The Trouble with Making

I have a confession to make.  I’m avoiding making….Not on purpose but I seem to be finding other ‘things’ to do for my PhD rather than get into the making.  I just seem to have lost my making mojo!

I keep having ideas and now I am using a folder system to keep each participants information in then when I think of an idea I am adding a scribble or doodle or notes to the it.  It seems to be working quite well at the moment and my story regarding crochet seems to be the one I keep becoming inspired by.  I also am working on a story about a ‘rolling pin’ which again I keep jotting down notes and coming up with ideas, but never managing to produce anything.

I think doing a part time PhD and working full time is proving quite difficult.  Because I lecture and study at the same place I find it hard to break away from the role on my designated ‘research day’ or because it’s on a thursday, by the time thursday rolls around i’m completely wiped out making ‘making’ considerably harder.

Also with making, i’ve always enjoyed it so its hard to then do it when I feel like I should be marking or planning a lecture.  It doesn’t seem like a legitimate thing to be doing (it feels like playing to me).  With this in mind, maybe it’s the perception of making as research that has to change which in turn may help to change my mindset…..

So the goal this week.  Buy cheap acrylic wool (as per the direction in the story i’m working on) and start to crochet a toilet dolly….(never done before)…This is to: a) make it look like mistakes are OK and b) the narrator of the story spoke of how her Nana created crocheted objects from memory rather than pattern so things were always slightly off….(which is good as my new found skills are limited!)

I might also try and learn a few different stitches as at the moment I can only seem to go round in a circle and it would be better to learn how to work in lines too….!  I’m going to go into the studio early on thursday to try and give it a go!



Interview about a Lost Love 1.

Today I conducted the first of my lost love interviews since changing my PhD research collection slightly after my progress panel.  I think I wrote before about how I wanted to get to know my participants more than just the initial feelings that they wrote down.  I thought this would give me a deeper insight into the feeling of love and loss that they have and also allow me to connect on a deeper level, to almost share their thoughts of the relationship which in turn would better help me channel this into the making of a lost love artefact.

My interview today is the ‘first’ of the already paper based collected stories so it had its benefits in that I already knew what this persons story was about.  This allowed me to have certain questions at the ready to ask.  I did try and keep it quite open in terms of the questioning, so allowing the participant to tell their story.  In this case as it was a romantic relationship we discussed how they met, what they experienced together, any memorable moments and then the ending of the relationship and how this happened, culminating in how they felt now and what they had learned from it.

I asked quite early on about the object, which I may be should have left until it ‘came up’ naturally, although we discussed it a couple of times within the interview.  The participant had also brought a timeline of photographs along from the length of the relationship showing when they met, candid shots together, images of where they’d visited.  This has added to the interview for me in terms of giving the situation more identity than just the written words which now feel quite cold in comparison to the telling of the story by the person.

It did get emotional and so I had taken (1) tissue with me, although I’ll know next time to be better equipped!  It also taught me that I can’t really plan the questions ahead of the interviews as obviously all relationships are different.  I will make sure I read all the stories beforehand so I don’t cause upset by muddling anything up.  It helped by the participant having the object there to touch and hold and stroke whilst story telling.

I am now going to type up the stories myself rather than getting someone to do it so I can pull things from it as I type and analyse throughout.  I’m happy to have done the first one and have 4 future interviews planned over the next few weeks.  Really enjoying this…when I get the time!

All the gear no idea…

So on a trip to Hebden Bridge at the weekend I visited a little knitting shop that is really lovely as I thought I should buy a ‘decent’ cool looking crochet hook and some nice yarn.  I have the Edward’s Animals book which I have been learning to do circles with so I thought some nice stuff might make me do more.  As such I haven’t really had time to have a proper go, but to be honest I could have just carried on using the yarn and hook i’d got really…. I’m just a sucker for craft equipment!

I have actually been crocheting on and off for a week and a bit and it’s nice to say that it clicked on saturday afternoon as to how to do certain things like start off a circle!  I have been filming my progress of this as I go so hopefully that will all pull together to make  short film.

Had a good tutorial yesterday about where to go from here…  I have decided to get in touch with all the people whose objects I’m looking at using.  I think this may be good for the project in terms of building relationships with them a bit further and them having input in the making.  I will keep you posted.

