My ‘mother blog’ ONE STITCH AT TIME has become a new sister blog!
The original blog will remain my main blog as an artist/researcher, featuring my work, my collaboration and my projects, also there projects in the planning which will have their own specific blogs. To have blogs for certain purposes has the advantage that the individual blogs remain small, easier to manage and to navigate.
So the first offshoot, ‘Fiddlesticks by the Tea’, is a conversational platform, sharing my passion of working in public and my love for quirky individual cafes, hotels and pubs. I am a great believer in supporting the local economy and therefore the small local businesses are my mainstay.
The good old Weatherspoon on Sundays is an exception, here is having a relaxed and affordable time with my 17 year old son the priority (If Sean’s Diner were open on Sundays, there would be an alternative…..maybe, Robin would say.)
Friends often remarked, that there is hardly a cafe in the area, where I haven’t been.
I love being amongst people, watching, listing, following my thoughts, finding inspiration and enjoying conversations, which often arise from remarks about the work I have under my hands.
Jamie Mills, who works at Archie Browns, a Health Food Shop, Vegetarian Cafe and Deli, asked me a while ago to show some of my recent work in the cafe.
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.
Sitting at the Old Coastguard and I had set myself the task to finish the mittens off and the cushion cover. No big deal! (She said…….)
Also, I took with me a bit of the wool dyed with Woad from last weeks dying experience!
Fatal! It is so much fun to play with the bits, creating variegated yarn, looking at the bright blue sea! Bliss!
Why? Why is spinning such a fascinating thing to do? Spinning in my world is a very intuitive activity, it is all about hand and eye coordination, concentration to “draw” the right amount of fleece out , in order to create a reasonable even yarn. It seems to occupy a special part in the brain, it is predominantly about the feel of the hand and the wool and the spindle. Spinning does quite my mind, so much more than knitting and crochet! This might be because it is still new to me, I am not sure…………?
And I am slowly discovering ways of exploring different ways of creating yarn, from just plain coloured fleece, or carding different tones together to achieve tweedy yarn, by having two coloured wool in a way parallel in my hand.
I am still so in awe about the woad dyeing, the blue colour is so alive, even in the pale blue of the exhausted dye vat.
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!
On Wednesday, 4. February I run a wool dying workshop with onion skins with Bettina Holland, a 2.year student. Myself, I am new to natural dying and find a fascinating process as the is always a “surprise” element in there! I love dying with onion skins as it is so simple, no mordants maybe a bit of pre-soaking with vinegar and the dye bath can be tipped out to water plants and in an ideal world the exhausted skins could go on the compost! We used a rather large pot and there for ended up with a fairly pale color. When I was dying wool skeins and flees last summer at home, I used a smaller domestic sauce-pan and archived a strong burnt orange colour.
We dyed skeins of wool and unspun fleece. I also put in a small skein of pale indigo dyed wool and it came out in a gentle mottled and variegated tone.
As fascinating as the dying processes are I intent to keep to a very selective range. I am interested in Woad and Weld, blue and yellow and there for green as almost human input to the natural sheep fleece colours.
This year I intend to plant in gardens of some of my supportive friends around Penzance some Woad and Weld, in order to experience the effect of working with fresh plants rather then with powder.
The dying process opens of new avenues for exploring textures and carding dyed fleece with undyed fleece.
In the carding waste was for example, some reddish brown Alpaca and I carded it with white and greys, mixing the silky soft alpaca with more wire wool! it gives a very unique yarn and it is interesting to spin.
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.
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 !