We were 20 women from six countries, ranging in age from our 30s to 60s, gathered on the private island of Silverskär, part of the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea, for a five-day Lotta Jansdotter printing workshop, and I believe that we were all basking in "the rapture of being alive."
“. . . the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny. — Maria Popova, "9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings"
"The human soul is hungry for beauty . . . When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming. Some of our most wonderful memories are beautiful places where we felt immediately at home. We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. For a while the strains of struggle and endurance are relieved and our frailty is illuminated by a different light in which we come to glimpse behind the shudder of appearances and sure form of things. In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act. Beauty brings a sense of completion and sureness. Without any of the usual calculation, we can slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us."
I recalled this passage while looking at the swatch of cotton in the photo above. I dyed it yesterday using quebracho red dye extract. There is something so soothing and grounding about the color and about the purity of this simple piece of cloth with its raw edges exposed. It evokes "a sense of completeness and sureness," as O'Donohue writes; something deep, perhaps ancient, is awakened within me when I hold it.
The cloth and the dye to color it came to me from Kristine Vejar of A Verb for Keeping Warm, whose book, The Modern Natural Dyer, was released this week. The Quebracho tree, I learned on page 17, is a member of the sumac family and grows in Central and South America; its dye is readily available to us.
I was the editor of The Modern Natural Dyer so this information is not new to me. But the experience of placing my cloth in a pot of water in which I had dissolved the dye and simmering it on the stove for an hour, then cooling and rinsing and hanging it to dry—being part of such a simple act—brought it to life to me in a way that has enriched my day. I welcome this beauty, which feels like a homecoming.
Over the weekend my friend Suzan and I watched Elke Bergeron's Metallic Leather Bracelet class on Creativebug and started making bracelets. Everything was going well on Saturday—together, we proudly figured out how to work the strap cutter and the beveler and happily painted the leather. But on Sunday morning, when it was time to add the button stud closures, we realized the button studs I bought weren't going to work because they were too short. I had to order new ones.
You'd think I'd be eager to receive the new closures in the mail and finish this project, but the truth is I'm kind of dreading it. That's because I really want these bracelets to turn out well and I know that this part of the process, when I have to punch holes in the narrow leather, is precarious. If I'm off by just a little bit, I could ruin a bracelet, or the hole and closure could look amateurish. Since Suzan had to leave, I'll be working alone. And, truthfully, making the bracelets with Suzan was so much more fun than making them on my own would have been. When I got frustrated or confused, she was calm and focused. And vice versa. When I didn't like the way my first painted bracelets were looking, she suggested a different way to mix the colors that turned out really nice. While we made them, we talked and laughed.
I've been thinking a lot about my fear of making those holes in the leather, taking that last step, and wondering how often I unconsciously avoid doing something because I am afraid of failing or just not being perfect.Read More
One of my favorite passages from The Hours by Michael Cunningham:
"We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep—it's as simple and ordinary as that. . . There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, for darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning: we hope, more than anything, for more."