THE BACK STORY: In January 2016 I launched "Well Used, Well Loved" (WUWL)a long term community art project that explores age, beauty, impermanence and attachment through a hand woven dish towel and reflective writing/drawing. Eight households from England to Oregon "adopted" a hand woven linen towel to use however they wish. Every other week I sent a prompt for reflection to be recorded in a small journal that I provided. The response to my initial call to participate in WUWL was overwhelming. Over 50 households expressed interest in taking part in the project and I only had 8 towels.

So I created a secondary project that dovetailed with the first one. This second group of ultimately 38 households (Maine to Arizona) wrote and drew on kozo paper (a special Japanese paper) to record their response to my prompts. Thru a hands-on workshop at my studio I taught local folks from this group how to spin their kozo paper into thread using a Japanese technique called Shifu. I created a video tutorial for those who wanted to learn to spin their paper from afar.

Prompts to both groups were the same. For example Prompt #6 was: "The materials for this project are hand woven linen and Kozo paper. Both are created from plant fibers, known for their absorption qualities. Absorption can also been seen as dissolving boundaries. In that light what parallels or connection do you observe between your own ability to absorb, to soak up, to empathize? What connections do you perceive between your linen/paper and the action of union, of dissolving boundaries, connection? What value do these actions have today.

In September 2017 I began to collect the 8 towels, the kozo papers and the journals to wrap up the project. The journals, the used/loved towels and the completed four panel piece woven from the community threads combine to create an installation that honors and reflect the spirit of this project.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Paper meets people

 Images of the Kozo paper as it arrives and settles into life. Thank you for sharing these Paper Team!!

Towel VI gets a bath!

Towel VI gets a bath today!
Betty from NH has written this in the voice of towel VI ~

Hi Sarah,
     #VI here.  I've had a traumatic morning.  I was hanging around in the
kitchen as usual when I heard her say, "Throw VI in with the jeans and the
other dark towels.  Remember what Sarah said about the dyeing!"


     I was abruptly thrown in a basket with some other dark stuff and my
friend 'Green Towel'.  He took us all to the basement and threw us in a
hole!  Then he proceeded to dump white powder on my head.


     Then even worse, the place started to flood and get all cloudy and

     Things started to spin out of control and I bumped up against my friend
'Green' who saw my panic.   ' Green' said, "Relax VI,  this is Spa Day and
you're going to like it!"   I tried to relax and found that the swim in the
pool was actually quite refreshing.   So after a good swim we were
transferred to the sauna.  Now that felt good!  I stretched my warp and weft
back into shape and luxuriated in the warmth and comradery.  After tumbling
with the jeans and 'Green" for a while we were taken from that hole and
folded into another basket for the trip back upstairs.
     So, I was well used in my first week and was rewarded with the Spa
Treatment.    My panic is over and I am becoming "Well Loved"  Life is Good!

PS.  She sent a picture for you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Far and wide

These images from Ellen who is currently on Guatemala. She has purchased her own towel and journal to participate on the project. Thanks for sharing there amazing images Ellen!

journal store

hand-woven towel with weaver

hand-woven towel ready to be used and loved

Soft Landing

"Good morning, Sarah,
Who knew such resistance was lurking below the surface? I am a self-identified fabric lover and never miss the opportunity to collect linens...although I have gotten more discerning. The pile of towels to the right rarely get used...the top one (1980) rescued from my father's rag box as I took apart my childhood home following my mother's death. Two Paris flea market finds below that....the small center pile-new and still pretty, so I don't grab them first...the left pile, the workhorses...and IV bridging the divide. But IV is anxious to work and establish her usefulness--beyond being beautiful.  What an interesting, thought provoking journey this will be!  So many layers."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night

Special delivery
As the USPS creed says - "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

And thus it is true - I just got these photos from a Linen Team participant in Milford CT- and I can't help from feeling so incredibly amazed a happy.
Warm soup with towel on a snowy day.

And one more Linen Team photo from a NH family.
Family towel in NH

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Off they go into the wild blue yonder!

One last look at the towels.
Today I went to the post office and shipped off the eight towels and journals to the linen team. The Kozo paper has arrived for the Paper team - so tomorrow I'll start to prepare the packets for this group.

I continue to be surprised and delighted by the response to this project. I have had over 45 people request to be involved in the project. There will be over 40 people involved on both teams (paper and Linen).

I have asked participants to contribute to this blog - or to email me and I'll share their news. So stay tuned for more news - the exploration into age and beauty has begun!
Towel and journal ready to travel.

Ready to ship.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The projects has legs!

I have received over 40 requests to participate in this project!
Today I emailed the two groups that will be participating. I'll keep the information fresh as this unfolds.

The heart of "Well Used, Well Loved" (WUWL)  is an inquiry into  thoughts, feelings and reflections on age and beauty.
From its inception this community art project has had two legs - The Linen Team: which reflects on age and beauty through the use of a hand-woven linen towel and  The Paper Team: which records personal reflections and conversation around age and beauty on Japanese Kozo paper that will eventually be spun into thread and woven in to a textile art work.

NEWS FLASH!! Well Used, Well Loved has received grant funding from the Artists Resource Trust a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation! So now the project can really fly on these two legs! Thank you to the A.R.T and the folks at the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation!!

In one spirit ~ Sarah


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Project ready to go! Seeking 8 households or individuals!!!

Towels and journals ready to go!

Well Used, Well Loved

A community art project that explores age and beauty

Will you consider joining me in this reflection on age and beauty?

     I am seeking 8 individuals or households to "adopt" a hand-woven linen towel to use for six months. You will be asked to record periodic reflections and observations in a small journal that will be provided. Each site will be invited to have a "kitchen table conversation" with me at least once during the time period.
     At the end of the six months, I will collect the used towel, exchanging it for a new towel as a thank you for participating in the project.
     The eight Well Used and Well Loved towels will be the centerpiece for an installation grounded in an exploration of aging and beauty.     The journals (or text from them) will also be a part of the final installation.
     If you are interested I will ask you to sign a participation agreement. You will agree to use the towel, to communicate during the project's 6 months, to write in a journal, to return the towel at the end of six months.

Please visit my website for more info.

Please contact me if you are interested in participating in this project.

Thank you!