Spring Cleaning Noah’s Ark

To-day I tackle the much-procrastinated task of tidying the small room in the basement that I use for my sewing tools and  fabric stash. Once a bedroom, it is much larger than a closet, and it now has tall sturdy shelves on every wall.  I have also collected a stackable set of large bins that will hold those untidy, unfoldable bits.  The whole day lies before me. There is no excuse for its present state of disorder. That is my adult voice!  So here I am, at ten o’clock, listening to my inner child, writing a blog!

The situation reminds me of this wonderful Heath Robinson poster that I used for writing lessons with my grade six classes.

This is not typical of Robinson’s work. He was more famous for  “meticulously conceived and magnificently executed drawings [which] were miracles of ineffective ingenuity.”  Of course, it took me a while, online, to find Noah, and there were lots of interesting diversions along the way.

The class had fun examining the poster together. How to read visuals. Identifying and listing the specific sensory details implicit in the illustration… sounds, smells, tastes, textures, sights. The ruder the better!  Listing descriptive adjectives and participles.   Describing the characters.  Is Noah bored, seasick, hiding from his wife, thinking of jumping overboard? What are the animals thinking?  How did they get all the animals on the roof?  Is the arc stable (bad pun) in the water when all the ballast is on the roof?  How would you organize getting them all down?  Okay… now write your story.  And then the drafts have to be edited for the correct punctuation of dialogue.  A regular Heath Robinson currriculum.  But it was fun! And it worked! How I miss the challenge and the excitement of those days!

But now I have to go downstairs and bring order to my own messy ark.  My Noah will sit alone upstairs, playing the piano, and wishing the whole problem of too much stuff in too small a house could magically be solved overnight. My menagerie, Motley, will be banished upstairs (not quite the roof) for my sanity and his safety.  And my son, like Noah’s, will be pressed into reluctant service to help with the heavy lifting.

Animals on the roof!?  I have to clear shelves to reorganize them.  Clear the table to have a folding and sorting surface.  I have to take things out before I can clean and tidy my arc and only then move things back in. But take them out where? Not to the garage, not to-day… a real Heath Robinson challenge. As problems go, this is one of the very best! What a lovely way to spend a dismal, damp, grey and cloudy day… among textures, and colours, and wonderful tools, re-imagining the creative potential I saw in every piece of fabric as I bought it.

I am also re-affirming my new year’s resolution for 2011. No matter how enticing, no matter what the price, no matter what my friends are doing, there will be no new purchases and no new projects until I get caught up with what I already have. There, now that I have published my intention, I cannot renege. Quilters, fiber artists, embroiderers out there… you have permission to remind me.  I may even reward you by giving something away!

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3 Responses to Spring Cleaning Noah’s Ark

  1. FLP says:

    I hope you enjoy a whole day of playing with fabric. There may be some hidden surprises.


  2. Can you really do that? I have tried so often, so uselessly. It is the playing that is the reward, the touch of fabric in the hand, the memories of where you bought it, the plans you had, and in the end the sigh of perhaps another day.

    • motleydragon says:

      Hello Judy,

      It is good to hear from you. And also great to know that you are reading the blog. Please share the link with your friends, and invite them to pass it on. It feels like I have been sending my ideas out in to a cyber wilderness!

      I have decided to make my blog about all kinds of things. There are so many thrilling fiber art blogs that specialize that I am not sure we need more. I like the blogs like Jane Dunnewold’s Existential Neighbourhood (no longer active but still on line) that show the artist and her ideas, as well as the art.

      To answer your question. No, I can’t really do that. The dreaming and scheming that goes along with acquisition of new treasures is too alluring. Cleaning up can actually be a treat… I rediscover things I had forgotten and have the fun of scheming about them all over again. Even this has its limitations, though… I am supposed to be finishing things.

      My storage area is filled to capacity, so it is daunting to find new ways to organize. Neatness requires empty space; it takes courage to unload that shelf of batiks or carton of fat quarters… I know that folded properly they’ll never all go back. Sigh! This is a wonderful problem, but still a problem.

      How do you manage?


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