Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I have my moments of perfectionism but mostly I don't stress about little details. I would have gone completely crazy as a girl with three brothers and as a mom with four sons. Creative children and adults need to make a mess. Sometimes creative development requires continuous mess.

My mother was a completely spotless and tidy human being. We were spit polished, floors and wooden furniture gleamed, silver sparkled and windows never had spots. A daily routine for all chores. Which we were never really included in. I was rewarded occasionally with the opportunity to wash a wall, make salads and iron. Boys outside and girls inside. I was the only girl. Housework felt oppressive and still does.

 My mother hated ironing. She figured it out. She would "reward" me with the opportunity to iron from the time I was nine. " If you are really a good girl you might get to iron!" I confess to loving ironing to this day. I love the smell of sweet clean clothes
sprinkled with scented water or "linen" water. The physical action and routine delights me. I used my grandmother's sprinkling bottle to dampen the clothes. It was probably my great grandmother's as I think back.

I have a relationship to textiles through acts of laundry.

 I used to love ironing my father's shirts. I would think of how nice he would look. My big, handsome Dad. Mostly he wore shirts from the cleaners all covered in plastic and hung in the front hall. A perfect covering for his upwardly mobile desires from his farm boy past. But when he wasn't working in offices he wore what I ironed.

My Grandfather's shirts all retained the smell of tobacco. No matter how carefully they were washed. He smoked like a volcano from the age of nine and it defined his scent. Tweedy wool jackets and blue cotton shirts.  He would never wear a white shirt except to a wedding or funeral. He was a "blue collar" Communist. But he always wore pressed shirts and pomade in his lovely dark curly hair. Which he covered in an old fashioned newsboy hat.

My little sons wore sweats and  t-shirts most of the time. Shirts made them itchy. But once in awhile I was treated to ironing them. I was rewarded with their jeans, pockets first, waistbands next, waist details and full leg and then the crisp pleat. No pleats after twelve. No messing with the shredded tears.

Bren was the exception. He wanted to look like Humphrey Bogart from the age of seven. He wore a fedora tilted on his head. He had a little suit jacket and hated the feeling of jeans. He loved swing music. He would open doors for me to pass and say, "Madame" like a doorman. He liked white cotton shirts like Barney, our next door neighbour.

Tim thought ironing was a big waste of time and raced for the dryer to hang things immediately and crisply. He felt guilty when I did anything like that. He didn't want me to act like I was a maid. His English upbringing. I used to sneak in and do it sometimes and hang things by colour. It drove him nuts so I stopped. I have also noticed that he also likes doing laundry.

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