Maybe I should begin with "once upon a time" because this is a story. A story of two people, perhaps lovers, separated by time and the sea. A story of messages - written with hope, awaited with hope, puzzled over, read and re-read. The story speaks to me because I too waited long years to be with my love, landlocked and relying on messages darting across the sea... Can you hope to fathom or sway another's heart when all you have are written words, so easily misplaced along the way or misunderstood?
The story of our protagonists is told in three parts - three poems written by Rebecca are set into three silk necklaces to be worn close to the heart. Each part of the triptych comes in a separate little book containing pages with the poem, a text about the project and a secret compartment. That opens to reveal an indigo sky and holds the necklace.
The first piece is called The Locker. In it a voice is heard, reminiscing and determined to call the other one home. Did the message reach the destination? Did the traveller wear the little bag around his neck for courage and read the letter inside at lonely moments?
I dyed the strip of fabric with the text using an adapted itajime shibori technique (you can see it in progress here) to create three floating 'sheets' of paper. The honeycomb steadying the wavy pleats around the bag and sparkling with sweet beads of honey is a reference to the 'map of bees' in the poem.
The second piece is called The Reminder and bridges the other two like the voice of a narrator. I dyed the silk in a colour that resembles faded pages of an old book or the 'shades of wheat' in the text. It is smocked with indigo-dyed thread representing the sea as it enfolds the land.
The red thread of the story, the 'blood-work' of the poem, is visible on the back of the necklace. The toggle is made with jasper stones as red as broken pieces of sealing wax.
The third piece is called The Token. It is a fragmented echo of the distant, absent voice. It is also a code and an astrolabe, a compass with his words replacing the North, South, East and West for the waiting companion. Orbiting the chain is a mother-of-pearl moon (moon being an important word in this poem).
The words are set among the pleats in a pattern. The beads around the inner circle can be positioned to point in different directions and hopefully unlock the meaning of the cryptic message.
PS Last night was a success and I'd like to thank everyone who came to say hello - it was nice meeting you! I'd also like to thank Rebecca for organising it so well.
From now on the necklaces are on display at Purlesque which I visited yesterday and it's just the kind of friendly independent shop I'd love to live near to and pop into for yarn and knitting advice. Do stop by if you get a chance!
Later today I'll be adding all three to my online shop here.