i’m delighted to report i’ve had a one-off piece accepted for the “Prescriptions” show, running from April 21st to August 15th, 2016.
the exhibition is supplementary to the Artists’ Books and the Medical Humanities symposium and workshop, organised by University of Kent and University of New England, and accompanies an exhibition of the works of Martha Hall as she documented her ongoing illness and treatment through book art.
a little bit of “nordic” magic, this chainwork technique actually originates in irish celtic jewellery. the structure is similar to “french”, spool or bobbin knitting, but instead of being produced in the centre of a hollow tube the wire is wrapped around a mandrel.
as you can see this is a very forgiving process – even quite extreme unevenness is smoothed out later on. i found a sweet spot with .5mm wire – soft enough to weave easily but thick enough to resist kinking. it’s possible to settle into something of a rhythm once you get used to how the wire handles.
this is the braid as it comes off the mandrel. this piece took 3 lengths of wire. joins are made quite roughly, with spare wire looped inside the tube (you find yourself quite often sliding the knitting off the mandrel to deal with some kink or another).
the magic starts when you pull the knitting through graduated holes in a drawplate. starting with the largest hole you pull it through a couple of times, gradually reducing the diameter of the tube, increasing its length and evening out the stitch pattern.
it starts to take a fair bit of effort to pull the knitting through – a pair of pliers come in handy once you reach the smaller second row of holes.
the two bands shown up top are drawn through the same hole and made from the same thickness of wire. the only difference was a larger or smaller mandrel – i prefer the closer packed stitches of the lower of the two braids, made on a smaller (and more finicky) mandrel.