As a conservation student with a background in textile art, I tend to linger in the textile world even outside of the formality of my studies. This lockdown has provided generous free time to return to some of my favorite textile hobbies, namely quilting and knitting, that keep my manual skills in check while we await our return to the conservation studio. I also discovered a new hobby to fill the many craft hours that lockdown afforded me. Well, hardly a new hobby, as it is a technique practiced for as long as textiles have existed. Darning clothing has become less practiced over time due to the accessibility of fast fashion, but I have discovered it to be a lovely, meditative way to fight disposable fashion habits and lessen my contribution to textile waste. Darning socks and shirts has rekindled an appreciation for my belongings and became a nice way to pass the time while listening to audiobooks and podcasts.
When I am not dabbling in textile art I like to spend my time making food art. I’ve always loved baking and this lockdown has afforded me plenty of time in the kitchen to experiement with cakes, doughs and pastry. I’ve even tried my had at sculptural baking, which was highly sucessful and rather hilarious. The feature image for this blog is a pastry chair modelled after the Chaises à la reine (1870-1871) from the Getty’s decorative arts collection. The seat is full of jam. It is basically a fancy Pop-Tart. My favorite thing to bake is cake, though I am currently transitioning to pies. When the results of my experiments have positive results, I hop on my bike and deliver them to classmates. I like to think that my bakes turn out well more often than not, but after eating so many of them it is hard for me to judge for myself. My friends always graciously accept them, either way.
I spent 3 months of lockdown living with Beth’s family in the northwest of England, which provided me with a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in our flat in Glasgow. During our time there I was able to do some work reclaiming garden beds from brambles and overgrowth as well as helping to create a drainage pond in their back garden (which we took some silly photos in). I was also able to work on some personal textile projects, such as creating undergarments and a cap for my 14th century re-enactment kit and learning how to weave braid on a heddle loom. While we were there we were also able to welcome two small additions to the household with the hatching of two new chicks which we named Donna and Rose.
As Anna has said, we spent a lot of time with the family, did an awful lot of gardening and planting of veg, successfully hatched two chickens (more possibly due in the next week) and did a lot of cooking and baking. I also knitted two jumpers, because you always need more jumpers in the height of summer!
Lockdown has given us a lot of time to indulge in our hobbies that we might not have had otherwise. I have been experimenting with spinning wool sewing thread for use in historic re-enactment. I started with raw fleece from Shetland sheep that I processed myself, which is always an adventure! Experimenting with a couple of my spindles helped me select the best tools for this project and my aim to make a smooth strong thread that is easy to use. I sent some samples out to a number of friends who are interested in reenactment and so far have gotten great responses, including the following. “I think this thread worked very well as a sewing thread, and is surprisingly strong given its fineness. I would even consider it suitable for use in garment sewing” This was accompanied with pictures of a small wool bag she was able to sew with my handspun thread. I was very pleased to be successful with such a technical spinning challenge!