01 October 2011
thinking about longevity
In my last post I gave a mention to Eco Colour. The question was posed to me on facebook about whether or not I was worried about the longevity of the natural dye on the fabric.
My answer in a nutshell is nope, not at all.
The question of what we as fiber artists can expect in terms of life span for our work is always a subject for debate. Considering all the processes that we subject our work to, specifically when you are a surface design artist, trying to keep track of what will cause the fibers to break down and what won't can be a daunting task.
Here's the thing - I do my best to do right by the fabric I use but I've no interest in making sure that it lasts for a thousand years. (I'd be a wee bit frightened of what that might take to be honest.)
I think its inherent in any medium that there are things that will cause the work to decay and break down over time. Some artists even work to accelerate that process and make it the focus of their work. Take Jude Hill over at Spirit Cloth for example. Her work is so spiritual and undeniably beautiful and she uses decay as one of her primary surface design techniques.
I'm not saying you should abandon good practices. Dumping a bottle of straight up bleach on fabric and not bothering to neutralize it would most likely result in a mucky mess but I'm not going to worry about every tiny thing that I do.
That really sucks the joy out of things.
Consider this: I love crazy quilts. They were my first exposure to art quilting and I have a small collection of them. I had one of them appraised because I was interested in finding out how old it was. Some of the fabric used in the piece was dated back to the 1830s.
Didn't look too shabby either. Now we're talking about a quilt that was not specially conserved, in fact it came out of someone's basement. The fabric was well over one hundred years old and was still going strong. Not as vibrant or solid as when it first came into existence of course but not in shreds by any means. And this was during a time when dye processes could be incredibly brutal and no one gave a thought to how long anything would last.
So what's the point of this post? My point is to create the work you want. Don't let every tiny concern get in your way, its just another excuse for not making the work. Keep a reasonable eye on good practices but loose yourself in the magic of what you're making, that's always the most important element.