Monday, July 27, 2009

What's Keeping Me So Busy!

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been a week or so since I last posted, but I’ve been busy with all kinds of projects, some of which I’d like to tell you about today. But fair warning, this post is photo-intensive, so if you have load time trouble, I apologize.

First on the agenda is that I’ve decided to enter two of my assemblage pieces into a Call For Artists from the abecedarian gallery, in Denver. I found this listing on the Fiber Arts Calls for Entry blog. The theme of the show is “assemblage and collage” and gives free reign on the materials used in each piece.

I’m going to enter this piece (if you click on it, you'll see a larger photo of it), a collage of painted fabrics and paper, fibers, my own hand-made beads, a little bamboo and a bit of wire. It measures 12.5" by 16.5" without its frame and is now hanging in my husband’s office.

This is the second piece, which is a collage of painted fabrics and papers, lots of hand stitching, dyed scrim and thread, and hand-made beads and buttons. It’s mounted on white cotton.

The entries will probably go out tomorrow or the next day. Wish me luck!

The next project I’d like to share with you is some of the research I've been doing on a commissioned textile/quilt piece which I will be starting officially in late September. My hope for this abstract quilt is that it will be heavily textured, mostly linear but with a touch of chaotic movement- which is sort of my trademark- and wonderfully touchable. I will be attempting to force the piece to distort so that it will undulate gently off the wall, rather than laying flat, and I'll be stitching it before dyeing it.

Towards that end and for the last few months, I've been assembling quilt sandwiches using all different types of materials, such as paper, various shrinkable and non-shrinkable batting and interfacing, and synthetic fabrics. Each piece gets machine stitched, painted, dyed, shrunk, distorted... anything I can think of to alter the surface in the way I envision for the final piece. All of these test pieces are small; I'm keeping them in a 3-ring binder inside plastic page protectors just so I can keep all of them together with the notes I took while constructing them.

The first two pieces were stitched and then dyed, and even painted a bit after quilting. Not thrilled with the style though- too homey for my client, who wants clean, modern lines and edgy materials.

By now, though, I'm realizing that I want more densely-packed stitching, not less, so I start moving in that direction. Also looking for more distortion, I stitched the next piece to Tyvek and then melted it (NOTE: all reasonable safety precautions should be observed with this process... including the careful use of a respirator!)

I liked that look a lot but continued to experiment. I tried different stitch patterns in the hopes of moving the fabric around more, dyeing first and then stitching to emphasize the thread choices. and using rayon and other melt-able fabrics as backing materials.

I was getting closer to what I wanted, but just wasn't there yet, so I kept experimenting, this time with paper.

The first paper test was on an unpainted grocery sack that had previously been gesso'd (a white primer), and stitched to Tyvek. Then it was painted with acrylics and shrunk.

Pretty cool, though because it was brown paper and not fabric, the Tyvek met with some distortion resistance.

The next paper piece was painted first and then sandwiched with batting and muslin. I used various weights of thread on this, mostly just to see what they would do, and all of them preformed beautifully considering the thickness and texture this had.

The next few experiments surrounded the idea of using directional stitching to produce puckers and ridges. Some of these pieces were dyed first, some painted after stitching.

Finally, I hit upon the idea of adding movement and texture to the piece not just with stitching and foundation distortion, but by taking advantage of the damage the raw edges of fabrics suffer during the vat dyeing process.

By the time a piece of fabric has been soaked, dyed, soaked again, rinsed multiple times, laundered in the machine, and finally dried, the raw edges of even the highest thread count fabrics are mangled and frayed and absolutely lovely.

Occasionally, depending on what product you used to color the fabric, the fringe even collects a higher concentration of pigment than the woven fabric itself, which produces such lovely, soft, vibrantly-colored textures.

Wanting to play on this raw edge notion but still wanting to have a finished-edge quilt, I hit on the idea of stitching my surface treatment directly onto a finished and bound quilt sandwich.

I constructed a small quilt sandwich with a PFD white cotton top, wool batting (still in the hopes of producing some shrinkage and distortion later on in the process) and a white muslin back. I did a pillowcase turn to finish the edges. I stitched everything with white cotton thread because I want it to dye right along with the fabric.

To the finished backing, I stitched narrow strips of torn white cotton fabric. I placed them close together so they would shoulder each other around for space. The texture I achieved is almost too pretty to dye!

But dye it, I will, probably today or tomorrow. I expect that those fragile fabric edges will take qite a beating in the process and I can't wait to see what the final result will be. I will post photos in my next blog entry.

This post has gone on long enough for one day, I've no desire to monopolize your very precious time, so just let me remind y'all that not only is there still time to sign up for my grand opening give-away, but you can also enter up to three times by commenting on that post on three different days!

Keep flying high and happy creating!


Anita in Florida said...

WOW !!! All your pieces look beautiful to me...I can't imagine all the hours you have spent on these samples! The finished pieces is going to be outstanding.

Terri Stegmiller said...

Wishing you much luck with your show the second show piece. Great colors in that one. I also enjoyed looking through all your experiments.

LynnDel said...

Fascinating! I love your work and the strength of your colors. Just posting so interestingly and lucidly about it takes up another chunk of time, I am sure.

Unknown said...

Good luck with your show pieces, Love the colours! Most impressed with the volume and quality of work in your test pieces. There is lots of magic there! Barb.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much, blackbar! :D