Janet Brandt’s Little Boxes
Welcome to my 'World of Possibilities'. I tell stories with stitches and my stitches are displayed on curiously shaped boxes.
These boxes are the what 17th century called a caskets. I still remember the moment I first saw 17th century embroidery. It was well over 40 years ago in London's Victoria and Albert Museum and I teared up when I saw them. Many have a wonderful three-dimensional quality, very architectural in nature. They tell lots of different stories. Those stories didn't particularly interest me but the potential to tell my own stories was always brewing in the back of my mind. About five years ago I was introduced to the materials, techniques and history of 17th century embroidery all made available to the contemporary stitcher by Tricia Nguyen. Now was my chance.
My casket stories begin on the top of the box with “Once Upon a Time”. Once is a small girl and Time is her best friend. Time is a winged dog large enough for Once to ride upon. Together they live in a clock tower in the Village. Of course Time flies. Other characters living in the Village are from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. I like to imagine what might have happened to my childhood friends when they grew up, what happened in their ever after.
The front of the casket is the Red House. It is the home of Claire, aka Little Red Riding Hood and William, aka the woodsman. In their home they create tiny theaters and dolls for their business “Fables In Gables”. I had great fun creating the gables of their Red House on the frieze portion of the casket. Traditionally the old embroideries might have great depth but they never extended beyond the flat confines of the casket surface, so mine do.
The other three sides of the casket tell the story of the Golden Rule Mountains. It has two kingdoms. The Princely Dragon lives by the rule “treat others as you would like to be treated” and the Dragon Prince believes “he who has the gold rules”. It is a struggle as old as humankind. The World of Possibilities within the Golden Rule Mountains include an Enchanted Forest filled with tree spirits, Rocketland, Bubbledom, A River of Stars and the Stairpalace. Each of these worlds plays a part in the creative process of learning to live a full life. The rockets speed underground and through the air. Bubbles take you through the process of learning the art of choice. The Stairpalace sends you on your way to that new life. Ruthie and Joseph are just small figures on the back of the casket but have a big part in telling the rest of the story on caskets two and three.