THE BACK STORY: In January 2016 I launched "Well Used, Well Loved" (WUWL)a long term community art project that explores age, beauty, impermanence and attachment through a hand woven dish towel and reflective writing/drawing. Eight households from England to Oregon "adopted" a hand woven linen towel to use however they wish. Every other week I sent a prompt for reflection to be recorded in a small journal that I provided. The response to my initial call to participate in WUWL was overwhelming. Over 50 households expressed interest in taking part in the project and I only had 8 towels.

So I created a secondary project that dovetailed with the first one. This second group of ultimately 38 households (Maine to Arizona) wrote and drew on kozo paper (a special Japanese paper) to record their response to my prompts. Thru a hands-on workshop at my studio I taught local folks from this group how to spin their kozo paper into thread using a Japanese technique called Shifu. I created a video tutorial for those who wanted to learn to spin their paper from afar.

Prompts to both groups were the same. For example Prompt #6 was: "The materials for this project are hand woven linen and Kozo paper. Both are created from plant fibers, known for their absorption qualities. Absorption can also been seen as dissolving boundaries. In that light what parallels or connection do you observe between your own ability to absorb, to soak up, to empathize? What connections do you perceive between your linen/paper and the action of union, of dissolving boundaries, connection? What value do these actions have today.

In September 2017 I began to collect the 8 towels, the kozo papers and the journals to wrap up the project. The journals, the used/loved towels and the completed four panel piece woven from the community threads combine to create an installation that honors and reflect the spirit of this project.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Uncovering the connections

Periodically I pose a question or some point of reflection. Here are some words that folks have shared:
"Each week as I ponder our prompts, I fall deeply into my head, becoming reluctant to post. This afternoon I walked into my studio and found some threads from a recent project, lying on my work table in the shape of a heart. I taped them to my journal and these words came forth."
"I realized today that I might actually be a bit sad to send VIII back at the end of this project, the connection she symbolizes is to me like a link to an old friend being newly remembered. Ahhhh."
"I would describe my relationship to my body as well used, but until recently not well loved. In truth, I spent the better part of fifty years "thinking" I loved my body. "Thinking" I understood the nature of our relationship, "forcing" my ideas about how I should look, act, and feel, "meeting out" my own sense of timing and rhythm, and "dictating" my ideas about what I should eat, drink and do upon this aspect of my Self. But it wasn't until I journeyed through the dark under...ground of cancer that I came to be open enough, to see, know, listen to and love my body as my most faithful and true consort/companion."
journal writing with a well loved pen
The writings and drawings on the kozo paper will be spun into thread and woven into a community art piece.  The writings and drawings in the journals will be shared in an exhibit this fall, along with the 8 hand-woven well used, well loved dishtowels.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Witness and Companion

Dede the bear
    Meet Dede. This is the bear that was given to my daughter when she came home to us 26 years ago. This bear is the most well loved and used creature that I know.
    She has been my daughter's companion EVERYWHERE -- summer camp, Disney World, sailing summers in Maine, Canada, France, school, colleges and now her life in Portland. This spring Dede and Zoe will graduate from college.
     Dede is showing serious signs of love and use. Her right arm is completely withered. Her eyes, nose and toes have all be repaired. There is hardly any fur left on her hide. But isn't Dede beautiful?
This is the kind of beauty that makes me weepy and weak - the beauty that is from love, from attention and companionship.
   I LOVE Dede for being Zoe's faithful side kick for all these years. I knit her a sweater for Valentine's Day 
Dede in her new sweater.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Chew on that

Birthday cookies with towel.
Thank you to all who continue to post in our FB group (closed for now) - to share openly your musings on age, beauty, wear/tear, love and cherishing. Whether it may be an object, a memory, a person or a dream - it all weaves together to create a life, a family, a community, a culture.

Your words give me much to "chew on" as well.
"I wanted to be a part of this project to come out of my isolation, and perhaps get some inspiration for this stage of my life. I spent 7 years managing my mom's life (she had dementia) and she passed away in May at 96. Now I'm getting back or trying to find my own path again. I teach yoga now which I love. But the rest of my life is a mess! So much paper and memorabilia to sort through!! So what did I get for this project?? More paper! Couldn't be more appropriate. I don't know how to start with this paper and all the other paper in my life. All I can say is wow!!"

memories, photos, weave together to tell our story

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Inspring Words

Not only are the towels getting well used - but people are sharing words. I am inspired and in awe.

Here are two quotes ~

"More discussion with a couple of friends over a cup of tea after good soaking walk in the rain... We talked about the beauty of old objects and how it applies to the beauty of old people. It came to us that it is the stories that "old objects" conjure up for us that makes them so special, beautiful. We need to pay more attention to the stories of people, especially the elders in our lives"

"It's springtime in high school. The youth (flowers) are wearing me down (rock). I am grateful for the wisdom of age that allows me to accept them as they are and enjoy their zest for life. The hole is old. Its beauty lies in the patience to accept the endless drips that created it. This beauty was not formed overnight but through decades of quiet fortitude. It inspires me."

The Paper Team is exploring creative ways to introduce themselves to each other.


Towels get a work out!

Towels find a home in the drawer.
The linen towels are getting a great work out - I am pleased that people are not treating them as precious!
Spinach wrap!

Bread baking towel

Vegan Chicken parm gets splatters.