“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame.”
—Benedict Cumberbatch (my hero/Sherlock Holmes on BBC series)
—Benedict Cumberbatch (my hero/Sherlock Holmes on BBC series)
This morning I woke up with the word “mend” on my mind. What a simply beautiful word. I kept thinking about it while I actually mended a few things.
I realized that mend somehow uniquely seems more feminine to me than its masculine cousin, repair.
Mending and sewing connects me to the ancient wisdom of mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and friends. Women have been sitting together stitching, solving problems, laughing and crying in gardens, front porches, church basements, adobes, tents and huts throughout the history of the world. This is a part of all of us, even if it hasn’t necessarily been our personal experience. We mend in the way I did today, but we also mend broken hearts, bones & skin, relationships, nervous systems, false narratives and so much more.
Here’s to mending whatever is in your literal or emotional stack of damaged goods.
Go ahead, tap into that ancient wisdom.
The ladies are waiting to help you.
Today I closed the door for the last time on my much-loved studio of 15+ years. It’s empty. My work is now in storage. This is the end of one era and the start of another.
I keep thinking about something my husband, Jeff told me a few years ago.
July: I worked on my coursework for my positive psychology class. I created a handbag out of a friend’s damaged Audi seat. I was generously given a huge amount of fabric that was just beautiful to work with for the SEABA fashion show coming up. I read a lot about the psychology of geography—the study of how we behave in relation to our environment. I traveled to South Dakota to visit my family and was lucky enough to get to shoot some photographs at the Burke Stampede Rodeo. Oh, cowboys…
August: I sketched, sewed, painted and made handbags…a big blitz of work. Using the company SPOONFLOWER I got photographs printed onto fabric. My daughter, Lucy wore a skirt I made with an abandoned farmhouse photo I shot in South Dakota on it. I used rust prints Elizabeth Bunsen created with Nebraska license plates to create fabric as well. Burlington master goldsmith— Jane Frank designed jewelry worn in the show—the pieces were such a beautiful compliment to the clothes.
September was a blur: The fashion show was entirely consuming the first 10 days of the the month. I love to be in flow and entirely focused on one thing. Deadlines are my jam. However, this year I also needed to create my final project for my Positive Psychology course at the same time . I graduated and got to spend a week at Kripalu in Lenox, Mass with a remarkable bunch of people from all around the world. Later in the month my husband and I went to the Champlain Valley Classic Car show, taking photos and talking to classic car enthusiasts was just great after being so busy.
October: I turned 50 on the 12th. I was taken to Martha’s Vineyard by friends. My husband surprised me by getting my folks, my sister and my brother-in-law to Vermont for a long weekend to celebrate with me. That was remarkable AND he threw a party complete with my friends putting on a musical review, poetry, singing songs and making me feel so unbelievably grateful for my life. I took a few of my favorite images ever and layered more photos. Jeff and I dressed as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo for Halloween.
November: I traveled to Burke, South Dakota. I took photos of Herrick that made current and former Herrick residents very happy and remarkably nostalgic. I got to hang out with my great nephew, Liam (oh, and the rest of my clan). I created digital images of my own planet based on a conversation with my son. The planet New Vagus is based on the vagus nerve—the power center of our nervous system. I wrote. I cried when Leonard Cohen died.
December: I made leather pendants for gifts. I kept playing with the image of a South Dakota two-lane road, layering the photo and playing with the visuals of memory. I created a line of scarves with my images on them. I will post the link soon if you are interested in ordering one.
January 2017 is off to an interesting start. I’m cleaning out the basement—sorting through letters, photos, the kids clothes I’ve saved, toys, books and all of the things I can’t believe I now have to deal with. I’m learning a lot about myself and why things seemed so very important to me.
The funny thing about being an artist—it just never feels like I’ve created enough. NEVER. I needed to look back for some perspective if I’m going show some compassion toward myself and be my own best friend. I went through my images month by month to remind myself that, although I can always create more—I’ve actually done a lot.
Here’s PART I: January to June 2016.
January: I painted this mural in the entryway of our home. It took me about 10 hours to paint it on New Year’s Day. It brings me joy everyday as I walk into our home. I’m eyeing other walls now and looking for some dates when no one is home for a long stretch.
