A Purple Mask

I want to work on shaping masks once they're off the loom. I wasn't entirely happy with the shapes of the ghost masks, although they work ok for ghosts, which are often a bit misshapen. So I took out some Nori Silk Garden and made this mask in purples. I've been fiddling with the shape for days now. I'm not completely satisfied yet, but it's getting better. This one might turn out the be Silenos, the old man of the satyrs, Dionysos' foster father. He needs eyes and a headdress, whoever he turns out to be. I'm looking at styrofoam half-spheres, covered in black fabric, to start mounting them on, eventually. They don't hold shape so well on the flat. I'm still working on that hanging for Hermes, too, but keep getting distracted....

Woozy Notes

Cotton spinning continues to go reasonably well, although I definitely have better and worse days. I can now do the long draw magic trick about one time in three. One other time in three is because I don't see the slub until too late and my arms aren't long enough to make the trick work. On a good day, I finish with more seeds than waste, and on a bad day, as much waste or more than seeds. Yoga research, obviously, continues. Other current projects include the devotional hanging for Hermes and a mask in variegated purples, which may or may not become an altar piece. Maybe Silenos. We shall see. This morning, I accidentally took an extra mood leveling pill, and am dizzy and vague. I'm also still sick, with all-day, all-over body aches. Ugh. Hey, if I wrote a cookbook, would any of you buy it?...

A Project Day

All the things I did today. The wool and silk aren't dry yet, so they won't look quite the same when they are. Today, I woke up at the positively absurd (for me) hour of 9am. Just as my wife was falling asleep. I can't get anything done today without her, because she has the only working debit card. Therefore: Project Day. Dying wool purple and silk silver-grey, measuring out two mask warps and tying one onto the journey loom, measuring out a blue warp for the Hermes piece, spinning up some more of the mixed blues (with fuschia glitz) both so I could use it in the Hermes piece and to clear the tiny Turkish Kuchulu for the purple wool. Spinning and chain plying a little hemp "rope" for the hanging dolls I mean to make for the Purple Thread women. (I hate spinning hemp. It drafts funny and is rough in my hands. But it was just a little bit, and I like the idea of spinning all the thread and yarn I mean to use for the Purple Thread cultus.) I did get distracted while the silver silk was on, and didn't stir it. At all. So it's come out all funny and patchy, much too dark in some places and almost white in others. It won't do for the project, and I'll have to do it again, but I think it will look very nice for something else, so I'm not in utter despair. In other news, labyrinths continue to follow me around. A friend in Brazil sent me a picture of labyrinth lace on display. The pattern isn't a labyrinth, it's just the name for the style of lacemaking. This labyrinth lace shawl and this labyrinth washcloth also turned up in my vicinity. There was another instance, but it's now escaped me. Speaking of purple dyeing, I found a tour of Oaxaca that focuses on Murex dyeing, silk, and those exquisite flower-embroidered clothes, like Frida Kahlo wore. If I understand it correctly, you actually get to do some dyeing yourself. This is definitely a thing I will be looking into more closely once we're both employed again....

Ghost Masks

I continue to think about what I want to do for my ancestor shrine. I think I'm starting to get a handle on it. Greek ancestor veneration seems to have largely been focused around the ancestors' tombs, which are, of course, not really available to me. Everybody's buried, or cremated and scattered, three thousand miles away. (One sort-of exception is Granddad, my paternal grandfather, since I have a small amount of his ashes, which will be included in his shrine. He had wanted them all scattered in his garden, which he loved so much, but Nan Nan insisted on keeping half of them with her. I wanted some of them for my garden when I moved into this house, but she never did give me any. I finally collected some when we scattered her ashes two years ago. But I didn't take any of her ashes.) My uncle can find most of the graves on my mother's side for several generations -- one of them now has a gym built over it, with the graveyard accessible via a crawlspace underneath -- since he's the family genealogist, but I would barely begin to know where to look for my father's side. My aunt-by-marriage did a bunch of genealogical research on my father's side before she and my uncle divorced, but she says she left it all with him, and he says he has no idea where it is. Ideally, I'd like to have family trees for both sides kept as scroll in the shrine, but it may only be possible for my mother's side. Anyway. The Greek style of veneration being out of reach, I keep thinking of Roman death masks. Masks are somewhat important to me anyway, being a significant symbol of Dionysos, but of course actual death masks are completely impossible, going forward as well as those already past, because our culture's aversion to death makes it pretty impossible to make a death mask these days. But that doesn't mean I can't use masks to represent my ancestors. First I looked around for small blank masks I could paint (full-size ones would be a bit impractical), but could find none. Then I thought of sculpting masks of various people out of poly clay, which is certainly feasible, and something I'm decent at. But then I realized, hey, wait, I'm a weaver, and the Zati: Weaving A Life book has instructions for weaving masks. I've done a few, and the only problem I have generally is that most of the yarn I have is too light and thin for the instructions as given, so the mask turns out too narrow. That's ok, that's fixable. I don't have any yarn I'd like to use for it, but that's ok, too: I have a bag of white wool in the fiber chest. I bought it years and years ago to try to learn spinning from the fold with (the staple is long and fine and has little to no crimp), and didn't like the technique. But what the hell, I'll pull it out, loosen it up where it's gotten a bit felted, and spin some heavier white yarn. There's no way I'll be able to make masks to represent even each of the ancestors I knew personally by Halloween. That's ok. I'm going to get as many done as possible (probably not more than two or three), and use them to stand in for everybody. To that end, I'll be making them very neutral and blank masks, all in white, which I am already thinking of as ghost masks. Later, I'll probably do more detailed ones for specific people, like Granddad and Anita and Great Nan, and even the grandfather I never knew, who died when my mother was very young. But for the rest, ghost masks will continue to stand in. I'm still unsure what to do about Nan Nan. Liz Schechter mentioned disowning a relative of hers who was particularly hateful, and that she wasn't planning on marking or honoring her death at all. Another friend said on Tumblr that perhaps a ritual making it clear that my grandmother was not welcome and had no guest-right here might be appropriate. Kate is all for it. I'm . . . mulling. It's a hard thing to decide to do, for me. I was always told, growing up, that family is forever, that we must be loyal to our family. I've recognized that idea as part of the abuse I was subjected to, and I've abandoned the notion as a prescriptive one to be applied to anyone else, but that doesn't mean I've rooted it out of my own heart. Especially because Nan Nan was exactly and specifically who my parents were talking about. I was not allowed, ever, to "abandon" her, and they heaped...