Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Phnom Penh, Cambodia "We sat on the floor for a morning and afternoon  session at Sak Saum. We asked them for fabrics scraps because they make the purses. It was fun to see them take the straps and make something beautiful out if them. I read them the book of Ruth and then shared my story rope. Then we laid out all the ribbons we had brought and they added their fabrics. We cut long stips of their fabric."

"The most amazing thing was to watch the blind girl smell and touch ribbons and fabrics in order to do her story rope. And she was the first one to share her story! Her story is very hard, one of abuse and violation. However her last 2 strips of fabric were of musical notes and guitars. She put those on because now she has Jesus."

"Story ropes are good care bridges, even for the blind. Many shared, each were prayed for and one thanked us even though she said she could not share right now."  from Marcia Carole (on left)

Sak Saum is about a changed life...seeing people set free and empowered for their future. They believe the cycles of trafficking, abuse, poverty and despair can be broken. They believe change is possible - they see it every day.  Look at their beautiful website, to see their beautifully designed pocket books, wallets and scarves and all about their ministry. Total quality.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I first heard about quipus in a story rope workshop in Lima, Peru. 

Later on our teaching trip to Peru, Cathy and I visited the Museo Larco.  There in one of the showcases were quipus!  

Quipus were the main system employed by the ancient Inca culture to record information and events. The knotted cords were used to record countable information. 

The colors, knots and distances between the knots enabled those who used the quipus to identify the type of object or the characteristics of the population being recorded.

photos in film grain

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making Story Ropes in the ION Create Zone

Story ropes @International Orality Network Conference  2nd of 2 posts  
In the middle of the Create Zone, surrounded by God's Story Rope going around the walls of the room, was a table top loaded with story rope materials.  

Individuals were encouraged to come around the table to make a story rope about their own life or a Bible character.  

And then of course they told their stories.  
(That's the part I love best in these workshops!)

Judy Powell (top photo-in yellow) did a great job planning the story rope sessions and organizing the whole Create Zone!

Thank you to Jolene Wilson, the source of this post. She was on the ground at the ION Conference, experiencing and photographing. Jolene shared the how-to of story ropes with Judy Powell, who took the idea and developed it for the conference. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Story Ropes @ International Orality Network Conference

1st of 2 posts-Story ropes at 2013 ION conference, International Orality Network Conference, St. Louis, MO  
Judy Powell of Houston, TX coordinated the Create Zone during the conference.
Entering the Create Zone room, this is what you saw…Paul Neeley’s pictures of the crucifixion from all over the world in different styles.  Above that was God’s story rope with other ropes attached…starting in eternity past–going to eternity future–with the various milestones between.
Thank you, Jolene Wilson, for being the eyes on the ground, taking the pictures at ION! 

Monday, October 7, 2013


Continued from previous post:

After creating their story ropes, the girls sat and listened to all their lives unfold in fabric. 

Later Martha (on right) said this:
Someone told me that the people of this culture, this village, lack imagination - that they think in terms of black and white - right and wrong - yes and no.  

If that's true, maybe it's because their imagination was never sparked. 

Because just look at the way these girls respond to a good story. Nobody's personal story is EVER black and white. 

Makes me wonder and imagine.


My friend, Martha, headed down to Caraballo, Dominican Republic (DR) on her second mission trip. Her assignment, along with others on her team, was working with the young Dominican girls in the sewing room. 

In preparation for the trip, Martha brought friends to my studio to see some creative ideas for what they might do in the Dominican sewing room with the girls.  On their studio visit I taught them the story rope process - a way for the young girls to tell their story. 

Several donated bags of scraps were collected & brought down to the DR to use for the ropes.  Yes, they were going to make story ropes!

Photos: In the DR experiencing the story rope process.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tell Them Your Story

(The story continues from the previous 2 posts) 
My friend called one day to see if she could bring her visiting family members over. We sat in the living room with a big world atlas and located where each family member is from in India.  

Then my friend turned to me and said, "Tell them your story".  "But I don't have my rope." "Tell them your story" she repeated. "OK." And I did - growing up in alcoholic home, journey through depression, feeling hopeless, rebuilding my trust and faith in Jesus - the whole transparent story. 

