Tuesday, January 25, 2011
A little post about the Found Cloth.
My first instinct was to isolate its beautiful marks by weaving it with the shiniest, finest, whitest damask I could find. My in-laws recently gave me a set of their old people's linen towels, with permission to do what I wished.
But. To my mind, this path would make Found Cloth a thing of beauty alone. And it just isn't. It is part of a hard and chaotic life- not only is this something left behind by a person following a tragic path, it also turns out to be a hospital sheet.
This chaos, this hardship is all part of its beauty. Certainly the life it was part of is responsible for some of its beauty- it would not have been out rough in the elements, in the little strip of meadow that runs along the train tracks, gathering marks and colour but for that life.
So. I worked some of the best parts of Found Cloth into a panel last night-it is the third panel from the top in the photo. I used a pattern I made on Jude Hill's weaving assistant that would feature big chunks of Found Cloth's marks. I used lace trims, pillow cases and tablecloths-very obviously domestic textiles- to make its background. Like Found Cloth, they are marked and dyed with flowers, berries, sunshine and rust. Some of the dye stuff comes from the same meadow where I found Found Cloth in fact.
At the bottom of this whole long piece, I'm adding three points- woven- which I will trim with my collection of found and shell buttons...I wove one up quickly, below. Lost/found buttons! Like Found Cloth!
I think I want Found Cloth's beauty to be derived from its bigger more complex story, not just its looks. I want it to be a story that refers to 'home' as much as 'not home'; about the beauty of the place it was lost as much as the risks of life out rough. I want it to be discarded and cherished, lost and found.
Monday, January 24, 2011
So, the bag started out as a simple woven piece
(intentionally rescued the stain there; apple is decorative).
Then I added a border, which you can see in the next picture of the bag folded up before stitching. You fold it like a diaper?
When it's done, well you can do anything you want to it. I appliqued letters on to this one, as you can see in the finished photo?
I hope this helps! Let me know if you make one, I would love to see it.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I'm revising this post to say that I think this is a string heddle loom, which explains something I couldn't understand just looking at it. And, I have found a video about looms of this type, so I'm on my way!
(Once CWB is done, unless I can work it in...)
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I pieced this together from pieces mined from an old quilt top (it fell apart in the previous post...) The big diamonds that made up the final, exposed 'top' on this old quilt were about 30% intact, though all had heavily worn and abraded areas.
I picked out the ones with white dots on navy, and recomposed them on a base made of a double layer of yet another garbage-found quilt. (Again, two layers worn down to the cotton batting).
And then I washed it- and lots more fabric was lost. It kept falling apart.
But it still felt like something. So. I added new scraps, found the tails that fit the gaps and added them. And I kind of 'channel quilted' it- with the machine, rows and rows to laminate the old parts onto the backing. Now it's a kind of folding pouch, with a zippered part inside. It feels sturdy now.
For me this has been a study in making things with rags- I left all of the seams open, some I even snipped to encourage yet more fraying and obvious wear. This is shamelessly made from rags held together in defiance of any convention about 'how' to sew, the kind in books or that I learned in Home Economics, or that even my beloved mother tried to teach me when making clothes. Shamelessly made from rags that belong, after all, in the garbage.
More accurately, this has been a study in transcending some of the rules, but also testing my skills. I made a list for myself of the skills I needed to do this, skills that I tested making 'regular' things like clothes and meticulous (though admittedly screw ball) quilts. Things that had to be near reflections of some ideal.
I think I might be free of that. (Insert long interpretive article about Jude Hill's work here!) I may be learning how to sew with the proper level of spontaneity and adaptability to make it a real reflection of the skills I admire in others, that are my inheritance, that I treasure.
This was once a huge (queen?) quilt. I found it in the garbage years ago. It was retired as bedding a couple of years ago because it just couldn't be washed any more- it was coming apart. It was becoming rags.
In September I pulled it out as a candidate for couch cushion batting, but it was too fragile. So, I just let it fall apart, a few tugs here, a snip there. It came apart into no fewer than five layers- a layer made of baby blankets and double flannel sheets, a layer of pieced pink and white patches, a layer of muslin, a central layer of an old white woven coverlet, all sandwiched in a 1930s Dresden plate kind of thing. It was a blanket within a blanket within a blanket.
I have sorted the remnants- patches still holding together on their muslin backing, large plain lining/backing, flannel sheet panels, shreds (to try in paper making).
The original quilt is now gone in any material sense- it is now these separate components, little stacks of rags. I finished a little sewing project last night that I started with some of these components, which will be coming up next. But for now, I think I just wanted to take note of this weird process of taking something apart.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
My mom found this patch, or rather noticed it.
It is on a sheet that was being used as a backdrop for a display of old objects at the 2010 Fall fair in the tiny little town she's from. In the background you can see the shadows of people huddled over other displays.
Once a useful household object, conserved and restored by skilled hands. Passed along to the Ag. Society's barn, pulled out for the Fall fair.
I've been thinking about this photo and object as I get ready for Jude Hill's Contemporary Woven Boro class.
I've been thinking about it as a kind of work of art. It is a monument to the exacting and precise skills it takes to mend a tear; a celebration of the necessity to be adaptable and spontaneous with those skills. No two tears are alike after all...
And thinking about it as a cultural relic, full of meaning to be decoded- it carries a story about changing tastes, changing fortunes and changing patterns of day to day living. An artifact that marks the passage of time.
My attraction to this object and my decoding work, however, make me uncomfortable. Like an 'outsider' inspecting something left behind by a stranger.
But my discomfort is resolved when I remember the moment mom found this: the 'art' in this is in the context. That this mended sheet still belongs, still finds a place within a community's life. What I was lucky enough to witness was not the object, but its continued value as useful. What I witnessed was the continued value of 'patches', and of patching.
I think I'll take this as inspiration.