So here is the result of the experiment with making a wassail bowl. I wanted to see if I could create a woven object made using a mixture of basket weaving techniques and quilted materials. I really like the idea of making baskets, but finding access to natural woods and weavers in London is a challenge (without the risk of getting arrested for chopping down parts of Royal Parks!). So, is there an alternative way to make ‘wooden’ sticks? This was my first attempt as to whether the idea might have legs.
Result: ok, better quality than my samples so far. The interfaced quilted pieces (side stems and top border) worked very well as they had enough rigidity, However, making long enough pieces of narrow strengthened fabric for the long weavers turned out to be more of a challenge, hence the use of the fabric strips. The colours were chosen to reflect the vibrancy of the apple trees and what they need to thrive: sunshine, water. Nice and cheesy, but not convinced this adds much. Also a question – this may be pretty but you can’t actually use it for drinking from; does the lack of functionality void its purpose?
Reflection: I have been unwell this week and in a lot of pain, and as you might expect not really on top form. I used making the bowl partly to get some work done, but also as a distraction from moping around the house. It is interesting therefore to notice that I think this comes across in the object. Not specifically the being in pain, but that the feeling and intent behind the object was shallow and a bit, well…, obvious.
So what to do differently?
Well a couple of things have sprung to mind. Firstly, that I think there may be something interesting in exploring the basketry using textiles thing, but making more of it materially as opposed to just substituting fabric for wood. Particularly if I can make best use of the texture of the material in the final form. Also if the material is stitchable, why not stitch something onto the weavers; build blessings into a blessing basket?
The second thing comes back to intent. Yesterday I had a nice chit-chat over a bowl of soup with my friend and co-MADM student Anita. I shared that I have been worrying about how to up the quality of my work while still exploring new things (since my last chat with Maiko in December). A couple of key things Anita said in response have resonated with what I had been thinking after my latest making experiment. This is my take-away from it:
- Try to push the boundaries of what you do. Don’t put your skills in a box and label it “quilting”
- Think about the materiality of things, it could be anything you look at which could be used and translated into an object
- What do materials say to you, what do they make you think about?
- Ignore the technique, think about what feelings you want in the object
Good learning (thanks Anita), I think this is going to be this term’s challenge, and a very important one to resolve to get real emotions into my practice. I have decided my way into doing this is going to be through ‘intent cards‘. This is a technique I’ve used in writing rituals, which now seems very applicable to translate over into my making. Each thing I make needs to have proper intent in making it. To ensure this, if I explicitly define this intent before I start making a new sample and then work to it during the making, there will be more chance of achieving it.
Let’s see where this takes me!
Happy Friday xxx