Making Marks

When I started following textile arts bloggers I learned about something people were calling “making marks.” It sounded generic and a little dry to me at the time and separated from what I defined at that time as making “art” and maybe even “crafting.” I’ve been thinking about the concept since then, reading all the different ways my fellow makers are marking things and making marks – especially as this relates to another buzzword, “upcycling” more on this later?). In the past I think I’ve locked myself into a concept of art as only finished product, but I’m enjoying discovering all the artistic ideas that seem to arise from simply making marks in various media. One mark can lead to multiple ideas.

acorn-filled log
The logs were full of holes and lying right next to all those acorns!! (Idyllwild, CA 2015)

A couple of nights ago I had a flash about this concept of making marks, and how much it has actually dominated my creative life so far and from a pretty early age (had to go get a pen/paper and jot it down…jiminy, what we do to try to put the brain to rest at night). There’s the obvious examples, like my first embroidery, needlepoint kits and the like. But what I really started thinking about was how much I loved to iron handkerchiefs (remember those?!) when I was young. It’s especially ironic because ironing became something worthy of a picture in my college days and it is non-existent for me now, but back then Mrs. Stoddard would line up the handkerchiefs after the laundry and I couldn’t wait to press them out and make them uniform and square, then fold them up so tidy. (And they didn’t even incorporate any embroidery – he was using them for the old-fashioned purpose and didn’t have use for lacy tom-foolery.) I think this was an interesting way of making marks. Especially as it’s one of those domestic types of mark-making, that get undone and redone so many times over (e.g. making the bed each day, cleaning all those dishes over and over again, crocheting dish rags that actually turn into rags…).

typewriter with carriage return

Then I thought about how I loved to use the manual typewriter in the school library when I worked there in middle school. Perhaps I was typing up cards for the card catalog or maybe the check-out card in each book that got stamped? I can’t remember exactly, but I do remember very distinctly the feel of those keys under my fingers (you really needed to punch things, compared to now. Did I just describe myself as a dinosaur? the other dinosaurs in the room know what I’m talking about. You don’t have to identify yourselves. 🙂 and the thrill of making a mark on the page as a result of that action. Ah, the mistakes – so tricky to backtrack over and so obvious. But it didn’t matter – as long as the end marks were readable the library could roll on and it was a use-able mark. (After I found this picture I remembered the satisfaction of pushing that return wand over to get to the next line!! Who’s with me…old-timers?!) P.S. Thank the planets that we didn’t have to commit to the return feature long-term. Who can complete a thought these days one line at a time without going back to amend? That’s a lot of “Liquid Paper” – I would need a lifetime supply.

word processor
This one plugs in!

Then “word processors” appeared on the scene and I got one for a birthday or Christmas. I would sit for hours transcribing anything in print, just for the experience of typing things onto a page. Seriously. This strikes me as a little odd now…mark-making for sure, right?! That invention brought the feature that allowed you to double back and use a white-out tape to “untype/retype” any mistake you might be quick enough to have caught before you hit return. Ah me. It felt like straight up magic y’all. I couldn’t get enough.


Then high school typing class (do they even offer this anymore? I suspect not, what with all the thumb-texting going on. Kids/my daughter would probably laugh at the concept now?). SMARTEST. EDUCATIONAL. CHOICE. EVER. First of all, the mark-making opportunities with this skill became quickly infinite in this technology world (typography is so interesting! getting ahead of myself…I love this movie…). But it also helped me jump into two other cool mark-making opportunities: one was transitioning the answering service where I was working from a paper system (big wooden spinning spool in the middle of the room that held pieces of paper in cubby-holes with messages scrawled on them, to be read aloud one at a time – so the stone ages basically) to computers (my first technical documentation and training opportunity y’all!).

Subsequently, taking messages via computer taught me to type as fast as people talk, which is a useful skill in the IT business world now (plus I have some fun stories from the answering service days…one includes Oregonians lack of training at that time re: sunscreen: “My skin is really red and it hurts a lot! What’s happening to me?! Call the doctor!”). It’s almost like court transcription, without the special code language. I continue to amaze my colleagues with it today, especially in highly technical conversations where people think they’re following along…until they’re not (or the other IT illness takes over: short-term memory loss, “Wait, what did we agree to again?”). Thank goodness for recap notes.

Cross-stitching in Idyllwild
This is a Mother Goose cross-stitch blanket I began 100 years ago and *may* finish before I die. We all have dreams.










Here’s the rest of the log/acorn experience.

Lara picking acorns for the log
Working the acorns







Idylwild nature
Wild acorns placed,,,









Idyllwild forest
Idyllwild forest







Here comes the weekend – looking forward to it. I’m going to share supplies with Edna Harris in AZ this weekend. She has a cool system where you send her 30 collage items and she’ll send you a free greeting card.

Art spread going to a card-marker
Stuff I’m sending to this artist

3 thoughts on “Making Marks

  1. This is a Mother Goose cross-stitch blanket I began 100 years ago and *may* finish before I die. We all have dreams.

    I laughed so much at that comment! I hear ya!!!.

    The typewriter is interesting, my god I feel old I remember at work getting one of the new plug in ones, we all stood around looking at in wonder!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes! And don’t get me started on our first microwave and trash compactor! My mom and I actually took a microwave cooking class to learn what one was supposed to do with that box of wonder. Oh, and my 19 year old daughter is incredulous that we used to have actual knobs on the tv. I’m still chuckling over that one.

      Liked by 1 person

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