Having recently posted about what I consider a most intriguing innovation in textile dyeing, I think the timing is perfect to discuss a book I just finished. I’m filing this entry in the 100 Untimed Books challenge somewhat loosely under prompt #62: Sweaters.
The book is ClothesLines: A Collection of Poetry and Art edited by Stan Tymorek.
It’s an anthology of fifty poems by various artists, each devoted to garments of some kind – from overalls to geisha robes to a mother’s apron, and everything in between. Paired with each poem is a piece of art, and again the variety is extensive – from 17th century paintings to contemporary photographs.
As with any collection of poetry, I took my time reading it, and I was charmed by it. I found myself thinking about clothes in all kinds of ways – things I love, the way others dress, signature pieces certain people have, all manner of memories. I let myself really delve deeply, and am delighted I did.
In keeping with my practice of awarding a rating based on floriography, the language of flowers, giving a hint at the plot as well as my appraisal, I offer this bouquet: Sweet briar – poetry; Lady’s Slipper – capricious beauty; Bachelor’s Buttons – single blessedness; Garden Ranunculus – you are rich in attractions.
Part of the fun of the 100 Untimed Books challenge is deciding what category to assign your book to. “Sweaters” was clothing based, so that’s what I chose. And to continue with that theme, I photographed the book on one of my favorite sweaters. It’s a printed patchwork based on Japanese patterns. I’ve always liked imagining it as a tribute to aizome, which is indigo dyeing in Japan. As early as the 6th century there are records that indicate the indigo plant was cultivated, and while originally only samurai and aristocrats owned such material, by the 17th century it was used quite commonly. Besides being beautiful, indigo also has insect repelling and antibacterial effects so it became quite popular.
For years I’ve kept a mixed media journal I’ve entitled My Secret Closet, occasionally adding to it when inspired with various photos and sketches, bits of fabric and trimming. It’s a veritable treasure of textures and patterns, strange costumes and ordinary wonderfulness.
Years ago I read a book, which I remember nothing else about except the description of various caches of clothing stored throughout the kingdom. Any time you needed a costume or change of clothing you were free to take what you liked. How fabulous is that idea?
I clearly didn’t play dress up enough as a child to get it out of my system because the idea appeals to me so much. Putting diverse things together delights me endlessly. Which is why I was so excited by a conversation I had with a friend tonight. She introduced me to “stitch meditations.” Textile artist Liz Kettle has a video explaining her process, and how she uses it daily as a moving meditation, simply taking a few moments each day to hand stitch together a small 4×4 inch patch of various materials. It’s not mean to be “art” or done with precision, but truly rather a way to get into that meditative zone. I’m definitely intrigued and suspect I’ll begin exploring this. And likely some of the bits may find themselves in my journals.
And there you have it. More like a peek through the closet of my mind today – journeying through poems and art, clothing and textiles, and meditating while stitching. What’s in your closet? Do tell – you know I love to hear.