Three Xs…

thomas-knauer-sews-mrs-mouse

Yesterday, when we turned over the house to the family sub-letting our house for the year, they brought a couple of gifts for Babbit and Bee. Bee, quickly fell in love with Mrs. Mouse, pictured above…

And today, when I was driving Bee to day camp, she informed me from her safety bubble in the back seat that Mrs. Mouse has three Xs. When I asked her why they might be there she seemed genuinely stumped for a while, and thought and thought. Then, she informed me quite confidently that, “they show where the buried treasure is.”

Furthermore, she explained that there were two chocolate coins (one for her and one for Mama), a milk coin for Babbit, and a potassium salt one for me. Since she knows that I cannot have sugars or sodium she is frequently concerned about me having treats, which means potassium salt (our substitute for table salt when cooking).

At first I was delighted by the fact that she made sure there was a treat for everyone, but quickly moved on to mild horror over the idea of treasure being buried in Mrs. Mouse. But then it made sense…

You see, Bee was trying to symbolically justify those three Xs. They didn’t seem like buttons to her because Mrs. Mouse isn’t wearing clothing, but they had to have some purpose. She doesn’t get Xs as kisses yet, but even that doesn’t quite seem to fit. Hell, I’m kinda stumped by their existence. So, she went to the only other reason she could think of for Xs, they mark the treasure on pirate maps; thus she assigned the only symbolic value she could come up with for X in this new position. The significance of X as guidepost outweighed the oddness of its position on Mrs. Mouse’s body. And anyway, she is totally good with stuffed animals being symbolic rather than literal beings anyway…

So, this got me to thinking once again. Those simple Xs are so loaded with symbolic value in Bee’s head, and now significantly flavor her relationship to Mrs. Mouse as they reveal her love for and interactions with us, her family. That is the nature of forms, they are never simply what they are; an X can never just be an X. That is what I love about quilting; its forms are drawn out from objects and experiences. Our quilting vocabulary is never simple; it is resonant with myriad abstractions. Quilts speak not just because of our passions and labor, but because of the complex vocabulary of symbolic forms and histories that underpin almost every aspect of the practice.

Every quilt is in some way just like Mrs. Mouse and her three Xs, or at least they can be. In going beyond the formal to the conceptual, the historical, the symbolic makers don’t simply engage in abstract not, esoteric conversations, they tap into the profound resonances that open of vast reservoirs of meaning…

So thank you, Mrs. Mouse. I think I needed that lesson today…

Best,
-t

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2 Responses to Three Xs…

  1. 1
    Maggie Magee says:

    Well, now it all makes sense–thanks to Bee, Mrs. Mouse and you!

  2. 2

    Well, thank Mrs. Mouse, Bee and you for such a lovely lesson – I also needed it today!
    All the best to you, Marija

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