Solid ground

For both Steve and I, marriage represents the confluence of two streams and also a rock:  solid ground from which to step out – lovingly – into the unknown of the ever flowing future.  Not only do we step forward together on shared ventures, but each of us envisions our marriage as a stable base from which we can individually grow into our unique Selves.

I had an immense day on Saturday in which our home and my studio were on the Moretonhampstead Secret Studios Trail.  I felt Steve’s emotional and physical support in every way in the weeks that I prepared for this event:  my début as an artist.  Although I have been completely comfortable identifying myself as an artist for a number of years, until now, I haven’t had a solid place to base myself as an artist.

Besides welcoming guests into my newly re-Vamped studio, a very special part of the day was taking small groups of people to see our wedding quilt Cleaved.  I showed them the slate which I’d photographed together with the red rose petals sent to me from Steve and told the story of our meeting and long distance courtship.  Then I showed our wedding invitation with the photograph on it.

And then the quilt itself.  The front with the appliquéd grey slate and red rose petals, and water ripples, river washed stones and two feathers quilted onto the white silk.  I also revealed the back of the quilt made from fabric I’d painted, stamped and then screenprinted with words from our written and emailed love letters.

I finished by reading out loud the quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that is screenprinted onto the front of our quilt:

“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky”. – Rainer Maria Rilke

It was a very special part of a wonderful day to share and reflect on one of the hopes and intentions for our marriage, and to realise that it is indeed manifesting itself as a very solid place to stand and to venture forth from.

The stability of the earth

One of my hopes for our marriage (and one that is already being fulfilled) is for it to be a solid place of stabiity for both Steve and I.  When we first met and were living 200 miles apart, neither of us was sure where we would end up, but we knew that it would be together.  We were each lightly perched, Steve in Birmingham and I in Devon.  Steve said something very early on about holding on to one another and letting our world take shape around us, that home is here in the space where our hearts meet.  One of my visions for our marriage is it being a place from which we can each go out to meet the world from and return to for replenishment and grounding.

Centering is about making a place for ourselves in the world where we can both feel safe and supported. More than the simple task of “homemaking,” it involves seeing our environment with new eyes, letting it calm the mind and soothe the soul. In this peaceful context it is only natural to see past the surfaces – past the fatigue and trials of the day  to the deep and caring person we’ve married. It becomes easier to maintain our equilibrium and to be caring even in the middle of crisis. In the process we will also learn how best to soothe one another – in fact, to become sanctuaries for each other, no matter where we are. (Excerpted from Marriage from the Heart)

While I was working on my Earth table runner for our wedding feast, I came across this lovely blessing:  ‘Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.’  Details of the making can be found here.

‘How surely gravity’s law, strong as an ocean’s current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it towards the heart of the world.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Going with the flow

It’s just over a week to our nuptials!  I got a little bit stressed over an incident with my wedding shoes a couple of weeks ago.  I pretty quickly realised that I was having a case of pre-wedding jitters and just about anything could’ve kicked it off. Apparently PWJs are very normal and can affect both bride and groom to be.  They make sense – not only are we planning what we hope will be a beautiful gathering and party for about 60 people and would like for all of the myriad facets to slip effortlessly into place, but we are about to change our whole lives.

Steve and I both knew that we would like to marry each other quite soon after we met.  In many ways, we feel like we already are married – while each keeping our own sense of autonomy, we each consider the other in all of our decisions and have plans and hopes for our future life together.  We’ve been making a home together for over a year.  We have similar personality types which helps immensely in communicating and conflict resolution.  And we are both creative artists, Steve with words and me with visuals, so we can understand and support each other’s artistic natures.  Still a wedding is about new beginnings as well as separating and loss.  It is about letting go and changing and adapting to another person as well as a new sense of who we are.

I’m currently doing some work with the four elements.  Not only am I making table runners for our wedding feast based on Earth, Air, Fire and Water, but have been connecting with my creativity and spirituality through them.  When Steve discovered that, due to work commitments, he wouldn’t be able to be home on a day that we had a series of appointments and errands scheduled, I decided to go with the organic flow of the river.

Water can teach us to hold plans and expectations lightly and notice where our energy is taking us and to be fluid like the element of water.  I rescheduled the things that we both had to be at and made plans to go to the ones that I could on my own.  It actually turned out to be a great day!  I had my hair cut and while I was at the salon, I found that all of their spa treatments were 50% off, so I was able to indulge in some pre-wedding pampering and relaxation which I had hoped to anyhow, but wasn’t sure about when I’d find the time.

Here’s my Water table runner and you can read about the construction techniques here.

Now is the Month of Maying

Wow, it’s great that May has arrived.  Our wedding month!  When I look at the calendar, I can see the weeks and days leading right up to our wedding.

I’ve had a burst of energy in the past few days and have finished one of our four elements table runners today – Air.  I’ve also done quite a bit of quilting on Cleaved.

