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“A woman’s body at auction,
She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers,
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers.”
– Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”

Walt! What can I say? I can’t pretend to understand or appreciate your poetry. Let’s face it, sweetie, it’s pretty deep. I Googled you (don’t ask what that is) and learned  that you were an unappreciated transcendentalist whose writings were considered quite controversial. It wasn’t just the free-verse form that turned people off, it seems you got a little too graphic in your descriptions of the human form. You were ahead of your time, Walt, as is the case with many great artists, and “I Sing the Body Electric” is just one example of the ways you challenged social convention. You go! (Love the title, BTW.)

Still, that doesn’t help me now. “The Body Electric” is the theme for the Dayton Visual Arts Center’s annual member show, and I want to enter a crocheted piece that follows that theme. I decided to get inspiration from your work, but am now feeling in over my head as I consider how your grand themes might be depicted through the use of the humble hook and yarn. (Readers: You may be feeling something now. It’s called justified skepticism. I feel it, too). Crazy idea? This is usually my cue to carry on. Can’t be done? Let’s find out!

yarn and crochet hook

This is the inside bottom of the free-form vessel I’ve started. I’m reinforcing the bottom with twine.

With Walt’s words percolating in my head (a migraine pill helped stop that), I turned to my crochet heroine Del Pitt Feldman and her classic work “Crochet Discovery and Design.” (Crochet artists: This resource is a must for your collection.) After paging through this wonderful book, I decided to tackle a free-form vessel that would depict themes of birth, death and the spiritual realm. I’ve had a lot of fun sketching out ideas as well as planning the shape of the vessel and what elements besides yarn can be employed. Seeds, shells, milagros, tiny gears, the inner workings of an old watch, skull beads, little bones, feathers and lead fishing sinkers are just a few of the items I have in front of me as inspiration. I’m determined to use scraps of yarn from my stash, and so far have been successful.

I’m looking forward to getting the main body of this done so I can start embellishing with all the little objects I have collected. Like Walt, this will be a “free verse” slightly transcendental effort. Unlike Walt, there will be no graphic depictions of the human body, though I plan to include some womb-like areas. The working title for this is “Cycles” or “Life Cycle.”

I’ll keep you posted as this project progresses. In the meantime, see if you can figure out “I Sing the Body Electric” and feel free to share your insights.

Thanks for stopping by. Visit StorylineCreations on Facebook to see what I’m up to and to link to articles about artists, art forms and creativity.

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