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Flotsam as Metaphor

Posted on: Monday, September 22, 2008


I certainly do not profess to put my work on par with fiber artist Sheila Hicks, but I was amused when I came across these recent images of hers and their compatibility with my fiber flotsam experiments. Her 'Ringlets' (Paris, 1993) - constructed out of colored rubber bands and paper clips is a definite favorite of mine.








Chatelaine Fiber Chain

Posted on: Wednesday, September 17, 2008





My artist friend Brece Honeycutt kindly came out last Saturday to support and participate in my Lower East Side drifting with spun flotsam. She also clued me into the fact that my get up for the day looked somewhat reminiscent of a chatelaine or 19th century "housekeeper's belt".

A chatelaine or 'chain' is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of smaller chains suspended from it. Each chain is mounted with a useful household appendage such as scissors, thimble, watch, key, vinaigrette, household seal, etc. In the domestic sphere these implements obviously helped one to navigate the home and always feel 'equipped'. My urban mapping and exploration involved perhaps more impromptu tools - conversation being the principal means of interfacing and connecting. Nonetheless, I am now thinking hard about what my ideal chatelaine might consist of, particularly in this era of environmental sensitivity and heightened awareness.



Street Spinning/Mapping

Posted on: Monday, September 15, 2008




Remarkable synchronicities and somewhat magical moments occurred during Urban Fiber Flotsam. Jung often (loosely) described 'synchronicity' as being an 'acausal connecting principle'. Archetypes floated into view whether on random street corners, peering into pavement cracks, or as layers to be decoded on plastered alley walls. Drifting can indeed by a very centering experience. It is perhaps the most natural way to truly feel at one with your urban surroundings.





Fiber Flotsam Friends

Posted on: Sunday, September 14, 2008



Stopover at Freeman's Tavern on Chrystie Street

Yesterday's outing on the Lower East Side was brilliant, and I have a lot of folks to thank for helping to make my 'drifting experiment' so anchored. I am in the process of archiving all of the photos and documentation, so please stay tuned for a more comprehensive overview of the tour.

For now, I would like to thank the following collaborators:

The CONFLUX 2008 team and curators
Jill Fehrenbacher and Inhabitat for their support
Meiling Chen for her photography and art direction
Jill Danyelle, creative ecologist and 'remake' inspiration
Brece Honeycutt for her input and spun fleece ideas
Moe Beitiks and Olivia Chen for their writing and editing
Eve Mosher for her encouragement and public works
Purl Soho and Habu Textiles
Ludmil, Jasper, Oliver, and Finn
Dad, a farmer and Mom, a handspinner


Eko-Lab Designer, Meiling Chen

Stopover at The New Museum on the Bowery

Street Spun Fiber (Day One)

Posted on: Wednesday, September 10, 2008







ingredients: deflated party balloon, packing tape, chinese food wrapper, dried grasses, found leaves & buds, garment threads, cotton gima, clothing scrap, mohair, angora, and clothing pin - in no specific order

It's All in a Day's Journey


A guild is an association of craftspersons in a particular trade.

Like journey, the distance that could be travelled in a day, the title 'journeyman' derives from the French words for 'day' (jour and journée) from which came the middle English word journei.


Journeymen were generally paid by the day and were thus day laborers. After being employed by a master for several years, and after producing a qualifying piece of work, the apprentice was granted the rank of journeyman and was given documents (letters or certificates from his master and/or the guild itself) which certified him as a journeyman and entitled him to travel to other towns and countries to learn the art from other masters. These journeys could span large parts of Europe and were an unofficial way of communicating new methods and techniques.

Street Specimens

Posted on: Saturday, September 06, 2008






A new archive of urban fiber flotsam specimens is now viewable on flickr/abidoan.

Ragpickers and Historical Urban Fiber

I recently came across this photo while doing research on the history of textiles in lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side specifically. It is a poignant photo of an Italian immigrant woman holding her carefully swaddled baby in her tenement flat on Jersey Street.

Photographed by Jacob Riis, creator of the photographic series, 'How The Other Half Lives' (1891), this image speaks volumes to textiles as a means of survival. Riis was one of the first photographers to use flash, and though viewed to be a muckraker and visual journalist, he was also later criticized for his deprecating views on women and certain ethnic groups.

Urban Fiber Inspiration

Posted on: Tuesday, September 02, 2008

17th century linen tassel


The Beauty of Complexity (Hilal Sami Hilal)


Sewing a possible cloud (Jim Hodges)


Vegetation near Laguardia Place

Breaking the Mold

Posted on: Wednesday, August 13, 2008


These images of 'striped icebergs' have been floating around the blogosphere - literally. I thought that they merited yet another post of humbled admiration. Nature does it best - that's for sure, and when it comes to a grand spectacle that cannot be repeated either in stripes, zigzags or otherwise, these are sculptural forms that impressively break the mold. 

(Thanks for the eco-tip, Mom.) 




'No Borders' for Earth Day

Posted on: Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Lucy + Jorge Orta's  'Antarctica'  installation at Hangar Bicocca in Milan suggests a utopic realm or safe refuge without borders and the 'equitable distribution of resources' as a new view on 'true globalisation'. Given that the Antarctic contains 70% of the planet's fresh water reserves and is off limits to military activity, where else should we turn for ideas that might thaw our numbness and paralysis to date?


I will thankfully spend Earth Day without a drop parachute or survival kit. Extremes abound but the edges are thankfully overlapping and softening like never before. There is unity as well in the colorful fabrics that flap in the breeze as emblems of what distinguish us.

THE LAND's New Gallery in Albuquerque

Posted on: Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Earth Maiden by Kathy Bruce, Summer 2007 (photo by Tom Cates)

The Land/an art site will be opening its gallery doors for the first time this Friday, April 11th, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The inaugural exhibit, 34.495N, 106.330W will feature international artists who have recently completed residencies at the 40 acre art and conservation site located near Mountainair, NM. Exhibiting artists include Kathy Bruce (work pictured above), Thomas Cates, Francisco Guevara, Yolanda Gutierrez, J.A. Lee, Alastair Noble (work pictured below), E. Nuevo, and Miriam Sagan.

Mapping Arcadia by Alastair Noble, Summer 2007 (photo by Edite Cates)

Both the art site itself and the new in-town gallery are part of this New Mexico-based non-profit's mission to promote environmental awareness though a sustained dialogue about art created on the land and for the land via off-the-grid, immersive residencies. You can read about my transformative 2006 residency at THE LAND/an art site on Landviews.org. Stay tuned for the upcoming 'collaborative' exhibit, Site Unseen, during Fall 2008.

Groundcover 01 by Abigail Doan, Fall 2006 (photo by the artist)

Cinder Garden at Craters of the Moon

Posted on: Monday, January 28, 2008

I had a dream about Craters of the Moon last night. The entire landscape was carpeted in a silvery violet snow. I was on assignment to knot and crochet an intricate net of sorts that would mesh with the soot-like volcanic soil. Everything crackled under foot. There were no animals or bird sounds - just primordial bits of vegetation poking through the crusty top layer. I was lost in a cinder garden, trying to preserve the sensation of spring on the moon.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located near Arco, Idaho. I last visted there in June 2005 when there was an unusual display of wildflowers due to recent rains. I hope to bring my twins and husband there soon so that they, too, can experience the crackling under foot and the lunar flora.

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