Tag: matriarchal lineage

amused by the muse

“The muse is the muse in our life. It’s the very creative spirit that we ourselves are. As if our soul came here for a purpose, in order to manifest something on this earth. The muse is that thing wanting to be manifest. The muse is that creative spirit, that voice that’s eager to be spoken through us. The sound that’s eager to be heard through our creations. That’s the muse. Often what we get as a gift from the muse is the little seed to the bigger thing. The muse will not present us with the whole piece. The muse gives us the beginning – a phrase, a line, a title, a chord. So to be open to the gifts of the muse is to be open to the creative voice that’s trying to speak itself through us. Once we open ourselves to that creative voice, we open ourselves to vast amounts of light. To vast and profound reflections, to amazing healing because that’s us making contact with our own soul. With universal mind. With the oneness we’re all part of.” ~ Jan Phillips

cloth is my muse.
softly raveled
unfinished edges.
i love them each.
i love them all.

maybe it’s inherited, my love for cloth.



my great grandmother took in sewing to put food on her table. and when she wasn’t sewing for money, she sewed for love, making me a dress for my baby doll.




my grandmother made quilts, piecing together any scraps of fabric she could save, swap, or barter for.


my mother sewed, too. her patterns are some of my most treasured possessions. i remember her wooden thread box filled with colorful tangles. i remember her sitting at the sewing machine on october 30, frantically finishing up our halloween costumes. i remember the green wrap-around dress with big pockets, big buttons, and white trim.






i’ve sewn and quilted and smocked for my daughter and yes, for my son, too. i’ve embroidered and embellished, done needlepoint and cross stitch and a host of other things involving needle and thread. i’ve marked special occasions with cloth, turned milestones with cloth, committed special events to memory with cloth.

when i stitch, i entertain a host of visitors: thoughts, ideas, conjurings i wish would become permanent residents. several years ago, i hatched this idea for a book as i stitched, then like the cloth i was working on at the time, i set the idea aside, thinking i’d get back to it one day.

well, one day has arrived.


i’ve started a new blog. it’s called Writing Cloth and there, with the help of my cloth, i’m writing that story. i see these images – sometimes they just appear in a whoosh, a flash – then i stitch them into being. and as i stitch (or sometimes after they’re completed) they tell me about the story, about the people who live in the story, about where to go next with the story.



the cloth tells the story.

and sometimes when i get stuck, i ask for help, turning parts of the journey into collaborative creativity for those interested in participating. prefer to just watch and read along? that’s fine – no pressure, just an invitation you’re free to accept or decline.

because i do so adore tales of women’s creative process – it’s magic, isn’t it. no other word will do – i’m including a backstage pass to my creative process. i’m profiling the cloth pieces, their progress and their revelations. i’m documenting the difficulties encountered, the roadblocks and stumbling blocks as well as the moments of glory when the words flow like warm syrup. when i know it, i’ll tell you where the inspiration comes from, the meaning and symbolism behind certain names, the layers of metaphor (most of which just appear, becoming obvious only as i look over my shoulder.) i’m telling – oh yes, i’m telling all about how the story is coming to life. i am blogumenting my creative journey, i guess you could say, sharing with you the product and the process behind the product. if, like me, you’re the kind of person who likes watching the machines pour sugar onto hot krispy kreme doughnuts that you’ll soon devour or standing close enough to feel the heat as the glassblower twirls melted goo into a glass piece that will eventually grace your walls or watching the potters spin the wheel and shape the clay into a bowl you will eventually eat cereal from, you might wanna’ snag yourself a seat. consider it an ongoing studio tour where the light is always on. or maybe you’d just like to stop by nightly for a bedtime story.

i hope you’ll join me over at my new playground. because it makes me feel safer, i’ve made it a membership site with various bundles of membership goodies to suit your mood. maybe you want to become an affiliate and generate funds to support your own creative habit. and if you want to help some lovely, talented, deserving women in their creative pursuits, join via one of my existing affiliates: my writing partner and friend, julie daley or my friend and lunchmate, angela kelsey.

scoot on over and poke around. and if you have any questions, you know where to find me.

My Tree Of She


i am a grove
a copse
a rich, fruitful orchard.

my tree of she
bears the fruit
of music
and cloth
and sparkle
and words.


my tree of she
bears blooms
of food
and flowers
and a strength
so soft,
it’s often mistaken
for weakness.

my tree of she
bears leaves
of dance
and duty
and generosity.
leaves of
and nourishing
and protecting.


my tree of she
is rich
in the red roots,
of blood
and hearts
and spirit,
and tears,
in the determination
and tenacity
and quiet boldness
of the women
who precede me.
their fierce independence,
their unbounded love,
their unending creativity,
unlocking the wonder
and the aching beauty
that is
my tree of she.


