Creating Safety

I bought the dress at a thrift store years ago, always with the intention to use the unusual batik images in a quilt or potholders.  But every time I tried to work with them I found the images too strange, or the colors dulled to whatever piece of fabric I put next to them.

But on Friday, after coming home from my weekly lunch with my friends Mandy and Athena, I pulled the stack of small batiks, which I had already cut from the dress, and knew I needed to finally give them a place in my work.

I found the image that, before, I could never figure out and now saw as a crying eye.

The colors in the batik no longer eluded me.  I found them quickly enough and just as easily put two walls and a roof around the crying eye.  I wanted the child-like house shape to be obvious, so I surrounded it with a solid color, with the comfort of an old pair of jeans.

Then I chose an awkward flower and gave it a greenhouse to grow in.

So often when I talk to my friends, or with Jon, we are still dealing with issues that came from the reality that we didn’t feel safe in the homes we grew up in.  And we still feel so unsafe in the company of our families that we choose to see them seldom if at all.

I’ve talked to lots of people who wanted to have children to try and  “do it right”.  To give their children what they didn’t have.  I chose the opposite.  Not to have children at all.  I saw myself in the words of a  character from Anne Patchett’s new book ” The Dutch House”  when she said about childhood…”I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone, especially someone I love”

It’s most likely the coming holidays that have brought up in me the heightened anxiety that I’m feeling around my family issues.  I’m much better dealing with the holidays than I used to be, mostly because I’ve let go of the traditions I grew up with.  And each year Jon and I try to figure out what works best for us this time of year.

As I continued to make the potholders on Friday, I realized that I was trying to make a safe place for those batiks that sat on my studio shelf for so long.

Surrounded by sunshine and blue skies, always with a way out, I sheltered the strange batiks in a  harmonious environment.  I found that with each one I created, I began to feel better.

I have more batiks in my studio and I know what I’ll be making in my studio Monday morning.


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