Saturday, May 28, 2011
Hand-dyed Silk in Basel
My first day in Basel was Thursday. I slept for a few hours, then went with my hostess, Kathrin Schaeppi, to an English-language poetry reading at the University. En route we passed the open market at Barfüsseplatz (named after the barefoot Franciscan friars, and not, as i first thought, after the discalc'd Carmelites...) and I spied a color-draped booth with skeins of all possible hues hanging in rows in sumptuous splendor. We made a beeline for it and I ogled the goods. The woman was French-speaking, from La Chaux-de-Fonds; she gave me her card: Holzart Atelier Hachem ("tournage et découpe de bois /soie et laine"); her son does the wood-turning and she does the dyeing of silk and linen. It was expensive, as is everything in Switzerland, but I couldn't resist, esp as I was vulnerable from many hours of travel and few hours of sleep. I picked out two skeins in somewhat counter-intuitive colors for me: yellow variegated and slate-blue/yellow variegated. Here's a picture; I'd forgotten my camera on the excursion so didn't get a pic of the booth and the beautiful artisan. However, she's there every second Thursday so I'll get a chance to revisit the scene. This picture is taken against the sheets of my cozy single bed on Bachlettenstrasse. The two skeins look so happy nestled together; it's a case of do-i-want-to-impose-violence-on-them-through-use or do I want to hang them on my wall when I return? The loom room at home is painted a compatible color, a dark blue-gray. Perhaps that's why I chose these colors. I'm not sure which of my friends would wear them, or what I can make: 400 metres per skein, she says.
Skein/skin. Almost too obvious, as in Stein's Miss Furr and Miss Skeene, who were so close, like my two lovely loopy skeins of silk, that they were "regularly gay." But a proper etymological romp remains to be romped.