A warm thank you to all who came to the Hackett Shops Party yesterday. Magic & Medicine ran a successful stall and we look forward to seeing you all again soon. Although our wares are available to enjoy via our online store, meeting other crusaders in person is what makes our efforts worthwhile.
Having the tools you need to do your work is a way of telling yourself that your work is important. We all know how to make do and get by. Making do can be a great well-spring for invention. Coming to your workspace each day, however, and handling your tools that support you and carry you along through the dark and the rough is a reminder that your art has worth.
Do you have a favourite tool at this moment? Appreciate all it does for you.
Have you been postponing your work for lack of a functional tool? Sharpen your scissors. Borrow a friend’s palette knives. Start a fresh notebook.
The photograph above is a bespoke silver thimble cast in honour of those who crusade with Magic & Medicine. Beautiful tools, like the thimble, are our invitation to pick up the needle.
One of the most satisfying processes in book-binding is folding.
With secret binder’s magic one simple fold can transform a piece of paper into a divided sequence.
Many binder’s do not consider the accordion book, or concertina book, to be a ‘proper’ book. To them we ask, What is a book?
When you enter an art practice that has its own vocabulary you’re crossing into history. Using the words and meanings specific to crochet connects you with people across time and space.
‘Crochet’ is an old French word for small hook. If we trace the word back to the medieval period it also means ‘canine tooth’.
Like musical notation, or an editing mark-up, crochet stitches have their own symbols, their own language. Crochet symbols operate like ideographs. A slightly flattened circle represents chain stitch. A half double stitch looks like an uppercase letter ‘T’ with a sloping top stroke. The symbols, read in sequence, are a secret code that is unlocked by looping a spun fibre with a small hard hook.
We use the word ‘crochet’ when we do the activity and when we refer to the objects made by the activity. ‘Crochet’ is a verb and a noun like the word ‘echo’ and ‘dye’ and ‘fold’.
Are you hooked?
Dianne’s pattern, tips and tricks for making your own sweet bear (pictured), and learning all things crochet is scheduled to run soon. Expect luxury, good company, world-class teaching and a canine tooth of your own to take home. Message for more details.
Do you like gentle conversation? Can you handle a supportive, creative environment? Have you ever wanted to learn, or re-learn, to crochet?
If so, good news! Crochet an Octopus Class is on this Thursday. All completed octopi are donated to the neo-natal unit (see our earlier blog posts for more on this).
We have everything you need to get started. Message or comment for more information.
Your autonomy, as the author of your ideas, is your locus of power. Autonomy is control over the form of your work. If you write, you do not have to write novels. If you sew, you do not have to sew garments. Your story, your ideas, your narrative, voice, words, thread will dictate their form to you.
Could The Bayeux Tapestry have been anything other than the form that it takes? Could it be other than seventy scenes embroidered on 68 metres of linen. No. Could The Merchant of Venice have been anything other than a tragicomedy? Could it be a three act play rather than five? No.
Your work—in textiles or text—shapes the commercial arm of your medium, not the other way round. For example, the long written narrative form we call ‘the novel’ did not emerge because Barnes & Noble needed merchandise they could sell for profit. No one held focus groups in the 4th century BCE to test if the long legs of an Etruscan bronze horse would sell well in Target. Crewel work, dying, carving, penning are activities done for the sake of themselves. That is their point, their purpose.
Some people scour fashion shows, or Kindle analytics, looking for the Next Big Thing; they chase trend waves to ride by producing passable commercial products generated for a market. Yes, there is a place in society for commercial needs to be fulfilled. Entertainment needs content. Let’s not, however, misname content production. Let’s not use words for content production like ‘weaving’, ‘writing’, ‘creating’ or ‘crafting’.
Write what has never been written before. Felt fibres that have never been struck before. Braid articles that have never been woven before. Make your own market.
Today’s beautiful photographs shows some of Dianne’s contribution to a collaborative art project, Retro Galactic Communitree, installed in 2017-18. While part of the strangeness of the project generates it appeal, today’s post delves into the history of how a tree may come to be cloaked in looped yarn. When we look at the project we recognise a distinct crochet form from the past, the doily.
The crocheted doily, a small starched mat, reached production heights in the 1930s and 40s. Doilies were made by women in their home. The popularity of doily making is attributed to women’s desire to temporarily break from the weighty reality of economic depression and the volatile political environment. Rationing strategies of this period shaped the rise in doily as the small round mat could be made with a simple tool and minimal yarn.
The domestic commonness of doilies tends to mask their versatility and ingenuity. Doilies were often used as a table mat to protect wooden furniture, as chair covers such as an antimacassar, as covers to protect bowls and jars of conserves and chutneys, as plate ornaments and a framing device under cakes and sandwiches, and as cushions and bedspreads.
Doilies of this time were often made using one monochrome colour such as white or bone. This simplicity in colour is counter-balanced by tremendously complex geometric patterns in design. Doilies are deceptive; as a small-scale object they can appear to be a quick and easy project. Yet, this false sense of simpleness and ease betrays the skills of tension and stich which are only visible in a doily when absent.
Crocheted doilies have undergone a revival in recent years. Where original production in the 1930s and 40s reflected ideas of industrial processes and modernist ideals of precision and symmetry, many of today’s crocheted doilies seek to represent community, connection and the values of women’s hand-crafted labour. Doily yarn-bombing brings together ideas of protective cloaking, holding together and loops that gather women from the past and the present.
The private dreams we hold for ourselves can be the most timid, submissive and easily silenced part of ourselves.
Monica is happy to report that after many empty intentions, and several false starts, she submitted an embroidery for judging to the Royal National Agricultural Show. She did not win a ribbon, nor was she awarded a place, but her work was framed, and hung, as though it belonged and deserved to be there.
The best thing about realising her aspiration, about turning this small dream into application, is not the sense of achievement but the new space that opened beyond the ‘I wish I could…’ and the ‘One day I will…’. Seeing the artwork hung in this peculiarly special venue opened a door into new chambers of possibility that Monica never realised were there, all the while waiting for her.
Check back with us in February 2020, or sign-up to have these posts emailed directly to you, as rumours indicate Monica may have something spectacular taking shape on the hoop.
At Magic & Medicine we think art, creation, is for its own sake. Often, our art is a reply to the world; we make to be heard, to broaden the conversation. We answer the Why that we read every day in our worlds. Why poverty? Why excess? Why numb? Why neglect?
We do not create in order to bring about change. Art is not a means. Dianne and Monica live in two very different worlds, different cultures, different nations. Our reply to the Why is from two differing, but coinciding, spheres. We both speak to the destruction in our worlds with the creation of art as an end itself.