compelling but not the way in…

Posted: March 9, 2013 by Mo Crow in Lace
Tags: ,

lead and feather bookhave spent the last few days  in a strange space with this compelling old oxidized lead flashing that I tried to to turn into the covers for a feather book yesterday but is so toxic it hurt my teeth after only half an hour of cutting & beating it into shape then coating it with diamond hard car wax (an incredibly toxic petroleum based product that I used 20 years ago for sealing fragile patinas on jewelry) adding the second layer of wax this morning made me feel quite uneasy & a bit giddy. I know at gut level that I shouldn’t use it but at the same time I am drawn to it… the heavy dead white weightiness of it…  it fits neatly with a question my dad asked me when I was 5, “what is heavier a ton of lead or a ton of feathers?” ( have to admit it took quite some time to figure out!) & the idea of turning such a poisonous thing into an object of beauty, into the gold of the alchemical dream, that’s the allure or is it just fool’s gold? a pointless exercise & too clever by half…
Perhaps this is just a cul-de-sac on the journey into the next handmade book about playing with ideas of B&W, lace, the liminal and this feather…
here’s the first one embroidered on scrim & black velvet
BWfeather1-Mo-13PS the next day… I had to bring the lead back in, it works too perfectly
lead-&-feather-bookthe book is making itself, I must proceed with caution!
PS a week later, have decided the lead is too toxic and will take it to the toxic waste tip this arvo,
there are interesting things going on with the lace like lines in the silk organza
lace organzaand more experiments with these big reels of  B&W linen thread
black-and-white-linen thanks heaps to everyone for your concern you all talked a lot of sense back into me this week & Old Man Crow is very grateful!

  1. julie says:

    I empathise with the concept of being drawn to lead Mo – I remember sitting by the river etching for hours on to my grandfather’s lead sinkers. What beautiful creations they were! In those days no-one realised the dangers and thankfully I have not yet suffered any ill effects even though the residue must be in my body. Your latest feather is wonderful!

  2. arlee says:

    oh they are beautiful in a heavy way though!

    • Mo Crow says:

      they sure are… & it’s a wrench to not use them but I simply can’t use toxic materials any more & they have fed the soul fire!

      • Mo Crow says:

        had to bring them back in Arlee! they are just too beautiful I can use them by wearing surgical gloves & a mask & covering them in velvet and silk organza, parchment and lace, it will add the weight… and the frisson of danger, it will be a deadly book.

  3. Carol says:

    Dear Mo, please be careful with all that toxic stuff. I know whatever you make from it will be beautiful and magical but we do need you to continue to be around and in good health. I don’t think it’s a case of fool’s gold, alchemy is very alluring. Your b/w embroidery is looking great, something to look forward to..

    • Mo Crow says:

      I have been living such a healthy lifestyle ever since the throat cancer surgery & follow up radiant rays nearly 9 years ago but my immune system is still damaged & I am like a canary in a coal mine for any toxic dusts so although that lead was fun to play around with for a few days ( I used to quite enjoy dancing with the dark in my younger years) it’s been removed from the house for good!

      • Mo Crow says:

        Oh I had to bring the lead covers back in, they are too perfect! I will use them with great caution but I will do it… the lace edge for the embroidered feather is exactly the right size they need each other… this book has it’s own mind & is a dangerous one.

  4. patricia says:

    there is an alluring beauty about this piece and i’m thinking the danger element really adds to that–still i’m with your other friends who are concerned for the health reasons. and i understand you need to just proceed in the face of danger–tread softly dear one.

    • Mo Crow says:

      am just letting the lead sit now while I stitch very fine single thread white lace lines into the organza that will act as a second skin so it can be handled safely & will see where it wants to go from there… woke up thinking that if I do this with lots of love it will work out OK.

      • grace Forrest~Maestas says:

        sometimes yes, sometimes no, Mo. love requires a kind of sensitive intelligence. maybe like mold has, or some other very specific organism. love is also an organic thing. sensitive. aware of the need for ongoingness

        • Mo Crow says:

          good words Grace, this morning I rubbed warm beeswax into the hard wax on the lead covers then rubbed it back with leather and and it feels & smells a lot better will do that a few more times before adding the second & third skins that will enclose the lead and make it safe to handle

  5. dinahmow says:

    Dancing with the dark side is fine(for those who live to remember it!), but there does come a time when we need to heed the head.With care, you will make your book.

  6. roz says:

    can you find another material that speaks as lead does … it is the metalicness that you love as well as the danger ? i so understand the attraction of the metal sheen. from the photograph it could be heavy silk organza dyed … heavy leather with a beeswax sheen.
    really, is it the devil calling you to use this lead ?
    it will be a deadly book as you say, and will anyone else wish to hold it , be with it ..? get close enough to see all your fine fine glorious work… an audience from outside the danger zone only ?

    not wishing to be confrontational , but i worry for you , the risk versus the gain ? the risk is real.

    • Mo Crow says:

      Thanks Roz, I appreciate the concern! I am aware of how dangerous lead is as I made leadlight windows for a living in Nimbin in the 80’s before I came down to Sydney to study glass and jewelry at Sydney College of the Arts and have kept a close eye on the lead levels in my system with living in the inner city ever since. I have an impaired immune system which is good in a way as I am like the canary in a coal mine, the middle finger on my left hand is my toxic level indicator & gets radically infected if I touch anything deadly so I wear gloves and masks when dealing with any dusts or harsh chemicals.
      This particular piece of lead is a piece of 100 year old roof flashing that has been hanging off a water pipe in the side passage calling for me to do something with it ever since we moved in 4 years ago. When it came back inside on Monday I decided that it could be made safe to handle by covering the surface with multiple layers of wax (the beeswax is making it feel & smell much better) then stitching a tight skin of embroidered silk organza with a third skin of black linen thread lace & that piece of embroidered velvet, lining the insides with pieces from a 200 year old vellum parchment legal document & finally making a girdle with the eelskin. The text block will be sewn onto cords which will be woven through the covers. I am hoping that by doing all this it will be a more environmentally friendly thing to do with it rather than sending it off to the toxic waste tip… & oh yes it’s all about danger, alchemy, attraction/repulsion, the nature of Black & White and the many shades of grey. If it works I will exhibit it at the Australian Bookbinders Exhibition in October at the Research Library of the AGNSW & if it doesn’t I will have learned a lot.
      & yes I could use other materials & may well still bit for now I am seeing where it takes me, it is beautiful in a very dark way…

  7. roz says:

    sounds as tho much thought has gone on here
    and possibly i am still afraid of the dark….


  8. nadia says:

    Hi, Mo. LUV the embroidered feather and the stitching on white organza. Lovely. Thanks for stopping by so often at Snippets. Your comments are so perceptive–like how is it you know what I’m going to do on the pomegranate tree quilt before I do it? Wish we lived closer, wish you were my neighbor! Maybe someday I’ll get to Australia for a visit–you certainly wouldn’t want to come to Tunisia as things stand now…
    best, nadia

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