Yesterday I was sitting at the knitting machine, changing colors and spacing out, as I often do. Next to the knitting machine is a corner shelf my grandfather made for me when I was a child. My mother refused to let me take it when I moved out, and it was in her room when she died. So now that it’s in my possession again, when I look at it I think of not only my grandfather and my childhood, but my mother and that last room.
The shelf at eye level when I’m knitting is the one pictured above. It contains:
(1) the tiny skeleton doll I talked about in an earlier post
(2) spiderwoman, a spirit doll I made for my imaginative self. Spiderwoman is a Navajo goddess associated with weaving, and also creation in general (as are spiders). Mostly I do knitting and stitching now, though I did some tapestry weaving in my 20’s. Still, working with thread in any way I think is part of the same artistic web.
(3) tin day of the dead skeleton
(4) compass rose matchbook–do the even make matchbooks anymore?–anyway, I liked the design of this and saved it
(5) clay bowl made by my older daughter containing a clothespin doll made by one of my daughters (not sure which) and a plastic rattle they both loved as babies
and last but not least
(6) basket purse from Ceylon, before it was Sri Lanka. This is special to me, because it’s a gift from one of my childhood pen-pals, Philomena. The Cleveland newspaper had a pen-pal column; send in your name, age, interests, they’ll match you with someone from another country. I had a few over the years, but two stuck with me from elementary school into my 20’s: Philomena and Mariko, who was Japanese. What a treat to get letters and packages from someone like me on the other side of the world! Philomena sent me many things, including genuine Ceylon tea, some spicy nuts, a tortoise shell elephant pendant which I also still have, and this wonderful purse. The handle has long since fallen off, the colors have faded, but every time I find myself looking at its mandala pattern I think of Philomena, and then also Mariko, and wonder where they are. One of my many regrets is letting them slip away, because I was the one who stopped writing.
I remember and salute you , my friends who grew up with me through letters, and hope you are well and happy.
And there’s where my thoughts went yesterday when I intended to be knitting…
It’s time for me to add some fiber to the mix.
I recently finished a spirit doll, a project of about two years.
Dolls are another of my obsessions.
My chain-stitched muslin dolls began, as usual, by accident. We were moving; my daughter was packing and also getting rid of (a few) things. At one of her birthday parties, the activity was decorating muslin dolls. A minimalist, she put eyes and a big smile with markers, and attached a few pieces of yarn on top for hair. She didn’t want to keep it.
But I thought, as I often do, “I could make something out of that.” I had once seen a muslin doll that was partially decorated with embroidery in a magazine and filed in in my mind under “good ideas”. here was my chance.
My daughter loved mermaids as a child. So I began, secretly, to turn her creation into a mermaid. It was complete just in time for her middle school graduation.
Since then I’ve also done a spiderwoman, a tiny skeleton, a spirit doll for Nina, a tree spirit, and my just-completed eye spirit doll. I have plenty of ideas for more. Check back in several years…
Another from the series done with Paterson textiles, newspaper clippings from 1950, gouache, watercolor and ink. The skeleton is that of a frog. I like the old advertisement which reads “A hearing aid is a mark of intelligence. It shows consideration for others.