Monica Patel

"Red Thread"

Section MS8, Tania Lopez Winkler

Keywords: body, time, design, photography

Distilling the essence of the hand and the role it plays in the process of craft and production

The hand has its own language. The hand is contemplative, pure, it is a tool, it reads time, it reads the slowness of making. The hands can tell stories, weaving together the collective threads, bringing together the narrative embodied within the object. This relationship between the hand and craft often results in unexpected outcomes, sometimes perceived as errors or mistakes. In an age where machine production eliminates all tactile relationships to making, how can the relationship between the hand and thread result in a new understanding of craft and mistake?

The project explores the relationship between the hand, time, and mistake, where mistake is not viewed as an error, but rather is celebrated as part of the process of slow making. The hands and thread mediate between the crafted object, resulting in a new understanding of mistake and slow making. As a whole, the repetitive nature of the object’s making is unified by the hand and red thread, where dashed lines acted as a consistent gauge as to what constitutes a mistake. I began by embroidering a series of small, dashed lines, where each time I made a mistake I let the thread hang, starting the next stitch again. I continued this process for roughly one thousand four hundred stiches, continuing to let the thread hang at each mistake.

While the process focussed on highlighting mistake, the final object itself represents the result of both time and craft. As I continued embroidering, slowly I began to make less mistakes, more even lines, and of course, the process sped up. Overall the piece took over sixty hours to complete, where the finished textile reads the story of its making, mistake and the hands that crafted the object.

The project has been documented through a time lapse of still images and short clips of film. The entirety of the project was not fully documented as in order to meet the final goal, I continued to embroider in various locations where continuous documentation was not feasible. The final output of the documentation film highlights the hand and thread, the passage of time, and the crafted response to mistake in a way that I believe is true to this object’s realisation.