Archive for the ‘Blake’ Category

Hear ye! Hear ye! In case you haven’t already discovered it, Sharon Boggon has done it again. She has initiated yet another venue bringing together people who are interested in and/or making things with textiles and fibers and anything else that can be combined with textiles and fibers. You can visit and join this social network at Stitchin Fingers.

Already several special interest groups have been established and hundreds of members from around the world have joined.

Dear Readers, I hark back to William Blake. (I hope some of you have been interested enough to read my essay on why Blake is so important to me.) One of his mythological characters, Enitharmon, is a woman who weaves the fibers that produce the material world. (Sounds like quantum physics to me.) Her partner, Los, is imagination. Enitharmon gives form to what Los imagines. Together, these are the forces that create the universe we can perceive.


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Sand mandala

Oh my friends, go here to see photographs of the work in progress of the creation of an incredibly beautiful and complex Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala. One of the things I love about Tibetan Buddhism is the colorfulness–pure, vivid, primary colors in complex designs. There are so many parallels between Blake and Tibetan Buddhism. I could only allude to them in my Blake essay. In this mandala, I see many comparisons with Blake.

Go take a look. And textile artists, see how similar painting with sand is to painting with stitches.

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Blake memorial

David Whitmarsh-Knight, a Blake scholar who has written two books on Blake’s epic poems, sent me an e-mail about my Blake essay in which he mentioned a video on YouTube of the 250th Blake anniversary service held last year at his gravesite, which had just been verified. You can see the video.

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At last, I have finished my essay explaining why William Blake is important to me. I wrote it for my grandson after I sent him my college papers on Blake, but it is just as much written for me. I wanted to articulate for myself what Blake means to me but I sure didn’t intend or expect to spend five months doing it! It’s been well worth it. I got so much out of it, including a great deal of pleasure, as I spent hours pouring over Blake’s art.

Blake’s painting, above, of the Angel of Revelation, shows Blake seated between the angel’s feet, recording his vision of the apocalypse.

If you like, you can read the essay, and even if you’re not interested in Blake, you may enjoy seeing the pictures. why-blake-is-important-to-me_0001.pdf

Before I can go back to stitching, however, I’m going to read granddaughter Michelle’s 163-page manuscript of a novel. She’s 18, a freshman in college, and this is her third novel. But while I’m doing that, I may also show you some previous needleart in a day or so.

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Why am I not stitching?

Because I’m obsessed with William Blake. When I decided to return to studying Blake in October, I expected to spend a few weeks at it. When I found in January that I was not making much progress, I decided to take a time out from blogging so that I could put that energy into the Blake study. Since then I’ve been reading and taking notes about two hours a day and I can’t seem to stop!

In preparation for writing the essay, I’ve re-read Blake’s major Prophetic Books–The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Milton, Jerusalem, and parts of The Four Zoas, reading all the introductions and notes and studying the illuminations. I’ve re-read Northrop Frye’s Fearful Symmetry and I’m now re-reading parts of it again. Frye sent me back to Harold Bloom’s Blake’s Apocalypse for another reading. I couldn’t resist re-reading June Singer’s The Unholy Bible, a Jungian analysis of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Minna Doskow’s in-depth study, William Blake’s Jerusalem. In the notes to Jerusalem, I was intrigued by a quote from a more recent book, Madness and Blake’s Myth by Paul Youngquist, so I got that book and read it. Fascinating!

I have started to write the essay, but I can’t stop reading Blake. I keep getting more and more out of his works and the works of his commentators. I’m feeling the way I felt when I first met Blake in 1963–exhilarated and overwhelmed.

But I’m also feeling frustrated. I want to get back to stitching. I’m not even sure I can put into words what I get from Blake. I’ve got to get a grip on myself and finish the damn essay! I’m sorry there’s no needle art to show you. I certainly did not intend to spend so much time on this project.

Wish me well in getting this done.

You can see a splendid exhibit of Blake’s art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By the way, Blake created designs for a friend’s needlework.

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Blake study

It is surprising to me how many people have read my post about William Blake. I wonder why that is. I didn’t expect many people to know about his work. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been able to work on my Blake study. Before Caleb and Lauryth’s visit I was resting more than usual and going through all my photographs since 1983 to pull out the pictures of Caleb to show them. Since their visit, I’ve been resting more to recover from the exertion of socializing.

Surprisingly, I haven’t felt very bad, despite 12 hours of visiting during their three days here. Nevertheless, I’m being cautious. When I read a few pages of Blake on Monday, my eyes began to burn and my vision became filmy, always a sign that more symptoms are about to flare, so I went to bed instead. But yesterday I was able to read more without symptoms, so maybe I can get back to work on Blake.

At present I’m studying his great and longest epic poem, Jerusalem. It is an illuminated book with gorgeous full-page images. This is the title page as it appears on the book jacket of the facsimile edition I have.


Here we see the theme of this great work–human beings woefully unconscious but capable of soaring freely once they have awakened. Every one of us experiences, or can experience, both states–unconsciously sleepwalking through our ordinary, conventional, everyday lives or awakened, consciously realizing our potential to live joyful, imaginative, creative lives. Blake says, “Wake up!”
This project is taking much more time than I anticipated. I have not begun to write the essay. I’m still re-reading Blake and books on Blake and taking notes and thinking. And now I’m missing stitching. For some weeks I’ve had a piece in mind that I want to design and stitch, and I’ve done some thumbnail colored pencil experiments; but first I must write my Blake essay.

This is just an up-date to let you know why there haven’t been posts on stitching. After all, I said that this blog was going to be about my life in stitches. Well, I will be back with more needleart to show. Some time.

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Time out

When I am not being productive, not creating something, not working, I feel dissatisfied. That’s the way I’ve been feeling for a few weeks. The only stitching I’ve done has been utilitarian–making potholders (which I did embroider, very simply), and doing alterations and mending. I’ve made little progress in my Blake study. Things have come up–papers from grandchildren to be read and commented on, other odds and ends.

But mostly, I think I’ve just been spending too much time socializing–more than I ever have in my life! Socializing online, I mean. TAST, Sumptuous Surfaces, and blogging–reading, writing comments, and posting myself, have brought me new friends and contacts. It has been very enjoyable, getting to know some of you through comments and correspondence. However, since I can be active only about five hours a day, if I’m socializing for two or three hours, there’s no time left for making things. To me, being productive is more important, more necessary for my well-being.

I have to choose. I can’t do both at the same time. So I have decided to take a time out from blogging and chatting to finish my Blake essay. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone from here, but I will be back. So watch your RSS reader. And thanks so much for your company.

My Blake shelf:


Now, here are two quotes from William Blake on the subject of joy.

It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

“He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sun rise.” –

William Blake

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