15.1.18 Tumbling embroidery project dress
I cannot stop thinking about clothes lately. Making them, embellishing them, wearing them. About what they really are, when you think about it. I have long ago left behind the idea that I will look good to anyone but myself but I'm ok with that. Instead, all I can think about is this potential clothes give us for a second skin.
It is a weird kind of waking up to realise that I can, if I choose, buy or make new coverings for this body and I can make them anything I want to. It suddenly feels like the most incredible kind of magic trick. I can turn any colour I choose - think of that! The kinds you'd find in a faded, unkempt garden, or on a nuthatch's belly. I can make this new skin both wild and practical, unexpected and loud, or like the quiet subtle shift of a grey day that nobody wants to notice. I can be a changing season or sea foam or become nothing but shadow. I can cover myself with pictures and change them according to the day and the weather - daily tattoos to match my more permanent kind that hide underneath. I can have dragonflies alight in every place on me on Tuesday, be the tree birds choose to perch in on Friday and the sky they take flight in on Sunday. I can wear images like totems, like dreams, have a troupe of tumblers turn around the hem of my dress just because I can, and with every new choice and story feel a little more free.
Think of it. With just clothes, I can take on new shapes, make new lines, throw off the soft curves of me to become something unnaturally precise or add softness till every hard edge of me disappears. It suddenly seems extraordinary. I can become boldly uneven, asymmetric, and glory in that. I can turn as tough and lined as tree bark or let every inch of me shiver under silk as if I were underwater. I can add MORE of me to any place I chose until I am hardly seen at all, lengths sprouting to cover wrists and knees, to layer me against everything outside that wants to throw me off balance. I can make all my clothes end neatly at the knee or sweep the floor. I can hide every bit of me I'd rather was not seen or reveal the careful parts of me that want to feel the sun.
Even better, I can, if I want to, hide secrets in everything I wear. I can create folds and pockets to hold my world in - pebbles and smoothed glass and folded notes and slim books. I can make places for tools that I've always wished I could carry like extra limbs, pens and a camera I'd never be apart from. I can carry my whole profession and inspiration about myself and be comfortable and free and wholly myself. And this is why I want to learn to make clothes, to harness this power, and why I'm astounded I haven't up until now. I want control over this sorcery. What's more, these new eyes are making me look at everything differently, to gape at the clothes other people wear and wonder at them.
A man sits across me doing a crossword as I write this and every swell of the jumper he wears is suddenly more meaningful. It is the colour of old acorns and just-stirred gravy and he wears the collar up. Something about it must have created a silent click of rightness in his head when he bought it, or perhaps it was once wrapped carefully by a son who worried about his chest. Either way, he picked it out when he dressed this morning, tugged the collar high and has settled into it in front of me like a new day, tapping the point of his biro against the newspaper as he tries to fit words to squares before committing. I love it and him: the pucker of it as it meets his comfortable belly and the slight shake of his hands under blue cuffs. Elbow patches hold him gently by the arm and I want to do the same and whisper, "You are magic in your second skin, you are, and you are loved, you are loved, you are loved."