We eventually made it upstairs where my friend explained the whole Creation quilt story.  Amazing!  Then they discovered their language in the design of the For God So Loved quilt. 
Of course they wanted to see the story ropes having heard so much about them.  I brought out mine and one made in Rwanda. That called for telling my story yet again!  There was much discussion in the studio.

(They wanted their photo taken with the story ropes.)

Before leaving, I gave them Creation & For God So Loved quilt postcards. They asked for extras to share with their friends back in India. Great! I handed out more! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

INDIA and AMERICA 2 Distinct Parts To Her Story

(Story continued from previous post.)
My Indian friend, came over two days to work on her story rope. She told me her life story on that first day. But all she had time to do was cut a very long strip of filmy orange sari fabric - orange, a prominent color on her flag. 

The story she told - her story - was so culturally different from my own. It had 2 distinct and very different parts - the years lived in India and the years here in America after she married.
The second day she cut ribbons & sari fabric strips to tie to the filmy orange 'rope'. Again she told me her story. At times she stopped her story to ask me about mine. She was very interested in my faith journey through the darkness. She pressed me. How did I arrive at hope? A Hindu listening to a follower of Jesus telling her story through the darkness...back to trusting God - a conversation that started with a story rope.

She continued making her story rope.  It was all so fascinating. Even how she assigned color choices to communicate each segment of her life story were exotic & unfamiliar to me.  I sat in rapt attention listening once again to her story as she cut and tied pieces on to her long orange story rope. Upon completion, she told her story once again before she pinned it to the work wall for this picture. (2nd of 3 posts)
Next post: my friend brings her relatives to visit. 

Friends From India Come To Visit

A few years ago, our Indian friends brought their friends visiting from India over for lunch. Afterward we moved to the living room. Knowing they would eventually ask about my art, I had a couple collage journals and my story rope on the coffee table.  

As we sat on the couch, my friend pointed to my story rope and asked, "What is that?"  Picking it up I said, "Oh that is my story rope. It is my story. Would you like to hear it?"  The answer was yes and I told my story transparently as I always do, ribbon by ribbon.  

Themes of growing up in an alcoholic home, artistic talent, faith in Jesus, the nations, marriage, children, a long bout of depression, loss of hope and rebuilding faith are in my rope.  

My friend speaks English but not her friend, so she retold my story to her friend their language. 

My friend was very interested in the depression part of my story and said "I want you to teach me to make one of those."  

We made a date to do just that.  To be continued...(1st of 3 posts)
Nelson and I with our friends - photoshopped with dry brush filter. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

INDIA Hard Parts Brought to Light (3rd of 3 posts)

The women who made the story ropes in India were 'workers'. The group was very blessed to have the opportunity to process their own stories through the story rope. There were hard parts in their stories - experiences of violation and loss that were brought to light. After sharing the significance of each ribbon, there was a deeper sense of community among the women - they knew each others' now. Ahead they will use this fabric art form as they care for many women in India. 
See all 3 India posts.

Thankyou, Marcia for your India story!
Click for Marcia's Creative Call blog post about story ropes in India

INDIA Women Secretly Eager to Share (2nd of 3)

I think India must be a hard place to live, even to visit. I did not see it first hand, my friend Marcia did. But I do follow daily reports of the International Justice Missionsecuring justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. I've noted that so many of their rescues take place in India. 

India is a shame-honor culture - a hostile environment for many of the nation's women and children. Girl babies are aborted at a much higher rate than boys-so girl infanticide is a huge issue. In the news we hear that rape is always blamed on the victim with violent consequences. Domestic violence is common.

It is no wonder Indian women will not talk about their problems.  Secretly they are eager to share their hearts.  Story ropes disarm and make way for gentle, loving and supportive conversation - centered on hope because they are an important part of God's story. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

INDIA Marcia Arrives Prepared to Teach Story Ropes (1st of 3)

My friend, Marcia, was in India for a few weeks in August. 

She arrived prepared to teach workers how to create and use story ropes with women. 

I asked Marcia what are some issues women face in that culture.  A few thoughts: 

Unless they are in a high cast, women are valued much less than men • Women suffer beatings by their husbands •  It is thought that maybe in the next life, a woman will come back as a man, rather than a woman.

Seems like there would be a lot of stories for the rope in India.............more ahead.......

Monday, September 2, 2013

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON God's Story Rope Quilt

On the first night at the retreat center, I explained God's Story Rope Quilt to Kimmy.
It depicts creation, the fall, redemption and how we fit into His timeless story.

