Pattern and process; making and meditation.

My very earliest memory is fleeting and hazy like a dream…. I was stood by a front door and my big brother was turning to walk away down the hall…. but the most vivid part of the memory is as clear as day, the pattern on his little sleeveless jumper…. it was navy blue with pinkish purple vertical rectangles that kind of over lapped and blended in together (a bit like the upholstery on old-school bus seats)…. I must have been two or three and thirty odd years on I can picture it like it was here in front of me.

Over the years I can remember lots of patterns that have stuck firmly in my mind…. clothes I had as a child, my turquoise, insanely intricate childhood bedroom carpet, my therapist’s carpet,…. in fact a heck of a lot of carpets! and remembering these patterns takes me briefly into emotions that I experienced at the time…. and it seems the more complex or difficult the emotions, the more vivid and detailed the memory of the pattern.

I’ve often wondered if that’s what draws people to retro and vintage objects… that they evoke emotions experienced in times past…. sometimes comforting, sometimes painful, but all part of our personal process.

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Buddhist mandalas are used as a way of meditating and focusing the mind…. either in creating them or looking at them…. and I wonder if we use other patterns in the same way without ever realising it….. the lines and colours, the shapes and repetition give our senses something to focus on and some grounding that allows our emotions to wander contained.

Who’d have thought that a bit of Hornsea pottery on your kitchen table would help you manage your feelings whilst being told off for not eating your greens!? But I think it probably did…..

Recently I bought a job lot of old Swedish tapestries…. I know the old lady that I bought them from had a huge collection, but I don’t know if she made them all herself or for how long she had them….. her daughter was selling them for her as she was moving into a care home…. and when I look at them I wonder what the daughter’s relationship to them was…. were they like familiar old friends that had been there as she had grown up…..

and when I think about all the work that went into each one (I bought five,,, but there were many more) I wonder what processes each tapestry saw through with their maker…. what feelings were given a space a wander while each stitch came together and what comfort was drawn from the repetition of the stitch, of the pattern and in the final sigh when the piece was finished.

I hope that I can give these tapestries the home they deserve and I wonder what processes they will see me through when my eyes rest on them hanging there.

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Fogcutter

Thinking more about the future of my little kitchen, I came across these beauties

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and was reminded of my old friend D who has been making furniture and things out of reclaimed wood and fixtures for years…

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…. gorgeous!

He has recently started taking commissions and has even made a beautiful little timber birthday card

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I just love it!

Known as Fogcutter, you can find out more about him on his website
Maybe I can incorporate some of this beautiful reclaimed style into my little kitchen…

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or imagine a whole kitchen…. Ooooh!

Flossing my bling

Today was my second lesson in jewellery making and I made these….

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little teeny tiny copper domes! …. I love them!!
And I LOVE the classes…. we will have three weeks of learning techniques and then we can make our own piece of jewellery… ooooh!
I’m thinking about making a pendant out of a cluster of those little domes, perhaps with different textures and finishes on each dome… maybe different metals? We’ll see how it goes… but I never knew how much I flippin’ love to hammer stuff! Especially metal… in fact I would just love to make a big hammered copper bowl…. so exciting!

Mark Hearld: Birds and Beasts at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yesterday I had a lovely day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I went particularly to see Mark Hearlds exhibition ‘Birds and Beasts’ that’s on there until 17th February.

I love Mark Hearld’s work and his approach, like me he’s a lover of ‘things’….. collecting….. putting things on top of other things….. friends have said when visiting my house that it’s like being in a museum as there’s so much to see…. but Mark Hearlds house make makes mine look positively minimalist!

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This short film from St. Judes introduces Mark Hearld better than anything I could write…. and with added flute! :)

The exhibition gave me opportunity yesterday to see Mark Hearld’s work up close and personal…. to see the layering of lino cuts, collage and illustration that make up the final lithoprints…. and one of my favourite parts of the exhibition was a collection of sketches, notes, swatches etc…. showing the process behind creating a piece of work…. the collection creating a piece of art in itself that is very beautiful and fascinating to see.

