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.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

From text to thread

SHIFU is the process of spinning Japanese paper into threads. This ancient technique of making thread allowed Well Used, Well Loved participants a way to safely and secretly share their responses to the project prompts.
beautifully decorated kozo paper
Fold and Cut
The process begins with the writing and drawing on kozo paper.
The paper is folded and cut into thin strips. Then it is torn at alternating ends to create one long, continuous strip of paper.

Kozo paper is all cut

Each place where this continuous strip makes a turn needs to be pre-spun. Using a little moistness on my fingers, I give this corner a little twist to make the spinning process more smooth. This turning juncture in the paper strip makes a small "seed" and gives Shifu threads their unique character.
Tearing the edges to make a long continuous strip
Once all the seeds have been pre-twisted I begin to spin the paper into thread - either with a drop spindle or on the spinning wheel.
I will upload a video of spinning in the next blog posting! Happy Shifu!!
From paper to thread

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