Tuesday, October 15, 2013

from Marti Weisbrich

Moving to the desert land of New Mexico has presented me with a wonderful opportunity to study the local windfall and learn to use them in the dyepot.  There is a rich tradition in this state from the Native American dyers, the Navajo in particular who use the colors from the land, wild walnut, prickly pear cactus, sagebrush, chokecherry, ironweed, juniper, pinion, etc.  As we drove from Tennessee to New Mexico, I paid close attention to the landscape, moving from the greens of the hills to the browns of the desert.  Takes a close eye to see the myriad colors in a desert landscape. 

After we got settled , I was gifted with an abundance of thrift store cotton cloth from a dear friend. Our rental house came with a little garden,  filled with Spanish broom, lilac bushes, chile peppers, corn and a  grape arbor; all extra  gifts to be put in the dye pot.  Right behind our home, a dusty sandy trail filled with sagebrush, chamisa, desert willow, wild aster and more plants and wildflowers that I will come to know. The smells of the sagebrush, an incredibly expansive sky that changed hourly, wind  that welcomed and at times, fiercely so.  Across  the street, fallen blossoms from more desert willow trees would fly across the street as if they knew I wanted them.

We drove about 60 miles from my home and the land abruptly changes, deeper canyons, the dark green of pinion  trees, brown,  tan, clay, burnt umber, red, mauve all found in the cliffs along the way.

Since dabbling in the dye pots, it has been my custom to stitch a piece of recycled cloth with  the local windfall or from what I could glean from my garden.  Here it seemed especially important to honor this vast and so very different landscape that I have come to love for its ever changing gifts.  In thinking of the difference in just 60 miles, I have made a cloth that I  call Tierra Arriba, Tierra Abajo, the Spanish words for land above, land below.  Finding myself in this place continues to be a gift with long echoes, all the way back to my own roots as an immigrants daughter whose parents came to the  United States from Spain.

Marti Weisbrich


  1. Although I am also fairly new to New Mexico (2+ years) I have not found words as beautiful as yours to describe this experience. You have perfectly captured the feeling of being here. Thank you. I never tire of getting out on the road to see the vistas and land forms change so quickly.....I love the name of your piece....

  2. Marti..how great to see your cloth here, in Australia...isn't
    that a kind of miracle, that we can do this???
    and how it is that you see with the Eye of the Heart...it's just
    Beauty Full. this makes me so happy.....

  3. How wonderful to remember the story each time you look at this piece.
    I really love it..............

  4. You're a fine storyteller, Marti, in words and in cloth.

  5. Although for me, cloth making is a singular activity, now and then it is good to try and connect with cloth and words and so I thank you all for your responses to Tierra Arriba, Tierra Abajo.

  6. It really is a beautiful cloth, Marti. And to think of the differences you describe occurring in such a short distance! As always, your writing of place transports me and i see it reflected in your cloth. Thank you. And thank you, India for including Marti's work in words and in cloth. XO Nance

    1. Thank you Nance. You and grace let me know about India and what a gift it has and continues to be, this idea that windfall wherever we live can tell a story, sometimes amplified by words, sometimes the cloth speaking for itself.

  7. The colours of your cloth Tierra Arriba, Tierra Abajo are beautiful, and they do indeed speak to me of the desert. Dyeing is something I am keen to start, to complement my other needlework activities - your description of it as just a part of life is very inspirational.

  8. Beautiful description and beautiful artwork!

  9. Marti~ This is all just so right. Beautiful words-Beautiful cloth. My daughter also lives in NM :)