Diary Working with Wool

New Nalebinding needles made in Newlyn!

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 !

The Joy of Stitch

The Japanese Inspiration

Vintage Sashiko
Vintage Sashiko

I have been reading in Jane Brocket’s book ‘The Gentle Art of Stitchning’ and came across Sashiko Embroidery. I amfazinted by the imagges of old, traditionalle Sashiko, which was used for darning and embellishing at the same time. I love the look of the worn and faded indigo dyed cloth, embroidered with white cotton yarn. I had come across these images before when I was researching about the Japanese  Wabi-Sabi philoshophy . So many aspects of this tradition appeal to me, it the simplicity of the stitch, the matrial and the underlying idea to use it for mending and caring.

The Joy of Stitch

Conceptual Research

The Conceptual Research

 My practice evolved out of my research for my dissertation ‘Stitch, Yarn and People’. I had of with researching artists who used Textile material and techniques in their work. Soon I discovered the aspect of Participation with the use of Textile techniques/materials.

My practice evolved out of my research for my dissertation ‘Stitch, Yarn and People’. I had of with researching artists who used Textile material and techniques in their work. Soon I discovered the aspect of Participation with the use of Textile techniques/materials.

Conversations with a Mark Leahy, a performance artist, brought me into contact with Richard Powell and the group ‘halfangel’ (www.halfangel.ie/knitting.ie/theknittingmap.html‎).

Also with Gareth Ballyn and his project ‘evenfeed’ (www.garethballyn.co.uk/2012/01/even-feed/‎)

Both were a defining part of my dissertation and I have been writing in my blog about them. Both were projects, though very different in scale and duration, which were the greatest influence for me.

These projects made me aware that the emphasis for me lies in the process of the activity, the slow process of embroidery/stitch, the embedded concerns regarding ecological responsibility and sustainability.

The first step was to choose an ongoing project for myself, stitching on pieces of Hemp with wool yarn, which is produced in Britain.Over time three pieces of stitch on cloth evolved.

three piecesThree Pieces Stitch on Hemp Cloth, 2013-05-28

 I documented the process, the journey and reflection about it through video, photography and writing. In the process the following aspects of my work became relevant: 

 The Activity – embroidery/stitching as a durational process

The Participation – sharing the activity through projects and events

The Collaboration – creating dialogues with other artists, like musicians, as in this body of work.

Influential were also ideas from aesthetics and concerns, based in Zen philosophy and Japanese Craft design.

Wabi-Sabi

Excerpt from Wikipedia

Wabi-Sabi (?) Represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centrered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.[1] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?), the other two being suffering (苦 ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū?).

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetryasperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

From the Blog:   http://donnawatsonart.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/wabi-sabi-poetry.html

Japanuese Textiles
Mended coat by Junko Oki

Accept the inevitable… Life is fleeting and transient…. impermanent. That is why Zen teaches one to live in the moment… focus on the intrinsic small details… and get rid of the unnecessary.

 That is why Zen and Wabi-Sabi are so tied to nature. Truth comes from observing nature.

Also the writing of Tim Ingold (LINES – A short History of Lines and Creative Entanglements) was informative.

Looking back, I realized that my greatest inspiration during the past academic year came from conversation with other artist, painters, textile artists and musicians about process, sensibilities towards mindfulness, holistic approaches, environmental responsibilities, slowness and appreciation of being in the moment.

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

From the Blog: http://donnawatsonart.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/wabi-sabi-poetry.html

Accept the inevitable… life is fleeting and transient…. Impermanent.

That is why Zen teaches one to live in the moment… focus on the intrinsic small details… And get rid of the unnecessary.

That is why Zen and Wabi-Sabi are so tied to nature. Truth comes from observing nature Also the writing of Tim Ingold (LINES – A short History of Lines and Creative Entanglements) was informative.

Looking back, I realized that my greatest inspiration during the past academic year came from conversation with other artist, painters, textile artists and musicians about process, sensibilities towards mindfulness, holistic approaches, environmental responsibilities, slowness and appreciation of being in the moment.

The Joy of Stitch

Time, Purpose and Companion Pieces

Time, purpose and companion pieces

Over Easter I spend two week in Germany with my mother (who will be 85 soon) and friends.

