I grew up understanding the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling, so it is second nature to me. My first memories of recycling items must be from the late 1980’s when I became tall enough to help my Dad put glass bottles into the big recycling containers in car parks – three circular holes for brown, green and clear glass. And while we lived in Turkey taking our glass drinks bottles back to the shop where we would get a small amount of money for returning them for reuse. While studying my Geography GCSE I became aware of climate change and the importance to look after the planet.
Playing my part in respecting the planet has always been important to me and something I have continued to do as an adult. Using cloth nappies when my children were babies, happy to put them in hand me downs and pass on clothes to others. When we moved into our now home I had my own garden for the first time, having lived in flats previously. Some of the first things I built were compost bins and a nature pond. And from there I started growing our own veg and transformed the garden into a home for our growing family and the local wildlife.
Returning to my weaving in 2017 I struggled to justify to myself working with the monofilament fibres I loved to use and set about looking for alternative suitable fibres but came up blank.
So I decided I would reuse fibres instead, possibly an even better solution as I wouldn’t be taking new resources from the environment. I now have a lovely stock of old fishing line which is passed on to me by people. I love receiving a bag of reels or tangled line, it is quite exciting as it can come in such wonderful colours and every now and then I find new fibres I wouldn’t have considered using.
Most of the fishing line I use is a monofilament fibre, it allows the light play I love to bring into my work. Recently I have come across braid fishing line which I’ve enjoyed playing with in my weaves, it gives a very different shimmer effect than the monofilament.
Over the last couple years I have accumulated a good amount of old line and in 2020 was able to create my first larger tapestry woven entirely from old fishing line – ‘Waste Ground’ woven in monofilament and braid fishing line. The piece questions where is the waste ground in a city. Normally a term used when referring to a derelict area, yet this can quite quickly become a home for nature as plant life moves in and takes over. A celebration of the power of plant life and the natural world – it will reclaim what we build if allowed.
As more people get to know I reuse fibres I am being sent some wonderful yarns people no longer need, so my stock has grown and I now have wools, cottons, recycled plastics, a whole range of fibres waiting for the right tapestry design or idea and be woven. I do still buy some yarns in new, the natural yarns I use such as linen, silk and wool I have had to buy at times but I hope to get to a position where I have enough second hand fibres and yarns I won’t need to buy in any new. Of course reusing fibres comes with it’s own challenges as I might not have enough of one type for the piece I am making but I’ll write about the challenges in another post.
Images – Donated fishing line.
Decaying leaf in the compost bin.
Second hand wool, cottons and fibres.