Art as technique

Sub TitlesTatting as Art; What I Learned from Book Club; Everything Can be Related to Tatting; Reading vs. Tatting?–or both!

As a kid, I was a ravenous reader…even nightly tempting the rath of my father who used to yell at me to stop reading and go to sleep.  But my reading stopped when I got to college (there were so many things I HAD to read and soo little time).  When I got married out of college, my life was filled with starting a job and keeping up with an active husband who always had a new hobby to investigate as well as learning to relax.  It was also in this same time frame of college and new home/job/marriage that I rediscovered tatting.  Tatting I found, was cheap and portable and I could work on in little spurts of time–the perfect relaxation technique for an active person.  Thus reading was further usurped in my life.

Soo….flash forward to about a year ago, when I was invited to join the neighborhood women’s book club. My kids are out of the house, my home is fairly the way I want it to be…I was ready for a new challenge.  This seemed like a good way to get me out of my ‘normal’ routine and embrace something new (plus I knew that book club events involved wine and treats!) so I joined.  Some of the books I have liked, some not so much.  However just recently we were to read Shell Collector by Allan Doerr.  As usual, I had drug-my-feet in getting/reading the book and the time was coming close to ‘book club night’.  So I went onto the author’s website to see what I could learn about the book and whether I truly wanted to invest $12 and the time to read it (time that I could be tatting &/or creating tatting patterns!).  I was pleasantly surprised to read some Essays he had on his website and learned that I did enjoy his writings.  On the website was an essay that Allan Doerr had written about traveling to the Arctic in which I found the following quote:

Among the things I’ve brought to the Arctic is a 1917 essay titled “Art as Technique,” by a Russian named Viktor Shklovsky. In it, Shklovsky argues that routines function as a kind of anesthetic in our lives. “If we start to examine the general laws of perception,” he writes, “we see that as perception becomes habitual, it becomes automatic….If one remembers the sensations of holding a pen or of speaking in a foreign language for the first time and compares that with his feeling at performing the action for the ten thousandth time, he will agree with us.”

But art, Shklovsky says, ought to help us recover the sensations of life, ought to revivify our understanding of things—clothes, war, marriage—that habit has made familiar. Art exists, he argues, “to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known.”

Sometimes you have to make yourself a stranger to your own life in order to recognize the things you take for granted. Like sunsets, or hot showers, or alphabets. My health, my family, the streams of photons sent from our star—how had I stopped actually seeing these things?

This is how I ‘see’ my tatting…as art. I use tatting (ie. my tatting design work) to view the world in a ‘special’ way.  I look at pattens and repetition in all kinds of places and convert those ‘discoveries’ into my unique tatting designs.  It gives me an ‘excuse’ to look at the world around me much the same way that the author of the essay “Art as Technique” refers to. I have been known to ask women if I could photograph or sketch the design on their purse or scarf in coffee shops!  I see pattern/repetition in architectural elements that can be converted to a tatting pattern.  I scribble out design ideas on any scrap of paper that I can find at a moments notice. I am comforted knowing that the deposit slips in my checkbook are always there for an emergency sketch.  Cash register receipts are always and option too. I have many designs/ideas/sketches waiting for their turn to become ‘tatting’.  (If only I could quit my day job and devote myself to that endeavor full-time!!!!—such a pipe-dream!)

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