Monday, August 26, 2013
These are a series of wash cloths I wove, for my imaginary Finnish savu sauna, the old chimneyless, blackened interior of the smoke sauna. Windowless, they have only a small hatch with a funnel shape of black smoke marking the log wall above it on the outside, where smoke escaped, after at least a day and night of heating. I saw several of these early saunas, in Finland, with their blackened walls, ceilings, and benches, low doorways, wooden ladders, and the black patina on the benches, where I saw some white, handwoven, linen bench cloths. My kind of epiphany.
And, no, the black doesn't rub off. But, it does smell lightly smoky, but not the harsh, acrid smell of walking into a burned out building. The savu sauna takes a long time to heat up, but stays steadily hot, and is slow to cool down. Women used to birth babies in the smoke sauna, because it was so clean. The smoked interior was antiseptic. It would certainly have been a warm place for a newborn arriving in my imaginary Finnish winter.
Off the loom, my set of cloths looked good as one, long piece, but now I've cut it into the small, face cloths I first intended. Wash cloths interest me because they are the least regarded textile, and yet, they are a part of the simple daily ritual of washing. We each wash our faces in private, and then walk out to meet the world. I like the part the cloth plays, in this transition. There are 8 of them, 8 variations. I've been hand hemming them this morning.
I've recently been enamored of Primitive American Paintings, by Jean Lipman, and a book of Shaker hand drawn and colored maps of the Shaker villages, and the "gift" drawings. Oh, Sister, feeling the inspiration--and drinking coffee, black.
Baby in Red High Chair, c. 1790 oil on canvas