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Friday, October 31, 2014

Leaving and Longing #1

Oh, it's been a while My head has been full of perfectly written, vastly insightful and engaging blog posts, perfectly written (did I already mention that?), illustrated with new work and breathtaking photos.  I think that I have even mentioned in an (much) earlier post that I really, really needed a brain thingie that downloads those thoughts onto this fresh white screen, complete with perfect spellings and puncuations.  The best I can do at this very moment as a near Luddite has been to devour a 3 oz organic dark chocolate (with sea salt and almonds) bar and let 'er rip.

Adventure LoomsAlthough I have always been seized with the desire to be elsewhere, for most of the last 20 years that mystical location has been either somewhere in jolly ole England or on/near an island in the Pacific Northwest.  A few months ago I counted up the years I have been living contently in my vine covered cottage with fabulous deaf cat,Leon in Asheville, North Carolina.  How many years?? Twenty!  I have never lived anywhere that long and instead of congratulating myself on my unconcious abilities to put down roots, I am beset with the desire for another adventure before I'm considering those roots from another point of view.

So the Pacific Northwest???...long have I wanted to be there for more than the week or so of workshops.  The wildness of temporarily staring at pointy fir trees, breathing in sea soaked breath, walking along shorelines wasn't enough to sustain me back in my vine covered cottage no matter how many photos I took or stones I borrowed from Agate beach.  Last time I was on Lopez, I bought a necklace of a turtle carved from deer bone.  I never wore it, but it hangs from my desk lamp as a reminder to return, go back to those islands.

Perhaps the adventure is not so much in the travel, planning and plane journeys to get somewhere else, but in the examination of why one leaves and arrives.  Making a decision to move somewhere like this can be seen as foolish, momentous, risky and completely crazy.  But thinking about making a decision and being aware of that moment of change, that moment of knowing the change, the adventure is a real possibility is rather interesting.  It's a process that comes gradually. One day I'm fingering those smooth black stones from Lopez, the next moment I'm pinning up maps of Vashon Island.

When teaching at Art and Soul a few weeks ago in Virginia Beach, I suddenly found myself telling students that next year I wouldn't be teaching there again as I was going to the Northwest. (in my head I thought I was being crazy) Today on my desk is a piece of paper with my Art & Soul teaching schedule in Portland for next year!  March 2015.  Words and thoughts are strong.

But about the work...The books, the resist dyeing, the drawings and writings.  All these bits of my life need to be inspired by adventure.  I am still very excited about making books.  My current production line now includes small wearable leather case and long stitch bound  books. Love books? Wear them next to your heart. I just love all the steps involved to make these and because they are small, I finally feel that I want to use my precious, so precious handmade flax and linen paper, tea stain it and use it for the pages of these books. Yes, it is hard to sell/part with them, but Leon demands tuna.

And sketchbooks have captured my heart. I guess I just can't rid myself of the old hippie ideal of making useful things.  I have been developing (and teaching) a class for the last few years called Books with a Textile Twist.  Not a very sexy title but I'm a bit at a loss for a better one. The topic is about both book structure and recycling/upcycling/repurposing found and created textiles as the covers. Good sturdy blank books with the hand of the textile.  It is a perfect and exciting reason to let out the hunter/gatherer in oneself and head on down to the Goodwill. These wonderful sketchbooks are loosely based on Gary Frost's Friend to Friend journal with adaptations for the textile covers.

The resist felts...I can't let go of the joy of resist dyeing no matter how many manifestos I write about never touching felt again. Nope! The way wool absorbs the color got me into felt in 1978 and it remains a constant surprise and joy.  So I will continue to teach the resist dyeing classes AND I am using some of those resist techniques for the Mokume - Bark scarves. Lots of cool changes born of my mistakes and student discoveries. And I'm back working on the book about resist dyeing...hmmm.  How many times have I said that?
One might think that with the length of this post that I'm planning not to write again until next year, but with changes coming on like the dark rolling clouds of winter, I going to really try to write every month.  Because a blog post really is a letter tossed out there to the electrons of the world, I ask and look forward to suggestions from readers about the perfect place to land in the Northwest.  I'll be there in January for a week or so, teaching the above Mokume/Bark class at good friend Randi Harper's RANCH.  The listing and contact information will be on the "workshop page" as soon as I finish this and have a nice little sip of a very good red.  

During my January explorations (oh, and teaching) I will be visiting lots of folks and getting their ideas for my move.  The next step will be in February/March when I hope to find a cheap cabin/apartment/room/condo in which I will place my chair and work on an artist book (yes, unbelievers, a book with Content - the bane of my artistic life) and experience the NW winter weather for 3-4 weeks.  By the end of that time I will have much more information on the next step.  It's all like this photo of the livestock barn taken last week at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF). There is a light way down there, but a hell of a lot of doors and windows to look into on the way.


  1. The Pacific Northwest awaits. As does the Canadian west coast.

    Beautiful detailed work!

  2. I ADORE those tiny wearable books, but there are none in your Etsy shop! Will you have any to sell? The idea of wearing one close to my heart is so appealing. Books are my passion.
    It's curious that your name popped into my head last night. A year or so (maybe longer! After day to day, time is a fluid thing) I bought one of your lovely felted journals. I was browsing at SweetPea Path today and there you are!
    I love your writings and musings, and was delighted to receive this "message in a bottle" today.
    I love your spirit of adventure, too, and wish you safe and happy travels! Looking forward to seeing how it all works out.
    As "a lady of a certain age", I'm hungering for change and adventure too! (Something urges "before it's too late!") Maybe your journeys will inspire migration! Do keep us posted!

  3. Your post rnews me, especially knowing that you're considering the Pacific NW. Have you looked at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology? The classes listed now don't represent the range of offerings, but all of your classes fit. Also, they have a Residency program...a chance to live on the Oregon Coast and try out the Pac. NW!

  4. I received my darling little book necklace in the mail today! I ADORE coming up the steps and seeing a box waiting for me! And then I brought the box inside and opened it...and I'm in love! I'm still smiling! It's so sweet! I love it sooo much. AND, that's the fastest anything I've ever ordered on-line has arrived! Wow, you do great work! Thank you very much!

  5. It doesn't surprise me that you are taking a rational and step-wise approach to your 'big move'...all the while, letting Sister Inspiration lead.
    I always enjoy your blog posts, whenever they 'drop'. ;)

  6. So you went west, rather than east. I'd have said please get in touch if you were landing in England. I reckon we could do a bit of catching up. Really nice stuff here. Glad to see all this colour and creativity.