Memory Jugs

Memory Jugs Descansos

The first memory jugs were made by African Americans for grave adornments. Memory jugs are mosaic vessels covered in mortar and encrusted with shards, shells, and various found objects. They were popular in Victorian times as folk art but the idea is believed to have originated from African mourning vessels. “ These were memory laden mosaics…three dimensional scrapbooks. In essence they are fascinating time capsules that link the past to the present as poignant narratives.

What would you put on a memory jug? Contemplate a narrative that might spring from making this art form.

Grandmother’s Coat

Grandmother-s coat heller kleinI have always been fascinated by Clarissa Pinkola Estes idea of making a full length scapecoat to detail in painting, writing, with all manner of things pinned and stitched inside. But I really love what Alice Wellinger has done here. This beautiful piece truly resonates and fuels the desire to do something using a grey coat that I have had hanging, unworn for many years.

In order to come to know them better it could also be good to explore what the inside of a character’s coat looks like

Temari Balls

Temari BallsTemari balls are a form of folk art that originated in China and were introduced to Japan in the 7th century. The carefully hand-embroidered balls often made from the thread of old kimonos were created by parents or grandparents and given to children on New Year’s day as special gift. According to Wikipedia the balls would sometimes contain secret handwritten wish for the child, or else contained some kind of noise-making object like a bell.

Source: Colossal

The idea of making balls which are made using material from the clothes of loved ones and which contain secret handwritten wishes, bells, memories and other surprises appeals. I am cursing that I have not kept more pieces of clothing from those loved ones who have died.

No matter!

My descansos ball has none of the amazing precision seen here. At one time that would have bothered me. But today I feel no need to replicate this form of art. What I am most interested in, as I forage for ideas, is the use of color, the notion of using diverse scraps and the concept of making many balls.

This is timely for, having placed the open lock in my descansos ball, I sense the time has come to complete it and then see what material speaks to me and asks to be shaped into balls.  After all, Baba clearly has not done with me. My tasks are by no means completed.

Flickr user NanaAkua photographed an amazing collection of  geometric spheres created by her 88-year-old grandmother who began to master the art in her 60s. She has since created hundreds of them, nearly 500 of which you can see right here.

Unlocking Secrets

In the archetype, an enchantment of sorts is cast like a black net across part of a woman’s psyche, and she is encouraged to believe that the secret must never be revealed, and further, she must believe that if she does reveal it all decent persons who come across her shall revile her in perpetuity.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Women Who Run With the Wolves

Open LockIt is true that the keeping of secrets is a burden. “The dead zone is greatly protected. It is a place of endless doors and walls, each locked with twenty locks, and the homunchuli, the little creatures in women’s dreams, are always busy building more doors, more dams, more security, lest the secret escape.”

But since few locks are fail safe the secret always finds a way out. Better to have removed the locks yourself! When you unlock the locks and draw out the secret, when you give this matter words and bear witness with another, old lock mechanisms fail and healing begins.

I bought this small lock in Singapore. It’s mechanism failed almost immediately! I am not sure why it was still here! Simply waiting to be put to a good use?

Initially, when I placed it here in the ball, I tried locking it again! But it will not lock, just as the secrets I carried, once drawn out by compassionate people, can not be locked any more.

This open lock, which will be buried amid ‘white’ lace recognizes all those compassionate shepherds who helped draw out the secret and, in doing so, eased a burden and helped me restore my psychic footing.

The Scar Clan

Video from KarmaTube

I am, artistically have been, a ‘grab a fragment’ type of girl. I didn’t need to examine Judith Scott’s work closely in order to have an artistic response triggered.  For years I have snatched snippets, appropriated seeds, repackaged them and send them out as stimuli in other forms.

So glimpsing one of her pieces in the Textile Course last month was enough. It sent me scurrying to the internet to see more.

However, now, upon seeing this video, I really see that Scott and I are somehow linked! It would seem to me that we have both been members of what Clarissa Pinkola Estes refers to as the Scar Clan.

Her work is totally inspirational! It speaks to me!

Anastasia, the new look Creative Foraging and my ‘Descansos Project’ all emerged when it hit me that I did not have to have an end in mind. I saw that all I had to do was make rope and trust my intuition.

I pulled out ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’, revisited Baba Yaga and planned to re-read Estes chapter on Battle Scars and membership of the Scar Clan.

I have been making rope, appropriating things and embedding them deep within a ball shape, healing some deep wounds as I go.

I have thought about finding an old tennis racket and using it as a base to work from. I have seen my completed balls hanging from my tree, along with the metal pigs who hang out there. I can see rope objects appearing everywhere!

I have seen myself as having returned to the womb for awhile. I have seen myself lying there in the centre of my ball, then retracing my steps back to 63 year old me, noting the scars, the signposts that led me to the present moment.

I have been weaving cryptic talismans into my ball, talismans that, examined under an xray, would tell a story to anyone who was interested enough to examine them.

Now I see this video and ask myself, was this what Judith Scott was doing when she made her object filled balls?

She is a beacon on my path! She lights the way for me

But, for now I cannot over think this!

I will just go on making rope!

Footnote: Thanks to Stephanie Hansen for sending me a link to this video

Telescopic Lens

He looked at his own Soul
with a Telescope. What seemed
all irregular, he saw and
shewed to be beautiful
Constellations: and he added
to the Consciousness hidden
worlds within worlds
Coleridge, Notebooks

Working with the rope is a bit like seeing through a telescope. What I see, as I work, are fragments.
I remember, for example, the way I played and contemplate how that contributed to the constellation that is me.
Carl Jung describes in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections how he went outdoors and almost each day would gather from a lake a series of stones to stack. Stacking stones led to desire. He built a village made of stones, complete with cottages, castle, and cathedral. It was only much later that he recognized the significance of this daily habit. He speaks of how, “when we are old, we are drawn back, both from within and from without, to the memories of youth.”
Yesterday I sought chalk.
Chalk, tied in, will remind me of hours spent in the ‘Nanny’s old room’ teaching an assorted collection of dolls and my teddy. It was in there that I created a world of phantasy that defined who I would become.

Baba’s Task

Late, late last night, when the whole world slept
Along to the garden of dreams I crept.
And I pulled the bell of an old, old house
Where the moon dipped down like a little white mouse.
I tapped the door and I tossed my head:
“Are you in, little girl? Are you in?” I said.
And while I waited and shook with cold
Through the door tripped Me” – just two years old.
Zora Cross

AccretionI came to Baba Yaga seeking a fire stick and she sneered and told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was me that let the fire go out and that I would have to spend a lot of time making Descansos!

With that she flew off in her cauldron, leaving me to ponder the task of making endless lines of rope

So late, late, as night fell, I searched and found the photo of two year old me.

I kissed her, gave her a hug and made sure to tell her how precious she was/is.

Since Baba insists, I will go on making the rope, along with all the other tasks this feisty old crone has set.

I will wind and twist my strands of material and ever so respectfully, cover the things I uncover.

So here lies my two year old self, the one with sharply forged intuition, carefully wrapped and tucked within my ball for safe keeping. Like Vasalisa’s doll she will be with me and guide me as I obey Baba Yaga’s commands.