There were  moments of dialogue and reflections.
28. March 2013, before the Church Concert
For quite some years now, I tend to have some kind of needlework (knitting, crochet and these days again embroideries) with me most of the time.

Taking work around with me, started when my son was born. Embroidery provided a practice of expressing myself, which allowed me to pick it up in any spare minute, with no need for a special place like a workshop or a studio. I realized then, how much I enjoyed working on my pieces in public. My friend Sue Dove agreed that she found Embroidery suitable for a transient life. She had been a weaver before. (More about her in an extra post)

IMG_0060Knitting in Marazion

 I regularly meet with the question:” how long does it take you to finish this?” or if I wear one of my favorite knitted triangular shawls the question is:” How long did it take you?”.

It is rare for me to be in a hurry to finish something.
Like today, in 2 hours I crocheted a gray woolly barrette, because I had forgotten to take a warm hat with me to Germany.

 I bought 2 balls of very thick yarn and a matching crochet hook and ca. 2 hours later the problem of cold ears was solved.

 It is the legacy of my mother; if we need something we make it (within reason!).
My shawls are my companion pieces; they are with me, until they are finished. It is a special comforting moment, to sit down and work a few stitch, it is quieting  the mind, creates a moment of purpose, relaxes, I breathe deeper.

 Often I am actually a bit sad when they finally come off the knitting needle.

 

29. March 2013
My embroidery piece also have become what I call “companion’ piece.

I’m writing this in my mother’s sitting room.
When my mother gave the piece, I am working on, at first glance, her immediate response was, the stitch were untidy.

 The upper stitch and the lower stitch have to face the same direction in one row.

////////////////////

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

to create

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

 

My mother trained in the late 1940 as a tailor/dressmaker and did her Master in the early 1950’s. After she retired in the early 1980’s she took up Danish cross-stitch and Hardanger Embroidery.

It’s intriguing to make a connection now how much this generation was in so many aspects of their life’s trained to follow the rules and things had to have an end to their means and a purpose.

 IMG_0277

The Middle One (On the train, March 2013)

Later in a Cafe
Her following questions were:
“What will it be?”
“How big will the embroidery be?
” How long will it take you?”

And all I could do is today:
” I don’t know and I don’t need to know now.”

I feel, there will be a moment, where feels right to say: ” Here I will stop working on this piece. “

 

In her honor I am now incorporating at times the “right” way of cross stitch, first the row of the under stitch and then the top stitch. I can choose between the traditions and honoring them and following my own way of doing it.

The pieces will be part of my graduation show; it feels like inviting friends round.

 

Because for these pieces of embroidered cloth will tell about all those moments they have been with me, on my travels, on trains, in cafes.

Even if I cannot relate to a particular section a certain event, they still hold the memory of the time spend with them.

 

IMG_0315

The Chinese One (Miss Peapod, March 2013)

Uncategorized

Wabi-Sabi

The book “New Standard Craft” about Japanese contemporary craft, embedded in a specific ethic and aesthetic context (simplicity as a value in time were “less” is “more”‘) was and is still my major inspiration behind my work. At the beginning it was the simplicity of the image and the paired down aesthetic of the objects. To me it has a link to William Morris quotation:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to useful, or believe to be beautiful ” William Morris

Also the essays in this book give an insight into the thinking of the designers involved (more reading and extracting of content to follow)

NEW STANDARD CRAFT
New Standard Crafts – Seikatsu Kogei Kazumi Tsuji

The following images are from the book “NEW STANDARD CRAFTNEW STANARD CRAFT  LADLENEW STANDARD CRAFT Seikatsu Kogei

NEW STANDARD CRAFT GLAS

Today in the library I “found” the book about Wabi-Sabi. I remember someone talking about it and it is just what I have been looking for! To me it appears to be the aesthetic philosophy linked to Buddhism  and Japanese Crafts aesthetic.

Wabi-sabi

Zen garden of Ryōan-ji. It was built during the Higashiyama period

A Japanese tea house which reflects the wabi-sabi aesthetic in Kenroku-en (兼六園) Garden

Wabi-sabi tea bowl, Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th century

Wabi-sabi () represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō), the other two being suffering (苦 ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 ).

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry,asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

Description

“Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of traditional Japanese beauty and it occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do theGreek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West.” “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” “[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”