Do you have a collection of old wooden spools of thread? Perhaps they’ve been passed down in the family. You just can’t bring yourself to throw them out because they are a connection to people and places in your past. You wonder what to do with them. They are beautiful objects to look at. Mostly, the spools sit there unused, relics of a bygone era. Some people think the thread isn’t practical to use because it breaks easily, but others say it’s strong and of a higher quality than what you can buy today. A follower who saw my photo of the spools on Instagram summed it up this way, “I have a small collection. My husband asked me why I was keeping them…. well he just doesn’t get it.”
On Valentines Day, I decided to make an assemblage with my collection of cotton and silk thread. I put some spools on end and some sideways, separating the ones with paper labels from the stamped ones. It was so much fun that I surrounded the heart shape with just about every spool I could find hidden away in my studio.
I used my grandmother’s old bread board as a base. That way, I could move it without messing up the design. Doesn’t it look like a box of candy? Rob took a photo of the arrangement and viola, a piece of art!
I am happy to offer note cards and a poster of the spool heart image below my Etsy shop.
Gathering the spools and arranging them took an afternoon, which is a fraction of the time it takes to create a stitched piece. It seems that I either work quickly like this or laboriously over a period of months. Nothing in between. Each way feeds a different part of my creative soul.
Making the spool heart has sparked a new series of assemblage pieces made from vintage items that I’m calling the Heirloom Collection. I also made a homey scene with an assortment of old buttons (see below), which you can find out about in this post. A note card of the button landscape (sold in a 4 card set combo with the spool heart or separately) is also available in my Etsy shop.
Part of the appeal of working spontaneously is that I can come up with an idea, set up an arrangement, snap a photo and then take it apart in a relatively short period of time. I like making ephemeral art because I don’t have to think about mounting, framing and preserving it as a “thing”. The photo becomes the art. My head is exploding with ideas for other collections!
These vintage spools resonate with so many of us, especially sewers, quilters and fiber artists who are old enough to remember using them. This is what they’re saying on Facebook and Instagram:
“Omg I love this! I thought I was the only one who had a collection of vintage wooden silk spools sitting around.” and “I have a box of old thread, passed down through 4 generations. I treasure it. It’s like a magic box.”
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