When I was a child, I had the most mysterious and unexplainable fear of the loose strings that would hang suspended from my clothes. I suppose I thought they were spiders? Whatever the reason, I would scream at the sight of them as my mother would patiently cut them off. She began saving them. In time, she had a large, colorful pile of these strings she called Ravlins.

One day, I was home sick from school with Scarlet Fever. I was horribly bored. She brought out the Ravlins, a piece of cardboard and some glue. Together, we made a beautiful picture from these variously colored strings. The greens became grass and trees. The blues became sky. The browns, tree trunks and gentle cows in the field. The reds, a stately barn.

The Ravlins, cast off from my dresses, fearful spider wanna-bees, became something beautiful! Finding new ones became an exciting promise of yet a new picture. I began picking and pulling strings (on my clothes and others) to give myself more material to work with. Finally, my mother went to the fabric department at People’s, and bought spools of thread just for this purpose.

For several months I worked on these string projects, going through spool after spool of thread. Landscapes, seascapes, several modern art pieces that I would explain to anyone who asked. At eight years old I had an active imagination. “This piece shows the sunlight filtering through the rain forest.” String. String glued on to the thin cardboard that my mother’s nylons were packaged in.

In time, we moved away and my masterpieces in string got left behind, filling up a landfill somewhere, I suppose. But they served a purpose. Finding joy and artistic expression in whatever lays at hand. Even the strings that hang from a skirt can do magical things.