Category: Art Tatin

1000 French Knots

Safety in Numbers

I thought I ought to inaugurate my return from holiday by helping someone else complete a project.

I picked up a tweet while I was away which pointed me to this post on artist Lisa Solomon’s blog.

Her work explores ideas of repetition and collaborative effort, for instance this piece where participants contributed 1000 crocheted doilies.

1000 doilies :: 8000 pins :: 100 colors of thread :: me + approx 45 women all over the world crocheted the doilies :: me + 6 helpers installed the doilies :: 4 days :: 1 wall :: 1 art piece for “sen” at Fouladi Projects.


The piece that caught my eye looks at the Japanese (get the feeling there’s a bit of a theme here?) good luck amulet senninbari, a belt which was embroidered with 1000 knots. Each knot was meant to be stitched by a different woman. The symbolism seems to come both from the number 1000 and various other plays on words which derived from the addition of coins stitched into the belts as well as the text or images of tigers created by the knots. For much more information, see here.

1000knots stitching

I’ve submitted my contribution – you have until June to submit yours (allow time to post to the States).

If the thought of french knots (you only have to do between one and ten) makes you break out in a cold sweat, you could contribute a drawing of a doily instead. There are details here and here.

I’ll keep you posted on the piece, it should be very interesting.

Embracing Imperfection

Does anyone fancy a little Japanese philosophy in two parts? I knew you did…

If you’re in to the handmade (or computer programming), you might be aware of the concept of wabi-sabi – a term that encompasses the beauty of transient or imperfect things.


As a maker it means that my best doesn’t always mean flawless or entirely regular and the places where the human-ness of the process shows through do not require an apology.

In the programming world, wabi-sabi has come to be represented by the phrase ‘done is better than perfect’ (an axiom I am also trying to embrace in all aspects of my life).

Kintsugi calls on a similar resolve to embrace the entirety of an object, including any flaws or breakages. In this technique, broken ceramics are repaired with precious metals both to


‘keep[ing] an object around even after it has been broken, and […] highlight[ing] the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object.’ Wikipedia

My next post will be about putting kintsugi into action, so stay tuned!

humade kintsugi kit

Sending All My…

For various reasons, I’ve been thinking about my understanding of art, how I relate it to my work and how my work may (or may not) broadcast my understanding of art to other people.

In essence, my understanding of art is that it makes you think, no matter what the medium or where it is presented.

Due to the relatively mechanical nature of hand embroidery (a blessing and a curse for the easily-distracted stitcher) I am left with plenty of head-space to fill with thoughts that I either direct into the piece when things are going well or cast around me when they’re not.

web stitch

The aspect of my work that I most struggle to communicate when selling is that I’m not only hand-stitching because I enjoy it and it’s different than machine embroidery, but to give someone an object which has hours of human contact behind it signifies that you have set aside those non-returnable hours for the contemplation of the receiver’s existence.

The making of any piece, but especially a commission, means that I ponder the recipient, the giver, where I imagine the piece will live, how I hope they will speak about it to people who ask and much more. If you think intentions can travel through objects, I send all manner of good advice, good wishes and happy thoughts with each piece.

The more art I make the more I discover that I like the way it moves my thoughts outside of myself and towards other people.

So that’s the rather sneaky surprise about art, the definition is that it makes you think… but it doesn’t always say who that ‘you’ will be.

Drip, Drip, Drip

I have trouble with large purchases, if you consider large to be above £20.

I can quite happily fritter away £100 in £5 and £10 increments – but to spend it all at once… I usually bottle it and walk away. (That explains the healthy cheese collection in the fridge and the rather woeful state of my wardrobe.)

Huit organic denim – made in Cardigan

For instance, I’ve had my eye on a (possibly the only ones manufactured in the world at the moment) pair of 100% cotton, non-stretch, vaguely fashionable jeans which are not made by children.

But they cost more than £20 (as well they should do), so I have patched and mended my one remaining pair of jeans until they are more patch than jean and the patches have holes.

Serendipitously, I read a blog post by John Willshire from discussing not only the Hiut jeans I’ve had my eyes on but also the idea of allowing both the producer and consumer to benefit from a more gradual transfer of money and goods.

Sometimes I ponder similar ideas at craft fairs when I’m placed across from stalls selling things that can be impulse purchased. Would browsers who are interested in my work and say ‘I’ll keep you in mind when the baby comes.’ put down a deposit and pay in installments?

Photocraft do something similar for their online photography courses aimed at small businesses and the Arts Council England run Own Art, a scheme to allow people to purchase contemporary art (by living artists) interest-free over 10 months, so it must have some traction.

Staff of Life hand embroidery - Misericordia 2013

What do you think? Would you be more likely to commission a piece if you could pay a deposit at a craft fair and follow it up afterwards? What’s your impulse purchase limit?

Pressing Away

Among the changes and upheavals this year, I went vegetarian in June. The strange thing is that I haven’t been able to explain either to myself or anyone else quite why it happened.

I’ve always been a bit of a hippy and when I was a carnivore we were trying to reduce the quantity and increase the quality of meat we were eating. But I found myself avoiding it more and more without being able to say why until I realised that the way to become a vegetarian was to just stop eating meat (I know…but I’m new to this kind of thing).

Even now that I’m not a meat-eater, I can still hold a conversation like one. I cook meat for LYM and Dragon but I just don’t want to eat it. Sometimes I miss the emotional resonance surrounding certain foods*, but in the way I imagine a smoker misses the ritual of smoking more than the consumption of toxic fumes.

And then I read a post from the eloquent and perceptive Adult Beginner in which she discusses (among other things) a quote from Peter Fonseca in The Dancer’s Body Book By Allegra Kent

So many people just consume and consume and don’t put anything out. I think the answer is to be absolutely minimal in what you take in and prolific in what you put out.

That was it.

I have been feeling the weight of consumption and possession ever since Dragon has appeared, and it’s been leading me to get rid of things and finish projects and step back down the food chain a rung.

So go read AB’s post and then come and tell me what you think (no poo jokes please).

*Especially smoked salmon bagels and roast dinners.

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