In the Twinkling of an Eye

In the Twinkling of an Eye

Almost 36 years ago, National Geographic magazine published an issue with Steve McCurry’s photo of a young Afghan woman on the cover. Her intense green eyes were so unexpected, and her expression so loaded with hard-to-read emotion, that the photograph has become iconic. Just google “afghan girl” and there she is, after all this time.

Kind of like the Mona Lisa. For six hundred years that sweet, sly woman has been capturing the imagination of her viewers, hundreds of thousands of them—no, millions.  Everyone wonders why. It’s not just the eye contact, as important as that is, because there are paintings and photos galore that deliver that direct connection without capturing our imagination.

Face Value

It must be the stories. The ones we tell ourselves.

Thrums Books are full of faces. The talented photographers we work with have a gift for helping their subjects share their stories with a look.  Here are some of my favorites–what do they say to you? Which is your favorite?


As a species, we’re hard-wired to recognize faces. It’s one of the first things we learn as infants, and we’re not alone. New Caledonian crows—crows!— not only can recognize each other minutely, they can recognize thousands of human faces, even after not having seen them for a year or more. And they can read stories into them, deduce who is mean and who is a friend.  Even pea-brained hummingbirds have facial recognition of the humans who hang out those juicy feeders. (I learned these things and many more in a wonderful book, The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.)

They say that if you gaze into the eyes of another person, maybe even a stranger, for a mere four minutes, you might find yourself in love.  Maybe that’s why I love making the books we do. The people, the faces, just send me head over heels.



Weaving Community

Faces of Tradition

Maya Threads

5 thoughts on “In the Twinkling of an Eye

  1. Jane E Burton says:

    I love them all. They each have a story to tell. We are all connected by the passion we have for fiber arts and our personal traditions. We are all spinning, weaving, and stitching our stories. Hopefully these skills, connections, and stories will continue far into the future.

  2. Jennifer Chung says:

    I would not call the Mona Lisa sly. I think what makes her so iconic is the way she was perceived by her painter. It is the same in every walk of life be it the friends we make , the sights we see, the food we eat , the crafts we take pleasure in creating and discovering.

  3. Judy Frater says:

    Yes! Surely the wonderful faces in Thrums books are what draw you in. And the stories follow up.

  4. Deborah Chandler says:

    And in Traditional Weavers of Guatemala – Their Stories, Their Lives. All beautiful.

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