For the past year, I have been feverishly applying for grants for this project. None have come through, yet, more are being written, and several are awaiting results. I can't really start the project until the grant period begins...But, I do need to try out some technical ideas. These are 2 iterations. All together they took several hours of design work and about 11 hours of stitching. I have 2 or 3 more ideas to try out. Right now I am thinking that the text will be on suspended plexiglas.
The hoped for project is: Holding it Together: women's lifesaving stories, an installation of digitally programmed, machine embroidery, making freestanding lace, inspired by the history of Irish lace. Clones Irish lace re-emerged during the potato famine as a way to save families from destitution and starvation. Women designed unique motifs loosely based on Venetian bobbin lace that could be made simply with a crochet hook and common thread. Lace motifs were particular to families, identifying the individual and their relations as clearly as insignia or monograms. The individual motifs were collected and assembled by the "Netter," creating wildly popular luxury goods from the contributions of a broader community, a process that we now would call crowd sourcing.
I posit that all people, and older women in particular, have unique stories, both dramatic and mundane, which create the foundation for their family's survival. The stories might be as simple as "How Thanksgiving dinner was saved" or as profound as a human life rescued or sacrificed. In this project, I am taking on the role of both the lace maker and the "Netter", collecting women’s stories, creating motifs that express the content of their stories and piecing them together into an exhibition.
My saved the day story is: In the early years of my widowhood, when my son was still small, a playgroup decided to go sledding. I did not feel I could participate. It was several years before my surgery and my back was too fragile to haul my toddler up the hill, much less ride the icy bumps with him. I returned home discouraged. That night I received a phone call from my insurance agent, offering to be a "big brother" to my son and how would we like to go sledding!