I’m crunching a lot of words these days. As a voluntary editor for the Journal of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers I normally spend at least part of my day reading and commenting on articles, corresponding with authors, checking facts and figures, proofreading or generally nitpicking. I happen to care about commas, colons and how to spell practise. (If it’s a verb, use an ‘s’. That’s if you’re British).
Writing up part of the co-authored DHA paper from La Rochelle (see previous post) is also a priority and it’s a lengthy task which may stretch to several thousand words.
My main computer is in the studio and it’s here that Journal, editorial and some research work happens. The studio is also where I keep dyes, brushes, wax pots, frames and silks. Theoretically it’s the place I make things too – but studio work has suffered heavily over the past months from the quantity of research and editorial commitments. I consider everything I do absorbing, but there is only one of me. And there’s the question of changing heads.
From art college training I realised, and perhaps learned, the intense concentration needed to draw or paint. If I have to interrupt work on a drawing or experimental textile, creative thought-trains chuff-chuff deep into irretrievable tunnels by the time I get back, and I lose the metaphorical plot, as has this sentence. Essentially, I find it intensely frustrating to be interrupted when I’m working on something new.
With an established design, it isn’t so difficult as it’s only half new. Sometimes I can change heads from the particular analytical demands of editing, and work on a textile. I know what I’m aiming at, and although each textile is unique it’s like being guided by written music. Instructions have been established; technique and interpretation are what matter.
This week I’ve been constantly switching heads. I’ve been editing articles on shipwreck dye cargoes, medieval woad vats, or working on the history of a Leeds dye manufacturer: then I migrate two metres to wax pot, silk, frames, dyes and an established design theme. In three paces I unscrew Nitpick Ed-Head and replace it with Agent Zig-Zag. Zig-Zag, because that’s the design I’m working on this week.
I can’t always do this head-switching lark. I can’t always manage to ban the activity I’m not doing from my thoughts, and then nothing works at all. But this week it’s going OK.