I wanted to chart the entire process/journey of the making of this one particular cloth, not only regarding the visual imagery of the journey but that of the making of the cloth itself. This is more for myself than anyone else but it is an indulgence I am allowing me. It is in the form of random journal notes that relate to the process I went through in deciding how I would create the ground cloth onto which I would then chart the journey itself. These notes refer to what has been variously named Wild Mother Calling/Baba Yaga and finally the Cailleach Cloth.
These are those notes:
10th November 2008
Simplicity, that is what I want in my work, although the finished work will probably be far from that. The stitching can be simple – nothing very fancy – no amazing techniques, just piecing, applique, embroidery and quilting – that is it in essence.
13th November 2008
Perhaps start with the central block, pieced, then add to this with borders of pieced fabrics – the whole to have the embellishments, including words, added – either before or after quilting – I don’t know. I have little experience of making a quilt – only on a small scale. What am I doing?
19th November 2008
I can start an ad hoc quilt – I want to stitch, so I can make a cloth of light fabric, light in colour that is and then do said embellishments after stitching perhaps. Or do I need a definite plan in mind – Baba Yaga? Her house could be a central piece for the dreamingtime journey – could embroider the seed beings (they came in a dream) and whatever else comes along the way. I am being taught patience, process, planning. Against my innate nature most definitely, but it seems that is what is on offer here. It is what the Wild Mother is calling me to do.
So……can I do it? can I make a Baba Yaga house? Design and make a block – think the chicken legs might pose a problem – more research methinks, then build the quilt, the story around it??
November 26th 2008
I have decided to set to and start making the quilt base, as it were, the ground cloth onto which the story can unfold. I think I will make it in blocks, hand piecing them and strips etc. to make the whole.
Once I started thinking about Baba Yaga=Kali=Hecate=Crone – this could depict the journey into crone-hood. Chieko, the one who is journeying to the dreamingtime – the name translates as Wise Child – it is why I picked it. So it can all weave together – I may well weave some blocks – I like the effect.
Looking at the journey in that respect brings up lots of images for the cloth, the house itself can be embroidered – I am still thinking probably in the centre – not sure though.
November 27th 2008
Got it at last – the “how” has fallen into place. Each block is made separately – this I got – but each block can depict a pasrt of the story and then pieced together as a whole. I think I have been trying to see the big picture, thinking I have to design the whole picture all at once – not so, work bit by bit and let the story unfold and develop! I keep losing sight of the fact that this is a journey and as yet I have hardly started on it.
I have the beginning: Chieko is by the stream of Mnemosyne wrapped in remembering; then to the stables to meet Dina – her large white shire horse – I have already made a template for her.
The journey has only just begun so the story cloth can begin now too, now that I have in my head how to proceed.
Design block by block, bit by bit and let the cloth tell the story.
28th November 2008
Started on a block, only to realise that actually I would prefer to either work on a wholecloth piece, or make the groundcloth first and then add pieces and build up the story on the surface.
29th November 2008
Right, I am officially driving myself bonkers! I have all the fabrics, all beige tones, to use as the ground cloth, but a quilt is usually pieced…does it count if I use large pieces of fabric?
Well, the definition of a quilt is layers of fabric sandwiched together and stitched, so, yes it does.
So, block by block or construct the whole thing – that would seem to be my main dilemma and I keep changing my mind – behind which is a desire “to do it right”! That – and – “is it ok to start the story on the edge?” WHAT!!!! – oh lord – inner saboteur or what?…it is my piece of work, yes I can do it as I please – will it work? – no frigging idea and there’s the rub I guess – hence the hesitation/procrastination. But, I cannot have a cast-iron guarantee that it will work – art isn’t like that.
Well, I have the fabric. I have to commit and get on with it, else I am never going to start. The more I think the more confused I get – so: stop thinking, make a decision and get going in it. Tis December 1st on Monday so I am setting myself a deadline to have started, one way or the other, by then.
It will come as no surprise to learn that I have had a migraine for the last three days .
30th November 2008
Dreaming has been strong and lucid these last few nights – details I will keep to myself, suffice to say that the past has been present in them – not leaving me scared or anxious..thoughtful, yes.
