The Studio

I want to tell you the story of how The Frayed Edge Studio came to be.  It's a long story, but the best part is the ending, so I hope you'll bear with me.  
What is a frayed edge?  What causes a frayed edge?  Frayed edges bring different thoughts and visions to the minds of different people.   As far as the name of my studio goes, well, the representation is multi-faceted and can be tied to me in so many ways.  I want to share it with you so you'll have a better understanding of who I am and what I do.
It was close to 5 years ago, in the middle of a sleepless night, that I clearly remember God laying The Frayed Edge Studio on my heart.   I had no thoughts of even having a studio or business at that time, but I had the unmistakable knowing that only God can give one of His children, that at some point I would have a business to name, and that it was to be called The Frayed Edge Studio.  
An obvious way frayed edges can relate to art is the beautiful frayed fibers on the deckle edge of a piece of paper.  I love watercolors, and there is nothing as lovely to me as a fine piece of heavy watercolor paper with its beautiful texture and ragged, feathered edge.  The paper is created with this's part of the process.  Sometimes the deckle edge is cut off leaving a clean edge, but if left, it becomes a true part of the art that will be painted on its surface.  I love this.
A second thing that can absolutely have frayed edges, and one that I have experience with, is a person's nerves.  Typical events of a an ordinary day can often grate on one's nerves.  I have four children who can be little darlings at times, all getting along while playing a game, watching a movie, having a conversation.  Those same four children can instantly turn on each other for no reason at all!  I'll hear arguing about whose turn it is to pick what is watched, arguing about who is going to sit in the front seat when we're in the car, arguing about who wants to unload the dishwasher and who doesn't, arguing about who was the last one to do some dreaded chore that I'm calling to be done.  (Now that I'm putting it in black and white, it's easy to see that the reason the arguing takes place at my house is because of selfishness!)   Maybe the puppy has had yet another accident in the house, maybe there was a crayon left in the pocket of something that's been through the dryer, maybe the lawn mower won't start and I don't know get the picture.  The everyday moments that make up our active home, and ones my grandmother once wisely told me that I'd look back at fondly one day as being the best of my life, those moments can have me beside myself at times.  Being able to walk in the room in my home that I call "the studio" and dive into some paints is soothing to those frayed nerves.  Often, it's in these times that I find myself painting with my fingers...painting with no thought as to what I'm even painting.  The love of art and the process of making art that God placed in me is soothing to my nerves.  
Fabrics are something else that can be very frayed.  They can be frayed for different reasons.  I love fabric.  At the age of three, I watched my mother (while I was supposed to be napping) as she cut out patterns that were pinned to fabric.  She just cut around the lines, and then sewed around the edges, and voilà sister and I had matching sundresses.  At least that's how simplistic it was in my mind.  I knew that when I was old enough to use real scissors, I would start cutting and sewing around the edges of my own clothes.  And I did.  I was the proud recipient of my very own Singer sewing machine on Christmas morning of my 5th grade year.  I can vividly remember going to Hancock Fabric's right there off Broadway Drive with my mother, grandmother, and sister.  The smell of the fabric and the sound of the buzzing fluorescent lights as we picked out fabrics and patterns for my first project can be instantly replayed in my mind.  I made a jumper and blouse that was red and white with little hearts.  It had little heart buttons. The stitching that ran along the edging on the waistband was like a curvy red line a child had carelessly drawn with crayons, but I was so proud of it.   I wore it on Valentines Day to my school's Valentine party.   The other "first outfit" was a skirt made of a large plaid print and a matching tan top.  The buttons were little brown giraffes.  Those were the first of  many things I made at the dining room table on that Singer machine.  As an adult, I enjoyed making clothes for my children, bedding and window treatments for their nurseries and bedrooms, baby bags, toys, etc.  At one time, I even used that same 22+ year old Singer to make purses and bags that were sold to bring extra spending money to our home.  Sewing all those bags proved to be the eventual end of that Singer, but it sure was a good one.  My sewing room was often covered with the scraps of fabric and the tiny frayed edges that had been cut and trimmed.  
