I’m working a lot with paper yarn at the moment. It’s one of my favourite materials, very strong and grippy, with enough body to hold sculptural forms. The down side is that it can be quite unforgiving, with a tendency to kink and twist. But sometimes the twist can be channelled to create extra movement in a form.
So what am I working on? The answer is a couple of different projects, but with a similar theme of bones. The one I want to talk about today is my submission for the next Prism Textiles Group exhibition in April, which has the title of “Untold”. Because it’s so soon after the last one in October I haven’t really had the energy to really think about this, despite the submission deadline being this week!
But then I read something about osteoporosis, a disease that occurs when too much bone mass is lost, causing changes in the structure of bone tissue. It’s often called a “silent” disease because there are typically no symptoms until a bone is broken or one or more vertebrae collapse (fracture). My mother in law suffered from osteoporosis – she was very frail before she died.
So my idea is to use paper yarn to evoke the lacy structure of osteoporotic bone using openwork weaving, sometimes attached to real bones, sometimes freestanding. Here are a couple of samples I’ve been experimenting with.
A project like this takes you down a lot of unusual rabbit holes – my research on how to clean bones has led to some interesting websites! But now I know that bones should not be boiled, as that drives the fat back into the structure, that you can use biological washing detergent to degrease them, and that to whiten them you should use hydrogen peroxide rather than bleach.
It also sheds new light on your friends. On hearing about this project, one of my stitching pals promptly presented me with a pelvic bone from a sheep (or maybe lamb, given its size) that she found in Shetland. Thanks Carol!