Sunday, 8 January 2012

....stitching symbols....looking back...looking forward...

Ok......so it HAD to be done...

Penny was right...

...I wouldn't be able to resist turning some of those sketchbook images into stitched "somethings"!

The first had to be the sun...



..stitched onto exhaust-dyed cotton with brown hand-dyed thread.

(The "exhaust" being the leftover juice after dying the brown thread)

The next two are a mystery to me...

...and if anyone can tell me what the symbols represent, I'd be most grateful :-)




Here are a few more pages that may well inspire something later on..





January, the month of Janus, seems to have prompted quite a lot of "looking back" this year. Many bloggers are talking about it, and I can see myself joining their numbers.

I find that most of what I do is inspired by what has gone before. Old traditions that are, sadly, being lost to us now in our world of fast-moving technology.

So many arts and crafts and skills are disappearing because of the changes in people's lifestyles and requirements.

I noticed in Morocco...high up in the Atlas mountains....Berber villages, small clusters of houses...crowned with satellite dishes!



Time that would have been spent doing traditional hand-crafts is now taken up watching TV, and, with more cheap, mass-produced items available to buy, less importance is being placed on hand-made things.....even to the point where something that is bought has a higher perceived value.

The textiles that were so prized in tribal cultures are now to be found in auctions on Ebay, and being sold in shops specializing in such things. The buyers are mostly "westerners" who cannot get enough of the things that the original owners are quite happy to sell. Those of us that collect, therefore, are becoming the custodians of past hand-made treasures.

I certainly feel very sad that women in these (loosely) "tribal" cultures, are no longer inclined to stitch as they used to do.... (although I am aware of a number of groups that have been set up to give women the opportunity to produce textiles for sale in order to give themselves a much-needed income - in Iran and Afghanistan especially)...and have, recently, been spending time working with designs from far afield.

I get an immense amount of pleasure out of stitching something that I know would have been done by another woman 50, 100, or 200 years ago....

...and it is a path I will continue to follow.

I will walk with these women. They will be my companions as I sit and stitch.

I certainly thought about them whilst making these small bands in Ukrainian cross-stitch...



I like the feeling of being "connected"...

...and of carrying on traditions, even though, originally, they may not have been from my own culture.


We are living in fast-moving times, yet there are still many things we can gain from "looking back", and I was heartened to speak to a number of lovely ladies at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Harrogate....who were looking for "stitchy" things to do with (mostly) their grand-daughters. Many had similar memories to my own...of women in their families knitting or embroidering, and passing on these skills to their daughters and nieces.

I hope that, somehow, us textile-lovers here in Blogland, can help the younger generation find the same enjoyment in working with fabrics and threads as we do.

10 comments:

deanna7trees said...

i see trees and tepees and i just love your ukranian cross stitched piece. i think every generation laments what is lost from the generations passed. there are lots of us out here passing on old traditions and hopefully they will live on, even if in smaller numbers. i belong to a bobbin lace group and you would be surprised to know how many young girls are happily learning bobbin lace all over the world. so there's hope for a continuation of old traditions.

Chris Gray said...

I'm glad to hear it Deanna!...and may we all continue to do "our bit" :-)

Eva said...

The first one is a variation of the Shaman tree which has 3 levels, but before I can say more, I have to read this again. The second is a "Tchoom", the Siberian Tepee, but they are built of wood or earth in winter. The shaman comes into being by being bred in a nest on the shaman tree. Will tell you more after reading.

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

Love these pieces and I'm with you 100% with your sentiments and lament at the loss of the handmade traditions. I too enjoy the slowness of stitching by hand and at the same time, feel the pull of making something faster....but it's not nearly so satisfying as the slowness of stitching by hand. Love your work and your blog....wishing you the best for 2012! Patti/MissouriBendStudio

Penny said...

I too love these peices. I am afraid that none so far of my daughters or 5 granddaughtes show any interest al all in any form of sewing. Sad isnt it. I have tried but to no avail.

Penny Berens said...

Such a great post, Chris.....and it didn't take you long at all, at all to get to stitching! Love them. I think Eva has answered the question of their symbolism. Love the idea of a shaman tree. I'm going to sit down with Sheila Paine's Amulet book and absorb some symbolism now.

Sweetpea said...

Penny is often right ;>}

So much value in traditions, symbolism. Travel is so good for opening ones eyes to those things. Your "translations" have their own particular language of marks, I think...very recognizable.

Happy New Year to you, Chris!

Rachel said...

A very thoughtful post, Chris.
All we can do is share our pleasure in what we do and hope to inspire others.

Penny said...

Wonderful post! I love your stitches - these are such beautiful 'tribal' stitcheries. They remind me of the Native American art in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Lovely!

Chris Gray said...

Thanks to everyone who's commented here...I know I'm not alone in my thoughts.

This internet thing is quite good isn't it?...a marvelous way of connecting like-minded souls :-)