the meaning of objects

brass buttonsI was given these lovely buttons recently. I’m not sure how many families pass down the button box, a store of old, new, useful, ugly – and some gorgeous – buttons. Sorting the buttons was one of my favourite pastimes when I was a kid- second only to constructing huge spider’s webs from left over wool.
textile birdsI sympathise with people’s need to clear stuff out, de-clutter, but recent research shows that ‘mess’ can helps creativity. I’ve been loving the text and textile works of Amanda Wright, some dear little cards having bits of old books layered with drawn images and sewing. Somthing you need ‘mess’ for, I think. She runs workshops in St David’s – what a great idea for a holiday or a reunion! I’m already thinking – the Jesus College hart, with its golden antlers, embroidered over some old Welsh texts…
brass buttonsThere’s something about touching these smooth, strangely thick, strangely light, and cold buttons that’s so, so different than seeing an image of them. Sense-memory gets invoked: it’s not like bookmarking an internet image. Now to find the right garment to sew them to: they make me want to search out just the right jacket – the right weight, the right contrast… It’s the germ of the creative process, the inspiration to create something new (well, new to me).
knitted throwI’ve got so fond of my knitted throw (see last week), that I’m carrying it from room to room. It’s all about feel, though: the image looks terrible compared to the real thing: it doesn’t capture the way it stretches and folds, the feel of the textures to the fingers, the warmth and snuggliness (sorry) as it folds and drapes around the body. It reminds me that one of Rowan‘s best-selling knitting yarns – kid-silk haze – is also about the senses: sensuous to knit and to wear, it’s nothing to do with fashion and all about feeling, drape, colour, skin.
So maybe this will the future of the object: just a few things that invoke the senses and memory – with most stuff being functional, disposable, online or IKEA (I like IKEA, it’s not an insult). It reminds me of Ursula LeGuin’s book The Dispossessed. There, some beautiful carved buttons are a generous, memorable gift in the frugal, communal ‘Moon’ society; contrasted with the rich, luxurious but inequitable and wasteful capitalist ‘Earth’. Strange that the Internet is taking us down the ‘Moon’ route.. Quite hopeful, though, in a way.

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