Co-Evolving: World, Life, Story, Mask, Self

The chaos of preparing to put our house on the market has dominated my last couple weeks — especially the endless sorting through boxes of papers & photos that have, over the course of 3 generations, simply been shifted from attic to attic, always increasing in number. Thoughts and feelings and memories have left me exhausted as I meander through so many lives, including my own.

Still, I did find a little time to play with fiber. As I said earlier, I usually work with the mask first, asking it to suggest the context in which it will dwell. One time I did weave the background/context first & was then quite surprised when the mask I wove couldn’t seem to settle there and a different set of inhabitants emerged. This time I’d planned to repeat the latter process, felting the background before I had to relinquish the lovely clutter of my workspace to the no doubt critical gaze of prospective house-buyers. I could then weave the mask on my portable Journey Loom TM after I’d cleared the tabletops and hidden away the fiber stash & multiple works in process.

That seemed to be a logical plan, but you know how things go…. I did lay out fiber in a possible configuration but, before I started the actual felting process, I began to feel strongly that “landscape” & “creature/spirit” could emerge together in a more organic way. Each could shape the other as they developed in relationship — much as Earth and her creatures shape each other’s emerging forms; much as the Earth & her community create and shape our human stories, which in turn shape Earth & her community as we humans tell and enact them. A sort of reciprocity in the interaction.

And so, after several precious hours spent sorting through my stash of yarns & fibers, I warped the loom. Common sense & past experience cautioned me that a fuzzy warp would be very difficult to weave — Still, when a mask is woven, the warp becomes the hair, and this warp would make such beautiful hair to work into the background swirls. I was sure I could figure out a way to bring my all-too-enticing idea to birth.

Seduced by this vision of ethereal beauty, I followed the sweet siren call of the composite warp….. into a shipwreck on the rocks [or, in this case, into a snarl of the threads]. Well, in the evolution of creative projects, just as in the evolution of plants & animals, there are not only possibilities for continuing and enhanced existence but also for dead ends and other dire consequences….. The warp was, as the intuition I’d decided to ignore had foretold, too thick & too fuzzy to work with the yarns I’d spun for the mask. I tried other yarns, but no…. Then I tried removing the variegated mohair from the warp — only to discover that, without the mohair halo & its predominately sandy color, the new warp (left) became too hard, too shiny. It lost its magic.

The fibers & I each have our own limitations and I seem to keep bouncing from one to the other & sometimes off both at once. I’m really curious not only about what woven form will emerge from this puzzle of fibers, but also about what new way of seeing/being might emerge within me as I tangle, untangle, and get own myself thoroughly entangled in all the colors and textures.

An unknown sage once said:

"The question is not what is wrong and how do we fix it,
but rather, what is possible and how do we create it."  

I guess I need to stop trying to “fix” what I’ve done, take a couple deep breaths, and, approaching the fibers without expectation, once again ask them & myself “What can be created?”

In the meantime, the downsizing work of sorting and re-homing treasures before our move continues. I echo, with a smile & a wink at Trickster, something Thomas King [a Canadian American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry] wrote in All My Relations:

"And I can't talk anymore
because I got to watch the sky.
Got to watch out for
falling things that land in piles.
When that Coyote's wandering around
looking to fix things,
nobody in this world is safe." 

7 thoughts on “Co-Evolving: World, Life, Story, Mask, Self

  1. Ah, what a wonderful walk you’ve taken us on of co-creating … reflecting … co-creating … pausing … co-creating … going inside … co-creating … listening … co-creating .. opening …


    • Looking back, I think many of the situations I perceived as “problems” arose when I became so enamoured of my own ideas, concepts, & mental constructs that I forgot to look at & listen to the materials at hand. (Hmm… This sounds like what is happening in my culture as we trample, unheeding, over the gifts of Earth.)


  2. As a relative beginner at weaving, I have not really tried anything but cotton seine twine warp. I want to try something else! Your experience is instructive. So much is about exploration. I admire you for your (eventual) listening approach, but even more for doing this in the midst of prep for selling your house! I would tend to put all my creative efforts on the back burner. So it’s good to know it’s possible to carry on.


  3. Ha. My ears hear the right side of your warp singing weft, weft, weft. That fuzzy halo is enchanting. There is such a rocking back and forth between vision and listening. When I push towards vision without stopping to listen, it often doesn’t end well. I just took my second mask off the loom. I wove it with a natural linen warp (which I loved working with) and one of my first handspun yarns (lots of thick and thin places). I got the fiber from the estate of the woman I got my spinning wheel from, thrown in with the wheel. It was merino that was dyed a very unfortunate pink–almost the exact color of fiberglass insulation if you can imagine. But a good learning spin and into the walnut vat did wonders for it. Anyway, the mask transformed into a face that reminds me a little of a baboon. Not exactly my intention but I’m trying to listen to the further story. It is such an interesting process and journey. Thanks for sharing your experience.


    • Wonderful! I love the “baboon” mask. The summer before my senior year of college, I did a field-study of baboons in Kenya — so always fond thoughts of these remarkable creatures.


  4. Another interesting post .. moving and creating at the same time makes sense in that one needs a break from both. You have the most wonderful fibers .. I can’t tell you how often I run my hands over the flames and volcanic rock that is in my gifted piece from you .. I love it her so much.


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