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Thursday, January 17, 2013

An Afternoon With an Old Friend (or why silk painting is like life.

Putting on resist
Yesterday, after scrambling to finish laundry and dishes, my dear friend of thirty years came over to silk paint.  Silk painting is a process that is very similar to watercolor painting. First the silk fabric is stretched onto a frame, like an oil painting, and is attached with pushpins to keep it in place. After it is all secured on the frame, the hard part starts. What to paint onto the blank piece of fabric.

While waiting for inspiration, we chatted about when my oldest son (married and thirty years old) and her youngest son (married, thirty years old and about to become a father for the first time) caused us to meet.

Somewhere in this conversation our brains kicked in and we began the design process. Using small bottles with metal tips filled with water soluble resist, we each drew our designs onto the fabric, trying to think backwards. 

Reason being, you have to figure out what part of the finished design you would like to stay white and put the "resist" there. The areas without resist will be were the dye will stain. This requires great forethought and planning so the results are what one hopes for.  I am not insensitive to how this process is a metaphor for life.
"Dear Friend's" Design

Mine, of course was more traditional in nature and my friend's was, of course, more contemporary. That had always been the way with our friendship too. All of the givens that made up my world were not even suggestions in hers and vice versus.  We each had four children, two boys, two girls, even the birth order was the same. We both married young and were still married to the same man. We both loved painting, helping others, reading, and observing the beauty around us. We both loved our children fiercely and at all costs tried to do right by them. Easier said than done sometimes.  

When I would have a particularly troubling day, this dear friend would be there. When she would have a particularly troubling day, I would be there. Sometimes in our zeal to help the other we would do things that instead of comforting would cause more pain. We forgave each other easily and quickly. That had been our way and continues to be so. This is a gift she has given me. 
My Design

When something happened in my family that seemed like I could: never forgive or live through, she helped me to see I could. When the days seemed the darkest, she would pry me out of my darkness with love and tempt me with kindness. She was right. I could forgive and I could keep hoping, partly because she was right there next to me showing me how it was done, everyday. 

We continued working on our project in my kitchen this very cold and sunny afternoon in silent companionship. We had reached a time where few words or many words did not make a difference to us. 

Our progress was steady and messy as artwork and life often are.

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