Swing Top First Question: When is the right time?

The Swing swings. Three diaphanous layers create a kaleidoscope of colourful veils to spin around your silhouette. The front two layers of the swing are shorter; the first providing a window into the second. Together, they create a visual conversation as they swing at different rhythms. The fourth layer, the back, is a single layer longer than the front and translucent, revealing the curve of your back in silhouette. You are the third layer, the center of the universe.

The answer to the First Question is revealed under the first layer amid heart coloured dots of exclamation: The right time is now.

The story of the Three Questions comes in layers too, ultimately revealing directions on a way to live.

It is a short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy first published in 1885 as part of a collection of short stories titled ‘What Men Live By, and other Tales’. The story takes the form of a parable and it concerns a king who wants to find the answers to what he considers the three most important questions in life:

When is the right time?
Who is the right person?
What is the right action to take?

Unable to find resolution within his kingdom, the King embarks on a journey to find the answers from a wise man who lives in the mountains. During his quest he overcomes three trials. The wise man reveals to him that the actions he took in response to each trial provides the answer to his three questions.

I asked my Mother’s sister, Aunt Pat, to write out the Three Questions and their answers. She kindly obliged. I made silk screens of them , hiding the answer under the first layer of the Swing Top, signifying the trial as a veil to the answer. The King knew the answers to his questions before he left on his journey but he needed the wise man to lift the veil in order to see them.

Red dots through a black veil signaling something we know but have difficulty seeing.

I paint a large painting of black (coal) dye and when it dries I screen on clear dots. These dots will resist the black dye in the printing process, revealing a smidge of smudge from the under layer.

I screen a school of dots on another piece of paper so like fish they imply movement.

Finally, I screen the answer to the First Question on another piece of paper.

Now I make the sandwich. I don’t want any of the layers of colour to blend in the printing process so I insert 2 blank paper cut outs between the layers to block migration. I lay the back onto the coal/dot paper and the dots/answer onto the second layer. I fold the black paper on top to complete the sandwich, pin everything in place, heat press and unwrap.

Washes like a rag, machine or hang dry, no ironing needed but will handle high heat and steam in a pinch. Made from polyester curtain sheer bolt ends.

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