So, it is not that I think anyone in general is looking to see if I have something to say this week…but, I do know there are a few who are. And those truly matter to me. So even though I admit that I have been dancing around “the blog” for more than a few days–and in a truly desperate measure, even avoided it this morning by shoveling 5 inches of snow off of a very long driveway…I will now try to “dance” across the subject.
Why “dangling threads” ?
Two years ago, sitting around a table after a wonderful dinner (and a few glasses of wine), my daughter and future son-in-law, my son and a friend set about trying to come up with a domain name for my website. Now, this is a bit of a joke, because even though I wanted one desperately, hoping to instantly be hooked up with lovers of craft and buyers of stuff, I truly had no skills to deal with any on-line presence…but optimism springs eternal, I guess. They were having a grand time coming up with clever possibilities…a laughing out loud, “how ’bout this?” kind of fun…I don’t really remember any of the suggestions, but they were having way too much fun with their oh-so-clever quips. In a lull in the fun, I offered up “dangling threads”. It was noted, searched and bought quicker than I can find the “enter” key (still) and a website was born. And even though I haven’t managed to get my portfolio on-line (the original goal), two years later with this “newbie” blog and a mini-etsy store, the “dangling threads” still seems to fit.
I am a collector of stuff and a maker of things; I use the stuff to make the things, and running through all of it is the thread…and, as this effort has been compelling me to consider the work I have done in the past, and that which I am doing now, I can see the “thread” running through it, as if the whole body of work has been one very long conversation. I find this reassuring: I can see the continuity, the improvement in skills and craft, and, sometimes even the compelling next step–that dangling thread is still there. All I need to do is thread it, stitch, and see where it goes…
For quite a few years, probably ever since my kids left home, taking down and putting away Christmas has been a rather melancholy affair–and I have LOTS of “Christmas” to pack away. In early December, with all the anticipation of kids flying in, of finishing off the cards and ornaments, and getting the last minute wrapping done, pulling out all that sparkly stuff seems like an adventure.
First up goes the creche figures on the mantle. I bought the plaster of Paris blanks when I was pregnant with my daughter from an old Ben Franklin 5 & 10 in Kingston, New York. (We were there on assignment, living in a rental house, no friends, far from family.) I had set up a temporary studio and painted them as my baby clock ticked down. Shortly after she was born, we moved back to Texas…bigger studio, but far less time to paint kings and camels…it was years before the set was completely painted. Both the memories and the figures are one of my Christmas treasures. Most of my stuff is like that: the memory is wrapped around the thing until it becomes the essence of it. There is the bottle brush forest, most scavenged by my husband at the flea market in the summer and squirreled away for months; the German nutcrackers carried back by my sister from Germany years ago; the strings of vintage glass beads, definitely showing their age, that swag from the banister; the snowflakes and angels who fly over my village of Delft houses (none of mine acquired by flying first class to Scandinavia!!) in my dining room window ; the beaded ornaments that I rescued years ago–made by a mother, not wanted by her kids– hanging from my chandelier over the table; and, of course, the tree, every ornament on it, a story.
So, putting away all of these old things (and their stories) can be tough in January when the kids are back living their lives (as it should be) and all the family fun is over. Dusting Christmas stuff is never very rewarding. This year has been different somehow. Most all of it has been stashed away and I feel free to start on my new year. This one feels full of possibilities. I have lots of plans for work in my studio: the design wall awaits…
Sometimes good things are worth waiting for. This year, my angels finally made it to Christmas dinner. Each year, after finding a treasure at the flea market, I design an ornament using it.
After a week of Kafkaesque scenarios of white bodies (with newly attached hands and the random foot or two) perched to dry over the heating vents, looking as if they were about to be tumbled in, all ten angels were ready for heads, faces, and hair. Each of these steps seemed like huge stumbling blocks last year…but with a week to go, this year, I was determined to just work through each challenge, a process at a time. Heads got molded, faces got painted, and silver embroidery thread became “wigs”.
Vintage lace was cut into underskirts. The lovely black silk, hand-embroidered edging (the inspiration for the ornament, to begin with) was stitched into skirts with old black flower motifs as bodices. Bits of gold lace were trimmed with even more gold trim and were stitched into crowns. Old French crystals were added here and there. Wigs were trimmed. A long piece of wired netting was cut into wings; vintage millinery leaves were wired in. Nearly done.
Pieces of an old necklace, looking like stars to me, were strung with crystals and beads. The band of angels was finished. Finally: ready for a dinner debut. That was a totally wonderful feeling…each step of this whole project challenged my skills… I gave in last year…but FINISHED this year.
On to the search for “just the thing” to inspire next year’s!
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Last year was the first in about fifteen that my ornaments didn’t get finished in time for Christmas…the angels just didn’t make it to Christmas dinner. Understand, that it was not from a lack of effort…maybe they were too ambitious for my skills. I certainly ran out of time as well as inspiration. As much as I try, the Christmas countdown clock always finishes before I do. But, once again, it is early December. My shopping is done, most of my presents are wrapped, my cards are made, addressed and ready to go, and the tree is in the bucket outside. It seems a simple matter to just get the angels off the table so they can make their date for dinner this December 25. We shall see. Think I will keep a list of everything that gets done between now and Christmas (besides my angels?) so that if they don’t make it to dinner this year, I will at least know why.