Now is the Month of Maying is is one of the most famous of the English madrigals, by Thomas Morley published in 1595.  It is one of a few that will be sung prior to our wedding ceremony.

Now is the Month of Maying

“Now is the month of maying,
When merry lads are playing, fa la,
Each with his bonny lass
Upon the greeny grass. Fa la.

The Spring, clad all in gladness,
Doth laugh at Winter’s sadness, fa la,
And to the bagpipe’s sound
The nymphs tread out their ground. Fa la.

Fie then! why sit we musing,
Youth’s sweet delight refusing? Fa la.
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,
Shall we play at barley-break? Fa la.

Barley-Break is an old English country game frequently mentioned by the poets of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was played by three pairs, each composed of a man and a woman, who were stationed in three bases or plots, contiguous to each other. The couple occupying the middle base, called hell or prison, endeavoured to catch the other two, who, when chased, might break to avoid being caught. If one was overtaken, he and his companion were condemned to hell. From this game was taken the expression “the last couple in hell,” often used in old plays.

Its use in literature usually has sexual connotations. The best known example is in Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s play The Changeling, in which an adulterer tells his cuckold “I coupled with your mate at barley-break; now we are left in hell”. The use of the phrase in Thomas Morley’s madrigal Now is the Month of Maying probably means something similar to the idiom “roll in the hay”.

Source – Wikipedia

Words of Love

Love can be expressed in a myriad of different methods, but the most timeless and most treasured will always remain the classic love letter.

Sometimes letters are preferable to face-to-face contact because they can be written as the thoughts come to the author’s mind. This may allow feelings to be more easily expressed than if the writer were in the beloved’s presence. Further, expressing strong emotional feelings to paper or some other permanent form can be an expression within itself of desire and the importance of the beloved and the lover’s emotions. The expression of feelings may be made to an existing love or in the hope of establishing a new relationship. The increasing rarity and consequent emotional charm of personal mail may also serve to emphasize the emotional importance of the message.

Other times, especially in the past before the wide use of telecommunications, letters were one of the few ways for a couple to remain in contact. When one of them lived some distance from the other, the “being apart” often intensified emotions and many times a desired normal communication could lead to a letter expressing love, longing and desires .

In the weeks after Steve and I met, since we lived 200 miles apart, we communicated via email, text messages, instant messaging and the written word.

love letters

I surfaced designed the fabric for the back of our wedding quilt using a feather stencil, a vine stamp and screens made from some of our handwritten and emailed love letters.

I pieced and stitched them together with a photo of Cleaved, printed onto silk, at the place where they intersect.  I wrote in depth about the process here.

‘Words of Love’ was written by Buddy Holly and recorded by him on April 8 1957. Holly harmonized for himself, by tape-recording each part and combining them.  This version features him singing in harmony with himself, being one of the first tracks by a major artist to feature vocal overdubbing.

Buddy Holly

The Beatles covered this song in 1964 for the album Beatles For Sale.  John Lennon and George Harrison, who were fans of Holly, harmonized on their version, holding to the vocal and instrumental sound of Holly’s original as well as they could.  Ringo Starr played a packing case on this song as well as drums.

The Beatles

A red, red rose

Red roses are the traditional symbol for romance and a time-honored way to say “I love you.” The most obvious and well known meaning of the red rose is deep love and affection.  The color red itself evolved from an early primal symbol for life into a metaphor for deep emotion. In Greek and Roman mythology the red rose was closely tied to the goddess of love. Many early cultures used red roses to decorate marriage ceremonies and they were often a part of traditional wedding attire. Through this practice, the red rose became known as a symbol for love and fidelity.

In the 18th century, a special rose language evolved as a means of communication between lovers who were forced by society to keep their feelings a secret. And the red rose came to symbolize true love that would stand the test of time. Staunch promising affection that is forever riding high is what the red rose means. The red rose denotes a true love that is stronger than thorns and can outlive all obstacles.

Desire is another facet of the red rose. The red rose expresses the throbbing heat of new love, a passionate expression of attraction. Red is the color of consummation, of raging desires and craving passion. The meaning of the red rose then is quite apparent from its color itself. The red rose speaks of love that awaits a passionate expression.

As the tradition of exchanging roses and other flowers as gifts of affection came into prevalence, the red rose naturally became the flower of choice for sending the strongest message of love. This is a tradition that has endured to the present day.

The first gift that Steve sent to me was a  perfect red rose that he picked.  I’m using the images of the petals on our wedding quilt which I have written about here.

“What was said to the rose that made it open was said to me here in my heart”
– Rumi

“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.”
– Anonymous

“How did it happen that their lips came together?
How does it happen that birds sing,
that snow melts,
that the rose unfolds,
that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees
on the quivering summit of the hill?
A kiss, and all was said.”
– Victor Hugo

Image source