All teaching would 'hang' on the themes of this quilt. No matter what our story is, however dark it has been, we are each loved by God and a part of His story. Our past does NOT determine our future.

At the end of the workshop, the women were invited to hang their story ropes on God's Story Rope* in affirmation that they are loved by God and are in His story.

* God's Story Rope - a long golden cord.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON Making Their Ropes

Charise, on our art team, also took great pictures of the women making their story ropes. 

I just came across these and wanted to share them before moving on to Cross Collages.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON Dancing Before Sharing!

A few of the women completed their rope before the end of class that first day. This young woman was pretty excited about the story rope she had just completed. 

Perhaps some of the women would like to share their stories in the remaining class time. We asked. 

One got up and did a dance with her story rope around her neck.  She really got the women going! Then the dancing stopped and she told her story. We stopped taking photos at this point, giving the women privacy as they shared.  Marcia's blog post on making story ropes in Cameroon-as we traveled, teaching together.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON Making Their Story Ropes

Backing up one day, I did not take any pictures of the women creating their story ropes. 

But Marcia, on our team, did! I'm thrilled I can show you the women at work that first day. 

Marcia took a lot of other great pictures from our trip that I'll be posting. Thank you, Marcia!!! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON Day 2 In The Classroom

Day 2 started with showing the women Pathway To Healing, a quilt I used in Rwanda when working with the Genocide survivors. It helped them open up to tell their stories.

World Relief story - using 4 quilts in Rwanda - click here.
There was a little girl in our class. Isn't she cute!?

click on photos to enlarge

Thursday, May 23, 2013

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON Getting Their Materials

Now it was the women's turn to make their own story ropes. 

Charise did a great job teaching the process, so why were only two-thirds of the class getting their materials ? 

I told them that it was perfectly fine if they did not want to make a story rope. BUT......

....I assured them that if they did make a rope, they did not have to share their story.

That seemed to free up the women and they slowly made their way over to the materials table. 

They finished their  ropes and the next day they would be invited to share their  stories...if they wanted to.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON Marcia Shares Her Story Rope

After sharing God's StoryRope quilt, it was Marcia's turn to share her story rope. 

Marcia has a powerful story. It blows away any misconceptions the African women have - that white women have no problems! 

The story rope materials are on the table, ready for the hands on project of making their own story ropes.

Arline is translating.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Day 1. Teaching began by looking at God's Story Rope Quilt, the one I designed and used for teaching in Brazil and Peru.

Through the design across the quilt surface, specifically the golden cord, I taught the Truth that God has always been there. He has never left each of us, no matter how dark and awful our experience has been.

We were expecting to hear tearful, dark stories when they went through the story rope process.  We wanted them to know up front that God is for them and they are each part of His story.  The rest of the teaching would 'hang' on this.

I demonstrated that I am part of God's story, by showing my story rope with it's dark ribbons, when I doubted God was there. Then I held it up by the golden cord on the quilt, representing that God never left me.

Cristina translated. We were off to a good beginning. click on photos to enlarge

Monday, May 20, 2013


I will be sharing the Cameroon experience on 2 blogs.  

This blog, Our Stories, will feature the story telling processes we taught as a way for the women to share their stories.  

The Creative Process blog will feature a variety of people we met and experiences we had in Cameroon. 

Here we are on the lovely veranda overlooking the Catholic retreat center where we were staying and the teaching events were taking place.

We're preparing materials to teach story ropes during the first class with the women.  

We had been to the market the day before to buy fabrics for the project.

in pics - Marge, Charise and Marcia

click for latest Cameroon story on Creative Process blog

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Grau - Piura, Peru  (3 of 3 posts)
February  23, 2013

Cathy teaching with my quilt, God's Story Rope. 

Holding up their finished ropes at the end of the evening. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Grau Allianza Church - Piura, Peru (2 of 3 posts)   February 23, 2013
At the story rope workshop, this fellow wore his as a tie.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Grau - Piura, Peru (1 of 3 posts)
February 22, 2013

Flew back to Piura and presented at the Grau Allianza church. We had 50 women and men. They filled the room. 

I started out the teaching, sharing my story rope. Our friend Brenda translated. Then they made their story ropes.