One of the most common finds while I walk along local beaches is rope and twine.  Often this is knotted and in varying degrees of perfection – I have a whole bag of them now.

Found Knots Church Norton Feb 18.jpg

I decided to start experimenting using knots with some of my found pieces.  I had the idea of using found times which had holes in them and knotting through or around the holes.  I knew that this would be a laborious, repetitive business but was interested to see how this slow repetition would affect my thoughts as I worked.  I had read that undertakings boring tasks allowed the mind to wander and become more creative:  Read more about this here – Harvard Business Review – two studies found a strong link between boredom and creativity. In short, people who were subjected to monotonous, repetitive, or otherwise uninspiring tasks then asked to think creatively or brainstorm ideas far outperformed those who were not subjected to the drudgery.

When our minds are bored, they seek inspiration. The studies’ authors “suggest that boredom boosts creativity because of how people prefer to alleviate it. Boredom, they suggest, motivates people to approach new and rewarding activities. In other words, an idle mind will seek a toy.”

And so, I started my first project without any end goal, just to see what would happen.  I worked with a rectangle of found metal, calico and found twine from the beach.

Next, I decided to try bristles from a found brush in combination with a piece of found metal mesh.  The mesh was delicate and, by the end, had started to break up.  Like the first task, this took me several days.  I am still working on how to present it.

The next project is a little bit “out there”!  I recently found a tea strainer and decided to see what developed if I started to knot through the mesh of this.  It is very hard work and I am having to use a magnifying lamp to see the holes.

This one may not be a keeper – we will have to see.

What has been interesting, thought, is to see how my mind wandered during the long hours of knotting.  I started to think about the people in times gone by who spent their days making fishing nets.  This seemed to strike a chord and link back to the beach where I had found my objects – a research project beckons ….

2 thoughts on “Knots

  1. Really interesting thoughts about boredom and creativity, Helen.
    As a recent ‘sewer’, one of the things I am having to come to terms with is the slowness. At first it felt very frustrating and I found myself wanting to hurry on to the next part of the process. Gradually I am coming to terms with this and have realised that this ‘slowness’ allows time for the mind to entertain other things – words come in. And usually when I am ‘arting’ words don’t – in fact I have felt in the past that while I am painting I am not writing and vice versa.
    So – maybe the slowness of hand working with thread is allowing space for words?
    Visually I find your bristlespiece and its presentation really works for me.
    And like you say – the jury is still out on the tea strainer spidery thingy… but hey – one thing I have learned – never say never!


    1. Yes, sewing is very different for me too Jac as I tend to work fast and intuitively on my “art” pieces. But I enjoy hand stitch and do find it quite meditative although my hands are getting a bit arthritic and I am not sure than repetitive small movements are very helpful! Maybe back to work on paper in the New Year!


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