The Gossiping Milkman. Hand Embroidery on cotton canvas. 19 x 18 cm
You will be pleased to know I have a whole sketch book full of drawings of these painful memories and I intend to get them out of my system just like The Secret Handshake. This one is based again around a visiting preacher from the local area that should have known better. I found out from a friend who had decided to drop an unkind bomb on me, that my dad had been married before and that I had an older sister (no biggie in its own right this happens to a lot of people) but when you believe your parents would tell you the truth first and they do not it hurts. This milkman had been gossiping to the friends mum (and most of the village it turned out) telling them all before I knew. I remember watching him give his sermon in a pure and holier than though fashion. Afterwards my mum shook his hand obviously oblivious to his unkind two faced, intolerant, judgmental supremacy. I could not believe she would be so kind and supportive to such a weazle. When it came to my turn I was going to make a stand. He offered me his hand and I stood and glared at him with all the hate an unpopular teenage girl could muster. He looked shocked. What did he expect? I would love him like an idiot? Because that is what he made me feel along with my friend, like there was something dirty and wrong with me and my family and that they were better than us because they were 'pure'. My mum hurried me out of the door and as we were going down the lane said "OOOh Erica I was so embarassed why ever did you not shake his hand?" She still believes to this day I am the problem.
I have been watching and listening to Eckhart Tolle and his lectures about and dealing with ' The pain body' It is a fascinating way of dealing with old and new memories alike.
Colour has always been import to me and my work seems to be lacking in that area so I have started sampling for what i hope will be a larger piece but it is early days yet so who knows what it could turn into. Sometimes I get scared when I think of all the possibilities a single drawing possesses. You could spend your whole life working from one image!
The Secret Handshake. Hand Embroidery 32cm x 46 cm.
When I was younger I went to the Methodist chapel in the village. Sometimes visiting lay preachers from the surrounding area would come and give sermons. After the service it was customary for everybody to shake the hand of the person who had just given the service and heartily congratulate them on their insight for Jesus. I shook this mans hand and to my horror he did a perverted tickle in the palm of my hand in a way that nobody else could see, while we were standing in a crowd of people from the congregation and gave me the most disgusting knowing look which chills my soul when ever I think about it. We brush with danger everywhere it seems. I was listening to radio 6 and just caught Mary Anne Hobbs quoting somebody, I did n't hear who, but it was something like this:
"If we fall in love with our shadow, we atrophy"
Makes me think of the painting Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse.
I spend to much time thinking about bad past memories, I admit, but then I think we can use that memory, work through it and use it to propel us where we want to be, and then not focus on that particular shadow, because there will be space for something new. I am making space for the new here. Thats it. Done and dusted with this one, but if I ever see him again I will tell him he is a pervy, predatory, bastard.
What is it with 'dark' undercurrents? Where do they come from? Undermining darkness that wants to knock you off your balance just when you think things are getting better and hard work is changing towards positive directions, it's there always lurking close to you and surfaces for maximum damage, sometimes from the most innocent of sources. I am watching, wondering, listening and channeling in a different direction.
I fancied getting back onto the sewing machine this week. This corset can be found in Jean Hunnisetts' fantastic book Period Costume For Stage And Screen 1800 - 1909. I made a toile in medium weight calico before attempting the real thing. On fitting always check the silhouette and seam lines and remember that a corset was originally made to alter your body shape and not the body altering the pattern - only so much can be done if you want to stay comfortable though!! It looks like its not lying flat around the boobs, this lady is a different shape to me!
My watch points for future reference:
1 Be organised with the pieces, label and be very accurate in marking, cutting and stitching. Think and think again before you cut.
2 Use as finer machine needle as you dare when sewing the coutil as any seams will have punched holes on the reverse (the top looks nicer than the back of the stitch) and pin and stitch very carefully as it marks badly.
3 On fell seams check the width of the fabric that is trimmed and placed inside the seam as the steels will reveal any untidy trimming and be visible.
4 Do not be tempted to use cheap eyelets or thread to your peril. These garments are under alot of pressure! You can see here where the back of the eyelet has split and one has even dropped off. (This is not because I banged to hard with the hammer)
5 On the top and bottom hem edges leave at least 5/6 mm of space away from the boning, eg if boning channel is 30cm the boning will be 29 cm.
6 Match seam widths, tape widths and bias binding widths as this makes a more professional finish and narrow bindings look more delicate.
7 When machining always leave the needle down in the fabric when stopping and moving as the fabric is so stiff it jumps and slides underneath the presser foot and the stitching goes wobbly.
