Reading back over my last blog I have noticed that it is simply a description of what I am doing. I think it is time that I thought a little more about what I am doing and why I am drawn to the idea of reusing materials and in particular things that you would not usually associate with textiles.
In the book Hand Stitch Perspectives I’ve found a small paragraph about Betty Pepper it says that she uses found objects and discarded memories. It goes on to say that ‘the stitch she uses is an agent for mending, darning and reworking the echoes of a tradition of oral storytelling where words are passed on and retold over and over again Betty’s work recycles the savings and leftovers of fabric and the decayed and cast off ephemera which she pieces back into new composite forms using tiny pictorial stitched drawings’.
I find this fascinating, I’m a collector and hoarder by nature and my home is full of junk shop finds and pieces of ephemera that I pick up from the ground just about everywhere I go. I have jars of feathers, trays of shells, boxes of stones and pieces of metal and pottery cluttering up my home. I even keep leaves until they have turned to nothing but dust.
During my childhood I was surrounded by my mother’s and my grandmother’s stitching projects and my father’s modelmaking and engineering. This project; where I am using the camera has given me the opportunity to bring together these two elements and I have even involved my father by borrowing some of his small delicate screwdrivers.
This return to playing and the use of objects that bring back childhood memories has allowed me to overcome my original reluctance to complete the exercises in this part of ATV.
I am still finding it very difficult to express in words what it is that I like about the process of dismantling with loving care objects that has most probably been used before with loving care but with a different purpose. I have chosen my camera carefully because I did not wish to destroy an object which still had a life/longevity in its original purpose. I cannot say that I saved the camera it could easily have been rescued by someone skilled at repairing cameras or who wished to use it simply as an ornament. It is difficult to deny that I bought it with the sole purpose of ripping it apart and completely changing what it was originally designed to do and this does feel almost brutal.
The only way I can justify my actions of tearing at the soul of the camera by compounding it’s demise, which began by being abandoned to a dusty corner of a junk store, is to use the parts that I salvage to make something new with integrity and its own soul. No pressure there then!
In writing this blog I have also recognised that the selection of the ladies Thai blouse also has an echo back to my childhood. My father was in the Merchant Navy and travelled widely in the Far East. I was lucky enough to visit Japan when I was as young as five and then later at 12. My parent’s home is full of Oriental treasures and for a while they even lived in Singapore. So I can see why I was drawn to this simple piece of Far Eastern fabric.
That’s the introduction now let’s see if I have been able to meet my own brief of creating some samples that at the very least show the potential for integrity and a respect for their original makers and owners.
Once I had borrowed the slim screwdrivers from my Dad I set to removing all of the interesting elements from the camera as delicately as I could, there was some heaving and wrenching but I tried to keep that to a minimum. There is something about these little pieces all set out like displays in a museum that makes me happy.
They demonstrate the craftsmanship that went into the making of this affordable item. Even though these cameras were mass produced to sell at a reasonable cost to allow Kodak to bring the magic of photography to a wider audience they were still given beautiful Art Deco design elements and finely milled screws and levers.
Using my sketchbook and some paper I worked a simple sample of an idea I had brewing about cutting the bellows into strips and using some stitch and knotting techniques to add both light and heavy elements to them.
I attached a bead using the ‘overhand knot’ technique. It was fiddly and the bead still twisted and turned in the way that it wanted with no regard to my design.
The small washer is far more effective and I was pleased with the overall effect.
Whilst I was hard at it, like all women I was multitasking, chatting to a fellow maker, in the room and her daughter in Australia via Viber, it’s like a kind of text message but cheaper! And Tori, sitting down with a G&T (we assumed this was because it was evening down there) suggested I include some old film in my samples. Now we didn’t have any old film but we did have some blank negatives (thank you Jenny Compton, I hope you don’t need them back).
At this point it became clear that I was now juggling quite a few elements and I decided that I needed to work through some thoughts and ideas in my sketchbook.
After building up some confidence with a paper samples and off loading some of my brain into the sketchbook I had a go with one of the corners of the bellows. I’m really quite pleased with the result and I can see lots of potential for more of these small pieces. They really are not yarn but they would make a nice series, especially if I could include an element of progression. Maybe in to or out of ageing and decaying?
I had a little bit of a wobble at this point, the yarn sample is very dark and the exercise brief asked for a demonstration of the use of lighter more delicate qualities. Consideration of this point led to this more subtle colour palette and yarn sample using a bracelet that I had deconstructed (cut the cord) and some of the beautiful holed paper and the threads removed from the ladies Thai blouse.
I’m very happy with this sample and I promise I will start practising ways to better express the qualities of my pieces and the feeling they provoke in me.
It was now quite late in the day and I was nicely full of caffeinated tea and feeling quite satisfied with what I’d achieved, it’s not a lot but I did say that I worked very slowly! So this last sample is just a bit of fun, it’s full of jarring lines with bits of crochet. It’s like a big tongue of camera film full of all the stuff I had been talking about and considering throughout the day.
It includes some of the sari silk that is supplied by YarnYarn which I am unashamedly becoming addicted to.
To finish off the day I attached the samples to the pages of the original sketchbook that has now become so unmanageable that I have had to remove the pages from the metal ring binding with a view to attaching a more suitable and practical binding for the submission of the assignment at the end of Part 4.