Etched in stone

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Back in 2018, Don and I ventured out to the La Cieneguilla petroglyph site outside Santa Fe. It was (and likely still is), easy to miss. A scrabbled parking lot with a BLM sign (Bureau of Land Management) and a questionable path up to a jumble of rocks.

It wasn’t at all clear that we were in the right place, until it was. The markings on the rocks were at once both easy and hard to see. The figures chipped into rock varnish untold years ago … themselves overlaid by more rock varnish. There was no signage or explanatory text that I recall. It was silent under the intense sun and blue sky.

This cloth is a memento of that experience …

Stitched in good faith, the intended meanings of the motifs I found online were sometimes puzzling, others seemingly clear as day …

After the brief trial posted here, I pieced together the rest of the pillow top with Malka’s hand-dyed cloth and Deb’s hand-dyed thread during the harrowing week after the Uvalde shooting …

The simple repetition of Kantha stitches in the green border and mock herringbone along the raw edges of the rocky patches accompanied the endless news pouring out of the television.

In my mind, I revisited the two years from 1999-2001 that I spent as a high school librarian following the Columbine massacre. Two years feeling like I had a target painted on my chest.

Then the eight years following 9/11, spent in an elementary school library where we held annual intruder drills.

And finally the three years spent in a vast university library contemplating how to apply the active shooter drills to my corner of the endless maze of shelving, each of the seven floors the size of a football field. Not to mention the colleague who so disturbed me that I actually went to my boss, who sent me to the administration, who said there was nothing they could do for my foreboding sense that he could be a shooter.

Stitched the memory of unrealized fear into the cloth. Surely this is a form of trauma … one inflicted on every teacher, student and staff member every single time a drill is called. A trauma that underlies the lives of millions, hidden but no less real …

As the immediacy of Uvalde began to wane, I returned to the online petroglyph images and sketched them onto the cloth rock patches with water eraseable ink. Then chose to use the thread Deb calls “the devil’s whiskers” … a silk/cotton blend with a mind of its own that turns out to work much better as a single strand than it does doubled …

And so it went, in Jude’s split backstitch and thread beads, not letting myself undo any stitches, imagining how an errant mark on stone could not have been undone, wondering if some of the more inscrutable marks might have been figures in the making that were abandoned for want of an “eraser” …

adjusting to the ever-shifting lengths of thread, until all the motifs were wrought and the ink washed away …

It will be a while until I make a pillow back … it is enough as it is for now.

Mending

Yet another go-round with eye issues sapped my creative energy, but my fingers felt stitchy. So I decided to do some mending on clothes Don and I had worn to shreds …

I did Don’s repairs in a fairly sedate tan-on-tan …

But I got a bit more playful with my own …

because Deb makes it so easy to have fun …

even (especially) on the other side.

Bell bottom blues

I was the last kid in my high school to get bell bottoms because my mom, thinking that the “fad would never last,” refused to buy something that she was sure I wouldn’t wear for more than a month.

When she finally relented and let me get a pair, they were too short and definitely not Levis. It ruined me for life. Once I got a job and my driver’s license, I bought my own jeans: long and Levi’s. To this day, my jeans have to be dragging-the-ground long and yes, they’ve got to be Levis.

I present to you Exhibit A, from my high school yearbook …

and Exhibit B, from last week …

So yeah, some things never change. Fortunately, my mending skills have improved somewhat (along with my taste in shoes and socks). For instance, I did try stitching a pair of jeans a few years back …

But this time I wanted to try a patchplay solution. So I sacrificed a much-loved-but-no-longer-worn denim dress, first cutting off pieces of the hem …

and then attaching them to the trimmed back edges of my jeans. This patch was attached with Jude Hill’s glue stitch (seen here on the “other side”) …

and this one was attached with running stitch (also a b-side view) …

I bound the raw edges on the inside with blanket stitch, but for the outside I used Jude Hill’s wrap stitch and two strands of Deb Lacativa’s magic thread

To good effect methinks …

Now I just need to tackle the Levis that I bought at a Wimberley thrift store for two-bucks-a-pop and wore to shreds …

It’s a good thing that old dress has a lot of bound edges!