Take-your-mind-off-it Monday.

Some of my favorite things 
are favorites for no particular reason.  
One of those things is this sampler:

I've had it for years -- picked it up at an antique store somewhere along the way.  It has no date, no name, no clues whatsoever as to its maker.  I don't know whether or not it came from a kit, but I assume it did.  The frame is in atrocious shape and was dime-store quality to begin with, and yet it suits it somehow and so it has endured.

I've always had a soft spot for samplers.  Much of my own work, with its rows of decorative borders, repetitive images and wise or quirky mottoes definitely owes more than a nod to the conventions of sampler-making, especially when taken in the context of the greater domestic needlework tradition to which I trace my lineage. So I suppose that's reason enough to explain my connection to this one.

We've recently been juggling some art around in the house,

the latest arrival, happy in its new home

trying to find new or better homes for things and incorporate a few new ones.  It's nice to mix things up now and then just to encourage our eyes to notice them.  After several years, even the most beautiful and inspiring art becomes invisible when viewed as part of the daily wallpaper.  I toyed briefly with the idea of moving the sampler or getting rid of it altogether, but I found I just can't do it.  And so it survives another round.

I was thinking about samplers to begin with . . .
because of some extraordinary work I came across the other day while wasting time on the internet.

Nothing is more appealing to me than traditional work that leaps the time chasm and finds a foothold in the present!

 Michael Dinges, from Hand/Eye magazine

Michael Dinges' work is technically described as scrimshaw, a fascinating historical art in its own right.  (I suppose that traditional scrimshaw could have been considered "samplers for sailors," and I thank the artist for connecting those dots for me!)  Rather than ivory, Dinges works his magic on ubitquitous plastic. And although he transforms all kinds of society's plastic discards, the specific article I came across was about his "Dead Laptop Series."  

Please visit the artist's 
website to view the collection here!


In the article, Dinges explains his sampler connection in this way:

Beyond tattoos and scrimshaw, it’s important to say that my “Dead Laptop Series” was formally inspired by 19th-century American schoolgirl needlepoint samplers. Images here often included the alphabet, botanicals, and simple moral verse meant to inspire virtue.  Samplers almost look like laptops in size and they sort of represent the keyboard by way of the alphabet. I love the moral verses on them, and how their “knowledge” gets codified and transmitted in an intimate way. I make up my own simple poems to engrave, which are intentionally not meant to be great poetry but simply posit moral questions."

So very cool! And something to take your mind off a hum-drum Monday (assuming you're having one, since I certainly am.)  

Sometimes it helps me stumble through the laundry with a smile when I remember that someone, somewhere is doing something that is so much... more... interesting. 




luanne said...

So how did you happen to find this guy? (Your internet time-wasters are obviously superior to mine.)The Dead Laptops are amazingly creative, LOVE them! His other work is pretty great too. So cool when people put a fresh twist on something as traditional as scrimshaw, and to think samplers inspired the DLs... my mind is truly & duly boggled.

Hope you're feeling much better this week!

Amelia Poll said...

I'm not having a hum-drum Monday. I just had a fantastic one, in fact.... Spent at Disney World. I know, you're jealous. But that's not why I stopped by.

You should also remember, when sludging through the laundry on a Monday, that everyone, at some point has a Monday. We all have the same chores to do, and very few of us have enough money to pay someone else to take care of the mundane. So, while someone, somewhere may be doing something better than you, when you are making your art, chances are that someone, somewhere is having a "Monday" :)

susan m hinckley said...

thanks, you two!

LuAnne -- I thought the sampler connection was very cool too. Glad you like them. And duly & truly boggled may be my new favorite phrase.

Amelia -- Disney World, huh? Exactly the kind of awesome thing I knew someone, somewhere was doing...Hope you're having a great time! And please blow a kiss to Steven Tyler on the Rock-n-Roller Coaster for me!

Leenie said...

The "dead laptop" art truly IS boggleing. I really like the "Earth, Water,Fire, Wind, Sky" wrapped around that Macintosh Apple.

I have a love/hate relationship with needlework samplers. I was given a cross stitch sampler to work on when I was about ten. Hated it. There were too many trees to climb and ditches to swim in.

Even now needlework is not my favorite way to spend time. But I very much love and admire samplers like the one you have framed and also the amazing stitchery you create.

The cowboy art looks right at home on your wall.

Allie said...

What a fun post! And I love your little drawing at the end of it. Love the sampler connection!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin