The Vocabulary of Creation

This week I had to say the words, “grouper in papillote” over and over for a voice project only to realize I had no idea what papillote meant. I was essentially a parrot for a full hour, repeating a pronunciation without understanding exactly what I was saying. Once I left the studio, I looked up papillote and realized “en papillote” is French for “in parchment.” It’s a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch — typically made of parchment —  and then baked. Simple stuff, but it took me 34 years to learn the word. And I liked the sound of papillote so the word started tumbling around in my head.

I have a few words like that — ones I think about and then roll their sounds around in my mouth. And so many of the words I fall in love with are terms connected to creating.

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Trapunto. Steek. Thrum. Sashiko. Weft.

Say them all. Aren’t they fun?

Well, fun to say. Yes.

Fun to do? I don’t know yet because I’ve never tried.

But I feel like the shape of each word on the tongue should feel like the act of creating that they define. Is that strange? Probably, but it feels kind of true. Trapunto is produced by the action of a needle machine-quilting fabric to produce an overstuffed decorative feature. The repetition of the needle in the fabric makes a sharp staccato sound, which feels right for trapunto. Steek sounds sharp, thrum sounds soft and sashiko is just really pleasing so I have to include it.

Weft is the term for the thread that is drawn through warp threads to create cloth. Warp is lengthwise and weft crosses the warp. While weft isn’t a technique, all the others are. And I feel like I need to use them all as techniques and understand them as actions — not just say them. So I’m putting them on my project to-do list this year.

I’ll have to let you know if the techniques live up to the hype (created entirely in my head, based on the way the words sound).

What are some of your favorite crafting, cooking and creating terms?





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