I am thinking that working on this story cloth – on the journey itself, has prompted this return of these kind of dreams/nightmares, although I am responding to them differently to how I have in the past – they are not devastating me – I suppose the contents, although graphic are no longer a shock to me. It is, perhaps, more of them clicking into place, making connections of an adult nature between the then and now and the effects that may linger on – not being suffused by the emotions of my child self . It falls into place without the fear which is excellent. A journey into dreamtime indeed.
Also thoughts of the symbolism for my mother (masks feature often) – Janus the two-faced one – but it was not so much being two-faced as it has come to mean now – it was much more of a contrast than that – like fire and ice – now that I can use to construct some imagery for the cloth.
There has been a start – the outer blocks are cut and some are basted and a few even sewn together – it is not massive, about 50″ x 40″ I think – I have used some orange batik blocks I have as well, but think they may be too bright – will lay them out and look again.
1st December 2008
Many more pieces stitched – decided I can always dye the batik blocks if I don’t like them. One side strip is completed.
4th December 2008
In a dream last night I was piecing blocks of a deep rich green and a deep rich blue – gorgeous. The beige ones I am actually doing are coming along and I am so enjoying the process. It is real winter work and good to be stitching again.
6th December 2008
The borders are complete but I am now thinking to extend them – make them deeper – the blocks are 4 x 5″ squares – two blocks depth feels like it would be better. I will lay it out today and see. I am thinking to extend the neutral sides in any event so that the centre is larger – or even to extend all the edges.
I am wondering if I could have made it with more colour – ie the sky at the top and the stream/river at the bottom rather than leaving it all to embellishment after construction.
12th December 2008
All change! Decided against the look of the orange batik blocks so went with plain and muted striped linen for the border blocks and they are completed yay! Been rooting around and have found a piece of rust-dyed fabric that someone gave me – I can add strips of some slubs, silks and cottons I have to build it up to fit the borders. A lot of stitching yet to do then! Am absolutely not clear where the piece is going, but it is fab doing it.
13th December 2008
I continued stitching the centre of the cloth, many thoughts arise whilst stitching – it is a wonderfully meditative process.
Chieko’s (my) dreammaster arose, s/he is gong to reside in a tree – not a lot unlike Yggdrasil, the original image that came to mind was of a figure hanging upside down from the tree – as Odin indeed had done and discovered the runic alphabet (I think).
I am now feeling/thinking the story is unfolding that her dream-master will reside in this tree and the entry to her dream-world will be beneath or through the tree. It will become clearer as I go along and as I listen.
18th December 2008
Two more strips to go and the whole can be pieced together and the stitching and the story-telling can begin. I am thinking to dye/paint the whole – blues – dye it all blue, it will come out in different shades. It is supposed to be the Land of Dreaming/Dreamingtime so a darker ground makes sense.
Now that it is nearly completed in these neutral shades I really am leaning towards blue, indigo shades and tones. I like that fact that I will be colouring the cloth myself, adds to it somehow. Please let the fabrics not shrink or do any odd stuff – yep should have washed all the fabrics and soaked them in soda first, but I didn’t – but who knew I was going to dye it? Um, not so much planning done then.
20th December 2008
The cloth is now dyed various shades of darkish blue – have achieved the indigo look I was after and it seems the fabrics have not shrunk either. I am so, so pleased with the result – it is blotchy and patchy in places which was deliberate. All that remains for me to complete the ground cloth is to stitch the borders to the central piece. Hopefully I will get this done before I head off on Christmas Eve.
Tis funny, don’t know whether it is coincidence, but since I started on this cloth, lots of memories are surfacing, in dreams, on waking, at random times. Tis the nature of the dark time of the year I guess , so it could be that – tis all good though.
24th December 2008
It is the morning of Christmas Eve and the ground cloth is complete – I am so, so excited by this. I shall remove all the tacking and press it before I leave this afternoon.
So, it is ready – the story can continue, well begin in earnest – Wild Mother Calling – Baba Yaga, the Crone, Hecate, Kali – the giver/ruler of life and death – She who consumes to give life again- we return to her cauldron to be stirred into a new life.
Thoughts, many and varied – I am only just beginning to get an inkling of an understanding of what it means to let the cloth tell me the story, the what is needed, the what comes next.
When I laid out the cloth last night I could see a face in the centre – the Wild Mother’s face? – I will look again and try to be led by the cloth and my dreaming.
The process will be on hold now until the New Year, after 12th night probably