During the pregnancy of my second child, I decided I wanted to learn to smock.  I took a smocking class.  I learned during this time how necessary it was that the edge of the fabric that would be run through the pleating machine be completely and absolutely on the straight of the grain.  This is achieved by tearing the fabric and letting it rip along the threads.  It creates a lovely fray.   Working with fabrics, and the frayed edges that result from cutting or stripping, is a love of mine, as well as a part of who I am.  
Fabrics can be frayed in even different ways, too.  Ways that aren't from intentional cuts or tears.  When I think of the term frayed edge in this way,  I immediately think of a quilt that my sister and I grew up sleeping with.  It was hand-pieced by my great grandmother, and later hand-quilted by my mother, both of my grandmothers, and a dear neighbor.  I remember being a very young girl sitting underneath the quilt as these dear ladies quilted around the edges of the frame.  It just looked like a big sheet of blue from underneath, but I loved watching as the stitches slowly spread.  I'd crawl out and peek at the top of it sometimes, but I loved being under the "tent" and listening to the talking that went on among them.  I was especially pleased when one of them would drop a safety pin and I could retrieve it and return it to them.  
The quilt top had been pieced together by MawMaw Hortense many years before.  The fabrics that the top contained were very old, I believe from the 1930's.  Something about this quilt made me love it.  It was beautiful.  Bubble gum pinks and blues, calico prints with bright yellows and reds, corals, turquoise, black and white.  It just looked happy to me.  The cotton fabrics were so worn and soft.  My sister and I shared a room...a room with a huge window unit that was used to cool most of our home.  The loud sound of that cold air paired with the feel of that quilt around my face and neck as I would burrow into the bed just made for some absolutely wonderful childhood memories of feeling safe and secure.
As I would study that quilt at times, I noticed certain fabrics that seemed to be tearing and thinning.  It saddened me that it was appearing to be worn out in spots when I really wanted to use it forever.  I would have the thought occasionally that I shouldn't use it every night, that maybe we should keep it on a shelf to make it last longer.  But every night, when we'd shimmy up under those freezing sheets, nothing would do but to pull that quilt over our bed.  I loved it, plain and simple.  
Well. As you can imagine, the already delicate fabrics that the quilt top contained continued to fray.   One particular pattern seemed to disintegrate at one point.  You could only see the cotton batting on those squares, with only the remaining threads of the fabric sewn into what had been the seam of the quilt block.  It never kept me from using it.  
So this story of the life of a quilt, something that just about everyone probably has in their own life, a quilt no doubt made of fabrics discarded from worn out homemade dresses and scraps of fabric used to make those dresses.  I like to imagine that the dresses were well-loved, some of them favorites of my great-grandmother and the loved ones who wore them.  The quilt surely was a favorite.  It was favored and loved by me.  These lovely fabrics that were worn by some, used by others...well, they were loved, they were used.  The more they were loved, the more they were used.  Or maybe the other way around...the more they were used, they more they were loved?  No matter, it was the loving and continued use that caused the wearing and fraying of the edges.  The fraying of the edges becomes a representation of the history and love of the quilt.  The frayed edges are a cherished part of it.
I have a tendency to want to protect things and keep them "like-new" forever.  In order to really keep things from being worn and tattered, you would have to refrain from using them, right?  I imagine that same beloved quilt had it never been used.  It may certainly have remained in a better condition for many many years had my mother simply folded it and placed it on a top shelf somewhere in our closet.  I'd most likely have forgotten that it even existed.  What made it so worn and frayed was all the love and use it received.  Had it been unused and "like-new," it wouldn't have been dearly loved by any.  
