Tucholsky’s Holes and Goldsworthy’s Time

It’s astounding what you can do with a bunch of wood pieces when you are Andy Goldsworthy. For this month’s fabric play I chose to think about/stitch and create holes. Goldworthy’s book “Time” was my first inspiration:

The image on the left is a river bed where the mud has been removed and sticks put carefully in the hole. When I found the (nearly) perfect thrifted shirt of the same color, I was hooked,  but the end result was not as exciting as I hoped for. Next I read once again an old favorite, “The Philosophic Sociology of the Hole” written in 1931 by German-Jewish journalist/writer Kurt Tucholsky.

Here are some excerpts in German (with English translations underneath):

Das merkwuerdigste an einem Loch ist der Rand.
Er gehoert noch zum etwas, sieht aber bestaendig in das Nichts.
Das Loch ist eine Grenzwache der Materie! Das Nichts, aus dem das Loch besteht, hat keine Grenzwache: waehrend den Molekuelen am Rand eines Loches schwindlig wird, weil sie in das Loch sehen, wird den Molekuelen des Loches…festlig? Dafuer gibt es kein Wort.

….The most intriguing part of a hole is it’s edge.
It still is a part of some thing but looks constantly into nothing.
It is guarding the frontier of the material.
The no-thing has no guard of its frontier…..

Manche Gegenstaende werden durch ein einziges Loechlein entwertet; weil an einer Stelle von ihnen etwas nicht ist, gilt nun das ganze uebrige nichts mehr. Beispiele:
Ein Fahrschein, ein Luftballon, eine Jungfrau.

….Some things lose value because of a single small hole:
because in a part of them there is a “no-thing”, all the rest isn’t worth anything anymore.
Example: a ticket, a virgin, a balloon…..

Read the full German version here and the English one here.

The idea of something losing value, because it has a small hole, fascinates me. After all, this is precisely why mending is an act of rebellion against consumerism.

I wanted to make a piece of fabric, that has more holes than fabric and that’s exactly what I did. My husband looking over my shoulder remarked rather dryly that more holes than fabric translates into lace, and he’s right.

But, my coarse eyelets of wool on linen have nothing to do with lace; they are just a collection of holes with almost all the fabric between removed. The fabric piece looks like wabi-sabi tatting. I didn’t have the time (as usual, I started this week…) to experiment with different shapes and materials. Hexagons might look more interesting, because with Hexagons, there’s no extra fabric between the holes.

Ultimately, I ended up with this:

The outcome was not very exciting, but what was however, was how I spent my time creating it:  My original sources of inspiration, Andy Goldsworthy’s great book “Time” and Tucholsky’s writings were familiar but viewed entirely through a different lens.

Originally, I didn’t want to show this rather meager result of my mind’s meanderings, but then failure belongs to experimentation. They are joined however awkwardly at the hip, and who knows, it may also help encourage those of you who feel shy to participate…..It’s all about experimentation and play. And maybe this experimentation leads to a new revelation.  I’ll sleep over it.

For more ideas, visit suschna.

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32 Responses to “Tucholsky’s Holes and Goldsworthy’s Time”

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  1. Suschna says:

    Wow, so much food for thought. Your outcome is not at all meager, rather rich and raw (in a good way). It does not look like lace or like tatting, it is another thing. Could hang it on a fine string around my neck.

    Die Form erinnert mich auch an die Lochstickerei in einem Kissen meiner Großmutter, dort sind es Traubenreben. Außerdem bist du auf der Spur des Vorhangs bei der Documenta, dort waren auch viele Stellen sehr roh und frei so umstickt, dass nur doch wilde Löcher blieben.

    Für den Tucholsky-Text brauche ich nun noch eine heiße Schokolade, dann habe ich alles erfasst, hoffe ich.

  2. Siebensachen says:

    I wouldn’t call this a failure, not at all.
    Was ich mir gut vorstellen kann, ist ein leichtes Sommerkleid aus Leinen, dessen Passe in deiner Lochstickerei gearbeitet ist.

  3. beautiful work~ i am constantly amazed at how you are able to take something that has nothing to do with stitching at all, be inspired by it, and then figure out how to translate it into a a stunning piece of stitched work!

  4. Chloe says:

    As always, your post is interesting and thought-provoking. It has inspired me to write and to maybe stitch something along those lines, or edges, maybe I should say. I particularly liked your comment that “mending is an act of rebellion against consumerism”… that has set me going in all kinds of ways and is very much a part of my thinking these days.

