Catherine G.

I’m not going to write much for this week. Lynne P, who posted on the 15th, said very much what I want to say on the issue of constraints. I’ll just add a couple of points.

First, like Lynne, I’ve got beyond buying up loads of stuff at shows. However, I think it makes a difference whether you’re currently doing a course or not. When I did the City & Guilds Certificate and Diploma courses I tried out a lot of techniques (that’s part of the point of these courses) that I wouldn’t be likely to try again. This meant acquiring materials that I may never use again, but it’s all part of the learning process so I don’t think these acquisitions were wasted. I think the problem of stuff depends to some extent on the area you work in. I draw, paint occasionally, but mostly I’m engaged on hand embroidery. It’s actually quite hard to need much new stuff for this, especially if you work, as I usually do, with small amounts of textile material that I’ve dyed myself. If you regularly construct large scale items, like full-sized quilts, then the temptation to keep buying new materials is likely to be greater.

Second, and again like Lynne, I also love working within my own imposed constraints. A couple of years ago I was fortunate to get a place on a course with Matthew Harris, a British textile artist (www.matthewharriscloth.co.uk). Much of the course was concerned with using chance to determine constraints. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to give away his teaching techniques, but it had a profound effect on me and has made me much more aware of the advantages to be gained by using constraints in your practice.

I am a long way from my ideal practice, but at least in respect of this lesson, I think I can say I’ve moved a fair way towards it.