Today’s post is inspired
by the lovely Lindsey Mead
who sweeps me away regularly
with that special brand of wisdom
she shares over at a place called
A Design So Vast . . .

there’s food, then there’s nourishment


best new food has to be the moroccan lunch i recently had at in mouseville. i am not an adventurous eater – my taste buds are old fuddy duddies, stuck in their ways. i have become a veritable magician at disguising pushing food around to look like devouring. but there i was, in epcot with the in-laws. what i’m trying to say is i was outnumbered . . . and the forced moroccan meal was nothing short of delicious. can’t remember what i had, but it was a delicious mingling of sweet and not-sweet. probably could’ve done without the skinny-as-a-rail belly dancer contorting around me as i gorged myself, but the food and the company, well, yes. best food 09 = feasting moroccan with the mouse and the in-law peeps.

but was there some epiphany? did the angels sing down a chorus of “see there” in perfect harmony? am i now forever transformed into a cookbookaholic and someone who orders the most exotic-sounding items on the menu, even if she has to point because she can’t pronounce it? no. oh no, no, no, no, no. culinary adventures are never gonna’ be my thing.

some things never change, and this is one: my favorite meal will always be mashed potatoes and cornbread, what my great-grandmother and i feasted on when i’d visit her in her adorable little termite-infested dollhouse. she would hold the bowl on her left hip, hug it with her left arm and stir and beat and whip all the lumps out before pouring it into a sizzling hot cast iron skillet and popping it in the oven. she taught me how to create the crunchy exterior on cornbread (remember that piping hot cast iron skillet?). she taught me tried to teach me how to peel the potatoes so finely you could see through right through the skin. and she taught me that i don’t have to spend a lot of money or eat exotic things i can’t pronounce to feast.

ps: the picture? that’s me, there, the cute-bordering-on-adorable (well, somebody’s got to say it) one standing on the left, and my great-grandmother, chef mimmy. (the little onionhead she’s holding is my little sister.)

pps: the photo is a snap of an image and emulsion transfer i did in one of my no-fat art adventures.

the story is mine, but credit for the kindling goes to gwen bell and her best of 2009 blog challenge.

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#best09, #bestof2009

pieces of peace


my grandmother made quilts – one for everybody in the family.

she’d swap fabric scraps with neighbors, decide on a pattern, then dump the accumulated fabric bits out on the bed, make her selections, and start cutting. she consulted with us about our preferred color for the flannel backing fabric, but she and she alone made the decision on fabric for the quilt tops based mostly – okay, solely – on what fabrics she had in hand.

she used a sewing machine – an old treadle machine – to sew the pieces together into blocks then the blocks together into the top. one the top was assembled, she’d sandwich batting between the quilt top and flannel backing and stitch those together, the machine whirring it’s irregular rhythm. the very last thing she did once the quilting was done and the borders finished off, was embroider our name in a corner of the quilt, and that she did by hand.


honestly, the quilts weren’t all that special to us. we figured quilting was just something grandmother did to keep busy. my mother used our quilts to wrap furniture when she moved it out to redecorate and as beach towels when we went to the ocean and as dog beds on cold winter nights. when they got dirty, she’d throw them in the washing machine then hang them on the line to dry.

a few years ago i decided to catalog grandmother’s quilts and asked my cousins, aunts, and uncles to bring their quilts to be photographed. when we held the first one up to the backdrop of the woods and stepped back to have a look, there was an audible collective inhale followed by the most exquisite silence – the silence of respect and appreciation and love-in-a-new-light.


my quilt is in the velveteen stage of life, loved raw in places, the batting spilling out and making a mess all over the place. i’ve thought about mending it, but, shoot, i’ve never gotten around to it. i ought to, though, because let me tell you one thing: some of the most peaceful moments i’ll ever know are enjoying that deep, peaceful, falling-off-the-edge good sleep that comes only on the nights when grandmother’s quilt is wrapped around me. mmm mmm mmm. all those tiny little pieces. painstakingly cut, arranged, then stitched together into something bigger. something much, much bigger.


the story is mine, but credit for the kindling goes to gwen bell and her best of 2009 blog challenge.

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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