Thursday, 5 April 2012

Thoughts from the Swimming Pool

I have just had a very good swim - 1200m - where my stamina is markedly improving.  500 front crawl, 100 back crawl, twice.  I'm now managing 500m in 9.45 minutes, which is a fraction under a minute per 50m length.  Now I am averaging 2-3 swims per week I'm getting stronger in the water.

During my swim, I was thinking about my textile class from yesterday. My tutor, Eva, is happy with progress on the banksia theme and development to date.  But I was expressing concern that my vision is for traditional furnishing fabrics, and not some modern innovative 3D application of cloth to alter a "habitable space".  We then went on to discuss my reasoning of being environmentally friendly, leading to me working with natural fibres, because of the way they break down naturally when spent.  We were having a bit of a laugh and joke about how I've put various spent craft fibres (Jacob fleece cardings from feltmaking) on the compost heap, and I've also put spent curtains on there as well.  (My Great-Aunt May was the person who started me on that idea!).  Then I suggested making time-expired curtains into a compost cosy, to keep the compost heap warm enough to look after my worms, and keep the compost rotting during the English winter.  Eva thought this was a great idea, that I could work up in Semester 2, for a final piece.  I explained that I go home to England at the beginning of June, as my student exchange will be complete.

But this thought exercised my mind, while I exercised my body in the pool.  I've been thinking about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - an English environmentalist phrase.  I want to work with natural fabrics, to reduce use of man-made fibres, which are often cheap and nasty imports. Animal and plant fibres break down naturally and this is means replacement is driven by the life of the fabric, and thereby making fashion a secondary, rather than primary driver.  If I were to re-use curtains as a compost cosy, it would be a minimally labour intensive application for them.  No-one wants to put a lot of time and energy into spent objects, do they? I could see the curtain tape tightly gathered, so that it formed a wigwam like shape over the top of our conical compost bin.  And when the fabric got really tatty, it could be used as a lining for the compost heap, so that it started to break down with the garden waste, thereby recycling the cotton/silk/wool fibres into compost.    I can see the avant-garde theorists getting really excited about an artist creation having one function for the original curtains, used by people; another form to make an habitable space for worms as a compost cosy; and a final formation to make a habitable space for bacteria and plants once incorporated into the soil!  I think there is an argument to make, that my course could lead to students getting the reputation for being eccentric! Not that this has ever bothered me!

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