    And, along with Suschna’s comment, I think your experimentation is rather wonderful. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for years and was recently lucky enough to stumble upon an exhibition of his early work. I wish I owned some of his books, he’s quite an incredible artist. There were some interesting statements from him in the exhibition about his process (I blogged about it here: http://underagibbousmoon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/an-early-birthday-present-warning-there.html)

    Hope you don’t mind if I use your quote for a future post: I’ll link back here if that’s ok.

    Thank you for keeping my brain working! x

  5. Once again you’ve touched on something that is on my mind. I just tore a hole in the back of a favorite tunic and have been pondering possibilities for repairing it.
    I love your bubble-like, wool on linen piece. It would look great as a part of the whole, with random “bubbles” scattered throughout the piece.
    Please keep showing your works whether you think they’re successful or not. They’re part of what makes your blog fascinating. The ideas keep pouring out of you. You just reminded me that I started an Alabama Chanin poncho and need to continue. With a few hundred more hours of experimentation I think it will be quite nice.

  6. Lisa says:

    The image of failure and experimentation being awkwardly joined at the hip is making me crack up. I’m imagining failure as a character who is covered in holey garb, quite deadbeat, maybe with whiskers whether male or female, disheveled, and clumsy. Failure keeps tripping and bumping into things, spilling milk, dropping the jar of pins, forgetting something in the house when everyone is packed up in the car. Experimentation is brightly-clad, spellbinding, bright-eyed, chin turned up and dances like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain; not even a downpour gets in the way of the vibrancy of experimentation. What a pair to be joined at the hip. Imagine trying to dance like Gene Kelly after dropping a jar of pins. Or imagine trying to be disheveled when your eyes and your mind are riding a magic carpet. Thanks for the laugh.

  7. Laura says:

    I think both are beautiful. I think so often we look for some dramatic result of our work, but the real beauty is perhaps in the subtlety of the finished product. I find that my work starts to look ridiculous and overdone when I keep adding to it.

  8. KaZe says:

    Schön deine umgesezten Löcher. Ich könnte mir auch Goldsworthy’s komplett als Inspiartionsidee mal vorstellen. Jeder die gleiche, mal sehen was dann herauskommt.?Sorry, ich bin ohne Kenntnisse der Weltsprache, deshalb ergötze ich mich meist nur an deinen Bildern.

  9. kathrin says:

    Da hast du total recht…Man koennte sich Goldsworthy als Inspirationsquelle fuer ein ganzes Jahr (oder laenger) vornehmen; vor allem koennte man Raum und Zeit kreativ umsetzen. Was fuer eine gute Idee. Oder einfach nur ein Wort aus dem Worterbuch nehmen – irgendeins und es so wie Rei Kawakubo machen; die basiert ja ihre gesamte Kollektion auf ein Wort.

  10. kathrin says:

    Yes, I know very well that sometimes a few more stitches too many can mess up an entire piece. Ne moment it sings and the next it’s mute forever.

  11. kathrin says:

    I absolutely totally love this comment and it cracked me up too! I didn’t develop any image in my head, until you inspired it. I will now forever think of Gene Kelly (one of my favorite dancers) when I think of experimentation. Thanks so much.

  12. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much Nathalie. I really thought nothing of this experimentation, so I very much appreciate your kind words. Holes in favorite items of clothes are annoying, and no love for mending can change that. Although, if you manage to get it mended, and not think of the item as “the mended tunic”, it’ll be good “as new”.

  13. kathrin says:

    Andy Goldsworthy’s work is so inspiring and we’re fortunate to have one of his cairns in a forest close to where I live in upstate NY. As for the quote, of course use it, don’t worry about proper credit. Mending can be really an art from, just think of the Japanese mended plates. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  14. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much Sharon!

  15. kathrin says:

    Mmmh, gute Idee, vielen Dank. Vielleicht ein naturfarbenes Leinen mit blauumrandeten Loechern.

  16. kathrin says:

    Tucholsky und heisse Schokolade klingen sehr gut. Tucholsky und seine Texte (lustig oder nicht) beruehren mich immer sehr. An das document piece hatte ich uebrigens gar nicht gedacht…du hast recht, da waren an vielen Stellen mehr Loecher als Stoff, allerdings waren da die Loecher doch ‘rather’ kunstvoll umstickt!

  17. Suschna says:

    Hab ich mir gedacht, dass du nicht an den Vorhang gedacht hast. Der liegt ja im Fundus im Unterbewusstsein (in meinem jedenfalls). Die Löcher dort waren ja nicht im klassischen Sinne kunstvoll umstickt, das erinnere ich noch. Im Interesse eines freien Schaffensprozesses sollte man sich die Detailsfotos aber vielleicht besser nicht noch einmal ansehen.

