Comin' Clean

Photo: Bri in Michigan
I was once told by a therapist, who understood the cloth metaphor, that when you've stitched something, even if you remove the thread, the cloth has been forever altered, even if the evidence of the stitch can barely be seen.

And so it is. I am reminded of this as I move out of my studio, and have to sort through things and decide what to keep and what I can discard. And although I claim to be anti-consumerism, my complete failure at achieving this was made clear by the the walls of books and piles of cloth. I even had 5 sewing machines!

I successfully got rid of about a third of the stuff. I put armloads of books (mostly lovely hardcover art, philosophy and craft)out in the hall of the studio building, with a FREE sign, where my fellow artists quickly scooped them up. I still ended up with about a dozen very heavy boxes of books, and the same (at least) of fabric. I noticed that what I hung on to were the books on textiles and Japanese design.

And although it was with a bit of regret that I sent the art history and postmodernist theory texts off to a better home, I can't deny that they didn't have an impact on me that has changed the way I look at making things. I have a conceptual framework with which to approach why and how I create things. I see no reason why I shouldn't bring the same professional standards to stitching as I would to painting. And as I clear out the studio, and come across the supplies and tools that I have used over the years, I am reminded of the learning curve, the skills developed and the successes and failures along the way.

Even though it is hard to part with all my treasures, I think of the wise words of a yoga teacher I once had who said, while teaching prana (breath) work, "In order to inhale (or inspire) there needs to be space." I have to exhale, and excise,(and maybe even exorcise!) in order to create the space for the next phase of my life.

And in keeping with the title of this post, I am making a personal disclosure. You may have noticed my postings have been a little erratic and that I have had a lot of life changes in the past year. After the events surrounding the end of my marriage, people would say to me you don't seem affected, you're so strong. Well, I was able to pull that off for a while, but eventually one needs to process the anger and grieve the loss - a fact that has kinda sideswiped me in the last several weeks. I have been overwhelmed with anxiety and depression and am not functioning very well. Being with my new guy Shaun has helped create the feeling of safety that I can at last deal with all the emotional shit. And although it's certainly not fun, doing the necessary personal housecleaning will open up the space for my new life.

PS: I updated the previous post a bit re: stumpwork.


  1. It's all just one big journey from "here" to "there" isn't it? Sounds like you're leaving the rocky shore and getting close to moving your feet to the pebbled beach, Heather... takes time for those stoney bruises to heal but sounds like your're on your way

  2. Anonymous2:01 PM

    I make the same anti-consumerism stand but seem to have consumed a rather lot of books, cloth and thread over the years. but i figure it is better than over consuming *everything*. I am getting better, but i wish Id been wandering down the corridor when you put out the box of books ;).

    I hope all goes well with your processing grief and anger. I dont know what you are really going through - but i hope you are feeling better soon. that sounds trite, i know.

    and finally - i have dabbled in stumpwork - i am a bit conflicted - i enjoy it - but it is in some ways an unnatural manipulation of thread - trying to turn thread and stitch into something else - all stitch tranforms cloth into something else - but stumpwork seems to cross a line somehow. im not sure - Ill have to think about this

  3. oh i hope all goes well, in the end change is just that...something new to play with. good luck getting through it all.


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