindamorris

  6. oh. i see that my last comment if you clk on my name leads you to a defunct blog that i cant seem to delete. i have another one. looktothisday.wordpress.com lindamorris again.sorry for my incompetence in blogland.