Tuesday, 9 August 2016

There Are No Firm Rules - Platform Residency - A Piece of String

As a participatory element of  There Are No Firm Rules, from Tuesday 9th August we are installing an on-going collaborative cordage making activity in the gallery. Visitors can create cord from nettles and fire weed which then can then be added to an existing wall-based piece to gradually create a collaborative sculpture in the gallery.

This simple process can be performed whilst chatting or resting.

Instructions for making twine and rope from nettles and rosebay willow herb.

1. Collect nettles and/or rosebay willow herb - look for the tallest strongest types as this will offer the most twine material. Remember to wear gloves.

2. Take a seat on the bench.
3. Remove leaves - with one gloved hand, hold the stalk at its tip, and run your other gloved hand from thin tip of stalk to broad foot. The leaves will come away easily.

4. Save the leaves for later.
5. Repeat with each stalk collected.
6. Remove gloves - if using nettles, only the leaves are the stinging part.
7. Take one bare stalk and lay on the tree stump. With a blunt heavy object, such as a medium sized log (diameter approx 10cm) or wooden mallet, gently bash the stalk from top to bottom, creating a split in the stalk.
8. Once done, gently open and flatten out the stalk.
9, At the wide end, carefully start to separate the outer skin of the stalk, from the pithy inner. Once completed, discard the pithy inner matter and hang the 'skin' to dry.
10. Repeat Process no. 7 with each nettle stalk.
11. Hang the flattened stalks over the twine to dry.
12. Once completely dried, separate each length of 'skin' into strips. They should separate easily along the length of the 'veins'.
13. Take one dry strip from the twine and, holding close to the centre between hand, start to twist in opposite directions between opposing fingers and thumbs. Once the 'twist' gains sufficient tension, you will create a twined loop and two long strands.
14. From here, keeping the 'twist' taught, start to crossover in alternate overlaps, until the two strands have disappeared.
15. To make longer twine, towards the end step 14, add in two new dried 'strands' to the ‘crossing over’ action.
16. To make thicker cord at the end of step no. 14, repeat step no. 13.

17. Once done, attach your twine to the accumulating “net” on the wall. Over the course of the residency, this will grow into a more complete net.
How much cordage can we make during the next few weeks?

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