Arlee B.

I had actually started January with a "stoodio" purge, going through bins of fabrics saved from as far back as the 80's. A few years ago, Calgary had a state of emergency flood and i did lose about 80% of my stoodio supplies, but there was still a fair bit to go through! There were a few surprises i couldn't bear to part with, some with emotional attachments to them, and some that fired up ideas and plans. The rest will either go to a women's resource centre, the Sally Ann, or to a few friends who "get" this kind of treasure. What started me thinking of letting go of things, was a question (possibly attributable to Robbie Eklow) that what were these fabrics being saved for if never used: a shroud?????

I had mostly fabrics to get rid of or re-organize. My threads have always been grouped, according to colour, my dyes whether chemical or natural each in their own cabinet, and my few beading/metal/paper supplies filed as well. My biggest thing to get rid of next to extraneous cloth was bits of paper and true garbage! (Do i really need a full box of circle templates in 11tybajillion sizes?)

Asi mentioned in a previous lesson, i am not that comfortable working with colour--my focus has been on natural dyes (usually more muted than "commercial" colours) and fabrics created using rust and composting methods. These fabrics then are more "neutral' which means to me that they have more scope for storytelling. Like a blank page, i could add or change as i pleased. Colour is not as easy for me to grab the threadof the narrative and carry it forward, so i deliberately at the beginning of Feb (pre-dating and perhaps somehow anticipating this lesson!) had chosen some hand dyed fabrics created with chemical/synthetic dyes and laid out a simple abstract.

I had to use what was already extant in my stash, use simple stitches or applications of one stitch, then hope that i could make a story from the end result. Since i usually have recognizable "motifs/symbols" in my work, i wasn't that happy with a solid area of stitch and no unifying subject.  I went through my stoodio again, searching old sketchbooks and found a series of figure drawings from 2003--perfect! Today i finished the piece, a record for my hand embroidery work: 15 days from initial idea and layout to completion. While i am quite happy with the end piece, i am not as emotionally attached to it as i am most of my more neutral based work---that could be a concept problem, or just the fact that i had no serious intent with it. All the same, i am glad i did this--i didn't force myself, or feel pressured, but i did somehow manage to complete it--and ideas and techniques in it will be translated to future "serious" work, not a bad lesson at all.

"Purging" meant letting go of pre-conceived notions as well about what, why and how i do things. I don't want to repeat myself, i want o go to another level, or a different approach, and i think this is a good start. In my head are now a few viable ideas that i can work with--in colour, *and* in neutrals!

For the record, i have sketchbooks dating back to the early 80's, something i will never get rid of, no matter how "dated" some of the stuff is--you never know what a cull of these will result in. I've found along the way that just because i couldn't do it at the time, doesn't mean i can't develop the skill set or concept to use it in.