It’s been an enjoyable and productive week at the studio. I had a day-in lieu and that in combination with Easter Monday meant that I was only in the office for a half day on Wednesday morning. If only every week could be like that – without any detrimental impact to my income obviously! Some of the artists that I know in Britain are also finding themselves with more studio time than usual. Their Facebook and Instagram pages are heavy with the quarantine fruits. Others are finding it much tougher with postponed exhibitions, cancelled workshops, and creative blocks in the shadow of the current situation. Not to mention those who are now having to home educate their children and/or getting used to having their partner also working from home. For all my anxiety about Sweden’s laid backed response to the coronavirus I am relieved that I am able to go about my ’non essential’ work without restriction.
The result? I am making a new series of works which have been floating around my mind for several months if not more than a year (or two). The glitter has temporarily (?) been put aside and I am working with second-hand men’s clothing again: shirts and ties. Each shirt gets deconstructed, it is the two front panels that I am interested in. To remove these in their entirety requires unpicking more seams than I had imagined, and these seams where stitched to be durable. I am fascinated by the way in which the various pieces/panels are attached to each other: narrow interwoven folds hide raw fabric edges, unpicking them reveals that seam allowances are folded and stitched on both the ’wrong’ and ’right’ sides of the component pieces. The shoulder seam is such that the bulk of the fabric sits on the shoulder rather than fall down the arm. The side seam folds backwards, the yoke is a double thickness of fabric. The stitched themselves are short and tight. It can be tricky to get my ’quick-unpick’ under that first stitch. And before that I have to try and remember the best order in which to work. It is hard to express the sheer delight when I find that ’sweet-spot’ that allows me to draw a thread running from the hem up the side of the body and down the inside of the arm. I think that different manufactures follow the same procedure for making up a shirt, I just haven’t quite got to the bottom of it. I am enjoying this kind of ’reverse engineering light’, what I am calling learning by undoing.
The secrets of ties are also being revealed to me as I extract interfacings and remove labels and care instructions. I am very curious about the construction of a tie: there are three distinct sections joined with two diagonal seams that eventually will sit on the back of the wearer’s neck. I assume that this construction enables the tie to follow the fabric of the shirt collar and lie flat in the fold.
I have re-configured the furniture in the studio, the two work tables are now parallel with each other with just enough room to stand or sit between them. One table is high enough to work at standing, the other sitting. This works very well, it feels easy and efficient to move between the tables. Repositioning both tables closer to a larger window was no bad decision either and I am sure contributes to making time at the studio more pleasurable – why did that take me a year to figure out?