Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Think I've Got It

Deuteronomy II & III, (2013)
Remember back a while when I was going on about the text I was going to use in the Deuteronomy series? It was a passage from the book of Deuteronomy that listed the birds that one should not eat, and I was going to use a French translation from the King James version of the Bible that would have been contemporary to Louis Nicolas.

Well, soon it occurred to me that since Pere Nicolas was Catholic, he wouldn't have been using the King James version at all. No, it would have been the Latin Vulgate. So I found the passage online (this is when the internet makes working on a remote island possible) and then went back to the manuscript of the Grammaire Algonquine, which was, remember, in his own handwriting. I enlarged sections of that, and traced off the Roman capitals that he had written in various headings, and created my own Louis Nicolas hand drawn alphabet.

Then, in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry (See? I told you there was a connection!) I divided up the text and placed it on the four panels. Only the owls are complete, but I wanted to show them off. There will be a panel of eagles to the left, and the swan and pelican to the right.

I embroidered the text in a lighter value embroidery floss using Holbein stitch, as I didn't want the lettering to be too dominant. Words, even ones we don't understand, are always first to grab our attention. What the text translates to is basically: "These are they that you shall not eat,[list of birds] every creeping thing that flies is unclean, of these do not eat."

Now, I can understand why carrion eaters might be prohibited, but why would swans be unclean? I asked my uncle, who is Jewish and quite orthodox, so he knows all about the prohibited foods, and he didn't know either. Oh well, a little mystery never hurt.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Reading

Sugar Says poster available through The Rumpus
Whether I need it or not, I seem to be encountering a torrent of inspiration and advice. Maybe I'm just in a receptive mode, or maybe the universe has decided I am in need of guidance. Whatever the reason, I have been reading a collection of the fantastically earthy, wise and heart-centred Dear Sugar columns. Cheryl Strayed is the voice behind Dear Sugar, who I had not heard of until encountering her on Brain Pickings. ( I recommend Brain Pickings too. It arrives in my mailbox on Sunday morning and I spend a pleasant hour with a cup of tea exploring the stories and links.)

Cheryl Strayed is the author of Wild, a book that came out last year. I went to reserve it at the library and found out I'm 158th on the waiting list. And they have 12 copies!

I'm also reading two different books on the creation of the Bayeux Tapestry: Needle in the Right Hand of God and The Invention of Truth. Both quite fascinating. You'll find out why I have been diverted by what is probably the world's most well-known piece of textile art when I next post about the Codex. Yes, I'm still stitching away on that, more slowly than I would like, but still going. The quilt-for-hire projects is about three-quarters done, a little behind schedule, but I do think the end is in sight.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tree Trust True

Detail from Gustav Klimt's Tree of Life
The other night, I was reading Aiden Meehan's book on the Celtic approach to drawing the Tree of Life. In his introduction, he mentions that the words "tree", "trust", "true" and even "Druid" come from the same proto Indo-European root. As you might guess, I love this idea.

I googled the 3 "T" words just to see what came up, and was intrigued to find Tree Trust True, a sculpture created by a California artist's collective called Deep Craft. The piece is a long table created from a Douglas Fir windfall, with bowls carved into the surface. These bowls were filled with local produce for a site-specific installation celebrating local food. Five years later, the group dismantled the table, which had been a popular outdoor gathering place, and moved it to the site where the tree originally grew. The process is documented here: The Return.

While exploring Deep Craft's site, I came across their Deep Craft Manifesto. It's well worth checking out in its long form, but 67 directives do not make for a quick study. Here are a few of my favourites:

8. All vessels originate with an imagined voyage.
9. Perfection is impossible to maintain.
13. Deep Craft is a system of arranging things and relationships in such a way as to improve their value as well as the conditions that sustain the value.
19. Art reduces the boundaries between work and thought. Traditional craft makes the distinction obsolete; both art and handicraft are most robust when the two are fused.
29. Encourage beneficial loops and a gift economy.
37. Kind, Courteous, Friendly, Helpful, Loyal, Trustworthy, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent
40. Trust in an ethos of ‘exuberant frugality’.
43. Making the time for a lovely lunch is a fundamental privilege, motivation and reward for any hard-working artisan.
49. Seek out the unexplored edges.

And so on... Deep Craft may be talking about their own practise of working with wood, but the ideas apply to textiles, clay - in fact, life in general. It's an approach that appeals to me, well, deeply.

While we're on the subject of manifestos, may I direct you to what has turned out to be one of my most popular posts in my little blogs history. Wendell Castle's 10 Adopted Rules of Thumb is the work of one of the most innovative furniture designers of the 20th century. I just posted his list, so can take none of the credit for the brilliance and clarity of that particular post. But it is a good one.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Time Out

From The Reconstructionists, a project by Maria Popova and Lisa Congdon
Don't worry, Stompin' Tom's death didn't send me into a downward spiral of bloglessness. I have though, been away from computer and camera, and not doing much stitching. Instead, I've been dealing with stuff, both my own piles of boxes of fabric and books, and other people's. Hopefully, I'm now back to work.

While I was out gallivanting, I found an amazing little shop called The Stitcher's Muse. The lovely ladies that run the shop are so into stitching, and they do mail order. Their online shop is still being expanded, but if you don't see what you want, just give them a call and they can hook you up with the most beautiful hand-dyed silks, gorgeous turned wood sewing accessories, specialty needles, lace-making supplies and the biggest selection of scissors I have ever seen.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Great Canadian


I just heard that Stompin' Tom Conners died today. Awww, I feel sad. I was a big fan of his in the '80's, concurrent with being a big punk rock fan. Tom had that punk spirit, even if he could be total cornball at times. He was my kind of Canadian hero. I got to meet him once and he was a really genuine, nice guy. RIP Tom, I'll go play Fire in the Mine now.