Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Emily Dickinson Altered Book

During the last couple of weeks I have gradually been filling the pages of the altered book I started on the poet Emily Dickinson.  I have several books about her life and her poetry - she lived from 1830 to 1886 in Amherst, Massachusetts at a time when writing poetry was seen as an occupation followed by a man.  She was well educated but her education was seen as complete in 1848 when she was expected to help with the housework at home.  However, her life evolved as such that really she led a double life - writing early in the morning and performing her household duties during the day.  

I have picked out small details of her life and poetry and incorporated these with fabric and stitch.  I have still a lot of pages to fill but I have lots of ideas and it is nice to revisit the subject of Emily and her work and learn new things.


I have covered a lot of the pages with old pattern tissue roughly washed over with white acrylic paint.  The various lines and shapes present interesting areas to fill with text.  On the righthand side I have embroidered by hand on silk organza a few lines from the poem "Don't put up my thread and needle".  The bird is a print block I made some years ago and I have printed this on the page under the organza. 


Here again I have covered the page with pattern tissue washed with white acrylic but created a landscape using printed text and a house printed onto cotton fabric (actually the house is from my family photograph collection). The photograph I have used showing trees and foreground I took some time last year and I have printed it onto silk organza, laid it over the page and stitched it along the pattern seam line.  Emily lived with her family in a house called the Homestead. 

Below I found a lovely facing shape amongst the tissue patterns and cut the silk organza to the shape of the facing after printing it with another tree photograph.




It is said that Emily adopted the habit of only wearing white clothing, whether this is really true or not I am not sure but I found what I think is an old collar in a lovely shop in Long Melford that sells vintage pieces.  Emily led a secluded, reclusive life preferring to write than to entertain visitors.  


The person Emily was closest to and who she wrote to the most was her sister-in-law Susan about who she wrote "One sister have I in our house and one a hedge away" - Susan and Emily's brother, Austin, lived next door in a house called The Evergreens.  I loved making the little collages of imaginary letters sent to Susan - for the first one I used a paper envelope but for the following three I decided to make my own envelopes using an old tablecloth. 


To bring further interest to the pages I cut away some of the page to the cutting line of the pattern tissue.






1 comment:

  1. I want to start an altered book, but a conservative rummage and tidy of my sewing room turned up at least a dozen things I need to finish. One day ....... x

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