…to do what I thought was impossible. Only, when I took it on, I didn’t know or think it was impossible. But towards the end I saw that it nearly was.
I made 8 pieces, start to finish, overdyeing and waxing of fabric included. And they are now mounted and wrapped and waiting to go to a beautiful downtown gallery here in Austin. Here’s the event info:
I am the only textile artist, which is cool. I heard about this event through a local textile group email, otherwise I’d never have even applied.
It was all a big whirlwind, and the 2 pieces shown on the site under my name were done the week before we went to Santa Fe. The gallery wanted to see some of my work in person, so I did those two and dropped them off. When I got back from our trip I was asked to participate, but had to have at least 10 for the show. They had 2 on hand, so I figured I could do another 8.
I was able to do it, but it took 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past month to get it done. And there were times I thought I’d never get it done. And times when I thought I’d stab myself in the head with my scissors if I had to sit at the sewing machine any longer to sew yet another piece!
I learned so much. So much about myself and my work and where I want it to go and where I don’t want it to go. Since this was more work produced than I did all of last year, I think it gave me nearly a year’s worth of experience.
But first, heres the photos (taken just yesterday…another something I learned about…I don’t like taking pictures of the work. I’m terrible at it, so be warned!)
I can post detail pictures later. I’m so tired of looking at these images I don’t have the patience for it right now.
They are all of my own dyed fabrics. Most being of cotton, except for Pebbles which is linen, with reverse applique revealing dyed/painted silk.
The first 2 I did weren’t reverse applique, but that’s what came to me at I pulled out piece after piece of fabric. I wanted to do something that would incorporate both types of fabric, as I love the contrast of the smooth luscious silk next to the rougher cotton or linen.
I also wanted to do something very very simple. I didn’t want too much going on, not a lot of piecing etc. So the reverse applique being a simple technique fit that. However, I will tell you that reverse applique while being a simple concept is not easy, and certainly not quick! It took hours and hours on each piece to plan and quilt the silks (no batting, felt, it lays so nice and flat!!!), and then to position them under the main fabric.
Once in position I stitched the basic shape and then spent more hours very very very carefully cutting away to reveal the silk underneath. This is also a tiny bit stressful as each cut could mean devastation if accidentally you cut the silk below!
After that tedious process I pressed the heck out of it, and then fused/backed with more of the lovely flat felt. Then more stitching to hold it in place and to add more interest, either with contrast or complimentary line.
It became very clear, in a way that I had understood before, but now was really truly a part of my design process, that the stitching is a visual line that holds together the design and theme of each piece. So the lines on the silk underneath make a statement and the lines on the cotton make another. It became something I really did think a lot about.
Some of these pieces you may notice are odd sizes. Only the 4 smaller pieces are mounted onto canvas. The rest were mounted onto artist foam core (an extra strong variety that shouldn’t bend or dent) cut by me, with an exacto, and then mounted, by DH with power tools, onto heavy duty 1 1/2″ deep stretcher bars. Its a nice effect, making the piece seem to float off the wall. I will do it again because it looks good and allows for odd shapes and sizes that standard stretched canvas doesn’t come in. I also think it will be a way for me to move into more shapes and dimensional work.
The most important thing I learned is that less is more. And I love keeping them simple. I think some of my past work is too fussy for me now. Maybe I will pare this down more, but not right now.
Also, I really have 2 things I enjoy very much. The dyeing and overdyeing process with silkscreens etc, that mostly is known as Complex Cloth, as inspired and taught by Jane Dunnewold, is a joy for me to do. But I like smaller pieces, about 1 to 1 1/2 yards that I can easily use later. Using soy wax and tjaps or painting it on is my favorite. Silkscreening is awesome, too!
I also adore silk painting/dyeing. Mostly I love to stretch out the silk and paint out a design with my brushes. Not very planned out, but more organically. And I’m very interested in taking that process further with the Rozome technique (the Circles 6 piece was my first attempt at that several years ago, it’s not great as a Rozome example, but it’s good piece on it’s own). That’s more wax, and not gutta. I do love the wax process. And the smell of the little warm pot!
I think in the future I will plan work out to be a combination of these two processes. They can be made to compliment each other, which will be a fun challenge.
Whew. So very much work summed up in one little blog post. Well, I have to scoot. Need to dry my hair and then pack everything into the car and take it to the gallery.
If anybody is in Austin next week, please drop by and see the show. Or if you’re interested in one of the pieces, please contact the gallery, Art on 5th.