Every year the wool company Wingham Wool comes to visit my local Guild. it is always very exiting, as it is a bit like wine tasting! It is trial spinning of all the fibres on offer! I was very positively surprised to find a good range of British Sheep Roving and again discovered breeds I hadn’t heard before like Massham sheep.I bought some Wensleydale fleece, which still needs carding and some Black Welsh. there is so much more to learn for me and I find this endlessly fascinating!
With gratitude I accepted the kind offer and since July a show of photos and and a small installation (hand spun, plant dyed and hand knitted).
The photos are documentation of wool processes, from a visit at the Natural Fibre Company, Launceston, Bosigran Farm in Penwith, and my own processes of spinning and dying.
The exhibition is s glimpse into my art practise, where I am exploring wool as a sustainable material, natural and local resources and slow processes as a reflection and invitation to wellbeing.
The fibre, I used, came from the Natural Fibre Mills and is their carding waste.
Occasionally during in the carding processes something goes wrong, or there is a overlap between two carding lots, say Shetland and Wensleydale, (one could say its a mongrel) and the fibre can not be used for further processes.The shawl also does demonstrate my first adventure into dying with natural plant dyes, in this case onion skins, weld (yellow) and woad (blue).
Wool is a living material, its connotations of clothing and keeping human mankind warm goes back to the beginning of humanity.
Wool provides the link, between our history and our presence, which I feel in my hands while engaging with a raw fleece, while quietly sitting watching how my hand spindle turns a cloud of something unformed into a form, a yarn.
The yarn becomes a symbol, it is the umbilical cord to the land, which feeds and clothes us.
The pieces, I created from this yarn become the witnesses of the time spend and an embodied holder the memory of this time: they invite reflection about our choices how we pass our time.
Wool becomes my companion in my daily enjoyment and engagement, the slow movement of a spindle, of a wooden needle grounds me, slows down time and lets my breath become slow and deep, guides me back into the presence. Wool speaks to people, brings back memories, asks to be touched, to be held and invites to use their hands and cherish the fruits of their hands, again.
Wool asks for tools and company, in such it becomes the vehicle to initiate collaborations with other artist, craftspeople and sometimes musicians.
Wool is my tool and aide to heal my own connection to the land and through my work and my invitations to others to share my vision and hope: fostering reflections towards a healed relationships with our environment, the one and only world we are living in.
What creates change?
Fear can create change on the short-term, it can modify behaviour to avoid negative consequences .
On the long-term it is the positive experience, like sincere praise and appreciation which will lead to wanting to change for the positive. It is a challenging realisation that in the end only compassion and kindness will initiate healing, starting with ourselves and then reaching out to others people, to all beings on this planet .
In our family we do buy our groceries predominantly at our local farmers market, country market and local shops. Only what we can’t buy there, we buy in a supermarket, even then we rather use the local Coop , as it is a franchise run by local people!
There is more than the rational reasoning behind it, to buy local as a means to support local economy, avoiding food miles etc. There is a very important human and emotional factor in this; over time we got to know the people behind the stalls, become more in tune with the natural seasons of our part of the world and feel more strongly part of our local community! Going shopping becomes something to look forward to rather than a chore, it’s meeting friends and sharing there joys and challenges in grow the food we cherish! Then your relationship to our food also changes, we value and enjoy it so much more, as we know we can enjoy it with a good conscious .
Sometimes I find myself in a supermarket in front say some avocados, I do like them very much, but then I realise they come from Peru or Uganda, and I leave them as there are far too much air or freight miles attached to them. I will wait for the Turkish or Spanish avocados when they are in season at the end of the summer!
A few days later I went to the Trevalyn Farm Shop on the Helston Road, and there were, my Spanish avocados, small and ripe!
It also reminds me, that we’d live in an age of instant gratification. Waiting for a seasonal crop to come around , learning to enjoy what is locally available, requires a shift in thinking and feeling!
Whats that got to do with Wool and Making?
The same principle applies, using local or at least British Wool, reduces the environmental cost on extensive product travel and supports the local economy . The moment we start to make something ourselves, we learn patience and perseverance again. If we combine local material and hand making we create a stronger bond not only to what we make, but also to our community and the place where we live.
Excerpt from the Campaign for Wool Website
The Campaign for Wool was initiated by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and launched in 2010 in the UK. It is supported by sheep farmers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers and wool lovers across the globe. Its simple agenda is to encourage greater understanding and use of real wool and its many natural and sustainable assets. In five years it has spread from the UK to fifteen countries internationally, has attracted millions of social media followers and in 2014 achieved media coverage valued at nearly $ 50 million. Funded by the leading wool grower organisations of the world, the Campaign for Wool has a long-term agenda to maintain a high-profile for wool as the superior natural fibre and works in partnership with wool industry partners globally. – See more at: http://www.campaignforwool.com/news-item/surfaces-2015/#sthash.
Working with local and British wool has changed my perception of clothing in a very deep and profound way. My awareness about the environmental impact of production of actually everything we consume has become a constant companion in my thinking. I am aware of my choices and where I can make decision with a lesser impact, I can choose to support producers by buying local and fair trade and organic as much as I can. It sometimes means waiting, for the right time, for the right item to be available to me.
I spin and knit, daily, meditating, learning to be with the process , learning to be with the time it takes.
I graduated in 2013 from Falmouth University in Fine Art and are now undertaking a Masters Degree in Art and Environment, at Falmouth University (graduation in 2015).
Originally from Germany , I live in Cornwall, UK with my family.
