Frameworks – Fiberarts

In early 1983 Gwen began creating twenty-two handicraft articles produced by weaving or Bargello on cloth(Bargello is a type of needlepoint embroidery consisting of upright flat stitches laid in a mathematical pattern to create motifs. The name originates from a series of chairs found in the Bargello palace in Florence, which have a “flame stitch” pattern.), or quilting, called ‘Frameworks’. She spent easily five years working on these art works. Many I have in my possession and I will include photos as she talks about them. Sadly however, I did not find the particular piece mentioned in this first letter; maybe someday it will surface in their home.


Dearest Lex,

Has it just been a week since you left? It seems a year but we both know I have poor depth perception and time perception so what can I say?

Well, you will be pleased to know I have another Frameworks piece. This one came to me slowly bit by bit through the convoluted way I think, and then I couldn’t imagine why I didn’t think of it before.

It is a Japanese Garden, only the bridge over the lily pond is a piano keyboard and the lilies are tambourines, the bamboo thicket behind the pond is recorders. Drums are scattered here and there and support the bridge. The frame is music notations with these four songs: 1. I Don’t Get around Much Anymore, 2. I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, 3. River Road, and 4. Limelight. The name of the piece is “Music Scene” which is of course, a play on words, as the piece is a play on vision.

Now immediately many things are going to pop into your mind. Like– doesn’t this woman ever learn? That damned bridge is giving me fits. I have drawn it and drawn it, and from one angle it looks fine and from another pitiful. You would think I would learn wouldn’t you? But no I just keep jumping in with both feet.

From the beginning I fretted over the whole concept. I really don’t want something Disney-ish, but from the sketch at least, it looks quite natural. Something an eccentric millionaire might do—say Liberace.

The thing is, Japanese Gardens are so contrived and structured that they are artificial anyway. I got two books from the library and saw pictures taken 30 and 50 years apart of same gardens, and they were the same only different. They had changed some parts around but no growth. Every time something threatened to grow they yanked it up or cut it back and of course, not a flower in sight–all green.

The thing is, I have fallen madly in love with it just as I have with all of them (Frameworks) so I am going to block it out on canvas today before I use good common sense and talk myself out of it, for we both know I can’t do it, just as I couldn’t do Road to Hell and Rainbow Connection.

Frankly I’m glad I only have one more to do–I mean it is obvious –I’m in over my head with each one and there just reaches a point when something should stop me as I have no self-control.

I called M.L. up and she invited me for lunch last Friday and what fun. She asked about you, and has your pots and cups sitting around like sculptures.

She loves needlepoint and does a lot of it so I took the album and Rainbow Connection over for her to see. She fixed me the most elegant lunch and we talked for three hours. Like so many old people you really have to persevere to hold their attention but I did, and she was just thrilled with Frameworks and gave me a lovely compliment. She said the needlepoint was marvelous but the words were the best.

All very nice but I honestly did it for her, I felt she would like to have seen it first in the art community. When everybody sees it, she can say she saw it first, I like that.

Now just because I have been telling you about myself doesn’t mean I’m not interested in you so get busy and write so I get some kind of picture of your life. I mean I want to be able to look at the clock and say: “Two o’clock…Lex would be doing thus & so,” It helps me locate the two of us in time & space and I need markers along the way.

Yesterday was all gourmet foods: Waffles for breakfast, popcorn for lunch, and Hot Pot for dinner.

Since I spent all last week on Music Scene, I haven’t done much spinning but will get on it this week, I’m sure.

I had Dad build me a bookcase to go under window that looks out on front porch. It is designed for my notebooks and I already have one shelf full and am sending for some notebooks for my magazines. This will empty most of drawers in dresser in Studio II so I can put finished kits in there.

I was telling J. about all my projects and he said, “What are you going to do, grow two more arms?” You really have to persevere with J. but he always comes through.

Because I have this slippery grasp on time & space it seems to me I’ve done nothing in the last two or three months, but of course when you sit everything out on the floor it seems unreal. Sometimes I have to count everything to get perspective again. Well, as M.L. said, “Bored? Nothing to do? If I had any time, I’d sweep.”

Write and tell me things. Love, Mom


How to promote for selling all things!

Gwen IINotes from Alexis;

Back in 1983 Gwen was working with her hand-spun wools for her ‘knitting hats’ and was trying to figure out how to market them. I was living in Portland, Oregon, trying to find a new home and life. It didn’t happen, but I eventually ended up in Eugene, Oregon, and stayed for fifteen years. Something must have been right!


Dearest Lex,

Loved your letters and the card! I found some carob covered grahams and just pigged them down, with chocolate thoughts.

Am enclosing the picture Dad thinks is the best he has ever taken of me, I have to laugh as you can tell I was saying cheese (see “About Gwen”). Dad always says “smile” and then fiddles with the camera and backs up and fiddles some more. By that time you can’t UN-smile and as you know there is only going to be that one picture, so you really tense up.

I have started giving considerable attention to pictures of myself. After all I will need them for promotion of Knittin Kits and Frameworks. Have decided a 3/4 profile from right side is best so my face doesn’t look like a dinner plate, and down a little to hide the double chin. I think with glasses, and wearing dark colors to show off my nice dark complexion, and not too much cheese. What do you think?

I have been stewing and stomping around because I have just about got Knittin Kits ready to sell – but to whom? I spent one whole day feeling terribly sorry for myself because of this selling problem, but I couldn’t hold the thought. Perhaps that is the key to depression. You have to have tenacity. If you are going to let your mind wander away from the problem you are just never going to succeed at feeling sorry for yourself, and as you know I am easily diverted.

If you want a child to stop crying, you hand them a piece of candy. One of my very first memories is of falling down some steps and crying, and Mother handing me some candy coated peanuts. As the bump swells up on my forehead I am contentedly snuffling and eating the candy.

Writing is candy to me so here I am contentedly snuffling about my little bump.

We have had weather.

I try to get a book of cartoons about every time I go to the library and found a delightful one by George Booth. His dogs and cats just fracture me, not to mention his mechanics. Garage humor is very funny.

My writing tends to give me a coffee thirst so guess I will stop and quench.