This makes me kind of want to visit Zurich before the end of the month.
A year ago I hung this little wool and wire sculpture in a lilac bush in my front yard:
I said I would photograph it monthly for a year, and I have, and now I can stop.
Here’s what it looks like today:
It’s the next-to-last monthly picture of this thing! Today was windy again, and I had to grab it and hold it still so I could photograph it. I ended up with this close-up shot:
More moths. Not every day, but at least once a week. I’ve taken to leaving the light on in this lady 24/7, because the moths like the dark.
It occurred to me recently that I hadn’t photographed her with the light on since last year’s great moth-proofing effort. So there she is: several layers of acrylic fabric stiffener over felted wool, over doilies crocheted from fingering-weight yarn, over rusty wire, with an 11-watt compact fluorescent lightbulb hanging in the middle. More than the sum of her parts (as we all are).
I just finished reading The Light Inside the Dark by John Tarrant, and I’m feeling inarticulate. I had to take a break from the group I was reading it with. They weren’t having any of the seventeen conversations I wanted to have, and I felt unable to start the conversations myself.
Maybe I already said a lot of what I could say about that book anyway, before I even read it, with this sculpture.
Maybe words are overrated.
Recently I seem to have become the kind of person who’ll dance in public, and not necessarily in a polite and sedate way. “With some people, you can tell they’re holding back,” someone said to me last night, after the music had stopped and we were getting ready to go home. “But not you.” Old Me would have been deeply embarrassed. New Me shrugs and says maybe I’m old enough to start experiencing the Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck.
We need the patience to bless even our weakness, this odd weakness that seems to come not when we are helpless, as it does in the darkest night, but when we are full of strength and rising.
Last time I saw E, I cried for half an hour before I was able to say anything. She said she respected my bravery. “You’re the only person in the world who ever says anything like that to me,” I complained. “What the fuck is wrong with you? What are we turning me into? How am I supposed to be in the world like this?”
“I love you too,” she said. I hated her so much in that moment.
I am a hot mess, but not so most people would notice. I put on my boots and drive my car to the supermarket or the bank or the hardware store. I stand up straight and I smile, and it’s not an act because I really do feel pretty good a lot of the time.
And I also feel shitty and toxic, and I wish I could explain how it’s possible for the two states – light and dark – to exist at the same time and in such close proximity, and not cause some sort of explosion.
I feel like I outgrew the loneliness I was born with, and traded it in for a bigger loneliness. I’m constantly tripping over its hem and discovering odd things in its pockets: a blue bug, a red car, a long-forgotten granola bar, the sound your mother made when your head popped out of her.
I saw two moths in the studio a couple of weeks ago. Neither of them ended up in the trap. I’m not sure what to make of that. I hope they’re not a sign of an impending moth population explosion.
I think this one is going to be called “second brain.”
I’ve been working on this for the better part of a year, and I think I’m finally finished. It took me more than a week just to get her hung properly. She insisted that she wanted to be in the corner of the studio. It wasn’t until I photographed her that I understood why. I think it’s fitting that something called “butterfly soup” should have ghostly wings:
Here she is with the light turned off:
Someone asked how much she weighs. The answer is: not very much, she’s mostly air. She may, in fact, weigh less than the chain she’s hanging from. I’d be surprised if the chain and the sculpture together added up to even 10 pounds.
You can see her in person next Friday, August 1st, at my next open studio.
I ended up having to rip all the felt off the piece I was talking about way back in December. It was just too tedious. If I worked on it for more than about 20 minutes in any given day, I would end up with a throbbing pain in my left hand that sometimes woke me in the middle of the night. Totally not worth it.
I still think it’s important for this piece to exist, and for it to have a skin, so I went back to the drawing board. I tried several different approaches, including covering the whole thing with paper. Nothing felt right. It was really frustrating.
Finally I ended up making a lot of small doilies with some off-white fingering-weight wool yarn that I found stashed in a corner of the studio. I’m sewing them onto the wire frame with a curved needle, and applying the felt on top of them. It is taking a long time, but it’s a lot easier on the fingers than trying to put the felt directly on the wire. I can work for long stretches without hurting myself.
I spend so much time looking at it that this is what I see when I close my eyes:
Here’s a wider angle. You can see where I’ve started to apply felt over the belly:
Almost everyone who’s seen it has expressed dismay that I’m covering the doilies, until I remind them that this thing is a lamp and will have a lightbulb inside. The lace will still be visible when the light is on. So there.