Thursday, December 29, 2011

Serendipitous snotty globules

Snotty globules of oil-spill dispersant, hand-crocheted  cotton with wool 
After starching up the first batch of tea-dyed crochet dispersant, I realise I really have to stop describing them as spheres.  They are lumpy, misshapen, blobby globules with little in common with actual sphere shapes. But to me they are beautiful, especially en masse. Each one is unique with its own wabi sabi character.  They are like tiny crayfish pots or loosely woven baskets and obviously handmade. I'm very pleased with my globules of dispersant.

Starched globules stuffed with wool while they dry
I've also been surprised by my globules. How I get them from flat to round is with a homemade starch mix, not dissimilar to the wheat paste glue I use to make books.  To hold their shape while they dry I stuff them with short-staple wool from an old pillow.  It turns out that when I go to pick out the wool from the dried-stiff globules its almost impossible to remove all the wool, and strands of fluff line the insides like ectoplasm.  

Last snotty bits of wool that can't be removed from inside the globules
Or snot, which is just the effect I want, because the dispersant used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Corexit, once mixed with oil and floating in the water is colloquially called snot.  Back when I thought I was making spheres, I feared they would look too sweet and bubbly to adequately represent the horrors of dispersant's impact on ecosystems and human health. My globules are still pretty bubbly, especially from a distance, but this unexpected snotty quality, combined with the lumpy shapes is very pleasing.

I'm nearly half way through crocheting my 400 globules, and though the tea dying is quick and easy, the starching, stuffing and unpicking is very laborious. I pick as much of the wool filling out of each globule as I can, using a pair of long, medical tweezers. Its a good thing I'm so pleased with how they are turning out because I'm going to be spending a lot of time picking at snotty globules over the next few months.

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