When someone passes away, the things that they leave behind are never the things that you would expect. Of course there are the big things. The house, the car, the antique furniture, the cedar chests stuffed full of mementos from the lives of others that came and went before them. Then there’s the photographs of things that you really do remember, things that you think you remember, and the things that you only ever heard stories of. There’s the clothing that still smells like them. There are books and notebooks and little scraps of paper of both gibberish and intimacies that you don’t really know what to do with but can’t quite bring yourself to dispose of. And then there are things that carry little to no emotional weight, like multiple sets of pots and pans that are entirely past their prime.
My grandmother was the person who taught me how to sew, and my mother was the person who taught me how to knit. Like me, they were both crafty women who laid claim to their own horde of crafting tools and supplies. You never know what you are going to need, from a stray needle and some thread to sew a button back onto a shirt to a ball of yarn and some needles to knit a hat or perhaps even a baby blanket for a friend or neighbor.
This project, on the most basic level, is about craft, tools, and the history of three generations of women. I will be using the tools, skills, and ethics that were passed onto me by women who are no longer able to use them themselves. This leads me to the more complex level. This project is also one that allows me to create something out of my grief. A suite of works that allow me to give birth to a physical form of gratitude to those who have enveloped me in their own style of embrace during multiple dark moments of my life, mostly shrouded by the loss of a loved one. It is about friendship, intimacy, community, family.. whatever you want to call it, however you want to define it.
Grief is a funny thing, in the way it manifests within us, the things it enables us to do. The things that we do that we choose to ignore as being part of grieving until that one day when you finally unpack your own horde of crafting tools and supplies and discover that somehow over the past two years you have acquired an absurd amount of embroidery hoops, from both inheritance and from impulse shopping. Not to mention that you have all the embroidery floss you used to pinch from your mother when you were young to make friendship bracelets with.
So, here’s a new spin on those friendship bracelets. I’ve given as many people as I have embroidery hoops post cards with this image on it. I am requesting them to mail it back to me (postage paid) with a quote of their choice that I will embroider for them in return.
I’m excited to see what comes back on these post cards. I’m excited about the potential of sharing them and sharing the finished embroideries. I’m excited about expanding my skill set, and also about ridding myself of excess crafting supplies. I’m mostly just excited about sharing the things that have been shared with me.