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Visiting artists at Skidmore college

Rag and Bone (with Susie Brandt), a project that addressed the pressing concern of post-consumer textile waste, resurrected a mobile version of historic ropewalks as a local exchange project where people participated in the transformation of their discarded textiles into exquisite lengths of hand made rope.

The project was inspired by the example of itinerant workers, such as cable-splicers and knife sharpeners, plus the historical precedent of ropewalks: The 1797 Taylor-Roberts maps of New York City show a quarter mile long ropewalk on the West side of Baxter Street from Leonard to Hester Streets. Similar linear structures are documented in other port cities. Rope is common stuff. Long before rope making became a trade it was a home industry. As an extension of yarn making, rope making is spinning writ large.

Rag and Bone proposed a series of temporary ropewalks coinciding, with a New York City based initiative, under the Council for the Environment, to collect and process 195,000 tons of textile waste. We proposed ropewalks at New York City Greenmarket sites and in the historic harbors of Brooklyn, NY; Baltimore, MD; and Philadelphia, PA.

In 2007 New York City initiated a program to collect and process 195,000 tons of textile waste.

 


Rag and Bone's ropewalks were self-contained production sites for turning post-consumer textile waste into rope. Participants worked with the artists, processing their clothing, blankets and linens into linear raw material, walking the ropewalk, and twisting the worn textiles into lengths of rope.
 
 
The plying of short plant fibers into load-bearing linear strands had immense implications.
 

Plymouth Cordage Company

As early as 1641, a British rope maker was deployed to Boston. By the 1700’s, year-round demand increased to the point where ropewalks were enclosed in wooden buildings and by 1810 there were 173 ropewalks in this country.

 

Craft and Community: Sustaining Place, an invitational symposium at Haystack Mountain School of Craft.

For this ropewalk, participants donated their own textiles and wrote short statements about the cloths.

 

 

“The persistence of stains on this linen blots out the tens-of-thousands of paper napkins used and discarded throughout my childhood. A few years after my father's death we packed up the family belongings of the New York house and distributed them in poorly marked cardboard boxes among my siblings and me. By chance, these napkins that I can only recall using on special occasions like Thanksgiving or Passover, became mine to use during daily meals, Bearing the monogram of my maternal grandparents, each stain is a trace of a family moving together and pushed apart, inevitably as the attraction and repulsion magnetic poles… the lips of four generations, still savory with the meal… kissing hello, kissing goodbye.”

-Joshua Green (participant)

“I am using a tshirt with an image from an artwork by Martin Ramirez, the great Mexican artist. For the past year I have been writing a book on Ramirez for an upcoming exhibition. It is my most ambitious work project to date - and it has been HARD. I am excited and anxious about the arrival of the book in January 2007 (to accompany the show) and somehow feel that it is the right thing to give the tshirt over to this communal activity. Kind of like an offering….asking for good things to come from the book and the show.”

-Brooke Anderson (participant)