TIF Challenge May 2

Well I didn’t turn into a pumpkin! I got my May TIF Challenge piece done yesterday (just) but too late for taking photos.

I decided to create something that included some of the techniques I love most, and to try to express how I often feel as if I’m exploding in all directions – there’s such an onslaught of possibilities it seems impossible to choose between them.

For the background I used a piece of indigo-dyed shibori I made at a workshop taught by Nell Dale. I applied scrim that I’d dyed and torn, and some little bits and bobs – hand stitching, machine stitching, felt, knitting, dyeing, batik, printing, and layered fabrics. I also love textiles with writing, so I added the phrase that Neki of A Moveable Feast picked out from my thoughts on the challenge question – ‘naming is not defining – it is choosing’.

But choosing means saying no as well as yes. I long to learn to focus enough to practise, in every sense of the word. I enjoy exploring so many things but I also value skill and mastery, and to attain those things one must make choices and leave some roads untravelled. For now, as a student, I’m constantly trying out new paths and revisiting old ones, but I also hope that on the way I’ll discover which directions take me “further up and further in”… that I will learn my name.

appliqué piece

Links to the beautiful and thought-provoking work being done for Sharon’s Take it Further Challenge can be found on her blog In a Minute Ago, the Flickr group, and the Take it Further Challenge blog.

TIF Challenge May 1

Aside: a link to the story of The Wild Swans I mentioned in my last post.

Now, the Take it Further Challenge for May.

Sharon asked, “What do you call yourself and why?” when you’re asked to describe your creative activities. She said,

“The way I see it is if you can’t talk about what you do, or haven’t taken care in how you think about what you do, how do you expect others to respect the way you spend your time? Or how do you expect people to respect what you make?”

I’ve thought and thought about the question and I’ve come to the conclusion that, yes, naming is important, but I want to be very careful to distinguish it from labelling. Of course we need shared labels – a kind of shorthand to help others to know how to see us, and sometimes to help focus ourselves, but they are, in every sense, limited. I don’t agree that respect is dependent on how we’re able to talk about our work. I agree that thinking and talking about what we do is important, but for me it’s an ongoing, open-ended conversation…

Naming is not defining, it is choosing. It’s the opening up of potentials and possibilities. A label often says more about what we are not. When I file something, I have to choose a slot for it. I might cross-reference, but I can’t afford to be too messy about it. It more or less has to be one thing or another. Whereas me myself I – we can be many things. At once. Or in turn. Or now and again. And a child is usually given more than one name – sometimes many – names with meaning, heroic or familial or mellifluous, or all of those things.

So I’m Fiona. I was Finlay now I’m Dix. I’m lovefibre. I’m a beginner and a student. And names I might give myself to play with, to see where I can go and who I can be – maker / textile artist / embroiderer / feltmaker / dyer / other; and because nouns alone don’t seem enough, I’ll add messy / creative / impulsive / colourful / melancholic / curious into the mêlée for good measure.

Of course this might all be an elaborate way of saying, I don’t know…

my avatars