I find in stitchwork a flow of conversation between the materials in hand and the stitches I make. I love this…the process of making a piece of art. In working into collaged fabrics with a needle and thread, the process is quite slow, thus making room for this gentle conversation to occur. Sometimes it begins outside of fabric and thread. Sometimes it begins on a walk.
I found an unknown bit of fibery substance while walking the sidewalks in our neighborhood. Walking has been for me a life-long source of health, inspiration, and sorting out the wrinkles. What one finds when one walks are all sorts of beneficial bits and baubles, but not usually physical in nature. A recent walk offered an orangey bit of stuff…frayed rope? sturdy plant fibers? I honestly can’t make it out, though the rope theory seems likely. I resisted the urge to pretty-it-up and wanted to see what I might make with it. Wouldn’t it offer a lovely texture and juxtaposition to cloth and perle threads?
In creating a support, or background for any stitched piece, I enjoy using found fabric scraps. Small leftovers from previous projects, an edge that was cut off, the unwanted bits. These, along with my found bit of orange, began a dialogue on finding and being found…being lost and then found again. I didn’t realize until far into the project, that my stitching choices were also reflecting this conversation. Some areas of stitching would be covered up by the orange fray while others would peek through. Certain stitches would appear lost under and among the fabrics and threads only to reappear, “found” again in another area of the piece. Swirls of stitches always remind me of daily life – that ongoing ritual of all we do from morning to night, always the same, yet coming ’round to different places each time.
Others may think that I know what I’m doing when it comes to these stitched fragments. I truly don’t! I begin each one just about as lost as one could be. Maybe, just maybe, there is a vague idea of something in mind, but I know it will likely change as each stitch is added. And so it was with this piece…a sense of feeling “lost” as I begin, yet led onward by every fabric bit, every texture, each stitch and thread chosen and then set into the fray. I knew I wanted the orange bit to go on top, but even that needed this feel of lost and found. It was only as I began to stitch it into the overall piece that beads were added, some losing themselves in the frayed stuff, some threads appearing, some disappearing. Just like life.
The phrase “I once was lost but now am found” certainly wove its way into this dialogue a few times. Art has a way of helping us find ourselves, understand the frayed path, trust the daily stitches. Creativity is a mighty force that enables us to see through all the lostness we experience. It could be said that our Maker finds us in our lost places, often through piercing threads of love that meander through our days. I experience this daily. I have to trust that though I typically feel as if I have no clue what I’m doing in life, I will find and be found as I faithfully make the next stitch, add the next bit of found cloth, or ragged and frayed rope.
I’m hoping this dialogue never ends…between lost and found, between hands and heart. It leads me onward. Perhaps you too will “find” something today to “lose” yourself in and follow it in creativity.