Jill B.

Finding Time is a Battle

Sometimes I feel I am losing this battle.  Slowly, slowly I hope things will fall into place.

I really liked this week’s assignment as it provided much food for thought.

First, I like working in intervals and repeating units so it was right up my street.  I thought of all the collections I have of 100 things (and more).  I had a business (garment factory) which I closed in 2000; I moved the things home so there are quite a few things left from that venture.

So, I have settled on the box of embroidery thread which was left over.  The skeins are 8-9 yards in length, a good number to set a limit. I plan to over-dye the threads in a red dye as some of the threads have dulled and this would offer some continuity to the piece.  I also decided to revisit a former project which never got off the ground, Feather Bed, which is an assemblage of wires covered with silk fabrics printed in feathers.  The colours of the silk fabrics range from light reds to purples.

The idea came to me that I would assemble the feathers into a grid shape and then use a local craft technique to decorate the grid.  I know I have some working out to do but beginning to visualize it.  

I liked all the work of the recommended artist but especially El Anatsui.  I particularly liked the fact that his pieces could be folded up and put into a suitcase.  As I envision this project I can see that it can be morphed into different shapes.  Wouldn’t  it be fun to exhibit  it and every day go in and change the shape?

Anyway, this is where the story becomes a little funny.  The craft technique is referred to locally as “Auntie McCassin”   It is done on a frame with nails on all sides and yarn is wrapped around the nails in a grid formation.  When the yarn is quite thick then it is tied at each crossing.  Usually the finished project is used a “doily” on a dresser.  If anyone knows the name of this technique please let me know.  So I decided to go on the internet to see if there was an official name.  Couldn’t find anything so tried playing with the spelling and came up with this from Wikipedia:

An antimacassar /ˌæntɪməˈkæsər/ is a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs, or the head or cushions of a sofa, to prevent soiling of the permanent fabric.[1] The name also refers to the cloth flap 'collar' on a sailor's shirt/top, used to keep macassar oil off the uniform.

Macassar oil was an unguent for the hair commonly used in the early 19th century. The poet Byron called it "thine incomparable oil, Macassar." The fashion for oiled hair became so widespread in the Victorian and the Edwardian period that housewives began to cover the arms and backs of their chairs with washable cloths to preserve the fabric coverings from being soiled. Around 1850, these started to be known as antimacassars. They were also installed in theatres, from 1865.

One is never too old to learn.  One day I will tell you the story of “cursing oil”.  Perhaps I will name this piece “Auntie McCassin’s Feather bed”.