Online Studio Week 2, 15th July

Online studio Week 2, 15thJuly

Stephanie’s journal

What came up at the end of last week’s session was the impact of materials on the integrity of the loops we were making – wire gave us strong loops, softer materials meant they did not stand up so well. Mary sent these images which illustrate this well.

Another interesting factor was that the rows of  loops appeared to spiral of their own accord. Was this because of the tension in the individual looping,  the direction of looping, or was it to do with the material and the way that was composed? For some reason my loops didn’t go into a natural spiral, whereas the others’ loops did, whether they worked with metal or with telephone wire. Was it the materials? For example, my fishing net twine was braided and had no twist in it. Could this help explain it?

So, because of this, we had decided last week to send around materials to each other in advance. Mary would send paper twine, telephone wire, plastic tubing; Geraldine would send plastic wire and dyed rattan; Hilary was sending dyed rush; I was sending fishing net twine and braid.

This was so great. We got little packages through the post, full of diverse, colourful materials – pink and blue rattan, multi-coloured telephone wire, yellow plastic tubing. Mary had included a list of itemised materials. And Hilary and Geraldine sent beautiful old postcards. Ricardo remarked that they must have a great collection of these cards.

Today, having just about mastered the loop last week, I determined to make two rows this week and then to see if I could join them in a similar way to the Borneo backpack in Jason’s collection (see last week). I had previously spent months puzzling how to do this, and had a device given to me by Bunty Ball who had been working on the problem too. I had always felt it had to be simple, that people would not have devised a complicated system to do this. So I began by first of all making a row of loops, trying it out in rattan, and then in my own braided fishing net cord.

Meanwhile, everyone was trying different ways to expand their looping into a spiral by either adding in a loop every three rows; or just by making each consecutive loop bigger than the last one. The aim, as said last week, was to try to create a spiral shell, inside and out; having been reading D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth and Form, we wanted to see if we could make a spiral form through basketry in a similar vein to how it might grow. Hilary was taking a slightly different approach, by working not from the base of a loop, but from the top. Her work was becoming ever more sculptural and spiral like.

So many tiny details affect such a simple stroke. It has taken me two weeks to pick this up. One row was a tricky to grasp, but then the second row presented a new lot of challenges, see here on the shower hose example.  Also, really,  I was too focused on making two separate rows for the base of the Borneo back-pack, rather than trying to grow them incrementally. Working on one row at a time, I really began to see how you could use your fingers as part of the tensioning, add new loops to the next finger, then moving them along

I also realised, by watching Geraldine teaching Ricardo, that I was working in the reverse way to her, that took me a couple of hours to figure.

We agreed to meet again at the MMU reading group on the next day, Thursday, and also to plan for a full session focussed on looping and spirals with the  group, in a fortnight’s time.

At the end of the session, I added a row of figure of 8 loops to my 2 rows of fishing net loops. I think I have cracked the beginnings of a Borneo backpack.


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