I’ve had one of those weeks. Not, of course, one of those weeks where everything runs smoothly, where all one’s plans become reality with ease and grace, where the warps are orderly and the wefts harmonious and swift to the shuttle, but one of those other weeks. You know the kind I mean.
I’m not sure that I want to relive any of the tangled thread experiences I’ve had this week, so I think I will leave them to your imaginations. Unfortunately, my clumsiness spilled over into other areas and I ended up with stubbed toes, bruised shins, cuts on my fingers… And every accident made me more grumpy and (no doubt) more accident-prone! Either that or I was stuck in some kind of Bermuda triangle of minor misadventures.
So I was a bit apprehensive about getting out the dyepot yesterday. If I could have such a dangerous impact while weaving, which is normally a fairly safe activity, could I possibly be trusted to handle chemicals?
However, I have a pressing need for black fabric. And not just any black fabric, but handwoven black fabric made with handspun yarn. Why? Well, the universal reason applies: it seemed like a good idea at the time.
One of the artists based in Meadow Mill makes miniature houses from driftwood. He has an idea for a group exhibition next year in which each tenant creates a miniature house of some kind in their own medium. He also has a more immediate idea for a trail of miniature houses around the building at next weekend’s Open Studios. I had a quick think about this a couple of weeks ago and decided that “I don’t make houses”. I could imagine some kind of stuffed-toy house and I just didn’t like the look of it.
But… various emails about the houses kept coming and so I kept thinking about it. And I finally thought, what about a tent? Surely I could make a little tent out of handwoven cloth without too much difficulty? After all, I made a very BIG tent not that long ago.
A bit more thinking about different kinds of tents followed, along with quite a bit of googling, and I found this recent interview titled Sixteen Ways of Looking at a Bedouin Tent. Let me be clear that I have no intention of trying to recreate an authentic any-kind-of tent, let alone a specifically Bedouin one, but I loved the vision of the sun sparkling through the millions of holes in the coarse black fabric. A plain black exterior is also a wonderful disguise for brightly coloured textiles inside, isn’t it? I haven’t spun any black goat hair lately (and had a very unpleasant time with some black alpaca fibre which I don’t plan to revisit) so I decided to overdye some existing cloth instead. Which takes us back to the dyepot….
Fortunately, the jinx seems to have passed off and I managed to turn my wool cloth into a very respectable black proto-tent without poisoning anyone, setting fire to anything or even turning any unauthorised items black. The cloth is pictured below: whether you can see it or not may depend on your monitor!
All I have to do now is work out the structure, build it, furnish it… Well, if my bright ideas don’t work I can still fall back on “I don’t make houses”, but the latest step has been to take a hacksaw to a block of foam — my proto-desert, if you will.