Just also found a mega conference all about love but I need to apply before the end of the week!!!!!

Might see if I can get 300 words written for that tomorrow!


Typing up stories and its revelations

Having a funny research day today.  Started planning my presentation for my PhD progression point, but I find it hard to spend a whole lot of time on the same thing, so I’ve more or less done the slides, which for today I think is an achievement.  I will carry on with this tomorrow and then start practicing it out loud to the dog (he loves a presentation practice).

The main reason of suddenly wanting to write this though was because I realised I hadn’t typed up a few of my lost love stories that I had collected most recently.

I have had the others typed up for me as I felt this was just a ‘job’ that needed to be done, but actually I think it is a big part of the making process and getting into the stories and the minds of the people who’s lost love they are talking about.

I began reading and typing at the same time and the overwhelming urge to analyse using my ‘artists voice’ came into my head.  When the writer talked about that she wished her Nana had taught her how to crochet it felt like a jigsaw piece that would be used in the making of the artefact.


I have been struggling over the last few weeks with the concept of using the same materials (leather and silicone) as I always have used, but this has just allowed me to break free of that and think that I can work in other ways!

So my idea is to re-type up the stories using my artists voice to try and do some initial designing using words and then pictures to see what happens!

Visualising Research

IMG_6286Over the past couple of days, since receiving my draft report back, i’ve been re-looking at what I am trying to achieve.  I got some good feedback back from my supervisor and realised what i’d written was too in-depth and what should be going into an essay rather than that of a report.  I realised I hadn’t been looking at my key aims as I wrote and underpinning my theory with my practice or these aims so no wonder I couldn’t get it right!

I went back to ‘Visualizing Research‘ by Carole Gray and Julian Malins which has been really helpful in terms of working out how to correlate the practical making side with the theory side.  Just doing the map above of my research question along with each of the aims and where they are covered within the practical or theory side has really helped.  It also shows the links between each of the areas which I suppose was just what I needed to do to see how it fitted.  I still have to add all the people/books etc I’ve looked at to the diagram, but this can then be used for the overall mapping of the project.


I am now trying to re-focus on my literature and so have done a breakdown of ‘love’s terms of how this fits in with my making and my data collection that I have already done.  This has shown that child for parent and grandparent is the most submitted, followed by romantic love.  Love for a lost child has not been submitted at all.  This might be because it is too emotional to talk about.  Other areas lacking were that of friendship.  This may be due to it not being considered ‘love’ as such.  I’ve then got to compare to my making.

Better get on with it!

The N-exlace and Taking on the burden of other lost loves.


The N-exlace was created in response to how the emotion of a lost relationship could be processed through the creation of an artefact.  Before working with other peoples stories I wanted to use my own experience of a lost romantic relationship to analyse and experiment with making techniques that felt appropriate.  Love letters and photographs were sourced, reread and looked at.  Diary entries found the time period were used to provide a contrast between what I’ve deemed the ‘public’ and ‘hidden’ side of the relationship.


He gave me a locket as a gift was used in casting experiments and this produced a negative ‘ghost’ silicone sphere, which I have kept as a memento of the relationship.
The making process used traditional handcrafts that were labour intensive and physical allowing each stage to be thought through thoroughly whilst actually making.

What I also discovered was when printing the leather, I thought of the times within the relationship, receiving the letters and writing my diary and analysing continuously.  The emotion that was felt whilst making the piece was quite intense.  I wasn’t entirely sure whilst making what form it would take.

Printing on the leather was experimentation and the acetone left the letters distressed and faded in parts, adding to the feel of the memories being faded.


The piece took the form of a necklace, very literal to the cast locket embedded within it but the leather began to symbolise my own skin that had been imprinted with these memories, but that had now been processed and could be removed from round my neck.  The making process allowed for therapeutic analysis to a certain extent.

Whilst collecting the stories from other individuals I have concluded the most expressive and emotional way of this is the written word.  I have interviewed a number of people verbally, but the emotion is not conveyed as intensely as through the personal letters.  This may be due to people being able to think and write what they are feeling rather than feeling pressured.


As a maker, reading these collected stories has been a harder experience than I anticipated.  Each one is filled with heart-felt emotion for lost loves and it has felt like I am taking on other peoples emotional burdens.  Through the making process I hope to relieve myself of these burdens as I create a new lost love artefact.