Blank Canvas Sampler: A new species of Urban Anas to add to the genus of dabbling ducks

Historically, samplers began as a way to record and collect needlework stitches and patterns for future use and adaptation. When a needlewoman saw a new or intriguing piece of stitching, she would quickly sew a copy onto a piece of cloth. These samplers evolved organically over a lifetime, the patterns spreading outwards with the deceptive randomization of fractals, as the needlewoman’s collection grew in variation, texture, and complexity.

After borders and alphabets were added in the 17th century, along with religious and moral verses, samplers became more deliberate, organized, and methodical. No longer a collection of tactile experiences, samplers became a showcase for skill and were taught to young girls as a “sign of virtue, achievement, and industry”.

Sound familiar? Our 21st century culture celebrates those who channel their energies into ‘profitable communication’. Everything we do has become a demonstration of skill, rather than a collection of knowledge and experience. But humans are not efficient, or perfect. Our stitches are brushstrokes, not pixels. When we allow our hands to record our world, a new honesty surfaces in our observations. The Blank Canvas Sampler is a collection of true life images and people, overheard tidbits and cultural commentary. Let’s bring the sampler, and our lives, back to their root humanity.

Click here to discover the Blank Canvas Sampler

Note: This matching winter morning couple made last Friday’s walk to work feel a little less like a walk to work

2 thoughts on “Blank Canvas Sampler: A new species of Urban Anas to add to the genus of dabbling ducks

  1. I love this entry, Cymbria, it inspires me to pick up a cloth and embroidery thread, and begin storying through stitch my own thoughts, feelings, experiences….my grandmother taught me how to knit and needlepoint….there is an unfinished canvas of needlepoint that I started after our return from our honeymoon that was to document our different experiences….alas, it and an unfinished sweater lie untouched in an upstairs drawer….set aside for yes, tap tap tapping on a keyboard…emails that are quickly deleted, or archived, but never received as one hopes, a touch of humanity, one email address to another….

  2. This is so exciting Lynn! You have a literal blank canvas marriage in that drawer! Thank goodness you were living those experiences instead of spending all those hours stitching lol. But wouldn’t it be fascinating to explore different compositions? What would you emphasize? What would you leave out? How would your mock up compare to M’s??

    Sure, documentation preserves the world in our image, and can give a tangible quality to our emotional experiences – but whipping out a camera can so easily stifle the moment. Stitching, sketching, or journaling allows us to revisit emotions and events as they have been distilled into our memories, making our record of them more uniquely personal. All that said… I bet you anything all those needlewomen felt the same way about embroidery that we feel about email. Obligations are obligations no matter what paradigm we’re born into.

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