It’s not hard to remember my first project as it was only 5 years ago! A friend had given me an old, soft and beautiful English linen tea towel printed with William De Morgan’s peacock and fish. She knew that I love the Arts and Craft movement. Although I had never embroidered, something about the idea of glorifying and honouring the humble tea towel and the anonymous feminine work that it represents tickled my feminist fancy and I thought I would outline a few lines. Ha!
I had never stitched but as a weaver-in-training (loom and tapestry) I was very comfortable experimenting with thread and yarn so I bought some DMC floss and a pack of needles and thought I would just doodle a bit.
By the time I was done, around 250 hours later, it was heavy with thread. It turned out to be a vivid and naive piece that I am still very proud of. And I have been stitching ever since.
These days I really enjoy learning, adapting, and practising different traditional styles of needlework, but I think that embroidery is, at it’s base, the most intuitive and natural of all the yarn and thread crafts. That first piece showed me that picking up a needle and thread, even with no knowledge of proper stitches, is enough to create a work of beauty.
“There is no art in turning a goddess into a witch, a virgin into a whore, but the opposite operation, to give dignity to what has been scorned, to make the degraded desirable, that calls for art or for character.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I have strong feelings about the concept of ugliness, appropriate because ugliness is a strong concept. I have a friend who once told me that, in his opinion, I was “All about the pretty” which is not quite right. Actually I am all about the beautiful which is a much more powerful and challenging aesthetic. And ugliness is often beautiful. I encourage reading this impressive article.
…”Hag is not a nice word. Yet there comes a time in every woman’s life when nice is tedious, when nice is insipid, seeping into the soul like souring milk, warping the mind. Indeed, nice can, at times, be all that is offensive.”
~ Emma Restall Orr – Kissing the Hag.
I was immediately caught up in the wonder of the intersection between non-Euclidean geometry, feminism, crochet, and environmentalism, and I set out to make my own Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Garden.
I have a crochet coral reef in my living room.
My Coral reef is full of tiny sea creatures, mostly sea turtles, octopuses, and snails, because I find them the most fun to crochet.
When kids come to visit, I like having something completely indestructible for them to play with. It’s extra fun when they find a tiny albino sea turtle hiding inside a sea-weedy coral. Very often, a guest will pick up a coral to play with and sometimes I send the coral home with them. Everyone should have an encounter with a coral garden I feel.
I am a craftswoman, not an artist. I am a Craftivist too. Let me tell you why…
The Personal Is Political
Words can be unexpectedly powerful. The difference between a craftswoman, needleworker, crocheter, fibre or textile artist, and artisan, etc., may be only a matter of terminology, but what you call yourself makes a real difference in both self and public perception.