I learned about the San Francisco School of Needlework and Design (what a mouthful!) a couple of months ago via the Fiber Talk podcasts. I was especially intrigued by their Stitch at Home Challenges because, obviously, stitching at home is what I do most - as opposed to taking classes in public or traveling or anything much outside of my home. I couldn't pull anything together for the challenge that was in place when I first learned about the School although I did have an idea I would have liked to have brought into existence. The new challenge, however, is right up my alley. The theme is Healing and Reflection.
At first I found this theme a bit overwhelming. There are so many possibilities, so many facets to this topic (which is why it makes such a good theme I suppose). But it wasn't long before I was rescued by something I've done nearly every day for the past 18 years: Morning Pages.
If you've read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron you'll know what I'm talking about. Her book is basically a self-help manual for stuck artists or those who don't think of themselves as artists but are besieged by creative urges. A friend of mine introduced me to the book and suggested we get together with a couple of other like-minded friends to work our way through the book. This was back before my MCS diagnosis. We were a small group, only four of us consistently as I recall. It was very helpful to have the group though. Without the accountability they provided I would never have done some of the exercises suggested at the end of the chapters. But by far the most valuable thing I took away from my time with Julia and her book was Morning Pages.
Essentially Morning Pages is 30 to 40 minutes spent writing, by hand, first thing in the morning. Before there's been any input from the outside world to influence your thoughts or feelings. It can be a difficult practice to establish but I've come to rely on it for a variety of reasons. I write three pages a day in a cheap, 10.5" x 8" spiral-bound notebook. I vent anger or frustration, I come up with ideas for new projects or solutions for current efforts, I confess my fears and anxieties. There are days when it's hard to come up with anything to say and days when my pages are full of gratitude. Not only have Morning Pages and the Artist's Way helped me to feel more confident in myself as an artist, it's helped me to come to terms with my circumstances. In short, I dump or dream on the page and am healed in so doing. But how to represent that with fabric and thread?
I decided to make a textile book, a sort of replica of the notebooks I have filled over the years. There may not be a lot of needlework on the pages but this is one place where I don't feel the pressure to do more than is necessary. I have selected text prints from my stash to create the pages for my book.
Each print is symbolic of one way Morning Pages have helped me to heal. My intention is to use embroidery to clarify or label the pages.
Obviously I've used some ribbon and trims too. Most of the decorative needlework will be on the cover, I think. Right now I'm not sure what the cover is going to look like. That will come in time. Probably when I've finished with the pages. 😉