hilarity and materiality

11 May

WEEK  EIGHTEEN – (may 4 – 10)

I’m continually tweaking or re-inventing systems to help keep me on track.
I am a list maker, a filing tweaker, a time-tabler, a shelf re-organiser, an anytime spring cleaner and, I suppose this blog is simply the latest, most honest and open way of keeping me on track.

My mother had this systematic tendency on a very small scale.
My eldest brother has always been a list maker and is a very organised, ordered, mentally concise and calm critical thinker. He ended up being a very successful accountant/ financial planner. My tendency is inherent.

My ordering clears my brain and helps me to complete tasks, often by breaking things down into achievable portions. I also need a clear vista to start work in – not pristine mind you – as I work with piles and wall pinnings that can look messy to others but I know that they have my thought lines attached.

With a long term task like drawing these feathers – and the stitched paint-chip feathers that are waiting/lurking – I break it down into achievable but taxing amounts and keep the work located close by while I work. The structured task and the growing visual.

For the Laminex feathers I arranged the Laminex by type and worked on them from the smallest set to the largest. I set up a time limit for each type.

The last and largest set I wanted finished in four weeks.
At the start of each week I divided the weeks’ set into four – my available work days per week.
Daily I arrange the pile into colours and work from the smallest amount to the largest – though I happily switch piles and systems to suit the days’ desires.
All the finished feathers are in colour coordinated rows spread out beside me as I work.
As I add a feather, or group of feathers, I arrange them within their colour group.
I don’t have to do this for any other reason than to make them look good mixed within their colour family.
The sets also need to look like they are growing otherwise I would be demoralised.
I need the impetus of a horizontal set growing as the piles diminish vertically – a constant visual impetus to keep at it.

rows of coloursSo, by continually breaking the large load into small tasks I have finished all the Laminex feathers. 
It was a big effort to get them done as I fitted them in between all sorts of other visits and tasks this week, and the weeks past.
And I may not have finished – I may go back and clear the silver off the first set….
originally I thought that they would be kept in their sets…not so sure now.
Elbow grease/turps/time may be needed on them.
I’ll likely know in the coming weeks as I start to turn these feathers into artworks.

week eighteen - playingThis week has been a bit different from my now norm – the studio was needed for a photo shoot and a school visit – so all the feathers had to be boxed up and the studio cleared.
No time for editing patterns this week but I’m still on track for mid year completion.

For many years the year 10 textile class from Santa Maria have visited when they are starting their quilt-making project. I show them a variety of quilts that I have at hand and then sit down at the machine to demonstrate free-machine quilting.
I always get a few of the girls to have a go at quilting their name – their fear and faltering met with supportive howls of laughter.
When their quilts are finished they have a ‘airing of the quilts’ with quilts hung from balconies around the school.
Lovely girls, lovely teachers and a lovely event from start to finish.

The Swiss Family Robinson was a nice easy read – and I particularly love the fantasy of their environment  – with a mash-up of plants and animals from all over the world available on their island. What an interesting visual it makes in my head.

My daily reading of The Making of Home had slowed on reaching the second part of the book. Over lunch today I read about windows – and it has me excited again….

p209 …..Windows might let in thieves, or just the dangerous night air. Witches might also enter: doors, chimneys and windows were all vulnerable points, and witch bottles were buried under doors and hearths, and horseshoes hung over windows to protect them.

Over to the web to search Witch bottles….. the things they contain and why – what a hoot….

Then the very next page;
p210…. The windows of the less well-off, depending on their location, were covered with shutters, or with wooden latticeworks; or with waxed or oiled paper or linen, or fabric rendered opaque by soaking it in turpentine.

Both these excerpts had my pencil on a text-circling dance…hilarity followed by materiality…..today there are more things to add to the feathers tickling my fancy.

Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Act/Craft (Textiles/ Sculpture)
Living in Perth, Western Australia
Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher.