For the last few months I’ve been researching knots. My old friend the library hooked me up with a few books that approach the topic from a variety of angles -- the captivating and truly entertaining “Why Knot?” by famed high-wire walker Philippe Petit, an Outward Bound guide to knots used for adventure activities like climbing and camping, and a poetic tribute / functional guide to the art of knots for sailors called “The Rigger’s Apprentice.” And that’s just a taste of the literature out there on knots.
Working with macrame initially piqued my interest in the art of knot tying, and artists I admire, like Windy Chien with her beautiful knot work, led me to believe there was more out there to explore. I’m glad I followed my curiosity!
My first attempt at incorporating some knots into my work is in the form of a few simple overhand and figure eight knots made out of clay and metal foil. The teeny tiny ones I made into earrings and larger ones were woven onto braided cotton cords to form lariat and tassel-style necklaces.
As I dive deeper into the world of knots, I hope to incorporate more of their meaning and symbolism into my work, and to share that with you all, too.
Take the figure eight knot -- not only is the symmetry and balance of this knot a treat for the eyes, but it’s also the knot that securely attaches a climber’s harness to their rope. Also called the Flemish knot, it’s used as a stopper knot aboard ships, ensuring ropes don’t slip through their riggings. In heraldry (the design and study of coat of arms symbols) it’s known as the Savoy knot and represents faithful love, likely because of its resemblance to the infinity sign. Fascinating, right?
I’m starting with simpler knots before working up to more complex versions. By crafting these knots out of clay, the end result is less functional in the traditional sense, leading you to focus more on the beauty and meaning behind each hitch, bend, or loop.
I hope you like these new pieces! Most of the knots pictured are listed on Etsy now, with more specific information on each one.