Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rag of the Day November 18 2011

-cotton-polyester blend; hospital sheet; November 18 in Weekend Park.

-detail of mold stains; cleaned with vinegar, laundry detergent, hot water and finally a bit of bleach to get the smell out, but these lovely marks are permanent.

This had washed up onto the floodplain at some point this fall. It was tied to a fragment of a nylon tent, one corner worked through two d-rings at one tip of the tent. Both were partly covered in sand and dirt that had been deposited by the water flowing over them. Given its association with the tent, I suppose this was part of some improvised shelter over this past summer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Studying Little Decisions

I have been thinking a lot about how slightly I plan things as I'm sewing, and a little about how I decide what to do next. How did I learn to sew? Not 'what did I learn', but how did I learn to sew the way I do? I'm looking at the cloth suspended all over the house every day asking what these makers learned to do next once the cloth and the needle were in their hands.

Here are patches on a dress- I notice the patches are big, anchored far outside the hole being mended, and overlapped.

And the stripes on the patch are carefully matched to the stripes on the garment, even though the patch and the garment are different colours- the dress is faded, the patch is not.

The edges of the hole are slightly turned and overcast. The patches are magnificent, spontaneous. The stitches aren't hidden, they are part of the patch.

The stiches on the top around the outisde of the patch are guided by the stripes. A decision.

Lines of straigh stitch on the boro cloths I have to look at here are similar in some ways; the lines wander to conform to the shape of the seam. But the construction overall is distinctly different; this is a composition of smaller cloths, not a reconstruction.

The flap here, on the left hand side, is a loose tail. The whole piece it is part of is applied here on top of other cloth. It is kind of a reverse patch, a hole added over another cloth. Maybe yet to be finished? Or maybe whoever was composing this cloth wanted it like that. I don't know.

And on every Mayan textile I have, the embroidered details are applied on one surface and the tails of the thread are woven into the base cloth.

Barely a stitch of the the thread appears on the other side. The tails leave tracks under the base cloth on the embroidered side, but not a trail on the other side.

This is a South Asian textile, a wool shawl with a heavily embroidered border and all-around edging. Here is the front:

And what I presume to be the back.

And the edging detail, from one side or the other, I presume 'the back'. The difference here with the Mayan textile is intriguing; certainly this is in part a function of the base cloths themselves; a fine wool doesn't have so many places to hide stitches I guess. But the stitcher's decisions are here; even a bit of that person's  process is here. I think the orange was sewed last?

And finally, a little mystery that just dawned on me the other day. I have owned this weaving for a few years; I bought it from a weaver from Guatemala who once ran her own weaving stall and workshop just over the border in Honduras. I saw her weaving this a few times as I walked by her workshop until finally I decided to ask if she might sell it.

And I didn't notice the differences between the 'bottom' two rows of bees until I was back in Canada. There are ten rows of the upper row of bees on the cloth, and only one row of the smaller bees. It dawned on me the other day what had happened: she changed her mind. The bottom row is the first row of bees and the one above is the second row. The first and second rows were each an experiment as she figured out how she wanted the bees to look. Even though I had seen her weaving it over a few days, on a backstrap loom, I didn't get it.

So maybe that is what I'm thinking about. About how making something unfolds as a set of decisions, step by step, about how much experience and spontaneity goes into taking each step. That the process unfolds in the making, and not in the planning. That's what I'm thinking about.