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Wendy D.

Power of Limitation

Beginning where you are, with what you have… 

As far back as I can remember I have embraced the concept of ‘where there’s a will, there is a way’... In the ‘60’s when Barbie was big, ie Barbie houses, cars, and all the additional paraphernalia that was attached, asking my parents for such items was well outside the realm of possibilities. But not beyond my imagination. A shoe box, large wooden spools, scotch tape, cereal boxes, length of wool, crayons and paints… and I strutted down the street in the Barbie parade with the best of them. 

When a little older and the jeans and plaid shirt no longer made the fashion cut , after pouring over the Sears catalogue,  I’d go to the local department store, buy a length of cardboard (literally) cotton for 85 cents a yard, and be wearing a new look the next day.  It may not have withstood the test of time well, but I was determined that I would hold my own despite the limitations of what I could or could not afford. Even my grad dress… a gossamer creation from a sheer curtain over sateen lining… I felt as much the princess (albeit a humble one! Lol!) as those that floated through the door in high-fashion designer gowns…

For me, ‘working with limitations’ has been about rising to the challenge of making it, making do and making it wonderful! The ‘power of those limitations’ was that no one else knew or really cared.. But I did! And it must have been cool! because I still remember those projects very well and there was always a never ending list of projects I wanted to try!

Perhaps those projects were more about limitations that were ‘imposed’ by circumstance, but rising to the challenge was much the same, as was most often, the outcome. Today, my circumstances are different and the ‘great realm of possibilities’ without the imposed limits of circumstance has been oddly stifling. I find that I can be ‘stuck’ for long periods of time  wondering where to begin, waiting for the inspiration to motivate me into a new direction.  The reasons for  doing often becomes what will sell, which loses appeal and drain the creative well very quickly. The notion of imposing ones own set of limitations has been intriguing and inspiring…

Since beginning this course, seeking to bring more meaning to my work, I have began exploring the contemplative stitch, focusing on mark making and making meaning.

I started a patch collection. Something small, portable, and easy to pick up and put down, and attainable. The limits that I have imposed…  using only what I have on hand, my hand-dyed cotton that I had laboriously created almost 30 years ago, and packed around with me everywhere since; working within a minimal range of colours per patch, a specific size, learning to leave it ‘rough’ and free.  Each of the patches… some about 10” square and others are less than 6”, and are intended to be  an expression of an emotion, or an experience that is holding my thoughts in the moment. Much like a ‘stitch journal’ but the focus is on capturing a moment of time… 

There are no ‘big plan’ for the patches… But I intensely enjoy working in the small design spaces; the colour flow, the stitches that hold it all together, and the honouring of the past by  using only the  fabrics I had created so long ago. These contemplative  stitching moments  seem to bring  value to where I am, what’s going on around and within me.There is a calming sense of strength and clarity when I stitch… And a deeper sense of ‘me’ is surfacing in, these little patches.

Ellen R.

Kara B.

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