Wandering through the Southside Antiques Centre in Annerley one afternoon last year, I came across a cellophane packet containing a bundle of colourful bars of silk thread.
The gorgeous array of silken spectrums made my heart skip a little beat.
I'd never seen anything quite like these before. I guessed they were once colour samples of some type of sewing thread, and the way they were wrapped around strips of thick cardboad suggested that perhaps they had been compiled into a sample book or folder that could have been touted about as a salesman's look book, or used for merchandising on a shop floor or some such. And while I had no certainty of their true history, I was very much certain they were coming home with me!
When I arrived home with the packet of thread spectrums, I excitedly began to lay them out on a board just to get a better overview of all the bars. I arranged and rearranged them, lining them up, offsetting them, and getting a general sense of the range of colours.
Only a couple of the bars were still in perfect condition, tightly wound around their cardboard strip, their spectrum complete and tidy. But MOST of the bars were in a state of disarray - frayed threads unravelling from the strip, or missing whole blocks of colour; the cardboard torn or bent or broken off of a larger strip. They were ad hoc, but I kind of liked the imperfections.
And, oh, the wonderful juxtapositioning of the colours! That was the best of all. The threads were mostly browns and greyish neutrals, with a scattering of strong bright colours like coral and sunflower yellow and a delightful array of blue hues.
I photographed some of my favourite juxtapositions:
When I saw them in the Antiques Centre, I had no real idea of what I would do with the strips if I bought them. But I imagine most creative people will relate to this - we relish the joy of seeking and discovery and collecting (accumulating for our ever-important creative "stash") but often this process is quite separate and distinct from the later (sometimes much later!) act of creativity.
For a long time, the strips remained like this, just sitting there on the long workbench in my studio that seems to be solely dedicated to work-in-progress projects.
I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to frame the strips, almost exactly how I had first rearranged them in their grid of spectrums. Over time I tried a few different-sized black RIBBA frames from Ikea (Lord knows I have dozens of them scattered throughout our house already), but they just didn't seem right - the heavy black frame was too overpowering and I found myself reluctant to put the beautiful silken strips behind glass.
And it wasn't until just the other week that I stumbled across a suitable frame in an op shop: a white RIBBA frame that was, lo and behold, missing its glass! Perfect. And only $2, to sweeten the deal ;)
With a happy heart I set about arranging the bars into the newly acquired frame, sticking them down with double-sided tape (nothing too permanent of course, just in case some other idea comes along later)...
And soon after I had a lovely new artwork ready to hang on the wall...
And I can admire its spectrums of colour, and aged textures, and silky sheen every time I wander past...