Saturday, April 21, 2018

all the things by hand

all the things.
the first time i heard this phrase
was in michelle moode's beautiful letterpress book
it was index item #1.
the first thing was all the things.
 i handle this book,
handle, the touch or the feel of something held in the hands
this book
haptic knowledge
anyway, it has delights and puzzles quietly presented.
The whole world is a series of miracles, 
but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.
Hans Christian Anderson

I've been thinking about the intelligence of 
our hands, how they become smarter with practice, like our brains do.
unmoored, by shanna leino
 i've read over and over.
it's a small poem, not many words,
but about big things.
the care she took as she stitched this exquisite spine 
 the monoprints on silk...
see her tiny stitches?
an exit in SLU's print studio
with my favorite cheesecloth drying after being washed out.
i'm not quite sure why it is
but for me the things that have meaning
are the things made by hands that have knowledge,
and also are my favorites
for (whatever/all the) reasons.
in last summer's seattle workshop
my students' hands all together could indeed have ruled the world,
with exquisite intelligence, grace, and love.
hazel and gabby
 an envelope came recently that held this rich 
 Banks of the Dogbane by sarah swett
a hand sized tapestry (3 x 3") rich in simple detail
and texture
 woven on handspun linen
 i love this thing.
 over on the next farm this structure
was never honored by finishing
or by use
 now it's failing
i believe it was intended for hay storage 
for these bovines.
why leave it undone, 
a public testament to failure of some kind?
i watched them build it, but then it was ignored.
these cows don't seem to care. 
the lovely little brown calf stands out in this black and white crowd.
a lilac burl
from my garden.
enhanced by me cleaning and oiling it,
rolling it around in my hands with pleasure and love
handling it into another use
(maybe an awl?)

 a beautiful handwoven hemp textile
hand spun hemp on a cotton warp
found by my dear friend who allowed me to buy it
at mjolk in toronto.
 tiny waxed linen crocheted basket by Nina Payne
a gift from a gifted friend.
 shanna's lake michigan rocks
beautiful and useful.
 a little natural history book nest i made
two feathers on a shifu page and a seaweed float/bladder
 milkweed bast becoming thread
 ginkgo message
from therese
and words from the wise.
i'm reading a new book: 
Craeft by alexander langlands
which may help me understand (or perhaps just frame)
my thoughts on hand work.
all the handwork.


  1. So much inspiration and appreciation here, Velma! I love the small things especially, the tapestry on linen, the shift page , and the lilac bladder. What is a lilac bladder, not getting much in a search?

  2. PS...your photography skills abound!

  3. barbara, shifu page is a book page made of spun and woven paper--nestled in the basket. the bladder is from a seaweed i found in maine. it made the 500 mile trip home safe and sound.

  4. such beauty, the hand made in this 21st C world is more important than ever!

  5. Oh that little drawing in the back of an envelope! Made me smile 😀.

  6. mo, indeed! so right.
    marian, i know, and then i opened it!

  7. Every photo/item ~ so, so gorgeous and inviting of touch! I hardly know what to say of these treasures. I am grateful you chose to share them here.

  8. Hi V - what a rich post - so much right there. To be able to see but also touch and experience texture is special. Sad about the framework of the building - good timbers there. Maybe a failing but maybe hard times. Go well. B

  9. nancy, glad you like them. i like their beauty in use, to read, to see on the fridge, to hold down paper and cloth, to spin into cloth, to hold a dream or cause one
    barry, building made by one who seems to get discouraged. good ideas, bad design.

  10. Oh, Velma, I wish I could touch everything in this post, including the cows! & seeing that photo fills me with the fullness of that weekend & you, ox.

  11. What a most beautiful mediation on the handmade Velma - so many lovely examples, so much wisdom and learning in and of the hand. I love the natural history book nest the most - my heart melted. The book sounds like a really good read as well - thanks of the sharing...

  12. hazel, come on over! and the weekend, well, it was just so very fine.
    fiona, aw, i'm so happy you love that small book.

  13. Beautiful. Love the textures. Thank you for sharing.

    Peter Verheyen |

    Note: This email was sent via the Contact Form gadget on

  14. peter, i imported your comment, because it makes me happy. i bet your beautiful garden is texture paradise right now, before much greening.


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