I am feeling a bit rusty after not writing last week because there was nothing new to report, despite being busy at my sewing machine, quilting the large Traveller’s Quilt (which is almost done) and making another book.
This week’s post was nearly given the title On Seeing Red, but I thought that might be tempting fate. There is a lovely Afrikaans saying “Hoe rooier hoe mooier” [the more red it is, the more beautiful it is]. Since I am lucky to have overseas readers who would not understand Afrikaans, I opted for a loose translation of the idiom for the heading. It is also a couched warning that a lot of red photographs will be popping up onto your screen. The theme for this month’s #areyoubookenough challenge on Instagram was red. Hence the red book. As it was being constructed I surprised myself by making it redder and redder, until it was completely red.
Now for the story behind the red book. I do yoga with a marvellous teacher, Ruth Woudstra, who not only gently encourages us to stretch our bodies, but also to stretch our minds a little when she introduces us to some of the philosophy behind the ancient practice of yoga. Early in February, when I was pondering on how to interpret the theme of red for the book challenge, Ruth referred to the root chakra, the muladhara, during a yoga session. When she said it is represented by an inverted red triangle I knew I had found the subject for the February Are You Book Enough challenge. The word muladhara comes from the Sanskrit of mula [root] and adhara [support or base]. (Not in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, so thank you Google.)
Ruth has given me permission to mention her name and if you are interested in trying one of her gentle online yoga classes (via zoom) you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The more I read about the root chakra, the more excited I became about making a little book about it. There is an enormous amount of information on it on the internet. In brief, it is the first of seven chakras in the body; is situated at the base of the spine; and represents safety, survival, grounding, and nourishment from the Earth’s energy.
There are also a large number of graphic representations of this chakra on the internet. I honed in on the simplest one and used it on the back cover of the book. The upside down triangle is the alchemical symbol for Earth, or grounded energy. The square represents rigidity and stability and has a foundational energy (think of the foundation of a house). The circle in the diagram is a representation of infinity and the cyclical nature of energy. Finally, the diagram is surrounded by four lotus petals. Whether one believes in these arcane symbols or not, it is still a pleasing graphic image and I had fun copying it and stitching it.
The format is the same as the one I used to make a book about shelter for the January Are You Book Enough challenge. To recap: the base of the book is a torn strip of canvas folded into a concertina, or accordion, to make the pages. 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 book.
After I had torn the strip of canvas to size I folded the book into an accordion and appliqued (with umlaut) the inverted triangle, square and circle shapes onto each of the double page spreads. Then I backed the strip with a loosely woven red fabric from my stash and overstitched through the layers with red thread. The dense stitching gave a nice solid feel to the book. The red stitching against the white canvas was very stark so I got out my red Inktense block and thought long and hard before I painted over the cloth.
Unlike my first book for #areyoubookenough, which was entirely hand stitched, this one was made on my sewing machine. It therefore has a different look and feel to it. The advantage, of course, is that it took much less time to make it. The final touches were to stitch a holding cord along the back cover and to make a secret pocket behind the back cover into which I have slipped notes on the muladhara chakra.
It seems I have found my monthly challenge for 2021. The theme for March is “fenced”. Whatever can I do with that? But it would be nice if, at the end of the year, I have a set of 12 little cloth books all of the same size. Perhaps The Woodworker can make a neat box in which to store them. But I am getting ahead of myself… Fenced? Mmm