From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Experimentations in nets- technique collection

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Solomons Knot Stitch (photo credit to Joyful Abode on Flickr)

-Solomon's Knot Stitch- (photo credit to "Joyful Abode" on Flickr/joyfulabode.com)

So tonight I spent a while trying several different methods of net-making out for my upcoming installation.

For months I’ve had certain methods and materials in my head, but as usual once I actually scout out materials and start experimenting with them, my plans change.

The gauge and texture of rope I had in my mind cannot be found in black, only white- not in any hardware store, not when I track down the manufactures- nowhere.  It may be possible to custom make it if I order enough to stock a couple of hardware stores for a year.  Not really in the budget. I get white- it was my second choice, I’ll try it.

So I start thinking about the knots themselves.  I find notes I took on hammock making years ago  in Costa Rica when I persuaded a local craftsperson to show me (I learned earlier in the Yukatan but neglected to take notes).  I even found some hasty, badly-made hammock parts.  The real finds were the cord and the netting needle.

I try out the hammock-knots and discover that the white rope I thought was right is too thick anyway.  I wanted a certain silhouette, but it looks wrong, clunky and flimsy all at once.  I try out the hammock/fishing net-knots on the much narrower black cord I found.  Suddenly it looks better, but not quite right.  I look up other knot-methods.  It still isn’t coming naturally, and it seems a bit bare, a bit flimsy… and while I want to suggest “net” I am starting to wonder if I don’t want it to be different enough that it isn’t exactly a fish net.

Suddenly I think about crochet and the last shawl I nearly finished before I got too busy again and lost track of it.  The important thing it did was show me new techniques- Solomon’s or lover’s knot was one of them and it is a beautiful thing.  It comes out like a net, but it has three strands rather than one.  Fuller, richer…  now I’m doing a test on that and wondering if I still want cord or whether it’s better to get some strong ribbon.

I like to make people associate an image or object with many things.  I want an association with nets, but the shape does that just fine, especially with things caught in it.  Cord may well be overkill.  Also, it’s not pleasant to touch.  Ribbon is nearly as strong, but it has a softness to it that I like… and it creates other associations.  The black will make a stark line against a background- like text, little traps, net, bars… but the softness lends certain opposite associations- like a shawl- I think of being wrapped in a mother’s arms.

I like the contrast.  So now, having written this, doing ribbon crochet seems the obvious choice.

I had to take the journey through various possibilities though.  And I had to have those possibilities at my fingertips- or at least on a shelf  just across the room.  For as long as I can remember I have compulsively picked up a bewildering variety techniques and craft skills wherever I find them.  Increasingly they seem to be coming together in my art where I can put them to interesting new uses for which they were never intended.

I wonder when the Venetian mask-making I learning in back alley shop in Venice will come in handy?  Yes, I know it’s all online now… and yet if I haven’t touched it and done it with my hands first it doesn’t seems to be properly mine to call on.

Stocking the store with techniques and a visual, textural library is a lifelong process in itself.

In other thoughts… it seems that a trip to the yarn store is in order tomorrow- assuming that further experiments with the black ribbon I have on hand look and feel as right as I expect them to.

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Written by marycoreymarch

September 4, 2009 at 10:46 am

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