The Clothesline Installation started with a proposal sent to the Enos Park Art Residency Program with the Springfield Art Association in Illinois. The proposal called for a "creative clothesline" made from vintage and found textiles that would draw attention to the benefits of line drying, the need for household energy conservation, and the beauty of doing things BY HAND! I started cutting, fusing, and zigzag stitching hand prints in January 2020. Little did I know at the time that COVID-19 was already spreading its way across the globe and about to change everything.
Shortly after returning home, the cancellations, indefinite postponements, and business shutdowns started. Phrases like "social distancing" and "contact tracing" and "flattening the curve" became commonplace. Mouse House, the limited custom picture framing business I have with my husband Steve, was deemed "non-essential" and forced to close. This gave me time to continue making more and more items for The Clothesline. Basically, I made a lot of pieces for the "future installation", and my project even spoke to the pandemic ... as in ... "Wash your hands"! By the end of the year it was clear: I needed a place to experiment. I needed a place to attempt putting up a temporary, non-invasive clothesline. I needed a BIG patch of "green" and time to work! I applied for another art residency at the Rensing Center and got it!
I learned many things. I learned that at no point in my entire life (even when young and fit) could I ever wield a sledgehammer ... not with one hand while the other held the conduit ... not when on a six foot ladder attempting to hit a ten foot pole ... not if it meant the darn thing needed to be swung higher than my own waist. What on earth was I thinking when I put the sledgehammer into my cargo van? Thankfully, a regular hammer worked.
I learned that one can't drive an electrical conduit into the ground deeper than top soil. If one hits solid rock, that's it. Solid rock at the Rensing Center is approximate twelve inches under the grass. I learned that fire ants bite ... so look down often. I learned that wind is a real factor and had to be addressed almost immediately. I learned that keeping a straight line doesn't matter. In fact, a meandering line looks even nicer.
Thankfully, I had a back-up plan (or a place that I knew that would rescue me!) Bivens Hardware store is awesome! Family owned since 1923, Bivens' staff really HELP people and they sure helped me. I came with just five electrical conduits. I planned on purchasing more at Bivens. After precariously pounding my five electrical conduits into the ground, I learned that eight-foot lengths would be better. I can't cut electrical conduit. Bivens can and did. Bivens also drilled the holes on the ones I purchased there. What took me an hour, took them minutes. They also had plenty of rope and tent pegs to stake the poles against the wind. With this help and the "gift of time and space" provided by the Rensing Center, I learned how to install a temporary clothesline. Next time (and hopefully I'll get a "next time"), it will be easier and quicker.