Steel spun and felted

Working with wool this week made me remember some of the material studies I made with steel wool right around the time I was making Steel Trees (at bottom of entry). Here are a few of them (click to see larger) :

Erin Curry art-study in steel wool1Erin Curry art-study in steel wool2Erin Curry art-study in steel wool3Erin Curry art-study in steel wool3Suddenly I remember how fond I am of steel wool. It embodies such wonderful alchemy. With it the common understanding of steel is betrayed; replacing notions of masculine, hard, cold, and resistant with the feminine- soft, insular, and something altogether more vulnerable. Then in the careful wrapping of saplings for Steel Trees, the wool takes on the spun texture of worsted yarn. The small idiosyncratic details read as burls, a word which delightfully references both tree and yarn.


1. a large rounded outgrowth on the trunk or branch of a tree

2. soft lump or unevenness in a yarn; either an imperfection or created by design [syn: slub]

This work still resonates so strongly with me.


Marjojo said...

Erin, thank you so much for sharing how you tried to voice something about your grief after your mother’s death. When I first read it I was a bit choked and couldn’t answer right away, so I’m coming back rather late, but I never forgot about it. I can just imagine the delicacy of the bird-drawings you made, tender lines, there and almost not. Tentatively voicing some of what you felt, just a tiny bit that was utterable, while almost drowning in a dark sea of what isn’t. We are a strange generation, aren’t we, ready to share and explore feelings but also eager to analyse and heal and resolve often before it’s time.
Glad you liked some of my poem. I’m so glad I am an artist (and am sure you are) and am finding ways of grappling with words too. Maybe it’s about trying to find a way of encircling and getting close to what is and what is felt, a way of being able to look at things, at life, without turning away quickly and fearfully.
And those lines you quote from Wild Iris are wonderful. Part of me feels like I’ve been struggling forever to step into the world, to speak and be heard. Strange that I achieve some of that through a blog, and maybe that’ll lead me further out. I am only starting to read poetry, and wished I’d done it earlier. Found this poem (The Wild Geese) by Mary Oliver in an anthology last week, thought you might like it too: http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Metro/1170/wildgeese.htm
PS. You’re singing already, with beauty and depth!

Marjojo said...

When I left my first message this morning I saw that so much has happened in your blog since I last visited but was too tired to look at anything. I can never keep up with other bloggers, am always diving in for a bit and out for rather longer. But I’m back, your steel-wool-pictures having caught my eye and drawn me in again. For me they seem to link up with the bird drawings which were on my mind when I wrote to you, I was thinking of nests/nest making/holding something tenderly between cupped hands/envelopping/keeping warm/hiding/holding in but also emerging. I very much want to hold one of them in my hands, do they get warm to the touch?
And then looking through your other posts over the last few weeks – I wanted to react to almost each of them. Love the idea of your sugar-skull-party and cooking the recipes your mom liked. And now your encounters with sheep-wool and how you transformed it from something rough and ready into something soft and distinct. And the changes on the way – from tightly meshed curls to what looks like a haze of the softest pubic hair – just gorgeous. And the wooden box with a selection of woollen bits – they look so animal, still alive somehow, dense bits with curly hairy tentacles. And in-between the untamed wool patterned with these concise silver pinheads. I want one just like that. And a new word learned too – burl, like the way it rolls through my mouth. There's more that inspired me - what you wondered about the Fates wool..., but enough for now. So good to visit again, satisfying on all counts.

cally said...

these works are beautiful, never have i seen steel wool so beautiful.

i'm in awe of the amount of work in your saplings. i bind twigs and small branches in my work (mostly red and cream threads) and even my small pieces take so much time, i can't imagine the time it takes to do saplings and the difficulty of not damaging them (i am always breaking my pieces in the last moments).

i would like to show some of your work on my blog sometime if that is ok?

i've also enjoyed reading marjojo's comments here, she always writes so well. makes me want to take time to read the post to which she refers.

Erin said...

Marjojo, sorry my reply has been so long in coming, when I find the time I find myself reading your words over and over. You are consistently so perceptive, I am so glad our paths have crossed within this strange web universe.
I found it astonishing that you mentioned Mary Oliver and that particular poem because I wanted to mention her but couldn’t find the place it fit in. I tend to devour books and for a long time poetry required me to slow down too much to hold my attention. I only began really after my mom died. She had several books of poems that she would mine for inspiration or titles of her drawings. As I went through her library to bring home her books, I found little passages circled and I could immediately guess which drawings they referred to. As I mined for more information about her, I found I could relate to the kind of intensity and quiet that poems provided. Her books introduced me to Mary Oliver and then led me to Wild Geese, and I took an immense amount of solace from it. Wild Geese was a well placed reminder to be gentle with myself. It’s strange, Wild Geese was in the back of my mind after I read “all about love”, my first reaction to that entry was horror, such abuse, how can a soul take it? And yet I identified with the desire you state so vividly. Purify, temper, feed myself with wonder to see what I will become. Grief does that too. One of Oliver’s other poems, startled me and became my mantra for a while. In Heavy (from why I wake early), she quotes her friend,
"It's not the weight you carry
but how you carry it–
books, bricks, grief–
it's all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it
when you cannot, and would not,
put it down."

In regards to the steel wool pieces, they do warm up, though they are itchy. I made a felted glove from the stuff, and it was a bit torturous.
and then in regards to my experiments, fiber is somewhat new to me and I am falling in love with its alchemy, but I run the risk of just loving it as is.

Erin said...

Thank you, I really fell in love with the steel wool, it transcends the mundane pretty easily. It's true, those saplings took the better part of three months, and there was lots of breakage. I think if I were to do another I'd start with fresh wood to avoid brittleness.
I love the idea of wrapping twigs with thread, but I can imagine the procedure to be extremely delicate.

I am always pleased to hear(read) whatever Marjojo has to say.

I'd be honored if you mentioned my work on your blog. Thank you!


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