A Simple Line of Rag Rope

Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
Bruce Mau An Incomplete Manifesto of Growth.

The moment of liberation was when I understood that I didn’t need to have an end result in mind. It began as making a line, making rope out of cloth strips.

The moment of liberation was when I could watch and listen and hear about the other techniques and quietly decline, choose to go on making more of the rope.

And so the rope began to grow.

It was liberating to choose a limited palatte and choose to work with black, white, cream and silver.

Who would guess that this would be enough?

No end in mind! Just the making of a line of rope that began to coil and form pathways.

Pathways that lead to the amazing world of Judith Scott.

Anastasia was jubilant! The prospect of twisting and twining and adding secrets and memories to the ball of cast offs excited us both. We could barely speak.

Over coming weeks you will be able to see what emerges as we allocate some time to simply sitting, making rope, weaving secrets and memories as we go.

Oblique Strategies


An Oblique Strategy. It is true! Errors can be a very real positive.

Today, in the Textiles course I am doing at Castlemaine Continuing Ed, it was clear that it was ‘hump’ day. Even after lunch it was all too evident that most of us were tired after taking in so much creative stimuli. Even Anastasia was quiet as I struggled to do some basic weaving.

Anastasia and I went limp. Once again we were facing the specter that rises and prods and pokes and says, in a very harsh voice, that it is NOT enough to take one bird at a time and sit making dots or lines for the sake of making dots and lines. Worse! It sneers and makes pointed comments about never being able to achieve the standard of art we have been shown or anything to match what others in the class are doing. Enough to silence the toughest!

Neither Anastasia or I are very good at handling this dark, oppressive critic, who hovers like the grim reaper. However, Anastasia’s silence did not mean she had given way to this force. Rather she is one to bide her time and wait for the moment to confront that critic.

Sensing the general lull Ilka encouraged us to make some cards and asked us to write simple suggestions on them. A card might simply say ‘make some dots’ or ‘make dots using the color turquoise’ or ‘use wire’ etc. The idea is to use them as wild cards and use them to get yourself going to do a task. Then she introduced us to Oblique Strategies which offer suggestions or directions to apply when you hit a creative block.

As a writer I have used this sort of divination technique. I like my Raven Cards and I have found that it has helped to draw one and think like a raven.

A card I will sit near me will say ‘honor your limitations’, ‘take one bird at a time’.

Try drawing an Oblicard to help push through the block.

Use the automated cards online or make some of your own.

And please! Add suggestions for more cards in the comment box.