FOR THE LOVE OF LOOMSTATE LINEN


Hello out there. It’s been 734 days, or thereabouts, since my last post… so much for new years resolutions. Mmm.

I am returning with a bit to say about stretching, sizing and priming raw linen. I have been on this project for the last three months and it’s a good break from the rigours of painting. I have found the exercise at times laborious, at times fascinating, surprisingly physically demanding but on the whole immensely rewarding.

I explained the process to my neighbour who is a singer, songwriter and patient ear, who heard me out and then commented, ‘I could think of nothing more boring. That would be like me having to make paper on which to write music or having to contructing a guitar before playing’ Fair. But constructing a guitar sounds very cool to me. It’s the spirituality of the thing… however, not everyone’s cup of tea.

On the subject of the spirituality of the thing, it occurred to me during this process that painting and supplies are so simple, yet the array of products out there is immense. Really painters only needed the flax (linseed) plant, from which comes linseed oil and the linen itself, a few pigments (crushed and bound with linseed oil), some wood for stretchers and paintbrushes, a few bunnies for sizing and a handful of hairs from the rare Siberian sable (hog bristle will suffice for the less adventurous).

Day 1 CUTTING AND WASHING THE LINEN

The linen needs to be cut with allowance for pulling around the stretcher and for a little shrinkage. I usually leave about 8cm on each edge. The stuff is so expensive though ($70 - $300 per metre and probably more) that you don’t want to waste it. I used a Belgian linen with a medium tooth.

The pieces then need to be rinsed in luke warm water to remove starches and hung to dry. It’s advised to weight the edges to minimise shrinkage. As I hauled the large pieces from the bathtub to the line I discovered that wet linen can be quite heavy.

Here is a pic of the loomstate lovelies hanging on the line...

I'll have to get back to this later, cheerio.