Exploring Infinity

(You will have to click on the image to see it better, sorry. The actual piece measures 15" high and 52" long.)
So this is the new piece I have been working on. It began with the strip of blue and white checked fabric that I found in the temple market in Kyoto. Apparently it has a silk warp and cotton weft, is very old, and a type of cloth that is no longer made. I knew it to be a treasure, but wasn't sure what to do with it until I was re-reading a book on Middle Eastern rug motifs, and this line of text jumped out at me. "Perhaps the most practical way to deal with infinity is to break it into finite and useable pieces." The line was referring to the design convention of framing motifs in Islamic rug weaving, but to me it seemed a succinct description of dealing with time, space and life on this planet.

I always appreciate the practical, as well as such gems of profundity that are cloaked in simple language. (Another favourite: "Doors will close soon after melody ends." found posted on Toyko subway platforms.) It seems like I am thinking more about the arbitrariness of life and death these days, probably a result of my accident of last summer.

The fabric is quite worn and fragile. It had already been mended a bit, and I added a collage of fabric fragments (all Japanese) and a small lace doily from my Aunt Margie's collection. It reminded me of a fractal, and I guess if I was to describe the universe, a fractal is one way to look at it.

I prepared the text on the computer, using Futura Italic, tweaked the letter spacing, printed it out and traced it onto the cloth using dressmaker's carbon. I then embroidered the letters by hand, quickly finding that the slant of the font was tricky to accomplish smoothly on the relatively coarse fabric. But I persevered - the embroidery took about 5 minutes per letter, so it wasn't too bad. I worked on it at the coffee bar, while waiting for the ferry to Gambier Island, and at Gretchen's dinner table on Sunday night.

Today I mounted it on linen in preparation for framing. I'll ponder this step for awhile - usually I don't put my work under glass, but this old cloth seems to call for special treatment.

And finally, here's the only picture I got from Gambier: Keiko meeting Lela, Gretchen's goat. Lela gracefully put up with Keiko's pestering.
And silly me, I didn't take any pictures of our dyepots! We did cutch, cochineal and madder, producing some lovely colours. But I forgot to bring the thioreua dioxide, so we couldn't do the much anticipated indigo pot. Oh well, I'll just have to go back to Gambier for another weekend!!


  1. What a beautiful work!

  2. i really like the piece. the softness of the old fabric and indigo dye against the stability of the checkered grid and the hard edge of the text. i have one of mine coming to you soon.


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