Friday, 16 December 2011


BLING 2010, vintage etched steel tape-measure, spun paper and dyed chair cane 50x50 cms,
photo Trevor Springett

It's December and so far this winter has been mild with sunny days and clear blue skies.  This morning though, the first snowflakes fell here in south-east London as I made my way to the dyslexia unit at a local school to deliver a basketry workshop.  It was the last day of term and the kids had brought gifts for the teachers and sweets to share.  There was jingle bell music playing, 'Miss' was wearing flashing light Christmas tree earrings  and everyone was in festive mood.  I came home and decided to send out this image as my seasonal greetings e-card. 

Though it looks like a giant Xmas decoration/snowflake/star - and why not? - I made it as my personal star chart.  STELLA. It's my guiding star; reminding me how to navigate the complexities of this form of interwoven hexagonal plaiting.  Linda Mowat, my plaiting tutor at the City Lit where I did my Parts One and Two City and Guilds Creative Basketry, drew a star chart with a smiley face and an arrow pointing the direction of the weave. I copied it down and periodically I look out the drawing and redo it just to keep my hand in.  Use it or lose it.

Looking now at these close-ups I can see areas where I lost my way a little amongst the lines and the weave doesn't quite interlock.  It's tight enough though to hold together.  And, I'm happy with the way the lines on the chair cane, caused by the shiny side of the bark acting as a resist to the dye, echo the etched lines of measurement on the vintage steel tape.  Likewise, the uneven patchiness of the bark where it has peeled in places, is reflected by the corroded areas on the mild steel.  The white painted spun paper tape, shredded down into individual strands around the edge of the star, reflects the fine gauge of the cane. 

What looks at first sight like a bit of highly-ordered bling is more a study of distress and unravelling - of surfaces attacked by both natural and engineered processes of aging and decay, of an ordered and apparently predictable system evolving into chaos.  Oh, it's just the same old story! 

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