Now that the pages are complete, it will just be a matter of stitching them together, then hemming and backing the cloth before folding it into a concertina-type book for storage. I’ll probably make some sort of wrapping cloth for it as well. I must thank my mother again for her brilliant idea of making this into a frieze – much better than my original idea.
Of course, it will now be almost impossible to photograph… I haven’t measured it because it’s not all stitched together yet, but I estimate that it will be about 24 feet in length. It’s taken around six weeks, stitching quite intensively, which has given me plenty of time to think and reflect. I haven’t quite sorted out all my thoughts about this yet, but these are some of the things I learned:
I learned the value of working on paper first. It’s the first time I’ve truly appreciated the importance of that. All the colour, all the composition – already done. All you have to do is stitch.
I learned that I don’t want to do more illustration. Upon reflection, I prefer the abstract over the figurative. Some of the pages strike me as being too literal, too obvious. I like the hidden, the subtle, the suggestion. It has been quite difficult to let go of the illustration dream, which has been with me for some time. However, it may be a case of letting go for now. Maybe I could revisit this at some point in the future.
I learned that I still have no ‘body of work’. I have a lot of work, but none of it existing in any cohesive form, and none of it having any consistent intention. I intend to remedy that.
I learned that I like working small, and that I like detail. I like to zoom in on something so closely that it becomes something else. I admire large, expansive works – particularly the paintings of Rothko, for instance – but I know that’s not something I can do.
So, am I pleased with my cloth book achievement? Yes, and no. It’s always the process that I find most enjoyable, educational and engaging. I would be more pleased with it, I think, if I was intending to make more like it. Maybe one day I might. But not yet.
Part of the process of this cloth has been a huge ‘letting go’: releasing a dream I’ve had since childhood, realising what I can and can’t do ‘well enough’ (in terms of my own standards, which are admittedly quite high). I’ve also had yet another massive cloth clear-out; I’ve destroyed/recycled/dismantled many old sketch books; I’ve cleared a load of unnecessary photographs off my computer. I’m currently finishing off some cloths that need an ending. After that – a new beginning, I think. I’m looking forward to that.