Monday, November 26, 2007

Wearable Art For The Spirit ... or ... Led By Rainbow Serpents Into The Holy Land Of Fiber...

Cecelia, The Singing Serpent, in process,
nearing completion. Click on image for a
larger, more detailed image...

First of all, I want to clarify something. When I say led by spirit I am referring to the deep inner knowing, the still small voice within, the intuitive artist's spirit, the one that, if we listen to it very closely, we will be led to do the work, and lead the life, that we were meant to lead.

I have always been an Intuitive Artist. I have never followed a pattern in my life. I have tried, but my mind doesn't work that way, my hands refuse, in fact, I am as surprised as anyone what something ends up being, but I trust the process. One other thing... when I refer to "Serpents" I refer to beautiful, powerful, deeply spiritual creatures. Yes, they follow the teachings of the Snake as Totem, but I am learning that they are more than that, and more than that I cannot say, because I am just learning about it as I go. The Dreamtime, as I wrote about a few entries back, comes from the Aboriginal People of Australia. I too live in my own Dreamtime, and all of my work is created there.

Some time back I read a quote that has stuck with me for years and I'm sorry to say I don't remember the author, but the quote was, "Trust the process, it's larger than you." Indeed it is.

Some of this I have said before, but I will repeat it so that I can give a more cohesive account of what has been happening to me. One day I sat piddling and fiddling around, working with my tools, spinning fiber just because and what I ended up making was a little snake, less than a foot long. I named her Cassandra and she lay on my computer keyboard looking up at me, much to my delight. For some time I had her in my etsy shop but my tiny 3 1/2 year old grandson was just in love with her so I pulled her from the shop and gave her to him. Even he holds her reverently and he whispered to me today, "I will take very good care of her." He is an extraordinary child and seems to feel and know things other children his age don't. She belongs with him. For me, she was the vehicle that led me into the work I was meant to do.

I have been a fiber artist for decades. I knit, weave, spin, and do all manner of things, and just this year started to crochet. I have begun to call my work Freeform, because that is the popular term of the day, but freeform for me is a very different thing than what is thought of as Freeform today. I would call what I do intuitive work because I have a feeling, I start absolutely clueless about what I am going to make. And something very strange has happened to me of late... my whole process with my work has turned inside out and upside down.

I love to spin, and as I use hand-spindles only I create one-of-a-kind "Art Yarns" which I sold for sometime, but finally, though I loved the spinning, it became less and less satisfying to me. I was happy with the yarn and people were buying it, but I was creating it as a thing to sell rather than as an item that arose out of a spiritual journey, and frankly, I am a woman artist who must be led by spirit, purpose, and deeper meaning to be satisfied with the outcome of my work. My work is infused with prayer, spirit, and dreams. I meditate while I spin, while I do all the work, using several different techniques to create a piece like the one above, and so now I begin to spin and I know that it will lead me into a piece of art, wearable art, all made of my own handspun yarn, except, in some cases, the embellishments. So the yarn leads the way.

Next, that tiny snake that my little grandson has led me into the realization that the snake had come into my life as a totem animal, and it is so powerful I knew that I would be creating them, but I knew not how, or why, I just knew I was supposed to. As I began to spin the yarn for the piece that became Beatrix, Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime, I was transfixed, watching the yarn lead me into the serpent that would grow to 8 feet long before I even began to circle round and round with one handspun yarn after the other, breathing slowly, meditatively, allowing it all to unfold, thinking several times that I was finished only to get that inner knowing that I needed to keep going. Little did I know, at that time, that I had begun a journey that would change my life, and lead me to the work I believe I was meant to do, after decades of doing a little of this, a little of that, and never having a strong focus on any one particular thing. And the pieces I am making are very heavy. When I put Cecelia on today to see how she felt I was surprised by the weight, but it feels good, grounding, holy, as if her very presence changed me, and the work goes even deeper than that.

The fact that Beatrix was sold before she was even finished led me to believe that I was on the right track, and just this evening I received an e-mail from someone interested in Cecelia. She asked me the price. I cannot yet say, because she is not finished, but the right pricing structure has come to me as well, after long and careful thought. And the exact price cannot manifest for this piece until the piece is finished. And it will be finished in it's own time, not mine.

