Since moving to Castlemaine I've come together with a bunch of talented local textile artists and started a textile collective, check out the Cobolt Textile Collective here. Our first group exhibition has just opened as part of the Castlemaine State Festival 2015. If you happen to be in the area, come to our opening party on the 17th March, invite below.
For the exhibition I've been enjoying experimenting with finer-than-thread metallic yarns, degumming and spinning wild silk cocoons and getting Victorian silk spindles made for me as part of my piece. It's always amazing how much you learn from devising and executing any art project. This steep learning curve is the thrill of making art.
In response to our theme on the Greek Myth about the Three Fates: Namely Clotho, spinner of the thread of life, Lachesis the one who allots the length of that thread, and Atropos who severs the thread; I started to knit cocoons. I was inspired by the Urodid Moth Cocoon which is an amazing piece of natural architecture found in the Amazon - see it here. My knitted cocoons attempt to take the form of this beautiful cocoon. They are knit on tiny double pointed needles in stainless steel and silk/wool yarns and linen/copper yarns. These fibres have a memory so that they will hold a 3D form, they are super fine and presented a few challenges in the knitting.
This little one is knit in a superfine copper filament. It's almost invisible in some lighting.
Enclosed within my knitted cocoons is the real spent cocoon of the Cricula Silk Moth, a wild silk moth cocoon from Indonesia.
I eventually managed to de-gum these cocoons in order to spin them into silk which was quite a tricky process, not much information available online on degumming wild silk cocoons but I had success with a little tiny bit of caustic soda and washing soda in water. I had a local Master turner make me these wonderful Victorian Silk Spindles which were a pleasure to whirl on.
The cocoons hang from a flat handstitched circle of pressed Cricula silk cocoons.
Here I am ironing and stitching these together over the course of a day. The golden cocoons are a wonder to work with and the spun fibres shimmer with natural golden threads.
And if you're wondering how they take their shape after coming off the knitting needles, there's a little final magic with a balloon which is quite fun to do.
The show is on until the 23rd of March. Shed 5. Castlemaine Woollen Mills, 1 Walker Street, Castlemaine.
Check out the wonderful work of my fellow textilers in theCobolt Textile Collective at www.co-bolt-textiles.com