There’s the apron with all of the flowers on. Lots of stitches, lots of flowers. I like it, but until today haven’t quite been able to pinpoint why it isn’t quite right. I will finish it, and it will be a piece of work along the way. It will be fine.
After finishing the MA, Bo Jones and I decided we needed to keep going, we needed a focus. By working alongside in occasional, sporadic, higgledy piggledy collaboration we both learned a thing or two.
One of the things I learned was the essence of stitch. That chain stitch and French knots and composite stitches and laid work (see apron) were all very well, but the essence of stitch was up and down. That’s it really. Up. Down.
A stitch fixes one thing to another with a short line. Then you make a longer line. Sometimes my lines follow words. But mostly they go up and down in straight(ish) lines. That’s all I need them to do. Sometimes the stitch just goes through. The only thing it fixes is itself. The line.
There you go: my materials research. The product of a year’s work. Up. And down. And possibly up again.
But… What you stitch with and onto. That’s the real tricky bit.
These marks I make at the moment are mere smudges.
I take apart a garment to get at the warp and weft threads, printed cotton works best, because then what I do is stitch a ghost of the pattern onto something else… A smudge of one person up against another. A tell-tale mark of how one person has touched another…. And I use the word touch in the loosest of ways.
One person affecting, mending, loving another…
It’s more than a stain, and less than a stain. The stitches can’t be washed out. (I know, sometimes neither can the stain.) Sometimes it can be unpicked. Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes if you unpick it you can still see the needle holes. Some fabric forgives the needle. Some does not. Some starts to unravel from the hole. All of these elements are important.
The research continues into the objects being taken apart and the objects being stitched into. What are they, who do they signify?
Sometimes it’s complicated. The child’s old linen dress I repair is not my child, is not me, but perhaps my mother. I mend it with a fragment of a long worn out skirt given to me, by her friend. I stitch them together with the threads taken from a girl’s dress… Who is doing the mending? What is it that needs repair? I’m reassuring my mother. And she tells me it’s ok. She died 21 years ago. But she is still telling me it’s ok. And I’m telling her I know.