January 2016, I launched Well Used, Well Loved (WUWL) a long term community art project that was an examination of age, beauty and impermanence in the human body and in the physical world around us. Through a series of ten reflective prompts, more than 30 WUWL households responded by writing in either a journal or on special Japanese (Kozo) paper. Prompt #6 was: “The materials for this project are hand woven linen and Kozo paper. Both are created from plant fibers, known for their absorption qualities. Absorption can also been seen as dissolving boundaries. In that light what parallels or connection do you observe between your own ability to absorb, to soak up, to empathize? What connections do you perceive between your linen/paper and the action of union, of dissolving boundaries, connection? What value do these actions have today?
The Kozo paper filled with stories, drawings and memories (including excerpts from the journals) was spun into paper thread called Shifu and woven into a four-panel wall piece. The two side panels are woven in a brocade technique using hand spun paper for the supplementary weft. This technique allows the Shifu paper weft to float on the surface of the plain weave ground. The two center panels are hand dyed linen woven in a plain weave, then embroidered with cotton floss with a hand spun Shifu paper thread that is couched in the surface.