February: These were a few of my favorite images from a trip to the Dominican Republic with my husband and daughters. Oh, that blue…
March: I shot this image of my husband with our cat, Karen. It is one of my favorite images I’ve ever taken. Our cozy family life wearing great socks surrounded by color. I worked a lot layering my photos with images of my hometown and two-lane South Dakota roads. I wrote about identity. I worked on my positive psychology coursework. I worked with artist, Elizabeth Bunsen ecodyeing textiles and learning about that process. I made a handbag that referenced the South Dakota two-lane image I like to work with for a group show in April at SEABA.
April: I went with Elizabeth Bunsen to assist with an ecodyeing workshop in the magical encaustic castle—an art space in Lexington, Kentucky run by artist Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch. What a remarkable group of women! We made beautiful things. We laughed. We cried. My great nephew, Liam was born in South Dakota while I was in Kentucky. My new creative friends celebrated with me. What an experience.
Here’s the link to her space to see what other workshops are available.
May: My friend, Maggie and I took four teenage girls to Quebec City to see Justin Bieber as a 16th Birthday present to my twin daughters. What a beautiful city and the false eyelashes looked amazing as they headed out to catch their Uber to the Videotron Centre.
June: I shot this image of Vergennes, Vermont that I love. My husband and I traveled to Ireland for a friend’s 50th birthday. This photograph was taken in Innishmore. I sold this painting “She Often had a Plan B” in the new shop below my studio: DEEP 6. I found a group of amazing photos at a second hand shop. I cleaned my studio.
Next up, whenever I get to it—July-December.
was a blast. Wow, they don’t make them like they used to. My husband, Jeff and I spend last Saturday out at the show. I want a classic car. These are truly works of art and talking to people who know so much about cars was wonderful. The only thing I really know now is I can tell when the suspension has been messed with. The scale looks off a little.
Anyway…here are some beauties we got to see.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend going to the show next September.
Here are some images from last night’s STRUT fashion show in Burlington, Vermont. These are the more candid shots of getting ready and going through rehearsal. We had such a great day and hanging out together was really fun. Thank you to all who helped make the show happen. I won’t name you all, there are too many of you who supported Elizabeth and I produce our collection. You know who you are. Many thanks.
now that all of the pieces are created. It’s time to look for subtle threads (literally & figuratively) that unite the collection. I love this part almost as much as pizza & champagne when we’re all done. I really like that part. Elizabeth Bunsen’s dyed fabric, my work in scrap leather and photography and Jane Frank’s jewelry is telling a story just as we had hoped from the beginning. Storytelling through this collaborative work is maybe the best part of the whole shootin’ match in my estimation.
I furiously got rid of stuff that was keeping my mind a complete mess. I couldn’t even prioritize what I needed to work on first. I spend one hour cleaning out and booked an appointment with GOT JUNK. The minute they drove off I could breathe again. The guys were great and both artists in their own right too. Apparently GOT JUNK sites have a lot of materials, metal, wood and other things to scavenged. I gave lots of things away and unearthed a few items I unfortunately would’ve purchased again because I didn’t know where they were. The clean out felt awesome. These are not very good before and after photos, but I think you’ll get the idea.
Yesterday, I got to the studio ready to work on my designs for STRUT and all 4 of my sewing machines didn’t work—broken belts, jammed up and one vintage and one, a 1950s SINGER I acquired I couldn’t figure out how to get the bobbin to thread even after I read and reread the manual. Reading manuals is not one of my strengths. It’s like reading Japanese or Greek or writing code to me. I called my sister to tell her that I actually had to laugh at the absurdity of having all machines fail on me when I was busy sewing. I was grateful that I could find the humor in the problem. What else could I do, really? What was the universe trying to tell me. I then headed out to one of the most loved repair shops in northern Vermont…Smitty’s in Essex Junction, Vermont. http://www.smittysews.com/
I was so grateful for the service. SMITTY and his wife are truly Vermont Treasures.
In an hour and half I had two of the machines in beautiful working order. I’m sewing leather and my sewing machines are taking a beating. If anyone ever wonders what to get me for a gift, it’s leather needles. As a bonus, I got to have tacos with my daughter, Willa while I waited. There’s always a bonus, if we’re paying attention to everyday hardships if we dig deep.
By 2pm I finally was able to get to work and nearly finish one of my pieces for the show. I love to work with the tension of tough and soft materials. I think the leather with the softness of the ecodyed silk from Elizabeth Bunsen is an interesting contrast…just like life.
Sometimes things are hard and sometimes things are delicate and sometimes we just have to laugh at it all.