Friday, July 8, 2011

The Project

My studio project was to design a picnic. I was inspired by my research on the history of the picnic. I looked at how picnics were held, what people ate and what people did for entertainment at picnics during the Victorian & Edwardian periods.

This text was one of my chief inspirations:

“A picnic, to serve its true end, ought to be a season of healthful recreation ; but seemingly, in the general acceptation of the term, a picnic means an occasion for a big dinner composed of sweets and dainties, wines, ices, and other delectable delicacies, which tempt to surfeiting and excess. The preparation necessary for such a dinner usually requires a great amount of extra and wearisome labor, while the eating is very apt to leave results which quite overshadow any benefit derived from the recreative features of the occasion. It is generally supposed that a picnic is something greatly conducive to health ; but where everything is thus made subservient to appetite, it is one of the most unhygienic things imaginable.”

- A Batch of Dinners: Picnic Dinners. In Mrs E.E. Kellogg, A.M. Science in the Kitchen: A Scientific Treatise on Food Substances and their Dietic Properties, together with a Practical Explanation of the Principles of Healthful Cookery, and a large number of Original, Palatable, and Wholesome Recipes. Modern Medicine Publishing Co, Chicago, 1893.

So I held a healthy and wholesome picnic, taking the recipe prescriptions and instructions for appropriate behaviour.

I wanted thus to have a 'proper' picnic set - plates, knives, forks, teacups & saucers, teaspoons, tablecloth/placemats and jars. The picnic set worked out well except the jars turned out too small to use and the cloth I was to wrap the bread in was too small! (hence the nice plastic bag and jam jars you see in the pictures!).

The picnic set was crocheted, fulled and then those items that needed to be waterproof or sturdy were dipped in paraffin wax. I wove the placemats and bread cloth (that ended up as another placemat!) from mercerized cotton. The lines you see on the placemats are a map of the city.

Everyone getting their hands on the picnic set. A cuddly cup or a plush plate is a curious thing indeed.

I made everything white and absorbent to show the traces of use - the history of the picnic. Here the picture shows the 'after' effects of the picnic. The map of the city (placemats) and the buildings of the picnic (picnic set) have been thoroughly inhabited. All that remain now are traces, memories of a picnic past.

(and I made my own blackberry jam for the first time for the picnic and it was AMAZING, I am totally going to make jam again!)