“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
Natalie Goldberg, from "Writing Down the Bones"
I recently heard/read that if you tell someone what your goals are, chances are that you are less likely to reach them. I'd love to document where I heard/read this, but I was probably burning the crap out of dinner while listening to NPR and didn't take notes. Based on this research though, the idea is that when we share goals with others, the brain is tricked into thinking we've already achieved them and are therefore less motivated to do the work it takes to actually see them through.
So you can understand why I hesitate to share something with you.
And you can also understand, perhaps, why I feel like I first need to drop some credentials here so you trust my capabilities as they relate to this project I'm about to divulge.
Like, how I used to be a pattern maker and still have some interesting tools.
And how I'm a little rusty, but those mad skills, man, they're all coming back to me.
Or that I've had the same sewing machine for 21 years and I'm a pretty good sewer. That's sewer, not sewer.
Also the part when an idea is my idea, I'm like some kind of pit bull.
I also appreciate high quality abandoned textiles and the handmade.
Right. Never mind. You knew that already.
I also love language and stories and voice, and believe old things have a lot to say, especially about the women makers who couldn't or wouldn't say what they needed to say, instead burying their pain or anger or fear with each stab of needle or hook.
I also believe in de-cluttering, re-using, mending, re-thinking and sharing knowledge so more people have the skills to do this.
An installation of up to 1,000 of these sculptural voices and a collection of the language that accompanies them, the makers, the origins, the details to give these unwanted items the voices they deserve.
Here's the reality:
I'd be happy with 50, but 1,000 is an awesome goal.
Here's another reality:
I probably currently have enough of the right vintage textiles to make 100-150.
Here's more reality:
I don't have a place to show 1,000 of these, but I'm working on that. Also, I'd love to say I have a grant to procure all of these vintage "grytlappar," "pan rests," and "lurid doilies" plus shipping costs to Alaska, but I do not right now. Also, I will be working on all of this for a very long time.
But, maybe you have these things and maybe they were given to you and you are storing them and "saving the best for never." Or maybe you saw them in a garage sale/flea market/thrift store and you recognized them as high-quality workmanship and just couldn't walk away so you've brought them home and now you're asking yourself why in the world you would have done such a thing. Maybe you've already used some for kindling as one friend has. If this sounds familiar, if you are interested in passing them on and your children/grandchildren do not want them (ask first), I'm happy to reverently and skillfully assist extending their lives within a whole chorus of voices.
Think about it for a little while. If you decide you would like to achieve Contributor Status within this project, I'm looking for the following:
1.) CLEAN (stains, ok) vintage embroidered domestic linens.
2.) Fancy clean, cotton crocheted potholders/mitts/grytlappar/pan rests. Someone offered to make new ones...such a lovely gesture, but no. This defeats the purpose of this project. I am only looking for older and unwanted.
3.) Doilies in various sizes.
4.) Unwanted/abandoned/unfinished cross-stitch, needlepoint, or embroidery.
5.) Any indication of the origins of these items. This could be as specific as "Dear Aunt Matilda from Las Vegas, 1920's", or as broad as "Alabama", or simply "Unknown." I plan to indicate at the very least where the items were found by contributors.
I will be blogging about the process and some of you are already familiar with the boxes of mystery that have already arrived here in Alaska (box 1 and box 2); they have been great catalysts for this project. Box 3 has already come and I will post about this next week. The women who have sent items to me have found joy and catharsis in the process and perhaps you will too.
Please contact me here for a shipping address or to ask other questions.
Just think about how much space you'll have. Just think about my poor husband being assaulted by a laundry room full of ... hang on -- is that lingerie? ... doilies when he comes home at the end of the day.
Then imagine a 50-foot wall of these, or some version thereof.
But I did not tell you my goal, right? Shhhh ... we're keeping it a secret from my brain so it understands that all this really hard work still lies ahead. Shhh ... see, it's listening to NPR and burning dinner and totally oblivious to us.
You can follow along on Instagram if you'd like: @amymeissnerartist, hashtag #inheritanceproject and #boxesofmystery