I’ve been wanting to make things that you don’t read but see and feel with your fingers. I might sew bits of dried lavender and lemon balm and chocolate mint between the fabric, so you can smell it, too. I like words, but sometimes my words falter and the pretty crystal image in my head is not the one that comes out. Sometimes I get distracted. Sometimes I want to let my fingers do more than type.

I’ve been thinking about learning to quilt. We were at a memorial service for Gary’s uncle this weekend, and I had the opportunity to look some gasping and beautiful quilts made by Gary’s aunt. She likes making quilts inspired by Asian textiles and design. We didn’t bring our cameras, so I can only describe to you how lovely these quilts were. She’s currently exploring a sort of origami-like folding of fabric to create the small images that make up her unusual pieces. Tiny boats, tiny flowers, tiny weeping willow trees. I am fascinated.

I used to do quite a bit of painting, but I’ve thrown all of the paintings away, mostly. Each time we’ve moved I’ve pitched one more canvas into the garbage. I don’t like clutter, even (especially) clutter that I’ve created. I’m the anti-hoarder. This usually makes my husband very upset. I don’t throw his things away, just mine.

I’m coming to realize that I like creating small, concise little works best. Things that I can finish quickly, edit, and send along their way. No character becomes too stale, no verse lingers and starts to smell of fish and must.

I’m itching to try Indian embroidery, or just hand-stitch together beautiful fabrics. I’ve found a lot of scrap saris on Etsy and as soon as our bank account is back to a nice, solid level I’m going to give it a shot.

I guess I’m ready to stop talking about beautiful things and actually start making them again. I’ll still talk about them. My hope is that I’ll gain more insight, fill my glass up to the very top, and what I learn will spill over into everything I do. My problem is I have the winds of industry and phantom prosperity always hissing in my ears. Finish this and maybe you’ll sell it for money. Maybe you can make it your job.

It’s usually enough for me to just to write and write and let it all out as best as I can. That is usually enough for me. I feel full. I have a small part-time job in which I make a little bit of money. This has eased my creative heart quite a bit. Less pressure, more output.

Tell me I have to get things perfect and make money, tell me about the business of it all and my words will shake and rumble and retreat to the hills. To the cave where they came from. I want to talk about the things I see and hear and touch. I don’t want to be told how often.

I have said “I” a lot today.  I am sorry.

Anyway. A patchwork textile piece made of white and cream scrap sari fabric. White peacocks fanning their tail feathers. Silver paisley swirls with bright white crystals. Buckwheat hulls and lavender hidden beneath the tiny panels. Little round mirrors reflecting our faces. Hand stitched. Floss. Echoes of my grandmother seated at her little blue chair, rocking and embroidering flowers onto pillowcases.  That’s all.


10 thoughts on “paisley

  1. “Finish this and maybe you’ll sell it for money. Maybe you can make it your job.” Being an artist and musician from the time I could hold a pencil or push down the keys on a piano, I know the bain and pressure of doing something you love and comes naturally to make money. Much to my father’s shagrin for years (I think he’s over it now) I created art pieces, even majored in art (and graduated with a BA), played in numerous music venues/bands and solo, and failed to ever have a desire to make a living at any of it! Now, I make my living happily and happily create whatever is tugging at me for the moment, with no pressure and no connection between the two except that making my living allows me to do the other–freely. Love this post and the artistry of your writing. Do what you love and you will love what you do. 🙂

  2. So with you on the economic side to art. Frankly, I think the only reason why I don’t write more often is because I’m convinced it will be no good and wouldn’t sell. I don’t know why I care so much given how much I work. Perhaps it’s not the money, rather, the exposure. Maybe you and I ought to focus our energies on putting our works out there for free, good or bad (we certainly espouse it a lot!). Kt x

  3. Hands are holy. What we do with our hands are holy. Sometimes we write words with them, sometimes we plant seeds with them, sometimes we draw needles threaded with color with them. Whatever we do with them is holy.

  4. What an interesting insight, and something you don’t hear about that often! The natural born artist who has no desire to make it their main source of income. There’s something really pure and lovely about that.

  5. I struggle with the same issue, Katie. I think it’s kind of the society (not to bash it or anything) that I was raised in. Have a skill, earn money off of it, be prosperous. I just want to make pretty things. I have no desire to be a journalist, or an academic writer, or even a full-time novelist. And you’re right. Free is the way that our creative wings soar, I think. Was that corny? I think so. But it’s how I feel right now. 🙂

  6. I enjoyed making lots of little, silly things while I was in Japan. I didn’t realize how much I drew from it until I’d been back in the States for six months and found myself yearning to create something not built from words.

    A friend’s recently taught me to knit and purl. I don’t know how to connect anything or read patterns yet, but it’s neat to see something developing out of what started as a skein of yarn.

    I’m excited to learn and create more.

  7. I’ve been reading Feather Crowns, by Bobbie Ann Mason (thanks, Ms. Moon for the recommendation!). I’m not too far in, but it’s one of those books that beautifully describes all the little things that women used to make every day. They made art out of nothing, out of everyday life. Art was everywhere…it wasn’t sanctioned or majored in much. It was there. Everywhere. And the avant garde kind of grew from our human creation. I want to get back to that.

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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