Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Re: Bags and Boxes for the Absurd

Crewel Twists

Dear Judyβ€”


The most amazing thing about books is how many ideas they contain and how they open the mind for dreaming. I think it must be important to have a backlog of dreams. I blame this on my mom, who had (and still has) books on how to make and do just about anything. I used to think that this was in case we kids wanted to do it, but the truth is, the books are the result of an endless curiosity about and admiration of how things are done. I fall into the same trap and have some wonderful books by delightful artists about paper machΓ©, book-binding, botanical illustration, macrame, pencil drawing, sewing useful things, and sewing beautiful things, leatherwork, jewelry making, and so on.


I used to do a bit of embroidery in my early 20s, possibly because embroidery canvas is everywhere you look and the supplies take up very little space and stitches are fun to master. However, because I didn’t live anywhere in particular, I never read books on embroidery. Instead, I carried around a pamphlet filled with descriptions of different embroidery stitches and their various uses. I would make a simple design and embroider it. Then I would invariably give it away. I remember seeing a magazine article about a woman and her embroidered curtains and just thinking of doing one tiny part of the work she had done overwhelmed me so much I could not read the article in fear that it, too, would be endlessly laborious.


My mother brings home piles of pillowcases with tatted edges and key-hole lace, cross-stitched finger napkins, crocheted antimacassarsβ€” exquisite thread-work. β€œJust look at this!” she says for each one and names a priceβ€” fifty cents, a dollar a pile, a dime and thenβ€” β€œHow could I pass that up?” The lives of hundreds of women are stitched in hope chests reclaimed by my mother, hope eternal. And now I have a very slight fear of looking too closely at handiwork in case I fall into it like some nightmare and am forced to dream each stitch, one at a time. But just today I saw a woman with a lovely embroidered yoke on her shirt. Of course I wanted to run my fingers across the stitches and flip it over to see the back. Instead I merely forgot the woman’s name. But not the stitches.


In sum: I’m certain the Absurd would be honored to be housed in a bag of Jacobean embroidery. Who would not?


On another note, tho, I bought back the deck that the complainer returned to Amazon. I loose a bit of money on a return sale, but that’s the way it is. I’d been wondering at her card and chanced a guess at it. It was the 9 of Blades. I was correct. Most of the decks end up with Major Arcana, I think, due to one printing mistake or another. I’ve always wondered whether I should include unfavorable or dull cards or cards I dislike when putting in a numbered deck-marking card. But then I think, you know, I can’t control these things. Open-minded people can take a negative card and search as hard as they can to find positivity in it. People who are closed to new ideas generally see flat-out negativity. I had a hard time with the Nine of Blades until I decided to call it “the card of the prodigal dreamer.”Β I don’t think that’s right, but I like the way it sounds. We have much to learn from our nightmares. When they are plentiful, they have much to teach us. If we study them long enough, they enable us to better reach our dreams. Eyes closed, the dreamer catches the falling sword by the blade. Does he awake unharmed?


Peace & Love,

Jessica Rose



9 of blades

One Response

  1. Judy says:

    Isn’t that odd, I can’t remember what card you signed for me, all I remember is your writing and how nice it was to have a personalized card. Upon checking I see it is the 6 of Blades. I quite like the Swords suit in your deck.

    I found myself completely unable to identify with the complainer. You probably gave her peace of mind at least.

    “Prodigal Dreamer”–Now THIS is why I like your work and writing–a very fresh view of things. What a concept for this card. I usually call it the “daggers of the mind” card but prodigal dreams takes it to another place and vision.

    Did you ever read any of C.S. Lewis’s books in The Chronicles of Narnia? In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader they come upon the Dark Island (where dreams come true) and everyone thinks how wonderful that would be, they could be reunited with people and fine days, BUT your real dreams come true, the frightening dreams, the nightmares, the weird, disturbing dreams that filter through at night. They barely escape from this terrible island, where you could find yourself gripping the edge of a Sword.

    Oh my, the dreams of books. I was looking through my bookbinding books yesterday searching for a pattern for a box.

    I hated embroidery in my youth. We had to do a project in Grade 7 Home-Economics (a quaint curriculum these days), and I kept this awful tea towel with an embroidered bowl of fruit for years. All the wrong colours and too many plies of floss. Clunky.

    But I got going on it again when I started making tarot bags, and also got into silk ribbon. The amazing thing about tarot is how things resurface. I reconnected to art and colour and poetry and writing through tarot. I missed those things, and now they are back!

    So now I like embroidery, and have a lot of thread and colour, enough to dream up any sort of project. For me it was the colour that made the difference. Then I gradually began to enjoy the actual stitching.

    Kind of like a good deck can wake you up. πŸ˜‰

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