The long journey of further and higher education from 2004 has helped me to the understand the core interst of my practices, the sharing of the link between slow hand made processes and wellbeing, introducing and investigating meditative approaches with in an art practice.
I am exploring handspinnig , local sheep wool and proceeding the carding waste from a Cornish wooll mill and I am fazinatated by ancient techniques like Nalebinding and Lucetting.
Natural Dying is also a very new adventure, with first experiences with Indigo during a Dying Workshop lead by Jean Dean at the monthly meeting of the Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers in November 2015. Jean introduced the 1-2-3 method by Michel Garcia.
During my residency at Cornwall College I taught two dying workshops, first with Onions and the with woad. Woad is also known as the European Indigo. While now spinning the dyed wool I am still so astonished about the strong colour Bettina and I achievedd!
The #wellmaking Flowergarden is popping up in Penzance!
when: Saturday, 13. December, 15.00 – 16.30
where: Archie Browns Cafe (above the Health Food shop)
The #wellmaking Flowergarden is a nationwide project initiated between Fiona Hackney from Falmouth University and Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective.
Currently there are over 40 groups all over Britain taking part!
The project is an invitation for people to come together and while making flower through crafting (stitching, crochet, knitting) to share stories, ideas, memories about the connecting between craft and wellbeing.
We are collecting information / date for a survey and there is the plan to sum up the whole experience in a
” Craft and Wellbeing Manifesto”
In January will be a closing event in London were all the flowers will be on show and raise awareness how important wellbeing is.
For more information check out:
Introducing the #wellMAKING Craftivists Garden! | Craftivist Collective
Craftivist Garden #wellMAKING – Projects – Falmouth University
Craftivist Garden #wellMAKING is a participatory project run by Falmouth … Craftivist Garden takes the flower garden as a metaphor for creative flourishing.
We we were a small group and enjoyed the benefit of getting to know each other better and sharing our crafting stories! It was enjoyed by everyone!
Beginn of this year I became a member of the Cornwall guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers.(http://www.cgwsd.btik.com/)
The Guild is holding monthly meeting in Probus and Chacewatter, at the 3rd Friday of a month in Probus is usually a workshop or talk organised.
This month Jean Deane (http://www.cgwsd.btik.com/) shared with us how to dye with Indigo in the most natural way.
Jean is very inspired by Gracia, a French Botanist and Scientist (http://naturaldyeworkshop.com/about/) who has created recipes for natural dying particular for Indigo dyeing.
Indigo for me is now sheer magic! To see the colour of the vat (that is the dye bath), the colour when the wool comes out, still more greenish yellow and then the transformation through oxygen into the wonderful blue!
Before hand I had hand spun yarn from the carding waste for this occasion and also dyed some fleece!
The experience gave me the confidence to work with Indigo, woad and weld at home and with my students at Camborne college.
i spend the morning spinning with this almost white fleece, I don’t know what breed it is as it comes from the carding waste. It has a beautiful lustre when it comes of the cob ( the cob is the wool which comes of the spindle). It was very still and quiete in the studio, the 1. Years are going through their induction phase.
Later on I wound the yarn from the cob into skeins with the help do a niddy noddy. When I mentioned to my partner first that I needed to use a niddy noddy, he thought I was joking and making it up.
Mine came from Carol Grace, retired Textile lecturer and it is a very useful tool to wind yarn into skeins when no helping “arms” are around.
The skeins are the next step of preparation for dying the yarn.
The Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Cornwall is holding coming Friday an Indigo Dying day and I will attend.
It is quite humbling for me to see the fruits of my labor, by Friday , I will have 5 skein of whitish yarn. I didn’t clock the time, because being with the spinning, the process, the hand movements, which slowly but surely becoming more familiar is what holds my fascination. The feel and the texture of the fleece and the still lingering smell of sheep bring the origin of my material back to me. The memory of an afternoon spend on Bosigran farm, even though we had missed the sheering, the sheep and billy goats were still about.
Working with very little processed wool feels like going back to a source material, something basic and still so essential ……
How does one give a reflective commentary about a meditative and grounding experience? It has to be experience, to be embodied , become part of life………………
The studio is deserted, students gone home, it is still, I can hear the traffic, the late afternoon light begins to fade, I long to be outside with my spindle……..
Couple of weeks ago I had meet by chance Justin Duance and his wife Poppy Treffry in Truro. I was working with my hand spun wool and the nalebinding needles. Justin is a jewellery maker and Poppy a textile designer\ maker! both very well known locally in Penzance/ Newlyn.
My work triggered their curiosity and we talked about old techniques and hand making.
I told them that the needles I was using where bought on Etsy, one set from Norway and the other one from North America and I hadn’t found any made in the UK. Also how much I would love to find someone locally who could make needles for me from sustainable woodb(local or reclaimed).
Immediately Justin offered very kindly to have a go, he would have the right wood and the machinery in his workshop. Very gratefully I accepted his offer!
So yesterday I went over to his workshop; I had made 3 cardboard templates and was really exited!
Justin had a piece of yew tree wood and first cut a smaller needle based on my Norwegian needle, I had made it a bit longer and bigger. He cut it out and with the sander brought it into shape !
I then sat down at his workspace with files and sandpaper to finish it of and when it was smooth enough Justin gave it a polish with some Teak oil.
Then Justin cut a thin and longer needle and I finished it off!
It was very satisfying it work with Justin, someone who understands what I am aiming for and how important the aspect of collaboration with local people and using local materials is for me.
I feel truly blessed to have given this opportunity and Justin invited me back to do some more !