  18. Gerlinde says:

    Hmm, und ich dachte, das wurde bei offizieller ‘Loecher-Stick-Kunst’ einst andersherum gemacht: Kreis sticken und dann erst das Innenstueck ausschneiden? Das ging dann naemlich leichter, schneller und noch sauberer!
    ‘Nur’ mit offiziell schon zufaellig/versehentlich/peinlicher Weise schon vorhandenen Loechern :-o wurde dann Dein haerterer Weg gewaehlt (zur, aeh, Camouflage ;-) ! )

    Liebe Gruesse,

  19. kathrin says:

    Gerlinde, du hast recht, normalerweise macht es Sinn erst zu sticken und dann das Loch zu schneiden. Ich wollte allerdings, dass der Faden den Rand sozusagen sauber’umspannt’ und der Lochrand nicht fusselig wird. Deshalb habe ich das Loch zuerst geschnitten. Macht das einen Sinn? Auch liebe Gruesse, Kathrin

  20. Good morning Kathrin,
    I have been following you, or rather your blog, since you left for Germany. I was at a point in my life, and my own blog, where I needed to take a breather and regroup. Somehow, in a moment of not knowing what to do next, I serendipitously found your blog. I am still in “breather” mode and have not yet returned to my blog. I had expected to take a break from the blogging world all together, but your words have been good to me, and I find myself returning again and again to your site. This project of yours, with the holes merits more exploration. Finding the time to follow the thread, if you will, might be a challenge, but you can not know where it will take you unless you actually take the time to work through it. Once on a flight to Africa (from the states) I watched a documentary on my iPad about Andy Goldsworthy no less than four times in a row. At the end of that movie marathon I wondered what would have happened if Goldsworthy had stopped – stopped at any point in his process.
    I leave you with that thought and heaps of gratitude for the efforts you have put into your blogging.

  21. Tally says:

    Hallo Kathrin, ich finde dein Unvollendetes genau eine richtige Spielerei. Fazinierend zu erleben, wie es (auch) bei anderen abgeht.
    Ich hab vor Jahren mal mit Löchern gearbeitet bei einer Bloggeraktion. Drolligerweise kam ich über die Löcher zu “Verbindung” und verband einige Ränder wieder miteinander.

    Deine Sechseck-Idee baut sich in meinem Kopf aus, wird dort aber bleiben.
    Herzlichen Gruß

  22. Bele says:

    Manchmal bist Du mir unheimlich… Der Text von Tucholsky hängt in Auszügen an meiner Werkstattwand. An manchen Tagen finde ich “Loch ist immer gut” ungemein tröstlich. Vielen Dank für die neuen Anstoesse, die Deine Loch- und Querdenkerei immer wieder birgt.

    Gruß, Bele

  23. kathrin says:

    Hah, Wahlverwandte? Seelenverwandte? Immer noch traurig, dass wir uns im Sommer verpasst haben! lg Kathrin

  24. kathrin says:

    Die Hexagonidee setze ich vielleicht doch noch um. Du hast schon recht, die Verbindung machen die Loecher ja auch erst interessant und viele Loecher duch Faeden verbunden zur Spitze. Es kommt immer darauf an, worauf man die Aufmerksamkeit lenkt. Danke fuer den Denkanstoss.

  25. kathrin says:

    Hi Carolina, thanks so much for your kind words. I’ve just visited your beautiful blog and I will go back in time tomorrow (with the storm knocking on our door). I too had seen the documentary a few years ago in Germany about Goldsworthy and was mesmerized. Your sentence “I wondered what would have happened if Goldsworthy had stopped” resonated. I think the trickiest moment in creative endeavors is to know, when to push yourself over the hump or let it go. Taking time away from blogging is important for me, too. Sometimes ideas build up and then I feel the need to get back to expressing in words and threads. Enjoy your time off.

  26. kathrin says:

    These are absolutely beautiful. My favorite pair of black denim is giving out, so your inspiration is very welcome.

  27. Amanda says:

    I think this is lovely! The final product, in particular, looks to me like honeycomb, and it would probably be great pinned into your hair in spring! Or as a detail on a blouse or handbag. I actually think it’s great. I also think the inspiration throughput to fabric is super creative and unexpected. Well done!

  28. Bele says:


  29. waltraut says:

    Statt Hexagons zu sticken könntest Du auch den Stoff ausserhalb der Ringe herausschneiden.
    Hier fällt mir auch noch das Gedicht Der Lattenzaun von Morgenstern ein. Da geht es um Zwischenräume die jemand weg nimmt und dabei einen Anblick “grässlich und gemein” hinterlässt. Also aufpassen.

  30. Susana Luque says:



  1. […] kommt von Goldsworthy über Tucholsky zu einem lochgestickten Gebilde – perfect […]

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