I’ve just got round to listening to Jane’s week eight/nine audio recordings (13th June), having completed this exercise and the following paragraphs a few days ago. So much of what Jane said I have felt, particularly on putting a positive spin on the past, and is reflected in what I’ve written. Jane in your comment on my week seven post you talked about the sea being different even though it is the same and quoted from a Paul Simon song “Nothing is different, but everything’s changed”. This feels a little like that. Thank you.
I haven’t finished this exercise yet. This isn’t a page I’d want to reproduce for general reading beyond our CST group, but it’s helped me become clearer in my mind about why I’m doing what I’m doing even though the words I’ve used and the way I’ve put them together in the HISTORY/PROCESS/CONTENT paragraphs can still be distilled so that I’m clearer about them (and it becomes shorter). One of the things that has struck me in doing this is that I could write multiple versions of my story from the lengthier earlier exercises. I can choose what I focus on. Particularly, I can choose to remember the positive stuff that so often, certainly for me, is submerged. I’m too serious. The first paragraph for me is particularly resonant – I’ve never thought of my parents/background in this way before. It feels like I’ve rewritten a narrative!
These exercises have led to discussions between my brother and me too. We laid some ghosts to rest, talked about our memories and shared some good ones, we laughed. We’re both too serious!
I don’t come from a traditional textile family. Growing up in the island we were into water! Dad was a skipper, a surfer, a swimmer. He drew too and played the guitar, he built boats and worked in wood. Mum was a reluctant swimmer, more of a watcher from the shore but she sewed, most of my clothes as I was growing up, and knitted and cooked – so many delicious family meals. They were both creators. We were in the water from babyhood.
I drew from an early age; I won a prize at primary school for drawing. I still have sketches of one of our dogs. I would draw him whenever he was still enough for me to do so. I taught myself to crochet when I was about 11, I guess around the time Mum taught me to knit. This all took a backseat when I left the island at 18 to go to teacher training college in England, eager to be away and to experience life where it was at - out there! Qualified to be a teacher. Took a detour and ended up working in the City. Suffered from sea sickness –it seemed such a long way away! The death of my Mum when she was 45 changed my priorities. I left my job and a long-term relationship travelled across Europe to Greece, Turkey, Syria and Jordan, then on to Pakistan, Northern India, and Thailand, ending up in New Zealand. I returned to the island with opened eyes, and stayed, married. Then, after having cancer my priorities changed again. I left work, re-evaluated my life, learned to sail, took some felt making classes and enrolled with City and Guilds as a distance learner, currently studying Advanced Feltmaking.
Wet felting – fascinating and often meditative. Working with wool tops (like fibre candyfloss), laying out layers of fibre, watching them come together as I rub and roll them, using water and olive oil soap – currently a long eroding truncheon of a bar from the South of France. I use plastic resists (it keeps the layers of fibre laid on both sides apart, forming the basis of the hollow inside) to make forms and sometimes bags and hats. I work with wool and silk to make lattice scarves and with natural tops to create hangings and flammables. I’m drawn to working with natural colours, natural fibres and lots of texture. I love the alchemy of felt making.
Perhaps the link is water, albeit not salt! Being in touch with what I’m making throughout the process is important – knitting, crochet, beading, feltmaking – making the fabric I’m working with from scratch. I’m a luddite – no or little machinery, various types of needle, hands.
I’m drawn to the wild. It doesn’t have to be wild on a grand scale or distant, it can be small and right here - in the small confines of my garden, on the beach a short walk away or in the wilderness of some distant land! The pieces I make are inspired by the sea, the coast, the green neglected wilderness of my garden, the architectural shape of plant leaves or heads or the colour of self-seeded flame-orange Californian poppies, the fractured edges of cliffs - rhythms, lines, shapes and sometimes colour. I make, I think, to celebrate what I see - to celebrate the gift of seeing, to evoke/remind me of what I’ve seen – to marvel at the, sometimes small, things that delight. I make forms to explore the way the fibre can be worked and shaped – to celebrate colour, form. To celebrate!