8 Check lacing styles and how it is laced. I am still puzzling this out. Different people say different things but I think I am sort of there.
Sketch book drawing in pencil of a view on Harborough rocks
Teachers constantly tell you to use your
'drawing muscle. Keep using it, it is very useful and fill sketch books full of ideas, use it or loose it, make sure that you exercise it regularly'.
I totally agree. What they fail to say is how to connect and give that piece of work - what ever you are making soul, presence, sense of purpose, in the moment, meaning, call it what you will. I believe that you need to be interested in what the subject is, to love it, have some sort of emotion about it, really find it interesting, be attracted on a deeper level, want to meet and say 'hello.' To learn from the 'thing' and let the 'thing' learn from you. Connection is really important and learned fear or fear of the collective 'eye' can be crippling along with excessive technique. Really look at your subject, communicate and feel as you draw and let the pencil reveal all. Be brave and say hello to your still life and see what it has to say in return.
A good bit of huge junk at the quarry on Harborough rocks.
Time is going to quickly. It makes me want to panic just lately because I am really noticing it. I feel as if I have just stepped onto a travolator on hyper drive or accidentally dropped into a washing machine drum on spin. My studio has had a bit of a make over with a new woodburner and everything has had a good clean and tidy and have visited the tip. Why does empty space just fill up with stuff?? I find it pretty fascinating especially when I have not bought or brought it! Perhaps it is like mother nature not liking bare soil and plants grow really quickly if given the space to protect the nutrients within. Junk can be mental nutrients to inspire, so is a messy studio is like a good heap of thought manure? Sweet. Respect the junk. Saying that though why does it feel heavenly having space to clear and focus your mind? You can not have one with out the other. As an artist I think you need both, so does that mean that life fills you up with stuff to clutter your meditations on purpose to give you something valuable to focus on and think about? Hmmmm interesting. I'll shut up now.
I find it so difficult to focus at this time of year. I can feel the sap rising and my allotment is shouting "work on me !!!" It is very easy to be distracted but in a good busy way. I have been hand and machine stitching some denim bits together that I started last year based around reflections on water, and thinking about this new year about how to be more productive. I always think it is amazing how the subconsious bubbles up from deep within and affects and reflects your actions and how quiet, careful observation can help to notice what is actually happening in the bigger picture all around. Consiousness. Environment. Influence. Control. You can mix these up in any order and apply for profound consequence. On a lighter note, it is so difficult finding embroidery threads that are not silky and shiny and similar to sashiko thread in a range of colours. DMC do one called soft matt. Do u think anybody stocks it in a shop? No. When i get my little mits on some hopefully good stitching will happen. Any ideas would be gratefully received. Have got some grey matt Rico crotchet cotton which might work instead. I got my first e-mail enquiry today from a stranger asking about what the embroidery pussy power means. It is so good to have somebody who is interested and actually wants to talk. Thankyou!
I have a note on my ideas board to my self and it says: 'how do I dance? keep yourself dancing' With great difficulty ha ha and in private! This stitching means so much you wouldn't believe it and its not that amazing but it has some how connected me back to myself, perhaps because it uses bits of yarn that have been in my stash for years (some bits are even left overs from the mill in Leek where grandma worked. Yep 1970's acylic) I was sitting there thinking about the beehives and the crotchet and what if ? What if I pertend to be in a scary place and be a small child and make them again? Grab the chance do it and you will always find something. It may not be important to others but if its important to yourself, that is, as far as I am concerned what is real. Make terrible knots, stitches that are cringeworthy and embarassing. Get into a tangled mess if you want to. Things can be untangled. Keep yourself dancing all night long.
I've been thinking alot about being small, young, inflences and beginnings in life in general, triggered by digging out my old sindy dresses I knitted to get my brownie knitting badge (pictures for them are in 'about me') Grandma taught me to crotchet first and I used to sit and single chain whole balls of wool left over from her projects and wrap them around old toilet roll tubes. Grandma made fancy doiles and I desperatley wanted to copy but it was deemed to complicted for some one as small as me and with that frustrated desperation of not wanting to be held back I began sewing the single chain together to try and make a flat mat. Unfortunatley I couldn't sew very well either and I made all of these strange beehive constructions because I couldn't sew it flat. I can remember struggling to pull open the front draw in the side board at home which would be full of these tangles of industry mixed up with hair brushes used carrier bags old mittens hats and anything else that mum wanted to keep out of sight. This week I had a funny and tried to make them again. The shape is not quite right and I will work on that but the stitching looks like it.