Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a Hidden Home

I am in love...
with this book.
My mom gave it to my daughter for Christmas, but I think it belongs to me.

My mom is a dollmaker. I know this book spoke to her, and I hope she has her own copy at home...don't you mom?! Cause I'm not sure if "Emma" wants to share this one.

The Hidden House is the most beautiful, haunting picture book I've EVER seen...and I'm an Elementary School Teacher who lives in the picture books section of the library, the thrift store, the book stores, the garage sales...anyway...I KNOW picture books. This one is singular.

It is about three dolls who have been left behind in a Hidden House and what happens to them.
Just look at the endpapers...couldn't you just paper your walls with it?!
Look at the tree growing in the house as it becomes hidden.
This book I've been keeping out and I look at the illustrations about once a day, truly.
It makes me feel at home.
The Hidden House makes me feel at home.
I feel wrapped up in the spiderwebs and beetles and things growing over windows.

My mom and I have a word for it...we call it "Snohomish" that means nothing to all of you, but it is a town in Washington state that is rather touristy and antiquey. After a day of shopping, we were walking back to our car which was parked on a residential side street at twilight, and stopped for some reason to look over a rickety metal railing and saw this steep, skinny set of concrete stairs going down into a kind of concrete pit that was overrun with ivy and thick mosses and it was drippy and cracked and went to NO WHERE. Skinny steep concrete stairs going to...what...just that pit? No doors or windows to go anywhere? There were some old pieces of wood that were peeling paint and a door with an ancient looking knob on it, and all together looked like someone was saving the remains of their home in this strange mossy concrete pit. So, now, when we see things that belong in this sort of category, we say, "It looks kind of...Snohomish to me. I love it." And so we do, we DO love that sort of thing.

But what I think we really love is the broken thing. We love the thing that has been fixed and mended and made new, but is really still a broken thing.

This book is amazing because of that very fact. And it got me to thinking about why I do not love a new house. Why I LOATHE the dark granite counter tops and beigey nothingness walls and the "butler counter" in the "large pantry" and the houses that are too new to hold ghosts or secrets or hidden things.
I want a house that speaks.
I want a house that has lived and will teach me.
I want a ghost.
I want the peeling and the small and the hidden.

and I'm not happy without it. That is it. I can't be all zen about it and say, "I am the nothing...I need nothing and care for nothing more than what I have..." That is a load of bullshit. is.

If I should want to live in something smaller and older and dirtier and stranger, why doesn't someone just say, "Hey...she wants less...let's go ahead and give it to her."
I'd need a sugar daddy for that, I guess.
But, to the point: I really really REALLY wanted to join in on Graciel's Dollhouse Project.
So, I wanted it to be something I was going to enjoy doing.
I wanted it to be something I would keep for only as long as I really needed it, and I wanted it to be totally authentic to me.
It had to be paper...I am totally and completely a paper girl. Just ask mom.

I got this blank book recently from a friend who knows me oh so well. I was intending to keep things about herbs and gardens in it...and it decided to do something different with its life. Who am I to stand in the way of the dreams of a blank book?

I love the linen-like feeling of the pages, and between each page is this thick tracing paper kind of sheet...won't it be luscious...So I decided to cover it in some fabric and make it into a kind of paper dollhouse. I want to keep pages of my dreams for the home of my heart in here. I want to put paper dolls in it. I want to draw pictures of things.
It needs to be a "I'm-getting-this-come-hell-or-high-water" kind of book.

And so I covered it in pewter grays and buttery creams...but kitty wanted to help...constantly.
Finally I finished it, and I just love the colors! It is something I could keep out and look at and add to, and draw in, and it wouldn't be distracting to me...that was important.

I did the inside pages with buttonhole thread to keep the fabric tight.

I love how it looks!

And now I have begun.


sarah said...

Oh, so much that touches my heart here. I love how you call your scrapbook a "paper dollhouse". That's beautiful! And I love the fabric cover. And I love the relationship you have with your mother, how special. Her weblog is as lovely as yours. And I especially love what you wrote about houses - I agree with you completely.

Jacqueline said...

I'm so excited to watch this journey of yours! Its not so much that we need 'things' in our life as we need 'things that matter'. When people get all 'zen', as you mention, it's really about discarding all the stuff that isn't central to who they are.
These things you speak of are part of you.

katiebird said...

The 'zen' I'm talking about is the kind my friends talk about...just being happy where you are and loving what is. I am usually happy with everything as it is, in a general sense. This time, I'm tired of waiting for it to just "unfold" and want it now...I was being a bit tongue in cheek and loads of sassy ;)

Victoria said...

I love how this book'The Hidden House' has touched your life in such a beautiful way...I have had a dream journal for many years now, a precious book that I paste anything and everything in that speaks to me and touches my heart, I love looking through it, its first pages are loose and fall out of the book when I pick it up now, but it makes it more beautiful. I have never covered it, but you have inspired me to find something beautiful that I love the feel of to wrap it up in... I think I am going to make a beautiful bag to place it in...thank you for the inspiration.

Graciel @ Evenstar Art said...

a paper dollhouse?? i'm in love!!! this is so perfect for you, dear katie. a dollhouse to carry and cradle in your arms. all the better to share your dreams with others!

i'm thrilling at how we each are choosing a different, authentic approach to the idea of a dollhouse and making it into a reflection of our dreams.

a "dollhouse project' badge is coming soon.

love, graciel