Musical laundry line

Our living room window looks out onto the backyards of some typical Halifax heritage houses, the kind with rickety wooden fire escapes and various mismatched protrusions added on throughout the last century. The life in these houses – with their odd assortment of cats, dogs and humans – provides endless entertainment and fodder for artistic contemplation.

One of the features, which both fascinates and baffles me, is the superbly organized laundry line. The assortment of articles changes with each drying, but the system is followed with the highest degree of strictness. Items are always:

  • arranged according to size (from smallest to largest)
  • matched by function (underwear, shirts, towels, etc. all grouped)
  • and paired up where appropriate (think socks).

This level of organization is awe-inspiring.

When working, I always have this desire to stick things on walls. It makes me feel more productive, more organized, more in control of my life. And when dealing with endless scraps of an almost-finished piece, sticking them up makes it easier to comprehend the whole.

Lately the volume of “pin-ups” has been getting a little out of control. Inspired by the uber-organization confronting me every time I look out of the window, I’ve installed a similar system in my studio. The Deka Curtain Wire ($9.99 at IKEA) comes with two pieces of hardware, a long wire and twelve little alligator clips. The clips are on hooks and can be easily removed allowing you to rearrange the items at will without unclipping.


I mostly use the little laundry line to put up partly finished scores or libretto text so I can keep track of holes that need filling, or rearrange sections. While working on Mirror, mirror, I hung large sheets of packing paper to turn my wall into a giant sketchbook where I could glue bits of vocal line, and draw arrows and notes with coloured markers (this method really make good use of all those skills you learned in elementary school).

If you run out of the little metal clips, you can always substitute with wooden laundry clips or fashion something out of existing office supplies (see illustration).


Happy score drying!


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