Saturday, June 27, 2015

'History Box'

A few photos of the now finished and newly named 'History Box' commissioned by Cumbria Archive and Local Studies Centre, Whitehaven.




 
















































Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses 

NakedCraft - Canada

Thanks to Christine Saly for the photo of my combed soft-rush socks, now on display in Canada as part of the touring exhibition,
'Naked Craft'.      Click here for exhibition details.
 
Art Gallery of Burlington Ontario, June 20 – September 6, 2015
Centre Materia (Quebec City): September 26 – November 28, 2015
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia: January 14 – April 10, 2016
 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A short film - The Making of a replica Angus MacPhee garment for Joyce Laing.

                    
My name is Joanne Kaar. I live Dunnet village, on Dunnet Head in Caithness. With  views  to the village of Brough, where I grew up. The Pentland Firth and the Orkney Island of Hoy are in the distance.  Earlier this year I visited Joyce  Laing  in Pittenweem, Fife, to take a closer look at the grass garments made my Angus MacPhee.  I had seen his incredible work while it as on display in Stornoway many years ago.   Angus was a crofter. He lived in South Uist, but spent almost 50 years in Craig Dunnain psychiatric hospital in Inverness. He chose not to speak, instead he made garments from grass and leaves growing in the hospital grounds, twisting the plants  into a rope or simmans. A traditional technique he would have learnt at home in Uist.  When he’d finished making, Angus just discarded them and started another one.  It was fortunate that Joyce Laing discovered Angus and saved some of his work.  

Angus became known as ‘the weaver of grass’.   

Exactly how Angus made his garments was a mystery Joyce wanted to solve.

I’ve plenty of grass in my field to experiment with!   

The grass ‘weavings’ made by Angus are now old and fragile.  With the help of my husband Joe, who made a sketch of the construction by  looking at a patch of more open weave, and the information from Joyce with her first had experience of seeing Angus work, I made notes and took measurements in my sketchbook.  Next, with a ball of cotton string, I made a few test pieces.  

Back home, I drew out a full size paper template to work from. Starting at the waistline, I made a grass rope to fit the width, then, by opening up the rope at regular intervals,  I made a series of loops, threading the grass rope in and out of the gaps.

I’m using dried grass a this will help hold the twist in the rope.  

Using a looping technique,  I worked upwards towards  the neck of the garment, the same direction as  in the original.  The loops were small and pulled tight at the waistline, getting larger towards the chest.  I used my fingers as a gauge and pulled the rope to the size I wanted.  Whilst keeping  the same number of loops in each row, the  garment widened at the chest, because each individual loop was bigger. This made a flat  section for the front of the garment.  The arms were to be added later. 

Working with a short length was easier, as didn’t have to pull so much rope through the loops. When I ran out of rope, I simply made it longer by twisting in more grass.  

The cuffs of the sleeves and base of Angus’s garment were deliberately frilly.  The loops on these parts  were too matted confusing to understand how  they were made.  So I decided to use the same looping technique for everything as this was the only one I was sure he had used.   

Working from the original waist band,  I made two large loops into every one in the row before  – this instantly made it wider and uneven. Working from the waistline down, I followed the paper template and adjusted the loop size to complete the front side.
 
Making the back of the garment was easier.  I started with a waistband as before, but  at the end of each row, I looped through the sides of the front piece, connecting the two halves together as I worked back and forth, leaving gaps for the sleeves and neck.

The construction technique is easier to see on these larger  loops.
 
The garment was getting quiet heavy, so I made the sleeves separately.  Again, starting with a rope I made a series of loops, but this time I tied it into a circle, the same diameter as the sleeve, working in the round, not two flat pieces. This was stitched with a grass rope to the main body section.  It’s difficult to see on the original garment if the sections were made in the round, or sewn together later. I used a combination of both.

The sleeves attached and only the neck to do.  I worked this in the round, picking up loops from the back and front of the garment until it was finished.  

 

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

red paint

 
I've been adding a bit of colour to the portable museum about the workhouses of Whitehaven - taking red from the red seal's in the documents, I've used red thread in the clog making components, and then painted the sides of the drawers with red enamel paint.  I gave all three drawers, two coats of enamel paint.  Although I loved the touch of colour, it didn't work as it soon scratched as the drawers were opened and closed - so now we are removing the paint back to the original metal. 
 
Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses 

Breaking stone, picking oakum and making clogs.


Boxes for drawers in the portable museum all about Whitehaven Workhouse.  The clog making components are from
Walkley Clog makers, Hebden Bridge. http://www.clogs.co.uk/
 
 
Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses
 
 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fabric and Threads


 
Top drawer of the portable museum - fabrics and threads purchased by Whitehaven Workhouse  - info from the 1860-63 minute book

Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Paris Wedding In Spring

 
 
Paris Wedding In Spring
Paper flowers.
A recent commission.
A surprise gift from their friends.
There are personal messages on leaves
Wedding was last week
So I can now share it with you. 
 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

All at Sea.

As Whitehaven was an important harbour, it’s not surprising to find that many of the young boys from the workhouses in Whitehaven were
apprenticed to service at sea. 
In 1856, George Craner  age 13, was to serve a 7 year apprenticeship on the ship, Adventure, owned by  Joseph Bragg of  Whitehaven.

The year before, his older brother, James Craner  age 14, was apprenticed to Thomas Trohear of Whitehaven, a clog and pattern maker.
The brothers had been separated.

In 1849, William Thompson, age 14,  was to serve an apprenticeship on the Capella under ships master  George Nelson.   In 1870, the Capella was
shipwrecked.  Was this the same ship? Was William still a member of the crew?  Research  often leads to  more questions, many left unanswered.

The photo shows a sailors wedding in Whitehaven from mid 19th century. We don’t know who they are, but  we would like to think that perhaps he was one of the boys apprentices to the sea service from the workhouse.

Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses

Whitehaven Union’s biggest scandal

In 1849 Isabella Corkhill, a pauper inmate was found to have been
smuggling out workhouse provisions and selling them in the town. 
Spirituous liquor had also been introduced.  Isabella had also given birth to an illegitimate child, the father was Archibald Farish master of the
workhouse. He resigned after his involvement with Isabella. 
In 1849, there was a measles epidemic in workhouse, killing  18 children.
 
Irregular Accounts.
The image is a page from Whitehaven Workhouse minute book 1830-1863.  Income from the sale of clothing had  not been recorded, and the
consumption of alcohol is noted as being rather high.
 

Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Portable Museum - Workhouse Whitehaven - it's all coming together.

 
With thanks to textile artist, Janet Bolton for the fabric samples and small bobbins. http://www.janetbolton.com/
 
 




 
All the components for making a pair of children's clogs arrived from
Walkley Clogs in Hebden Bridge.
For now, I've stored them safe inside the glass topped museum box, I'm looking forward to making it an interesting display.
 
 
 
 
Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses

Friday, May 29, 2015

Christmas at Whitehaven Workhouse 1856 and 1920's

Documents from the Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre. http://www.archiveweb.cumbria.gov.uk/CalmView/default.aspx
 Research for commission from Cumbria Archives at Whitehaven for a portable museum - inspiration - Whitehaven Workhouses