In life, we are certain to encounter events, circumstances, and storms that fray the edges of who we are, or at least of who we think we are.  I believe that we have the opportunity while weathering those storms, for our all-gracious Father to look down on us with a love for those frayed edges that have been formed.  If we are faithful to obey Him, and if we have complete faith that His promises are true, then the fraying events that we face bring us closer to Him.  I'm no different than anyone.  I've weathered some storms. Big storms. Honestly, if I was able to hand-pick and chose exactly what would happen in my life, or in the life of those I love dearly, I wouldn't have ever chosen these particular storms.  In complete contrast to that, I can also say with complete sincerety, that I wouldn't trade these storms for anything.  The most precious things...the most exciting things...things that can't be touched, bought, or replaced...I've learned these because of and during these storms.  The power and sovereignty of our Creator.  The true peace and comfort that only He can supply.  The living power of His Word.  The unmistakable will He wants to show us and make clear to us when we ask which step to take.  The assurance that nothing can harm us when He's holding us in His hands...the same hands that hold the world in place.  He loves us.  He speaks to us.  I'm so very grateful that I've had the experience of drawing closer to my Savior.  Those frayed edges of my life, the ones these storms have given me...I value those worn places.  I see them as a thing of beauty.  They're a gift to me.  They're a gift to my children. I want us to see the frayed edges of our lives as a reminder of what God has brought us through.  If I find myself on a mountaintop experience one day down the road, I want to see these frayed edges and remember the desperation I have felt as I've been on my knees crying out to Him during these times...crying out to God because He is truly my All.  I want to always feel that desperation for Him.  He wants us to be dependent totally on Him, in the storms, but also on those mountaintops that He will bring us to.
This is just one of the aspects of what a frayed edge can be, but it is the image I believe the Lord knew I'd come to see when He gave me the name of The Frayed Edge Studio.  Our life, as frayed and worn as it may be, is such a thing of love and beauty if we stand on God's promises and let him lead us through what He allows in our lives.  The joy of what He has done, is doing, and will do in my life is so overwhelming that I feel like I can't contain it.  I want to share it.  I pray that I live every day looking for the opportunity to thank Him with the way I live my life and the decisions I make.   I want to praise Him in the good, praise Him the storms, but praise Him with complete abandon in all things.  If you haven't been in a storm or circumstance that has frayed the edges of your life, just keep on living.  I fondly remember Bro. Bob saying that in his years at Kirby Woods Baptist Church.
One last look at what a frayed edge means to me, and then I'll end.  This season of my life, the season that has frayed my edges, frayed my nerves, and brought me to a new place in my walk with God, it also brought with it another beautiful gift.  It was during this time that I had the desire to buy paints and paint brushes and see what would happen if I attempted to paint.  I had a strong desire to paint after not doing so for 20 years.  I had been so doubtful of any talent I had.  I was afraid trying to paint would reveal the fact that I couldn't paint.  I had no idea how important the therapy and release that comes from painting would be in the days that would come.  I also had no idea what a time of healing and worship I can experience when I close myself off in my studio and turn up my favorite praise songs, praying and painting, letting The Lord bring promises and scriptures to my mind and to my heart.  My frayed nerves and worries are healed during these sweet times. Somehow this experience becomes part of the painting I'm working on.  He opens my eyes to things in what I know sounds weird and crazy to others when I say it aloud or try to explain.  I can't explain this experience, but I'm so thankful for what it means to me!
It's also in the desire for painting that God put in me, and my obedience to Him in stepping out of my place of doubt for myself, that God is using this very thing I love as the means to provide  for my family!  In my wildest dreams I couldn't have ever imagined that I would have the opportunity for something I love and enjoy doing to be such a significant part of my life.  I'm not a trained artist, other than the classes I took in high school with a wonderful and encouraging teacher.  I was so quick for so long to negate any skills or qualifications I had as an artist and point out to others that I wasn't qualified.  God kindly used a couple of my dear friends to show me that He equips us with what He knows we will need.  He gave me my desires and talents.  That qualifies me to do what He sets me to do.  It's amazing what He can do with us when we get out of His way!
Right now, He is opening doors and allowing me to do what I love, using it in a way that is bigger than I would ever have guessed, prompting me to share with others what glorious things He has done in my life.  He wants to do glorious things in everyone's life!  He wants each of us to reflect the joy and light of His presence within us.  He has a glorious plan for each of us...a plan that He knew before He created us...a plan that He has wonderfully made us for...and a plan that He will lead us through.  I don't want to miss one little part of it, because I know His plan is so much better than anything I could ever figure out.    His plan for me has included these frayed edges, good and bad.  That is the story of how The Frayed Edge Studio came to be.