Spineless egg book

What is a book? A sequence within a cover? A study of form and time?

An egg is a body formed within a female body. What stories can an egg tell? What narratives are possible within an oval?

Monica hinged two egg-shell pieces to make a spineless book (see the feature image above). The endpapers are a decorated textile that line the inner shell. She will try a traditional marbled endpaper for the next egg book.

The pages are hand-dyed, cold-pressed watercolour paper cut into descending ovals threaded onto cotton floss. The dye was leftover from egg work at Easter.

How would you make a spineless egg book?

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Crochet doily: a humble and enduring form

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.

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Why poverty? Why excess? Why numb? Why neglect?

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.

Embroidery speaks evidence

Embroidery is a busy stillness. It is a full silence. Each day so many mouths talk at us, so very many fingers point towards our deficiencies and our needs. To pick up a needle and attend to our fabric is our blotting paper for the excess of existence. Is your husband ignoring you for a perceived misdemeanor? Embroider through it. Are your children pressuring you to buy buy, supply supply? Feel the quiet completeness of curling thread into a French knot. A friend wants to talk herself through her problems, again? You can listen and sew. You can embroider together.  At day’s end nothing may be solved nor secured but you will have, at least, lived out some moments in creation. You have stitches that show you lived through this day.

Why is it a rejection?

We recently received a rejection from an art gallery for our embroidered letters project. It was a generic, distant rejection that communicated its message: no thanks.

We’re still embroidering letters to each other on interesting and outlandish fabrics. We’ve learnt that when you embroider a letter by hand you really want to mean what you say because it is, clearly, a commitment of time. And in this project, time = love.

Why is it a rejection? It’s not. It’s a chance to do more, stitch more, love more.

We choose to create, not consume. We stitch, not swipe. We hold a hoop, not a phone. That’s magic and medicine. 

Photo 28-08-2018, 9 15 52 AM

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