The 104 days of lockdown is also a journey through the history and geography of knots and knotting. I’ve included knots from the earliest Chinese dynasties, knots from the Islamic world and Celtic knots – there are quite a few overlaps as different cultures call the same knots by other names, eg a Celtic square knot was also called a Hercules knot by ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Or the Chinese double coin = western Josephine = also macramé knot = sailors know it as the ‘Carrick bend’. ‘Josephine’ comes from Napoleon Bonaparte’s empress but the ancient Celts knew about it long before.
On knots, poet Meng Jiao (Tang Dynasty) wrote: One knot after another Knotting true and deep love Upon my love’s departure I make a thousand knots on his sleeve I swear to wait faithfully Hope these knots will prompt him to come home early But what’s the use of tying knots on his garment? It is better to knot our hearts together We knot our hearts in whatever we do We knot our hearts for eternity
中 zhong middle 🀄️Chinese character Doing my favourite button knots for my own art, for my forthcoming Carpet Pages III: Pixels show, sharing it with kid. Threading practice ‘through’ the ‘middle’ or centre of the knot made it look like 中 .
FORE-EDGE PAINTING 31 – A MONTH OF FORE-EDGE PAINTING
The 31 days of fore-edge painting are over. Here is a close up of a page; you can see the painting just on the edge and it hasn’t bled onto the page itself. You can also see the gold gilt edge glinting in the light. My favourite part is of course the process of painting and creating. The trick is to paint downwards, and try not to paint upwards, so that the paint doesn’t bleed into the actual pages themselves, and it stays invisible and on the very edges of the page only.
The second image is a beautiful Japanese book with printed fore-edges – a set of 12 rare books known as Honzu Zufu at Kew’s Library which include depictions of around 3,000 plants from the 19th century. You can print fore-edges as well as paint them… the painted ones have a special magic, of course. I love how the kanji (Chinese characters also used in the Japanese language, as well as Korean) can also serve as bookmarks, or placeholders for the text so you can flip to a certain page quickly. I’m sure I will also find some Chinese equivalents and then be inspired to create my own…
So now you’ve seen the entire process of creating the fore-edge painting; here is the video of the ‘surprise’ revealed on fanning the edges. I’m less good at fanning the edges, better at painting them!
The grip that’s used to draw straight lines against a ruler. Fifth finger for balance and you don’t have to ‘paint’ the line, you just pull your hand along the brush (using four fingers as shown) and it draws it automatically for you. One day, with an extra pair of hands, will try to do a video. Needs practice, and ruling pen is easier. However – you won’t get a finer line than that drawn with the hairs of a brush.
Going through the history of knots in my knotwork piece! Knots are so old. Already arrived at the Ming Dynasty!
Pan Chang knot – endless knot, birth and death and the mysteries of the universe- it’s also known as the mystic knot. Well, all knots essentially symbolise this! What makes this one special is that it is one of the 8 Buddhist treasures and also sounds like the word for happiness, so the knot symbolises unending happiness.