Spirit Cloth

I am doing Jude Hill’s “What If?” textile workshop this year. If you aren’t familiar with Jude Hill, she is the author and maker behind the blog Spirit Cloth.

I have followed Jude’s blog for years and years…drawn to it by the photos of Jude’s powerful, storied textiles (she dyes, weaves, embroiders, and layers bits of raggedy, salvaged, vintage or distressed cloth into works that seem to embody so much more than aesthetics and a set of skills. They aren’t flashy, slick, or neat cloths, and you don’t see many of the gaudy commercial printed fabrics in her pieces. Instead you find these rich, frayed layers of earthy colors, and hand-worked stitches that are more like the sensitive, exploratory marks made when drawing, rather than the frilly, showy, vivid, loud stitches of, say, today’s crazy patchwork creations.

But more than Jude’s works, I am drawn to her words (and to the silences that pool, gathering like moon or morning light, around her words). She seems so earthy, and yet so unaffected by the frantic energies of the world. For me she embodies the archetype of the wise woman who lives in a forest outside of time…there she sits, dyeing her cloths in copper pots, stitching her beasts and her moons and her paths and her stories, watching the seasons change, feeding the stray animals that circle her home (drawn perhaps by her serenity and openness) and taking that Life, and incorporating it, so simply and yet so, so wisely, into her spirit cloths.

On her blog, she doesn’t screech her own ego all the time, doesn’t blow her own trumpet, doesn’t pull stunts to draw attention to herself. There are no blogger awards badges. There are no giveaways or product endorsements. There are no animated GIFs of pulsing hearts (thank God). There are no OMGs or LOLs in her posts. She doesn’t GUSH over every new thing that comes along…she doesn’t squander her love or her language on mere THINGS. Her words are few, and choice, and simple. Unpretentious.

All that. I am drawn to all that like you wouldn’t believe.

So I went to her, this year, at last…perhaps to learn a thing or two about the way she works…but mainly just to be able to sit, as it were, at her feet, like a student, like a disciple, and be very quiet, and listen to her. And hopefully learn a little bit more about how to become such an unaffected, meditative, imperturbable and self-possessed woman…doing my quiet thing, in the forest of my spirit, still in the world but no longer excessively of it.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.


30 thoughts on “Spirit Cloth

  1. found you on the What If forum and LOVE what you have written, its been a magical experience studying with jude and you have described it perfectly


  2. I was in the previous Diaries, this fall, and loved most listening to her audio clips where she talks about stitch and ideas. You will love being closer to her, and I hope you share what comes out of your head/hands here on your blog?!


    1. You did? I have to go sifting through your archives, now! If I do manage to keep up (of course, what is learned can be used and re-used forever) I will definitely track the progress.


  3. that’s a beautifully composed tribute. I like the notion of silences gathering and pooling like light…and suspect you may be a poet as well as deeply appreciative student. I stumbled across Jude’s work some years ago and was delighted when she agreed to allow some images to be published in one of my books. We haven’t actually met yet [although we’ve had a couple of near misses]…one day. Now I’m off to rummage through your pages and see what other gems lurk within.


    1. You’ll find mostly trash, I’m afraid…it’s so easy to babble about nothing much at all. 🙂 Glad that Jude’s closer students and friends so far have approved of the ‘tribute’, I was walking a razor’s edge with the words, there. Not a poet, no, but I love language, and read a lot of poetry, maybe it rubs off?


    1. No, thank you! That’s a great affirmation, because I really spent a few days trying to pinpoint how I felt, and then craft the words around it, the way Jude does. Glad those who know her better than I do approve of what I wrote!


  4. I haven’t read Jude’s Spirit Cloth, but your words seem to bring it so to life that I almost feel as if I don’t need to. However, I will. I would love to able to write as well as you. All your posts are so full of expression and feeliing without leaving me as if I stuffed myself at dinner.


  5. I’m a classmate of yours and just wanted you to know that your words are beautifully descriptive and paint the experience of Judes workshops perfectly. Thank you.


    1. Oh, thank you, that’s wonderful to hear! The post is short but I thought very hard about what to say, how to say it. SO glad it resonates with others who have the pleasure of doing one of Jude’s classes.


  6. I recently discovered Jude Hill and her Spirit Cloth. I’ve now taken her Spirit Cloth 101 class and am in love with her art…and her words. You captured what I think and feel about it all. Thanks.


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