Thursday, 7 February 2013

My Kingdom for a Rug

It’s funny how you get an idea of what a fictional detective might look like as you either read or listen to investigative stories.  I’m currently listening to C J Sansom’s ‘Sovereign’, featuring the very human character, Tudor period lawyer Matthew Shardlake. It's  a very well-woven story with so many threads appearing yet joining seamlessly together.  My ‘mind’s eye’ picture of Shardlake came unwittingly alive this week when just the type of face I’d imagined burst onto our TV screens as the facial reconstruction of real king Plantagenet Richardthe Third, re-discovered under a Leicestershire car park. 
How do our mental pictures of people and things gather their momentum?  You can understand that a lifetime of visiting art galleries, museums and country houses, of viewing historic portraits and being taught about past lives and times would colour our imagination.   Yet you still have a mental picture of how you want something to look when you start making, whether you’re working to a knitting pattern or making it up as you go on loom.  You’ve very little for your mind’s eye to go on, but there’s still a picture in there waiting to come to life under your hands.  I was a little doubtful that my colour and texture combo for a peg-loom rug recently would work but luckily using each colour in very small amounts brought together by the figuring in the fluffy blue seems to make it all hang together nicely.     

It’s the second peg-loom rug I’ve made (I tried a small tester one earlier in the summer), but I’ve got plans for a larger project using one of my mega yarns. I want to try doing a circle – no idea how to achieve that but maybe it’s about starting small with a full stop and increasing gradually.  At least I know that in colour terms, whatever I do will be quite tame compared to the amazingly inspired creators in the Foundation Rugs’ video of their ‘Rug Addicts’ exhibition!  
My rug weaving won’t have a definite top and bottom either, like the hand-knotted beauties in the V&A’s collection (illuminated in detail by Curator Jennifer Weardon’s videos).   I’m always impressed by the phenomenal attention to detail in Middle Eastern hand-woven rugs, like those due to be displayed at the London Antique Rug and Textile Art Fair in April.  I'm also overwhelmed by the amount of skill and effort it takes to make them.  Though Brian Murphy’s book ‘The Root of Wild Madder’ was written some time ago now, one still wonders whether today’s hand-weavers are really getting just rewards for their artistry. The complexity of their patterns and their cultural significance have engaged many brains across the centuries, including apparently Sigmund Freud, who had quite a collection of Oriental rugs. 

My little bit of weaving though will be much less complex: my patterns will already be set by the colour of the yarns I’ve made.  If I get warped up in time I’ll take my peg loom to Textiles in Focus, so come along and see how I’m doing if you can.  I’d appreciate any constructive comments or ideas on how to make a circle. King Richard the Third may have pledged his kingdom for a horse in battle:  I’ll just settle for a mega-yarn rug that approximates something round, and won’t be too much of a battle in holding its shape!  Here’s wishing you a fruitfully creative week, guided by the foresight of your mind’s eye.

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