There are many things to consider as I build this small collection of photographs. Non-traditional pictures of sewing notions. Already I am seeing tones and textures that I will want to carry throughout the project. I am beginning to see a theme develop, even with only a few images.
I go back time and time to one of my favorite quotes from Eliot Dudik, “I am often photographing nothing and asking it to mean something.”
I think what I see in these pictures is largely a reflection of this season of my life and some redefining of what it means to be a woman who is nearly sixty. I am tired of expectations and rules.
For many years I was a sewer and a quilter. Not so much anymore. Long hours spent sitting do not suit my body these days. But still, the tools and notions of sewing feel at home in my hands. I know the name and function of each item in the found collection.
how to thread the needle and knot the tail
how to put in the zipper and sew on the button
which finger to put the thimble on and how to rock the needle in and out of the fabric to make running stitches
how to pin the pattern to fabric or mark a length to hem
all this and more
But when I stop to think about the sewing notions beyond their obvious use, it’s clear to me they have some meaning in the larger sense of what it means to be a woman. Sewing by tradition being women’s work.
Holding the functional and sturdy zipper in my hands, I am reminded of the expression Zip it, meaning to keep your mouth shut, keep quiet, and don’t say anything.
As a young girl, I was taught and guided by this simple principle.
If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
And while this way of being certainly kept me out of trouble, it also kept me small.
The time has come for speaking up to say what needs to be said.
To unzip my lips for poetry and protest, for passion and projects, for peace and love.