Here’s a new sample off the big loom; this blanket really captures the feeling of what I wanted to create; a large textile with softness, drape, painterly shading, texture and lustre.
I think the research and development process over the past year has really opened my eyes, and working with materials in the hand (over a pre-designed idea) has allowed for experiments and serendipity towards a set of pieces that work together to tell the story of the Selkie.
I learnt during my arts therapy training that it is the process and not the outcome that holds the real power, and that’s true of my weaving process. And from my days as a design student, the emphasis was on research, but also design development, often on paper as sketches or working-drawings. I abandoned this step in my practice as a pattern cutter, as the material must always be the primary source; experimental draping, cutting, working on the stand in three-dimensions would give me the flow into the work that sketching could not.
In the head-versus-hand conflict of the designer-maker, the hands must win, and therefore the fabric, the material, the textile speaks for itself. Any makers reading this who struggle with blocked flow or over-thinking, just get to your tools and make, find the materials that respond to your touch and get to work; make for a week, make for a year, then see what you have created and decide if you feel happier about the pieces created during this time. Less thinking, less procrastination, less sketching, more tangiable making. (Not everything will be amazing, but it will be a rich seam into the development and sampling process, each finished piece has merit.)
My weaving work is seemingly very different to my fashion and theatre work, however I’ve come to see the same elements I was drawn to manifesting in my current pieces; the love of texture, play of light, certain colours in combination. In my (unfinished) MA project, I was looking at developing a way to colour-match skin tones to create a set of seven dresses, all cut to the same proportions, a rainbow of skin shades. I was in fact seeking a second-skin for myself, an object to hold me together. Anyone familiar with attachment theory and transitional objects will hear the child’s voice in this admission, I was seeking my sense of self and security in a garment the same colour as my skin.
And having been guided to the Selkie myth, I am again working with the symbol of skin, the container, the garment that holds the Soul within. Enough time has elapsed that I can see the link between my MA project and my need to return to the symbol of the seal-skin. The words for this will develop in the coming months as more Selkie-blankets are made, but for now I’m feeling very empowered by the opportunity to work again with this motif, that seems to be appearing again for attention, conversation and (perhaps) reconciliation.
Wishing you a productive week of making,
120cm x 200cm
Badger-faced yarn & Blue-faced Leicester yarn on a linen-viscose warp.