Category Archives: BEAUTIFUL LIFE

CRAFT + POLITICS

The new issue of American Craft arrived last week and, as expected, is totally inspiring. From Andrew Wagner writing about “Craft & Politics” and the amazing article “Let’em Eat Cake” by Sabrina Gschwandtner to the lovely story and pictures about “Craft & Community” including Denyse Schmidt and Artecnica, the layout, design and content is spectacular.

And don’t miss the second ‘Summer in the City Salon Series’ program ‘Connect/(Dis)connect’ at the American Craft Council Library held on July 24th.

More information here:
American Craft Council – ‘Summer in the City Salon Series’

FROM MELANIE (AND A PICTURE OF GRANNY LOU)

This poem is from Kay Ryan, the new US poet laureate.

I kept on thinking about it this weekend while we were stitching our beautiful Alabama Chanin clothing. I kept thinking that our strong stitches were going to hold tight as we made our deep tracks.

Thank you for including me in such a special experience.

Love,
Melanie

The poem reminds me of my great-grandmother – Granny Lou – moving around her house at Burcham Creek:

THINGS SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small —
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.

 

CARL KASELL’S VOICE ON MY HOME ANSWERING MACHINE

I am obsessed with Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Like This American Life, I download the podcast to my iTunes weekly and listen at the first possible convenience.

A few weeks ago, I wrote the following email:

I would give (just about) anything to have Carl Kasell’s voice on my home answering machine; however, I have an extreme case of incurable radio fright and break out in hives at the thought of speaking personally with Peter Sagal. For this reason, I would like to be considered for Not My Job.

Being included would make my year and would also save me from having to reveal my true ignorance (and thick southern accent).

Imagine my surprise when Butch called to tell me that my name was announced on Saturday and that film historian, director and actor Peter Bogdanovich would be playing for me! Well, after much screaming, excitement and dancing around our studio, I realized that Peter did not win. I have to say that the questions were very hard and that Peter is forgiven.

Perhaps I will have to get over my fear of the perfect wit of Peter Sagal and try to play myself!

Listen to the episode here:

Not My Job Guest: Film historian, director and actor Peter Bogdanovich

TOPICS FOR CONVERSATION AND INSPIRATION

I received the email below from friend Sarah Lewis after she visited the Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium since 1960 (through October 19, 2008 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City). And while I am not in New York myself to see the exhibition, my entire body of work has been very influenced by the photographs of Walker Evans (along with others from this era) and particularly his work with John Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

I love the text below. Here is Sarah’s email:

I am sure you heard of the photographer Walker Evans…!?

“Watching Allie Mae Burroughs work with a simple broom kept in the kitchen corner, Agee mused that everything in the house might be licked with the tongue and made scarcely cleaner.

Evans photographs of the tenant farmers’ tidy kitchen are distilled essences of domesticity. “

From the MET photo exhibit,

“Kitchen Corner, Tenant Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama, 1936.”

And his predecessor, Sherrie Levine, “After Walker Evans.”

…I think of you no less than every other day…

Xo
Sarah

Learn more about the exhibition here and start your own discussion about the role of the historical in contemporary work:

Sherrie Levine: After Walker Evans 2, 1981

 

THE BEAUTY OF THE FORGOTTEN AND EVERYDAY

I had actually forgotten that I had a subscription to The (New) Oxford American. I had not received a copy in some time and then miraculously the “Best of the South 2008” was in our post box last week.

I have heard rumors of complaints about the magazine but I have to say that while the new design does not appeal to me in the same way as my old archived copies, I always find a good story, quote or picture in the magazine. (Well, when it arrives, I suppose. I mean who cannot just love Roy Blount, Jr.?)

This issue is no exception and I was delighted to read “The Collector of the Everyday” about Joseph Mitchell by Sam Stephenson.

I think of myself as a very well read person and developed a love (obsession) with books when just a little girl. I have read everything from the entire works of Milan Kundera to Nancy Drew and am constantly on the lookout for a new author that will feed my desire for knowledge. So, how could it be that I never heard of Joseph Mitchell?

Not only was Mitchell a journalist and novelist but also a collector of everyday objects. The photographs of his meticulously collected and documented objects are spectacular and stir a feeling in my stomach that I have known this person intimately.

After investigation, I found that Granta 88: Mothers contains an extensive piece with the photographs. I ordered the issue immediately. The images are rich, moving and everything but everyday.

Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories is on my bedside table. And I will be on the lookout for vintage New Yorker magazines with Mitchell’s stories.

CONFESSIONS OF A SEWING BASKET CASE

Dear Sweet Blair,

You are a gift to our lives and cake for our souls. I will forever think of you with a pair of pink “granny panties” stuck to your back! I was thinking this week that after 40 (some odd) years, I am just now learning to stand in my own shoes (a miracle, that). And I am sure that if I went to the mirror right now, I will have a pair of granny panties (or worse) on my own back.

(I once crossed the entire dining room of a very chic New York restaurant with a stream of toilet paper at least 8 foot long attached to my heel. My bridal train.)

Thank you for coming to Atlanta, for bravely threading your needle, for standing there in your own shoes and then for writing about it. We love you dearly…

Confessions of a Sewing Basket Case

–Blair Hobbs

After attempting to sew at the “Feeding Desire” workshop in Atlanta, I more than ever respect those who are nimble with needle and thread.

To several confident attendees, I explained how I once cross-stitched a stuffed doll to an art project canvas, and although I was proud of the initial outcome, I was mortified when I discovered that in my stitching process, I had stupidly sewn the backside of the canvas to my skirt. I stood up and the entire contents of my lap were attached: canvas, stuffed doll, and cute not-bought-on-sale linen skirt. I had to unzip, violently shimmy, and toss the whole tangled affair into the trash. Over the years, my sewing has demonstrated zero improvement. If Natalie had awarded whipstitch badges at the end of the workshop, I would have left the presentation as one empty-handed little Girl Scout.

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THE GIFT

THE-GIFT

Blair brought me this beautiful bowl to Atlanta as a present (as if her posts were not present enough). The bowl came wrapped in a pretty box and tied with an orange ribbon that was affixed with masking tape at the bottom (her son Jess’ art material of choice.) As I opened the box, Blair talked about the McCartys and how they sign their work with a piece of their home: Mississippi mud. Their signature slides down the front of my bowl.

I have proudly placed this bowl on my kitchen counter as a reminder of how something as simple as dirt can become a treasured vessel when you talk to it with your hands.

Visit McCarty’s Pottery

 

BLAIR’S 4TH OF JULY

My husband, John T, just came home with a pork butt the size of a hippopotamus, so now we have to have a 4th of July event around the smoker. It’s funny because neither John T nor I like this holiday. John T says it feels “forced.” I don’t like this holiday because it makes me feel lonely.

When I was a little girl, we used to have fourth-of-July family reunions just outside of Selma, Alabama, at a place called “Billy’s Pool.” The man-made pond was on a deeply wooded patch of land called “Billy Goat’s Gruff,” and the old folks who weren’t in wheel chairs circled the pool in metal fold-out lawn chairs. The kids floated across the pond on inner tubes or swung into the water from the tree-branch rope. Of course, there were picnic tables piled with fried chicken, potato salads, hams, watermelons, lemon cookies, and sweating Jell-O molds. I loved this sunny place, and I loved the people, the family on my father’s side.

This family reunion tradition ended many, many years ago because most of the people passed away–including my stern grandmother, my pretty second cousin named Aimee, all the great aunts and uncles, and my sweet father.

Perhaps I’ll try to be more enthusiastic this 4th. Yes, folks are gone, but I have new people to share the holiday with. And, of course, I can’t be sad as I watch my son stand by his father’s side as he tends the mammoth barbecue. As I watch them, I’ll think of my own daddy and how proud I am of him, a former Navy Captain. I’ll bake a pound cake for our fresh berries and prepare deviled eggs. We may even light our favorite sparklers—pink, yellow, blue, and gold Morning Glories and watch the fire fountains dazzle up our little holiday evening that we’ll spend with a few nearby family members, a scattering of friends, and a ton of meat.

APALACHICOLA, FLORIDA

From St. EOM’s birthday party, we are on to Apalachicola for swimming, oysters, and Tupelo Honey with friend and storyteller Frank Venable.

Maggie keeps saying over and over again, “Mommy,  going beach, Mommy,  going beach.”

Don’t miss Working the Miles by Joe York, a tribute to the men and women of 13 Mile Oyster Company, honoring Tommy Ward who, like his father before him, has served as a guardian of the Apalachicola Bay.