I was so pleased to have seen this exhibition, but sad that I’ll miss a workshop around collage and working with collected objects, that is on today….

and his artists talk at YSP on 12th February, I think they would be quite fascinating.

 

Yarn Art – Yart? #3 : Arline Fisch

In keeping with the theme of crochet (which seems to be taking over my world at the moment!) I thought I’d share the work of Arline Fisch an american artist who is best known for her jewellery….

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which admittedly isn’t strictly made out of yarn, but is crocheted from metal fibres into beautiful, intricate statement pieces…..

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gorgeous work ….. that I certainly wouldn’t mind adding to my jewellery collection!

Arline also makes sculptural pieces including the work in her “Creatures from the Deep” exhibition a couple of years ago….

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beautiful, light, ethereal work…..

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that looks almost alien  and glowing…

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I love the use of traditional crafts in fresh, contemporary ways….. and this is just gorgeous. I’d have loved to have seen this exhibition and will certainly keep an eye out for her work being exhibited near here in the future.

Traditional Crafts: Hardanger

One of the things that I love about getting together and crafting is that everyone has stories to tell about watching their mum or grandma crafting away; or they have treasured possessions of blankets, cushion covers or tablecloths that have been handed down or made for them.

I think these things make us feel nostalgic for our lovely childhood days, but also as we grow up and time moves on they give us a sense of connection to our families and our roots… make us feel a part of a bigger something.

I’ve always been quite fascinated by the everyday social history of individuals lives and how handcrafted objects and skills used in making them connect us to that history…..

A friends mum who heard about the crochet club said to pass on that she’s really pleased that young (ish!) people are learning and sharing traditional crafts that otherwise might be lost… how lovely of her to say!

In the Women’s Group we ran at work, a colleague was telling me about a craft that her mother loved called Hardanger…. I’d never heard of this before but loved the way that she spoke about her mother’s work….. so I thought I’d look into it and share here what I’ve found out…..

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Hardanger is a type of quite beautiful embroidery named after an area of Norway where it has been used in traditional dress and homewares since around the 16th century….

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It’s thought that it probably originally developed out of Persian and eastern styles of embroidery that spread across Europe (which would make sense as many of the designs are similar.)

Traditionally hardanger is stitched on a fabric made from flax that is woven to create an even structure that squares can easily be worked on to….

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a bit like cross stitch fabric…

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I’ve definitely seen similar things before but have known them to be called ‘White work’ or ‘Cut work’…. Hardanger is traditionally white stitched on white and has pieces cut away, but has a very definite style, mostly based on cut away squares…..

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that are worked into the design and are embroidered and embellished.

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So beautiful and intricate…. and it’s no surprise that it’s still quite popular, often using colour…

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Such a beautiful traditional craft, I’d love to give it a go…

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Yarn Art – Yart? #2 : Johan Ku

I have quite split views about fashion; on the one hand I think it can be frivolous and self- indulgent…. like it’s clothes people! there to hide your modesty and keep you warm!….  but on the other hand I really just love it…. inspiring, beautiful, witty and truly an art form in itself…. all of these things can be said about these amazing creations by Johan Ku….

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Wow! and as it is f f f freezing here at the moment I’m thinking that I could really do one of these! :)

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This is from the “Emotional Sculptures” collection that won Johan an award in 2005…. I just love the stunning silhouettes and of course the super, super chunky stitches

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he made the really chunky stitches using raw wool and very thick hooks and sometimes his fingers…. so tactile! I just want to stick my fingers in the stitches and give them a good squeeze :)

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Perhaps not something that I’d feel comfortable in on the no. 72 bus to work…. but I just love it, dramatic and inspiring…. and perfect for a walk in the snowy woods…. like the queen of Narnia :)