This work represents many things to me: the reuse of fishing gear that would otherwise go to a landfill; helping raise awareness of the plight of our oceans, now increasingly filled with discarded gear which entangles marine life; and lastly, the gear is an enormously abundant resource here on Cape Cod where I live and work. It’s the way of life here, and creating art from it is a way to honor that. I work closely with The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance in Chatham, Massachusetts for procurement of previously fished and retired longline gear for my work.
About the Process of Using Retired Local Longline Fishing Gear in the Work
After months of experimentation with the different types of line and their properties, I learned my favorite to work with was longline, which is quite abundant when collected directly from the fisherman after it becomes too worn for them to use. The local longline only comes in basic natural rope tones (except for the gangions, which is the thinner line through which the hook and bait are attached to the main line), so I decided to begin dying the line.
By the looped end where the hook once was, the color fluctuates and becomes a burnt orange. This natural discoloration is created by rusting. I un-knot each hook so the gangion loop is undisturbed. After I wash and dye the line, much of the rust mottling remains. I use fabric dyes to process the color, and some of the line I leave half in the vats of dye to create color fluctuations, while I wrap some in balls before dying, to keep certain spots devoid of color and others extra-saturated.
After the line is dry and sorted, I choose which taxidermy form I will be using and begin to map out the fur pattern. The pieces which have a cutaway at the neckline are mapped to be highly anatomically correct. For this, I use MRI images from veterinary manuals as a guide. The line is then cut to length and adhered with high temperature glue.
Here is an example of her work.