Magic Feathers

Jude Hill creates a community with thread, needle and cloth to serve children

Jude Hill’s Magic Feather Project inspires exciting and compelling collaboration between textile artists from all over the world, all in the name of creating tools for healing children dealing with trauma.

In her thoughtful, labor-intensive fabric-based art practice, Jude creates hand stitched story cloths and quilts that touch us deeply. Explaining how they reach deep into the consciousness of viewers (and touchers) requires simile: Just like a cellist preparing for a concert, the first meeting of hand, bow and string may be shaded with tremors and adjustments. As the musician warms to her task, there is a realization that her whole body must be involved.  She tilts her head, relaxes her feet into the ground, and listens: player and cello both begin to open, their co-produced sound radiating warmth. Slowly the magic happens, with only cello and player in relationship, but everyone within reach resonating with the notes. The response is joy.

It is this same magic Jude offers to students around the world. Instead of a cello, we have cloth. Instead of strings and a bow, we have needle and thread.  Storycloths, rendered from the combination of one’s own inner life and the unique and original teaching skills that Jude generously shares, have found a place in the hearts of a new global community of artists and makers.

Jude’s personal symbol and signature is the magic feather. It has always been a part of Jude, and came into its stitched form during her early cloth work. People from all over the world heard about Jude's creative methods of stitching and through her blog, Spritcloth. Jude's voice is welcoming and encourages vital exploration of one's own truth in textiles.  Her hands move skillfully as she teaches, in concert with her voice, until one is so moved by her gentle spirit and kindness that we begin to touch our own deep, often buried, treasures that wait for the soul's expression. It is a gift to be able to learn from a teacher who continues to learn herself, and who shares both her revelations and difficulties.

Jude Hill decided to broaden her magic feather symbol into a project that will benefit, and be gifted to, children. She asked, through her Spiritcloth blog, whether people could stitch their own version of her magic feather, and share the results so that she could assemble them into a textile made with love, with healing intentions, with hope. The textile would be gifted to a place, or an individual, in need of these magic feathers.

The first place to receive a Magic Feather Cloth will be my Toronto studio, where I work with children around the world who have experienced trauma so that they might start their journey toward inner healing and wholeness. The children who come for therapy are from many different cultures.  One important vehicle for their healing, is to work with, touch, play, and connect with handmade textiles created by people from all over the world. When a child connects with the cloth they have chosen, a process of deep healing unfolds. The textiles offer courage, a deep trust of elements both visible and unseen, and an experience of transformation.

Jude’s call to participate was answered with joy. She received nearly 1,000 magic feathers within several months. They flew in from adults, children, and elders living in all parts of the world. She will stitch the feathers onto a larger cloth, with more added details as she goes along. When finished, children will have a chance to wrap themselves in the love, good intentions, and healing wishes of the many makers who helped the cloth take shape.

The world wrestles with issues of power every day, contributing to a hierarchy that develops harm instead of consideration and sustainability. Creativity, through the initiative and teachings of Jude Hill and a worldwide community of makers, is an example of how the balance of power can shift. The Magic Feather Project has become known throughout the world as an ambassador for kindness in action. The Magic Feather Project holds it own by the strength of its makers and their compassion for the children who wait for the arrival of a many-feathered storycloth.

You can follow the progress of the Magic Feather Project on Jude's blog, spiritcloth.typepad.com/. For more on Wendy Golden-Levitt’s use of textiles as a vehicle for healing, see http://handeyemagazine.com/content/textile-therapy-0 and http://handeyemagazine.com/content/hope-arrived-yesterday.

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