Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: jute




See also: more jute and twine(d)

Marja-Leena | 26/09/2011 | 20 comments
themes: Photoworks, Textures


i love how hairy it is, makes me think of horses. i've been looking for my jute, i want to crochet with it. x

Juuttiköysi. Juutinrauma. Juutit, siis se heimo ja kieli.

I've been thinking of it and come to a conclusion, that Jutes made first the kinda rope. And for some reason they were living on some side of Danish straights.

I don't know what plant it's made of. Do you know?

The division between the two photographs is interesting as though something is going on in a mysterious interim world.

"Oh, dear me, the jute mill's gang fast,
the poor wee shifters,
canna get their rest.
Shiftin', spinnin'
warp weft and twine,
tae feed and clad me bairnies
off o' ten and nine."

--Mary Brookbank
( )

Wonderful material, jute.

My wife's great aunt Sara was an employee at Finlaysons in Tampere
( ). Although Finlaysons was a cotton mill, the conditions were similar in all the Industrial Revolution mills and factories.

The images brought these memories to mind. Kiitos.

Vegetable fiber, isn't it?

Are we starting a fiber series?

Plant fiber, I mean...

Elisa, it's exactly that hairiness that I love too. I've often used this kind of material in collagraphs. You can crochet this?!

Ripsa, you sent me off to wikipedia to learn more. "Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus... Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibres and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses of vegetable fibres." It is mostly grown and processed into various products in India and other areas nearby.

I'd forgotten there were a people called the Jutes: "one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles". They all settled in Great Britain. Fascinating!!

Joe, I'm pleased that you noticed for I did that on purpose, breaking up one large photo to make these two.

Black Peter, thanks for the poem, new to me! And I certainly know of Finlayson's and the terrible working conditions in the mills of that time. How nice that these images prompted you to remember and shares ome more of your wife's family history. Thanks!

Marly, yes to the first and third questions. I am certainly playing with these images in combination with other things for a print so we'll see what comes out of them. I would not call it a fiber series though. As I mentioned earlier, I have used this kind of material in collagraphs many times in the past for it makes for such lovely lines and textures when inked, wiped and printed.

So, the only question remains: why don't we have jute for a fiber for many used today any more? I bet these days the ropes are oil based nylon and other artificial fibers.

Black Peter, I live in Ostrobothia, and my father's and mother's families are from here. The province used to be mainly agricultural. And family farms, nothing big.

The farm was usually given as unity to the oldest son and other children have to go where they manage to. Many girls ended up in Finlayson's and many boys saved up for the America-boat tickets. Finlayson was a very awful and often invalidising workplace. Tampere is close to here now, but then the trip meant that the daughters more or less stayed - and remained poor.

Ripsa, yes, that is the question. Heavy-duty ropes are not jute, I've noticed. I like using jute twine, like this, in the garden because it is strong yet biodegradable. Your family history is much like mine with roots in small family farms. Of course, some of the families including mine moved to North America or Australia.

It certainly is congruent with your interest in early things...

Marly, that is true though I wasn't even thinking of that.

Just about any fibrous plant can be dried and woven but it's interesting to note that hemp and coir turned out to be best for heavy loads for thousands of years. I love seeing the old fashioned hawsers that are still plentiful around here. Your jute pictures are reminiscent of rare skills.

Susan, I love that old word "hawsers" - must be ages since I've seen it. And I don't think I've even noticed them or maybe I'm not observant enough. Must remember the next time I go on the ferries.

Oh, that reminded me! I did once take some photos of hawsers on the small Denman Island ferry preceding the one to Hornby Island. In the comments there I'm also reminded that I'd photographed similar rope coils even earlier which became prints! But they don't look like jute or coir - what do you think?

I looked at the pictures from your Denman Is. ferry post and you're right that the ropes they're using aren't natural fiber ones. Nowadays most boat owners use ones made of man-made fibers, often with a steel core for added strength. Although the old hemp and coir ropes and hawsers were very strong they couldn't be rolled back when they were wet because of the danger of rot. You can just imagine what the boat decks must have looked like after the anchors were weighed and how dangerous it could have been just walking around. I think I've been seeing more of the old ones around here because a number of the boats are kept historically accurate for the sake of the tourists.

Susan, those historical boats sound awfully romantic to have around and Halifax has such a history centered around those ships too.

I've learned so much from this post and the comments. Fascinating. The one red spot peeking out is charming. Reminds me of a cat's paw.

rouchswalwe, I too have learned a lot from the many comments and questions, a pleasant surprise for such a modest post.

i've seen some beautiful crochet with fine jute, yes! sculptural stuff, i love it. x

Elisa, do you know the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz, especially her early huge fibre sculptures? I wonder if she used jute.