Bricolage

updated 24 August 2008

A woven tapestry on a piece of driftwood. Lovely blue yarns with flecks of bright colour, loose light and soft, interwoven are shards of broken teapots. The teapots refer to a Livejournal blog on juggling that has an entry about relationships and teapots. The text of the blog entry had to be incorporated in the work so that the viewer can understand the significance of the teapots.  The blog entry has been printed, laminated, and then cut into a few strips, which are interwoven in the tapestry so that the viewer can read it and piece together the content. Miles Gould, the author of the original piece, has given me permission to use his blog entry in this way.

Before starting to collect materials, I had an absolutely clear visual and tactile image of the finished weaving. I’m quite pleased to have found pretty much what I was looking for. See the photo gallery for ongoing documentation of the process – updated as of 24 August.

image of weaving
bricolage documentation – unretouched photos

Process notes:

13 August – made some more progress on weaving yesterday. The process of creating is not dissimilar from the parts of my job that I enjoy – thinking about what wants to be accomplished and working through various ways to accomplish it. I had never done any weaving previously although I’d done quite a bit of other crafts such as macrame. I did seek out some advice from more experienced weavers.  However, interweaving broken teapots into a tapestry is not something that has been done before to my knowledge.  Each step involves working out an approach to the task, testing, and refining the approach. For example, once I’d attached the first teapot shard, I found it hard to weave from the front of the piece, so I flipped it round and wove from the back, which was much faster and easier. Yesterday I tried two different ways to attach a teapot spout, neither of which worked. Now I have new idea to try out today. This is the approach taken by the bricoleur/artist, not the engineer.

11 August – last night I tied the warp threads to the wood mount with a dowel rod on the bottom, yesterday smoothed the rough edges of porcelain with sandpaper. Today I cut a cardboard box to make two shuttles and wound the two types of yarn around them. All this activity while listening to Buddha Bar ethno-chill compilations. Observations on the procees – how pleasant to go through the rhythmic handling of fibre – over under around and through, repeat.  Tactile experience of the yarn.  Measure and snip, measure and snip like the three Fates (well, I’m not doing the spinning).

9 August – wood has been prepared to serve as a mount for the weaving, and teapots have been processed. Might need to buff over the sharp edges of the shards. See the gallery below for documentation. Next big step is to tie on the warp threads.

5 August – all pieces have been acquired. A range of teapots from charity shops, dead branches from Penglais Woods, yarn and warp cotton from local knitting shop, laminated printouts of the blog post (with permission of the writer). Next step is to assemble, photograph, and begin the weaving.

Enhancement / digital documentation

The process of creating the piece may be documented photographically.  Images include:

  • image of the blog entry
  • collecting the wood
  • several teapots from charity shops sitting on a table
  • teapots being smashed into a plastic box
  • starting the weaving, include the hands
  • a few shots of the weaving process
  • tie off the bottom of the weaving – finished!

In addition to the small photo gallery with accompanying text based on this scrapbook entry, if the digital documentation becomes the final piece, then a link to the original blog entry can be provided. In this enhancement, the actual weaving becomes merely an artefact, while the artwork is the digital documentation of its creation.

What is bricolage?  See my del.icio.us tag for Bricolage to read some extracts from Levi-Strauss’ seminal work The Savage Mind and thoughts on bricolage in the Web 2.0 world.

slight revision 20 July 2008

A weaving on a piece of driftwood, lovely blue yarns with flecks of bright colour, loose light and soft, interwoven are shards of broken teapots.

If in electronic format, embed a link to the Livejournal blog on juggling that has an entry about relationships and teapots, otherwise include portions of the text in a separate frame next to the weaving.  Add Rrose’s quote as a response:

pick through the shards and reassemble into something new and more beautiful

Or possibly not, it depends on whether the audience gets the idea of bricolage.  Is it clear enough what is happening with the teapot shards in the weaving? Does it even matter whether it is clear enough? I like the strangeness of it, and as visualised it is quite beautiful. Hope you, whoever is reading this, can see the beauty in it.

Would it be overkill to include a photo of bricolage at Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona or a link so that viewers could choose to see the photo? My thought is probably yes, overkill, although if the form of the piece changes dramatically into something like a video, a one-second flash of a part of this image could be intercut into a video piece as part of a montage. Leaning very much towards montage overall at this moment.

Gaudis architecture at Parc Guell in Barcelona

Gaudi's architecture at Parc Guell in Barcelona

Would need to get access to a proper loom to create in 3-D, or else do a computer graphic to represent this. I think this piece would be lovely in real life, with a tension between the soft strands and the sharp edges of the pottery shards – would they cut through?

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