Gilda - Goddess of Lobstah
Gilda - Goddess of Lobstah
Gilda is a force, a presence, and she commands the lobstering world. She walks tall on the oceans, with her beautiful head held high, lovingly watching over the lobster fishing grounds. While observing a boat pulling gear in the high seas, she moves the waves starboard to prevent the boat from flipping over. Her insightfulness navigates the lobsterman to the best fishing grounds and her radiance shines down on the boat going into harbor, preparing to unload their bountiful catch. Later on, tears in the form of light rain fall, as she remembers the fallen lobstermen who died in her seas. She is the Goddess Gilda.
Lobstering is a hazardous occupation. The fisherman get up early and head out on the ocean before the sun rises. In the United States, New England’s weather is nothing but unpredictable and the seas are cold, dark and rugged. Storms appear quickly and often, they damage lobster equipment which gets swept on to the shore.
In the Spring, I spent weeks climbing the rocks of the New England coast collecting broken pieces of lobster gear. I sifted thru seaweed, pulled ropes out of rocks and picked up garbage. Homemade nets was one of my greatest finds. This was prior to the annual Fish & Game collection day of gear that washes up on the beach during the winter and in 2022, over 6 tons of equipment was collected by volunteers.
After collecting the broken gear, everything was washed in a multiple stage process. Bleach, dishwashing detergent, baking soda and vinegar with a water soak in between each stage was done in small groups and it took weeks. Then the equipment was spray painted with gold paint, 4 layers per piece. Some of the gear used in this garment includes bait bags, hoop gates, runner brackets, hog rings, tags, gloves, ropes, netting, lobster traps pieces. Other materials include tulle and ribbon.
The handmade net, intertwined with gold ribbon, was the first piece I wanted to use, honoring the craftsman. Two layers of netting covers the bodice along with ID tags, adding a reality to the garment. Pieces of gloves were sewn to trap parts creating a decorative lower bodice and multiple hog rigs were added to the top representing sparkle on the ocean. Lobster claw bands were used as a decorative finish on the hem.
The skirt front has rope & ribbon wrapped on trap pieces. Swivel hooks attached to rope and small woven pieces speaks to Gilda’s protection of their gear. The asymmetrical skirt indicates the inconsistency of the lobster catch and the back, also with decorative trap pieces, tells the navigation story. The ropes are the path the lobsterman travel, while the gear represents lives lost at sea. Glove pieces run vertically reflecting the weather lobstermen often encounter.
Her purses, bait bags filled with ribbon covered runner brackets, are bags of gold. The product of a bountiful catch.