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Molly Tufnell 'Stitches the Universe'

Contemporary Artist and Teacher


hand stitching on an old wool blanket using 4ply sock wool

I work slowly, thoughtfully, meditatively and 'in the moment', so much of what I do could be shown here. Instead, I will simply show some images of the sort of things that I specifically use, or make, to slow me down and help me think clearly about anything I need to do or work through.

The realisation and ability to articulate this happened slowly. After a particularly long period of anxiety and low mood I was put on the 3 month NHS Mindful course. As a 'doer' I found it virtually impossible to sit still whilst my mind was spiralling in panic mode, and then be asked to try to complete a 'body scan' meditation. I came out of the course feeling that it hadn't really helped me. I did however, understand and appreciate the main tenents and after some personal research and much reflection I realised that physically I was doing this anyway but my mindset needed some work. My studio was in store and I only had materials for hand stitch, something I rarely did. I began to stitch and by applying the processes I had learnt on the course to my stitching, something amazing began to happen. I was able to calm myself. I now use different types of textile work as well as the more traditional forms of mindful meditation every day.
Personal Meditations']}
stitching on an old wool blanket using 4ply sock wool

This is my meditation on 'scrambled signals'. After having both hips replaced I developed issues with my spine between L4 and S1. I had 1 normal week and then I was plunged into pain, weird sensations and worst of all, the inability to sit down. Meditating helped me through to a calmer, more accepting place.
Personal Meditations']}
hand stitch on pre felt and silk chiffon

Felting I have found to be a wonderfully mindful process. Just as in hand sewing, outside of the meditation process I will gather everything required. Sometimes I will plan but more often I will allow what is happening under my fingers to lead me. First is the breath and then I will expand my focus to materials, to sensations and to what is happening visually. My focus further expands to what is happening and what I am experiencing, with each part of the body I am using. I find it a powerful process
Personal Meditations']}
spinning in progress

I use spinning in exactly the same way as I do felting. With spinning there is the addition of hand and eye working together and the rythmic sound of the wheel which gives me another interesting aspect to place my focus; listening for those nuances that tell you how your spun thread is developing.
Personal Meditations']}
random pre dyed wool tops

This hank was spun after I had a mild stroke a few years ago. My left hand wasn't working very well and I really needed to calm down and find acceptance for the situation I found myself in. I used my method of meditation but I had the addtional bonus that I was also exercising my hand. That minute focus on each part of my hand meant I was able to detect small impovements and it gave me hope. I am not advocating this as something anyone else should try. It's not what I set out to do it is just what happened me.
Personal Meditations']}
free machined cable stitch using a variety of thick hand stitch threads

For years, free machining was my 'go to' when things were hard. The sound of the motor, the needle rising and falling and so on. For me this is comletely stress free. At art collage I took apart the process technically and it is the technique I taught more than any other. It is only laterly that I have understood I was using this to calm myself and I now do this conciously.

n.b. If it is not a technique you are expert in, it is definitely not one I would recommend to use for this process!
Personal Meditations']}
free machine stitch on procion dyed cotton cloth, cable stitch using a variety of hand threads

This image and the following one are simply examples of differnent meditations.
Personal Meditations']}
free machine cable stitch using 4ply sock wool on calico