to take up the Are-You-Book-Enough challenge on Instagram
A while ago my blogging friend Chela of Chela’s Colchas y Mas wrote about the areyoubookenough hashtag and I have since been following it on Instagram, noticing with amazement the beautiful handmade books created by people around the world. Each month there is a new theme and it is fascinating to see the different interpretations and inspired works that the monthly challenge evokes.
It being a new year I decided to screw my courage to the sticking-place (as Shakespeare had Lady Macbeth say) and make a book about shelter, which is the theme for January 2021.
Having dabbled a little in book-making I knew enough to know that I am not able to make a bound book, so took the easy way out and constructed a concertina book out of cloth. Having decided to stick to what I know (i.e. quiltmaking), I made the book from a strip of cream canvas backed with woolen batting. There are eight pages that measure 6 x 5 inches (15 x 12.5 cm) each. The first and last pages form the covers and there are three double page spreads inside the concertina book. Having torn the cloth and cut the batting, I threaded my needle and first stitched along each of the folds to hold the book together. The woolen batting (or backing) is soft and comforting to the touch, so I decided not to add a cloth backing.
It was the content, not the form of the book, that was the real challenge. As I pondered on the idea of shelter the line “shelter from the storm” popped into my head. When I googled the phrase to check its provenance I was reminded that Bob Dylan wrote and sang this enticing, obscure song. According to Wikipedia it was recorded in 1974 and released on Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album in 1975. It is believed that he has never commented on the lyrics. Here’s the first verse:
’Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm” -- Bob Dylan
Finding myself firmly in the world of metaphor, I then stitched the words “The world is too much with us” on the first page. This is the first line from a sonnet by the Romantic poet William Wordsworth. I used it to try to portray the worries and cares which give rise to the human need for shelter and comfort (especially in the current time of COVID).
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn. -- William Wordsworth
On the following double page the quotation “A green thought in a green shade” comes from the poem The Garden by the 17th Century poet Andrew Marvell. The poem is an Edenic portrayal of a place where the built world does not intrude and the natural beauty of the garden soothes one into the tranquility of that “green thought” beneath the shady tree. Here follows the sixth stanza of the poem with the fuller quotation “Annihilating all that’s made / To a green thought in a green shade”, where “all that’s made” refers to the built world of cities and industry.
Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less, Withdraws into its happiness; The mind, that ocean where each kind Does straight its own resemblance find, Yet it creates, transcending these, Far other worlds, and other seas; Annihilating all that’s made To a green thought in a green shade. -- Andrew Marvell
On the final double page I fall into cliché in order to make my point.
I have not yet finished stitching the back cover. I had thought to leave it plain, but on looking at the photograph I think I should stitch around the central motif. Any advice would be welcome.
While stitching this little book I listened to a Spotify podcast called The Daily Poem. It was good to listen to classic poems beautifully read by David Kern of Goldberry Studios. The readings are accompanied by insightful commentary and biographical details on the poet. I am very glad I stumbled upon this listening pleasure.
An old sewing machine needle can be used when pinning up blocks on a polystyrene board. It works well because it is sturdier than an ordinary pin. I made this discovery by mistake while pinning up a large quilt and grabbed an old needle that had been pinned into my pincushion.