I wish I could say stories come flooding through me. That I workup night sweats chasing my muse around in his nightgown and a week of mornings later I have FINISHED...something.
Instead it’s a slow process of pinning and repining ideas together until I find the ones that kiss at the seams.
My (unknowing) teacher in all this is of course my mother, a seamstress whose needle & thread are her oldest companions.
I watched her as a child whip the tablecloth off the dining room table and cut out tissue paper patterns, laying the pieces on top of fabric as she runes her hands over it to find the grain.
Pinning the layers together she cut around the curves.
White basting thread pierces the layers allowing them to hang together for the first time.
Put a pair of scissors in her hand and she has the confidence of a warrior.
stitching them together by machine to tighten the connection.
She finishes by hand, a strip of lace over the edge of the hem to give it extra strength before it’s handed over to the world of uneven hips and merciless washing machines who try to pop her seams.
Sometimes she fails, grunting frustration when the fabric does not cooperate or when her mistakes mean she has ruined the gentlest Hong Kong silk.
I remember my own anger brewing inside when the skirt she made me didn’t fit exactly the way I expected it too. Or when I put on a dress that looked more like something she would wear than what I had envisioned. My knees remained demurely covered all through my teenage years when what I most wanted was to show off my ass.
I sew my stories together, idea to image, but I never know what it will look like ahead of time.
Or whose eyes will wear it.
What’s funny is regardless of our individual talents we both say the same thing.
“I wish I could draw.”
If she could draw she could make patterns and making patterns means designing what no one else can see. She could be Dior.
If I could draw I wouldn’t have to use a thousand words.
I would be brighter and more eye catching.
I could be Maira Kalman.