I tried some core spinning techniques recently as an experiment into combining different types and thicknesses of fibre and other media. I wanted to see how they plied together and how this might lend itself to talking about electricity and insulation.
I was initially inspired by brainwave patterns and was trying to get that kind of imagery in the yarn that I made.
My first attempt was just a commercially spun teal alpaca yarn and an emerald green corriedale single ply that I had spun myself. It resulted in this:
Very pretty and all, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. There wasn’t much yardage either.
I’ve been thinking about insulation a lot and in particular, hats and gloves which might insulate for warmth. Many questions surround this: could I somehow work the idea further so that the body, head and brain could be insulated from barometric pressure which comes with storms? Could my temporal lobe be insulated so the epilepsy can’t get hold of the other lobes and spread to a full blown seizure? Could this insulation factor (for want of a better term) be part of the actual yarn as well as what I make with it afterwards? What could I spin together to do this? (Shall I stop asking questions now and show you what I made?)
Anyway, eventually I came up with a first attempt at making those ideas into a piece of wearable art. I used a good few train journeys to decide what to make and a pub quiz as experimentation time to knit it up.
It is the first attempt at an insulating anti-convulsant wrist-warmer. If only it really worked and was not just conceptual!
It featured on New Curator’s ArtFriday post a couple of weeks ago, and before posting it, Pete at New Curator asked me how it was anti-convulsant. Of course, being so close to the work, I don’t think to explain to others what I mean because it is so obvious to me. Anyway, this was my explaination, which you might also find helps to clarify what I was trying to do in making this piece:
‘[It is anti-convulsant ] just in concept. I have epilepsy. When I have a seizure the aura (medical term for the warning a seizure is impending) travels up my left arm from my ring finger and spreads throughout my body. I was playing with the idea that the wrist warmer could be the buffer zone, insulating against the bodily electricity conducting itself up my arm. Maybe changing it from harmful to harmless electricity, if there is such a thing.’
I think that the whole idea needs more work but was a successful experiment in drawing out the concept further.
Let me know what you think. Comments, questions and constructive criticism are always welcome!
I’ve recently realised that in writing about my textile work, I have become much more active in my making.
I will be updating this blog as somewhat of a visual diary and reflecting on the processes, techniques and outcomes that I use to create the many and varied arms of my practice. I will be writing about a variety of textile related work that I am making, thinking about or am generally interested in.
I make work in a number of guises: the craft education researcher, the hobbyist-knitter, the knitter-designer, the new crocheter, the art-yarn spinner and the conceptual artist. Most of these areas seem to overlap at one point or another. I’m generally technique-led and like to learn something new and then see how I can push it. I do tend to be more interested in the process than the outcome a lot of the time.
One project that has I have recently been thinking about a lot is Brainstorm 1.0: my BA Textile Art degree show work. I’m revisiting and attempting to resolve it as, you guessed it: Brainstorm 2.0…
I’ve been trying to make work about human electricity for a few years now. I made a lot of pleated work at university in which I was trying to talk about the brainwaves, and the correlations between epilepsy and storms. This is something from my degree show.
This idea has been dormant for a while now and while I think I took it as far as I could with pleating, I don’t feel like it ever was fully resolved.
I’ve recently started to learn to spin on a drop spindle, and am exploring the ways that the fibres ply together to form a new yarn. There seems to be a lot which I could draw on and use in this technique to take the electricity idea in different directions.
Thinking about ideas of nerves and neurones, insulation, and the ways that the actual action of spinning can lend itself to talking about these ideas.
I’ve a lot to explore and experiment with in this new project.
I’ll keep you updated.