A Thread Runs Through it: Catherine Buddle

The threads Catherine Buddle use to create her unique artworks are works of art in themselves. Threads made of the finest rayon or silk strands, hand wrapped in weightless paper, metal foils, or platinum, sourced from faraway places like Japan, France and the States, inspire her work.

“These threads undergo a series of processes before I lay my hands on them,” Buddle says. “The silk is spun and processed, the paper is handmade, the metal is hammered, and then all these processes are combined to make the most luxurious, fine and precious threads. In my hands this precious craft journey only continues. I build on, and celebrate the talent and craftsmanship that came before me.”

Buddle’s objects are both sculptural pieces and wearable art. Her early working life as a biology laboratory assistant and a science illustrator, as well as her interest in metamorphosis and life cycles, informs her work. By stitching these delicate and precious threads with the finest of crochet hooks, she creates vessels, forms and sculptures that are malleable, organic, and life-like.

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“It takes about 30 hours to make a piece,” she says. Buddle starts with an idea and shape in mind, but no fixed pattern or plan. “It just evolves,” she says. The threads are so precious and fragile that there is no turning back, no second tries, or unravelling. “I just start, and work from my heart.”

Every piece is made from one continuous thread. When working with beads, Buddle ‘loads’ the antique metal, glass or freshwater pearls onto the thread before she starts stitching. She then carefully places them in just the right place to add to the ethereal, fragile, and precious feel of the work.

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Her wearable pieces are worked onto a silver base, specifically designed for her by Jane Bowden from Zu Designs. This adds an extra dimension to the piece, a foundation, or a hidden layer – visible but not prominent. A juxtaposition of solid and malleable, hard
and soft, rigid and organic.

When Buddle is not creating precious objects from treasured threads, she creates hand-stitched paper vessels and finely embroidered braille stories about her childhood. Her work talks and breathes. She uses words and threads with equal amounts of craftsmanship and dexterity, creating vessels, objects, jewellery pieces and collages. These works of art are as unique as the precious threads she uses. Their legacy will continue long after they leave her hands – just like those handmade threads from faraway lands.

Catherine Buddle is a member of Well Made and Guildhouse. Her work can be seen at JamFactory, Zu Designs, and Art Images Gallery

Ansie van der Walt is a freelance writer specialising in fibre art and textile ansievanderwalt.com
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