I went to summer camp in June. I designed it my self. First I spent days with my writing sisters at the International Women’s Writing Guild summer conference where I wrote and wrote and followed the siren song of wonderful teachers like June Gould, Eunice Scarfe and Jan Phillips. Then I drove northeast to Medway, MA for a four day workshop called “Rehearsing Wisdom: Nourishing and Planting Seeds of Hope Amid Chaos- The Making and Keeping of a Paste Paper Journal” with Joy Seidler. I discovered many new things at my summer camp. One of them is Kate Lamontange. Along with Kate, I deepened my love for my friend Joy and sparked with the other women in our session.
I met Joy two years ago at an intimate long weekend of art making with my friends out on the Cape. Eight of us, including Paulus Berensohn shared art techniques with each other, poetry and deep story in a community circle. For a few days of heaven, we walked the woods and opened our art journals to find that this rare group of people all made similar hand-bound journals as our landing place, a gathering place of ideas, inspirations and meanderings. Paulus refers to what we do in these journals as ‘effluviations’.
Joy has since been on my soul train, sharing poetry and solstice greetings and invitations to each others events. This summer, the timing worked out that I could be in Medway and paint many many sheets of paste paper, sing in our sacred circle and hand bind 4 journals. I knew no one in the group of 16 women who gathered. Many where teachers associated with Joy over her 30 plus years of teaching in that school system. One was a young art teacher who had been a student of Joy’s. Some had taken this workshop with Joy for the fifteen years she has offered it. Me? I was there as the newbie.
Then I met Kate.
At a table near mine was a minor miracle of a woman named Kate Lamontange. She made music as she walked, her jewelry tinkling with her gait. Her joy was palpable and when I saw how she began to paint her papers I was smitten.
Turns out we have many similar threads running through our lives like extensive involvement with fiber arts, we each have a daughter, we journal, and have a passion for doodling. Kate is a painter and activist for women engaging in art they love. She runs a gorgeous gift shop. Kamala Boutique, in Holliston, MA, which she designed with her husband, converting a small house in a sweet town in to a two-storied building with a studio on the second floor where Kate holds women’s circles and does her own art work. There is room up there for fabric, yarn, easels and a bird in a cage. Sewing machines, photographs, projects in various stages, and a near circle of couches and pillows all beckon an eye hungry for beauty.
Then, in the shop downstairs, you cannot help but get lost. Colors, jewels, paintings, angels and fabrics, papers, pens all in a well curated display make the shop an adventure for the senses. Circling the top rail of the wall, a paper chain of colorful loops winds around the room. This prayer chain links names and places and people with the love that encircles this whole place. At the register, if you mention that the gift you are purchasing is for a friend who needs cheering up or a new baby or a graduate, Kate sticks a pen in your hand and gestures to the basket of these slips of colored paper upon which you are warmly invited to write the person’s name or concern. Kate has added and added to this paper chain for the years and has stories about how these prayers have joyfully supported people she has never met.
Did I mention her joy?
During our days together creating paste papers, covering book boards, assembling signatures for the books then sewing the covers and signatures together with a Coptic stitch, we each revealed personal stories and songs to each other. The work of making these books was imbued with a love and tenderness, and a certain vulnerability that is revealed when women sit together in a sacred circle. Much like the prayer chain in Kate’s shop, our books were imprinted stories, one woman’s story of a very special beech tree in her life or another’s saga with a greedy rabbit in her vegetable patch. We hummed and sang and discovered the beauty of the word ‘enchant’- to en-chant is to infuse with song.
Our books are enchanting and enchanted.
And, it is Paulus who implores us to let our books ‘seduce’ us.
I shared a meal with Joy on one of the evenings I was in Medway. I cut in to fresh bok choy from her CSA share and was intrigued by the pattern in the base of the stalk. I printed on some of my book pages with the base of the bok choy and it revealed a moon shape that I love.
Kate created a large stack of books that week. She even covered one book with a cut-up sweater that never got completed. Her paste papers were full of her enthusiasm for color. On our last morning together, we sat sewing our books, talking about travels and doodling and lapsed in to song whenever one of us offered up a note.
Kate is a certified Zentangle® trainer, (CZT). I will give you the official Zentangle paragraph here.
The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.
Zentangle® is a trademarked way of approaching doodling and it is an intriguing resource for someone who would like to jump start deeper doodling. Readers of LLD know Paulus and I share a passion for doodling. Here is a cover illustration Paulus did for his friend Mary Oliver’s book of poetry, Red Bird.
Paulus calls this kind of drawing ‘taking a line for a walk’. At the Sol LeWitt exhibit at MASS MOCA, you can see miles of lines being taken for very intentional walks. I doodle every day as a way to invite the stillness that allows me a freer voice in my writing and artwork. It centers me, draws me in, dot by line by berry shape and I am enchanted.
Here is a photo of some of the Zentangle® work Kate did with a group of women in a workshop at her shop in July. What do you love more? The drawings or the hands?
“Being caught in the act of making” loosens your grip on outcome and everything about you relaxes and your smile widens with happiness.
What I found striking about Kate is her joy in sharing what she does with the world. This soul-full generosity reveals a sense of bounty; there are plenty of ideas and space for each person’s authentic voice to be expressed. Once you engage in any act of creativity, you tap in to your soul’s presence, no matter what art form you play with. This creates joy, plain and simple. (Look for a post about Taylor Mali and his soul-full poetry in the next days.)
It is not the art so much as the making that creates this space of joy in us. And, Kate’s full vibrant being is an example of a woman engaged in her art making and in sharing her light. Kate allows that joy to impact every decision she makes- how she designed her place of business, who she does business with and how, what she offers her customers and students, her friends and new friends like me. There are bigger ideas to be explored here, but for today, let Kate’s joy touch your life.
Here is what you will find on her business card:
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared. -Buddha
This shows Joy with Marika who is an artist creating some magical things that I will tell you about later this summer. Marika’s books are gorgeous, as you can see.
This huge post is packed with nourishment for a few days.
Doodling….summer camp…new women…Shiloh’s idea of a woman being the ‘Queen of her Own Heart’…Zentangle®…paste paper…palpable joy….Joy Seidler….Paulus Berensohn…texture…Lighted candles…
Pray, tell me, what lights you up today?
Would you share it here on the Laundry Line? Your comments make me so happy!
If this post is a candle for you, please send it on to someone who could use some light today.
With blueberry love,