Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Week In Blues

I recognize this obsessiveness, this need to experiment with one technique, push its limits and see what it can do, what you can do to force it to behave in a manner you prescribe. This is how a series starts.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been "researching" a commissioned textile piece by creating small versions of the final piece and seeing what happens to them when I do various evil, arty things to them.

The client wants a large textile art piece for a master bedroom. She has a specific color scheme in mind and she wants something modern and unusual.

What I have settled on- and hope the client will approve of- is a pillowcase-turned, fully finished quilt top to which I'm sewing strips of fabric in a tight, somewhat irregular pattern. I'm constructing the piece using all white cotton materials so that it can be low-immersion dyed later. The purpose of using strips of torn fabric and dyeing after the piece is constructed rather than before is because I want to celebrate the thread schmutz that always occurs during the dyeing/washing process. I want the edges to fray and tangle and make a lovely, chaotic mess. This, I believe, helps to offset the linear pattern created by the long strips of stitched fabric.

The first test of this technique resulted in this piece,


... which I've mounted on a painted canvas donated to a worthy cause. I love the way this textile turned out, but I believe it to be too soft and feminine for my client, who is drawn, as I am, to more edgy work.

So I sewed two more test pieces, hoping for more chaotic schmutz movement and more appropriate colors for her home.

The first little piece was stitched, as usual, with white cotton materials but rather than dyeing it, I painted it liberally with three colors of Dye-Na-Flow and then turned it upside down to dry.



Dye-Na-Flow is not a dye, it's a thin fabric paint, and as such, it doesn't bond with the fibers the way dye does. It sits on the surface, which means that any irregularity in the textile- folds, creases, wrinkles, fringe- will collect higher amounts of pigment than a smooth surface would. Turning the piece upside down encouraged the paint to migrate into the fringe at the top of the piece and color them more intensely than the rest of the piece. It worked, but not to the extent I was hoping.

The second little piece got low-immersion dyed and then dried in the dryer, which is not something I usually do with my hand-dyeds. I got thread schmutz galore.



I'll take both pieces to my client in September and let her decide if she wants something like this in her home.

Happy creating!
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