Walking on the beach, picking up things of interest, will result in a cluttered garage. Strange to tell, once I was planning to fulfil a commission, no driftwood at home or out on the estuary seemed to suit at all. The little dog and I got a lot of exercise and in the end, himself had to be lured down the beach to help me find and carry home enough choices to fit for a frame. A washed up plank, with rusty stumps of nails, was a prize find. I had already been stewing on the idea of using old copper ship's nails, dug up from the mud of the Thames by a metal detectorist. Amazing what people offer to sell on eBay and even more unlikely that there are people like me who consider fifty bent verdigrised nails a total bargain at £1.99 and well worth keeping in a jam jar, always find some corner free in the garage.
Three pieces which interlocked well as a triangle were scrubbed down, dried out and drilled and screwed together from the back.
Setting the pegs took several sessions of fiddling about changing drill bits and sanding down the ends of small bits of driftwood til each was a snug fit in its hole, holding the position I wanted. Once they looked right, all the pegs had to come back out for a drop of wood glue to go down each hole. The nails went in a lot quicker and I couldn't be more pleased with the effect.
For the weaving, I ended up choosing the natural off white and soft fuzz of Ryeland fleece spun long draw about double knitting weight. Though it's not a real weaver's choice, the warp has little need for tensile strength, being all about form rather than function. While I struggled to get the appearance of the materials right, my usual critic and fleece advisor, Elinor Gotland, was mercifully unavailable for comment. Best not to speculate on her views about this venture toward art, particularly given her recent crabbiness. Amazing how she cheered up after a call to dash off and save the show, when the original Fairy Godmother pulled out of a panto at the eleventh hour. You should have seen her trying on the costume. Cinderella will find Elinor's appearance truly astonishing. While I fear the new Fairy Godmother's remarks may be more bracing than anticipated, there is no doubt that she will get Cinders to that ball.
All by myself, I tried and rejected a fair number of breeds of sheepswool to create little fish. My final choice was needlefelted from Polwarth fleece dyed with woad in what must have been a weakening vat, giving almost translucent blues with a soft lustre.
Being hung on a yellow kitchen wall doesn't really show it off to best advantage, but you get the idea. I have called my work 'Charybdis'. It represents a sea whirlpool pulling at the nails in a ship's timber. Avoiding Charybdis, Oddysseus took on Scylla, losing some of his crew being preferable to having the whole ship utterly sucked under. Having chosen the lesser of two evils and taken a bit of damage myself, I've survived to aggrandise my own tiny life with reference to that of a Greek hero and to inhabit that unsettled zone, the beach that separates the land of craft from the sea of art. I am an extraordinarily happy maker.
Το απέφυγα Χάρυβδη