The idea for my Rapunzel Chair comes directly from my experience while I was in school getting my MFA in sculpture. That was about 15 years ago and I was doing things like saving my tea bag strings (all stained differently depending on how long they sat in my cup of tea) and weaving them into the carpet in spirals or weaving my used tampon stings into jewelry. I was unraveling doilies and hanging the kinked cotton yarn from straight pins stuck in the wall or dropping it on the floor in a pile the width and length of my body. It was art that most people didn’t understand and I could only explain in context of what other artists had done before me.
But I think with my Rapunzel Chair I brought what I was doing in school down to earth. That process of collecting and creating from something as mundane as bailing twine made sense in a way I didn’t have to explain.
I started my Rapunzel Chair two years ago. Taking the twine from the first bale of hay that we fed to the animals that fall, I tied it onto an old, seatless chair that I found in the barn. My only objective was to use the twine as it came off the hay and somehow cover the chair.
I wasn’t trying to weave a seat and back (I’ve caned many chairs before), I was looking to make a sculpture out of the chair. And I had no idea in mind of what it would look like when it was done. Or how long it would take me to finish it.
There was a turning point when I decided not to make the chair into an abstract sculpture and keep it a chair. It was the first time I saw Minnie sitting on it. After that I started making the seat more secure. So much of my art is functional, it was an easy decision.
At first I was just using knots to tie the twine onto the chair. But after a trip to Blue Star Equiculture, where I saw the women there braiding the horses tails and manes, I came home and started braiding the bailing twine.
Then I made Jon a macrame knotted bracelet for his birthday and started using that knot on the Rapunzel Chair.
Jon and I had been calling the chair the Fiber Chair, but one day Cindy messaged me and said it reminder her of Rapunzel. The name stuck.
It was just about a month ago when I knew the chair was almost done. I wanted to wait till we stopped feeding hay to the animals for the season. To make it a chair of a full two seasons of hay and bailing twine.
Last week, when we fed the animals the last bale of hay, I tied the last two pieces of bailing twine on the chair. Now it sits on our back porch and the cats as well as the chickens sit on it. Sometimes together.
We have more old and broken chairs in the loft of the barn, so in the fall, when we start feeding the animals hay again, I’ll start working on a new string chair. Once again, I have no plans for it, or have any idea how long it will take me to finish it or what I’ll do with it once it’s done.
With this kind of art, it’s as much about the process as it is about the end result.
You can see more pictures of my Rapunzel Chair on Jon’s blog if you type “fiber chair” into his search box. He was much better at documenting the process than I was. Most of the photos in this post are his.