Friday, April 25, 2008

Mysterious bundles

Rummaging through my sewing box I despair at the tangles of threads in the bottom. Cutting out one of the entangled bundles, I am suddenly struck by its beauty - rather than seeing only chaos and mess I perceive, unexpectedly, mysterious connections of a different order.

I am reminded of an image I recently found on a website of mysterious balls and bundles of coloured twine woven by young men all over Morrocco, their purpose shrouded in secrecy, but possibly to do with practical magic and the dispelling of evil spirits.

Having seen the image, I begin to understand the magic potential of my own bundles of thread.

String and rubber band

"String is my foible. my pockets are full of little hanks of it, picked up and twisted together, ready for uses that never come. I am seriously annoyed if any one cuts the string of a parcel instead of patiently and faithfully undoing it fold by fold. How people can bring themselves to use india-rubber rings, which are a sort of deification of string, as lightly as they do, I cannot imagine. To me an india-rubber ring is a precious treasure. I have one which is not new - one that I picked off the floor nearly six years ago. I have really tried to use it, but my heart failed me, and I could not commit the extravagance."

Mrs Gaskell, Cranford, London & Glasgow, Collins' Clear-Type Press, n.d., p. 85 & 86

Green sheets

"I remember climbing onto my parents' green sheet covered bed when I was just a toddler on a sunny day, the sun beaming through the large windows onto the bed. I clambered up between them and watched tizwaz while being doted on by both of them. This is my last memory of my parents ever being in a state of unison before they split up."

BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shake well to restore bulk and air thoroughly

"What are you afraid of, dear child? Stay with me; if you will do all the work in the house properly, you shall be the better for it. Only you must take care to make my bed well, and shake it thoroughly till the feathers fly - for then there is snow on the earth. I am Mother Holle.

As the old woman spoke so kindly to her, the girl took courage and agreed to enter her service. She attended to everything to the satisfaction of her mistress, and always shook her bed so vigorously that the feathers flew about like snow flakes. So she had a pleasant life with her; never an angry word; and boiled or roast meat every day."

The Illustrated Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm
edited by R. Klanten & H. Hellige, Die Gestalten Verlag Berlin 2003, p. 68


"In Plato's scheme, beds are ranked into three types, with differing degrees of reality. To begin with, there are the familiar beds in which we spend a third of our lives and some of the moments that define us as human: we dream, make love, are born and die in the kinds of beds that belong to the world of everyday experience. Plato postulated another world, which contains what he designated 'ideas', from which the things of everyday experience derive their forms. In Plato's philosophy, the idea of the Bed is eternal and inalterable: Every bed in the world of daily experience must embody the same basic form, however beds may differ in detail. There are finally the beds that appear in works of art - in vase paintings, for example, picturing persons doing the kinds of things people do in bed. Now bed builders must grasp the idea of the Bed and make their products conform to it. They possess practical knowledge of how beds have to be built, in order to support the bodies of those who use them. But artists who want to paint pictures of beds merely know how beds appear. They don't really know anything about beds beyond how they look.Plato argued that pictures are of the same order as dreams, shadows, reflections, and illusions: not as real as the beds in bedrooms, far less real than the Idea of Bed in the realm of Ideas.
In 1964, [...] I began to feel that the history of art had evolved to a point that Plato's distinction between the beds of art and the beds of life was no longer compelling."

Danto, Arthur C (2005), Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap between Art and Life, Columbia University Press, New York, Preface, pp. xviii/xix

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blog Directory - Blogged

One rope, many perspectives

"Jean Dubuffet (1988) also uses the notion of a braided relationship to describe cultural responses to art. In his writings he is critical of the cultural elite and antagonistic toward art critics. He thinks art criticism is like a strand of unraveling rope where meaning and the work are intertwined or disconnected so the same image can mean different things depending on the perspective of the viewer (or which part of the rope you are holding). Although Dubuffet sees this practice as a liablility, it is also possible to see it as a context-dependent account that opens up the possibility of considering many perspectives."

Sullivan, Graeme (2005), Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi, p.104


"Rub through a pounce composed of powdered cuttlefish for a white line on a dark material and a mixture of charcoal and cuttlefish which should be graded in colouring to the colour of the material used. A lighter pounce is used for more fragile material. When the pounce is prepared it can be kept in a small jar. It is applied with a small round pad made of a strip of interlining about 4 inches deep. This is tightly wound round and is stitched down the side. The flat end is dipped into the pounce, and before applying to the tracing it should be gently shaken against the side of the jar.

When all the design is transferred in this way take off the weights and carefully lift off the tracing, which will still have a certain amount of pounce left on it. Replace this in the jar. Gently blow any superfluous pounce from the material. The impression thus obtained must be traced over with a paint line. On materials with a rough or fluffy surface oil paint, thinned with turpentine, must be used. For a straight-weave linen water colour can be used, but if there is much work to be done in the hand oil colour is more permanent.

Use a fine sable brush, working with the tip only and keeping the brush in an upright position. For oil paint use black or white, and for watercolour new blue, because it washed out more easily than any other."

Weldon's Encyclopedia of Needlework, The Waverly Book Co. LTD, Farringdon Street, London E.C.4, ND, p.6/7


"Embroidered initials are more often used than any other form of fancy stitchery, as their purpose is useful as well as decorative. Daintily worked on lingerie they make it attractively personal, or simply and practically worked in cross stitch or satin stitch they make a neat method of identification."

Weldon's Encyclopedia of Needlework, The Waverly Book Co. LTD, Farringdon Street, London E.C.4, ND, p.127

"Western European household linens for the trousseau are marked with red cross stitch, usually by a monogram, and are frequently also numbered. As laundry was a social activity at river bank or village washhouse such marking served in addition a practical purpose, in the same way that bread baked in a communal oven was stamped with distinctive symbols to identify its owner. The marking of linen was the motivation for the myriad red alphabet samplers of the school girls of Europe."

Paine, Sheila (1990), Embroidered Textiles: Traditional Patterns from five continents, Thames and Hudson London, p.151