Friday, October 31, 2008

Daggy crafts

From time to time, knitters complain that their craft suffers from an image problem - that knitting is wrongly described as un-cool, old-fashioned, 'nana-ish' (a term I hate, but will save my critique for another entry), or, to use a wonderful old Australian term, daggy.

But in comparison with another crafting passion from my past - decoupage - knitting's image problem is negligible. I was a very committed decoupeur for many years, but I usually avoided telling people about my crafting passion, and was often embarrassed or defensive if others discovered this madness that filled my spare moments. I've recently started some decoupage again, in response to a special request from a friend, and I've been newly overwhelmed by the pleasure I get from this rather obsessive and extremely finicky craft.

I love the designing stage, when you have to play with any idea you have to accommodate it to the shape you are decorating. I enjoy the quest for the perfect found or created object to decorate. Of course I love choosing colours and searching for and choosing appropriate paper images. I like the care I need to take to cut-out the images (though this is sometimes frustrating as well) and the make-or-break moment when the images are glued to the prepared object. But what I most love is the weeks of finishing; coat after coat of fine varnish, sanded periodically, so that the images sink beneath the glowing surface.

I've kept very few of the things I've made; only a couple with which I was particularly pleased. One is a small trifold screen (80 x 48cm) which I labelled 'After Fornasetti'. The black and white architectural design on one side is clearly influenced by the Italian designer, Fornasetti, and the other side is a traditional patchwork design in black and gold papers.

Screen 1

Screen 2

Screen 3

I use the screen to hide some unsightly but necessary clutter that lives on top of a cupboard in one of the bedrooms.

The other object I've kept is the 'Barcelona' box. I found the box itself on sale in a gift shop in Manila, and after painting it, decorated it with a combination of pastel-coloured images of famous Barcelona Modernist buildings, and tiny scraps of paper used to imitate Gaudi mosaics - I had long been fascinated by the Gaudi mosaics in Parque Guell in Barcelona.



The dimensions of the 'Barcelona' box are 19 x 5cm. It's an absolutely useless object, and mostly lives in a storage box. However, having unwrapped it to take these photos I'm newly delighted by it, so I'll put it somewhere I can see it from time to time.

I think I'm deeply satisfied by both knitting and decoupage because they share the quality of making something beautiful from everyday materials, and because they both pose the challenge of being creative within well-established conventions and with repetitious skills.

So, there you are. I'm a practitioner of not only one daggy craft, but two! Deeply un-cool.


Rose Red said...

I've long wished to try decoupage but I'm not sure I have the "eye" for it (let alone the patience) - I think your pieces are great.

So I guess I'm uncool too. Oh, and I crochet. So with the knitting, that makes me triply uncool!

Anonymous said...

Ah, but it's what you do with it that counts! I could happily live with your screen, I couldn't live with a decoupage toilet seat (yes, I have seen one....)

PS - I used to do cross-stitch and tapestries. You're the first person outside my family that I've told, it's like coming out of the (craft) closet

M-H said...

Those pieces are lovely. And yes, it is what you do with it that counts. Some knitting is daggy. but it's often just a matter of a different yarn or another small adjustment to make the same pattern stunning. It's not what you've got that counts; it's what you do with it.

Anonymous said...

I really love your decoupages, they are so beautiful. The little Barcelona box is really a treasure, it might be useless in dimension but it for sure gives the eye something special to look at.
Love the colours and the pictures; you really captured the Barcelona spirit.


The Other Andrew said...

Wow Lyn, I saw the 'Fornasetti' screen before and thought it was gorgeous, but the Barcelona box is stunning! It's definately what you do with the craft that counts, you have a good eye for design.

Bex said...

You are the least-daggiest person I know. :)

Siobhan said...

Your Barcelona box is such a beautiful piece. I'm surprised you managed to put it into a drawer... Even for a little while. You seem to be one of those artists who can cope very well with a blank canvas. I think I thrive more on the constraints when designing things than I do the blank spaces. It seems very impressive to me that you can do this.