You saw in an earlier entry the large spindle full of the turquoisey silky blend of yarn with a rainbow assortment of Cotswold curls that I spun for the new piece, long before I knew her name (This, too, was interesting, because I knew instantly that the first serpent's name was Beatrix. It was such a joyful process that I was floating nearly off the ground as I made her, and much to my surprise, as I was finishing her, I found out that the name Beatrix means Joy!). Well, with this new piece I didn't know a name and oddly it didn't seem important. The work unfolded, the yarn was spun, I began to work and still, no name. I got nearly as far as what you see above and her name, during a meditation, was revealed to me. Cecelia. I had no idea why, I didn't choose it, it just came to me, so I did some research and much to my surprise, St. Cecelia is The Patron Saint of Music. I don't just love music, my family are almost, to a person, all musicians. Music fills my little cottage and I am often spinning to something classical, or to Native American Flute Music, or something of that sort.

But even more than that, something rather jolted me last night. I had come to the end of the lovely turquoise blend yarn and still had perhaps a quarter of the piece to go, much to my chagrin. That was to be the outermost color/yarn before I began the embellishment for the face and down the center of the serpent's back. I started in immediately spinning more, the roving and Cotswold curls still all around me, and in the middle of spinning I was, again, in a place that felt nearly mystical. I kept looking at the piece and it was almost glowing, I had that knowing, the calling of the still small voice within. There had to be one more yarn spun for yet another outer layer of color, lighter and brighter, and for a very particular reason.

St. Cecelia was not only The Patron Saint Of Music, she was blind. As I was meditating on the serpent in my lap I saw it. The core of this large heavy serpent, now just over 5 feet long, was black, representing, to me, St. Cecelia's blindness. As the circles of color move outward they go from dark to light, as if the celestial music of the heavens brought Cecelia to a place where she could see, in a way that most of us never do, in fact, as a dear friend wrote to me tonight about the piece, in the way of a visionary. I was almost shaken by the labyrinthine path the making of this serpent had taken me down. I lay the work aside, walked the dogs, and fell asleep. Once again, the piece was so much more than I could have imagined.

When I was creating Beatrix a dear woman said, "You have created The Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime." I knew the piece was special, but not just how special she was, and Cecelia, The Singing Serpent, has solidified this for me. Creating art that is spiritual in nature, that comes from the depths of meditation, prayer, silence, and that process that is larger than me, well, it's an awesome, amazing journey. It is the work of the soul. Frankly, I am simply shocked. And I know now that it is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. Tonight I took everything out of my etsy shop. I will be making and selling these new pieces, but if it keeps going like this they will be sold before they ever reach the shop! And if this is the case I will sell them from my own website. I believe they end up with who they are supposed to be with, and this was affirmed by Mary's very dear note below. I am on my way to a place I cannot imagine, and it is a wonderful place, the Holy Land Of Fiber.

As a woman deeply involved with animals, a Franciscan at heart, living amongst many animal companions, it seems a natural turn to have taken. I am excited to see what the pieces ahead will reveal and where they will take me. For now, I have finished spinning, today, the rest of the yarn I need to finish the turquoise layer of the serpent, and I will let the twist set on the spindle while I spin, for the next couple of days, two large spindles of the outermost layer. Apparently Cecelia has much to teach me yet.

As I have said, I thought several times that Beatrix was finished and I had to keep telling Mary, "She's just not finished yet," because Beatrix kept leading me forward into new colors, new lessons, down new roads. I followed them in reverence. I should have known better when I thought to myself this past Friday that I could finish Cecelia over the weekend and have her up in the shop by Monday. Her name had not even been revealed to me! And when I ran out of yarn last night so that I had to spin more, I knew that she wanted me to slow down, that there was more to learn, to see, to do, and so I shall comply. I do believe she will be done this week. I feel that that is true, but then, I guess that's up to Cecelia, and not to me...

Maitri, going up to bed, into the Dreamtime...


episkathy said...

Dear Maitri,

I just wrote you a l-o-n-g comment which was erased when I had to open a new Google account. I'm not going to write it all over again tonight, but I'll be back. Suffice it to say that I'm enchanted by your blog, your story, and your art!



Maitri Libellule said...

Thank you so much Kathy! You are very kind and ISN'T THAT FRUSTRATING! One of the nice things about both Blogger and GMail is that now they save as you go. I remember writing LONG e-mails and POOF, they disappeared! So frustrating. I'll look forward to you coming back and again, thank you for your comments about my work. :o)


Linz said...

hiya like the site :)

Maitri Libellule said...

Hi Linz Honey, thanks! I really appreciate you taking a peek! Hope all is well with you!

Happy Holidays to you and yours,



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