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The puzzle is lying pretty much as it was before Christmas, I have sorted out a lot of the edge pieces and even got some good runs started, though somehow I am not finding/making time for it.  Actually I am not finding time for much else than costumes for Mamma Mia the Party!  The good thing is that I know that I have time in February when I can concentrate on my own work – I really never thought that being an assistant plume maker would keep me this busy!  In truth Tim’s practice goes far beyond plume making, what we doing now is pure costume work.

When things quieten I am going to get myself some feather and play with them!  I am fascinated by them as a material and want to see what they can, and can not, do.  Will that be “artistic research”?  The nature of my work for Tim is teaching me a huge amount, and it is also awakening a lot of questions that will only be answered by experimentation.  I want to do things that have never been done before!  Or at least things that I can not find evidence of … which by definition must make it “research”!  Where or not it is research (artistic or otherwise) is not the really the point.  The point is that I am discovering a material that is new to me and as much as I want to learn its history and understand its heritage I also want to see what else it can do.  I want to spend time in the ‘feather laboratory’!

Reading Thor Hanson’s fascinating and absorbing “Feathers: the evolution of a natural miracle” has been great.  It is a quite remarkable book charting their evolution as both a biological development and cultural (western European) ornament.  When he writes about plucking a small ‘roadkill’ wren  – to understand the different types of feathers found on a single bird – with nothing more than a copy of the ‘Joy of Cooking’ I simultaneously smiled and winced remembering that there is a peasant-hen waiting for me in Tim’s freezer.

The costumes that we are working on are almost completely featherless – yesterday afternoon I prepared a length of ostrich boa that will feature on three outfits.  Sequins are the order of the day – blue, gold, and white sequins!  I am becoming more confident on the (domestic) sewing machine and I am beginning to understand a little more about how to sew garments together.

The long working days will end soon, and then I will have time and money to get on with my things …