The little tapestry that came out of thinking about laundry, sacredness and prayer rags is done (and even packaged and waiting to send off to my tutor!). It came out very close to what I envisaged. As I wrote in the previous post, I chose the word ‘sacred’ from a list in my course book, and focused on the idea of the sacred in the mundane, as expressed in Kathleen Norris’s book ‘The Quotidien Mystery: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work’. I sketched a design for a stylised drying green but didn’t think I would be able to execute it technically, and then I started thinking about rag trees, which I’ve seen in Cornwall and Ireland, which led me to prayer cloths, found all over the world in various forms. I love the idea of cloth embodying prayer.

I decided to work with a combination of wool tapestry and cloth rya knotting that could evoke both rag trees and clothes lines. I auditioned various yarns for the tapestry but decided to spin my own in the end. I was trying to achieve a spacious meditative feel for the background, blending colours of sky, clouds and leaves.

spun yarn
spun yarn

Each scrap of fabric knotted into the tapestry has meaning for me, associated either with a person, an idea, or a memory. I like the result overall but I would change some of the sizes of the pieces, as I don’t think the balance is quite right – I was trying to create the kind of wildness you see in a rag tree, and if several neighbouring pieces are too similar in size it looks like a fringe and that freedom is lost. This happens in the third line down, which is the one I’m least happy with – it also breaks the rhythm of the diagonals and I think the line should be less horizontal. I was trying to create some variety in the diagonals but that one looks stolid instead of dynamic. I like the way some of the fabrics fray and curl up – this creates the ‘alive’ feeling I was hoping for. I photographed the piece outside where the wind could touch the cloth to emphasise this.

tapestry
tapestry

I’m not sure whether the piece works in the end or is just too literal. I wanted it to be abstract and symbolic more than representational. What do people think? I couldn’t have made it any bigger as that was limited by the size of my frame, but I wonder if it would have been stronger at a larger scale. Technically there are problems with ridges in the weaving which I think comes from using a simple frame with a single shed stick; and I would need to do a lot more weaving to find out why it twists in opposite directions at top and bottom.

I’ve also been working on my theme book for the final assignment of the course, which has an absolute deadline of 16th June. My theme is ‘hospitality’, thinking particularly about asylum and sanctuary for all kinds of people who might not be made welcome by everyone. After reading a little piece in Country Living about ‘How to Lay the Perfect Table’ I decided to focus on ‘How to Lay the Imperfect Table’. These are some of the pages from my theme book. Most of what I’ve done so far is playing with the ideas but I’m ready to start sampling now.

theme book
theme book
theme book

sacred in ordinary

8 thoughts on “sacred in ordinary

  • May 22, 2010 at 11:58 am
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    The size, scale and execution of that little prayer flag piece is perfect. Beautifully done.

  • May 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm
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    I think it’s lovely but can see what you mean about the middle section ……… perhaps break the little dark solid group up with just another lighter one inbetween them? Some lovely ideas in the sketchbook!

  • May 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm
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    Love the whole idea of your prayer rag tapestry and its beautifully executed. The background colour suits the mood very well and the scale of the work is perfect I think. We have a rag tree quite near us at the Clootie Well on the Black Isle where people leave little pieces of fabric as a present for the fairies.
    Your theme book idea is also very interesting. Look forward to seeing what you do with it. Best of luck with the rest of the course!
    Penny

  • May 23, 2010 at 9:04 pm
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    I love the wools you have spun for the background. The colours are very restful and the flag fabrics do look very effective. I’ve seen the Clootie Well that Penny speaks of and it is surprisingly magical. I’m not sure that you need to worry about their arrangement.

    Good luck with meeting your deadline. Did you see Alice Kettle’s collaboration with a ceramic artist entitled ‘Place Settings’? She has some images on her website in New Projects http://www.alicekettle.com/

  • May 24, 2010 at 10:35 am
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    i think i see what you mean about being literal. perhaps just one diagonal with the rags…
    i really like how you incorporated the act of spinning to the project. it does make a statement, more that the actual yarn itself, if you know what i mean.

  • May 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm
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    I think its a lovely piece as ever carefully thought out. For me the diagonal lines are a bit too regualar, a bit too zig zag , maybe they need to start crossing oer the last piece. Anyway it is lovely.

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  • March 13, 2012 at 6:12 am
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    hello Fiona, I like your woven work it makes me think of the photos I’ve seen of Tibet and Nepal with the zigzaged prayer flags going up the mountain though this might not be what you intended, abstract and iregular are harder to do than most people think, you have done well, have you taken this further? exploring further might be a way to go with your prayer flag work, Frances

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