Saturday, July 23, 2011

From Inking to Construction

Progress on the commission for CMC-Mercy is continuing.

Once the commission piece is inked, then I pad two sections - the forward leaf and the berry - to give them more dimension.

Careful basting is critical. You can see one of the pins that I used in the pin basting before the hand basting. Next I will stitch around the leaf and any details that I want to have less depth than the others.

This technique is called trapunto and leaves some areas raised and with more prominence.

After completing the trapunto, then I will put together the inked top, a wool batting from Australia, and a commercially printed backing fabric. These will be carefully basted -- first with pins, then by hand stitching.

After basting, the next task is to find the threads that I may use in stitching the piece. The basket below contains the threads that I will select from in stitching. Often, I find that I have to buy additional thread. Not a problem!!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Traces - Mapping a Journey in Textiles

This past spring, I had the opportunity to visit the Gregg Museum of Art and Design to see a wonderful fiber art exhibition. Even though the exhibition is over, I want to share my thoughts and some photos of from the exhibition with my readers.

Barbara Lee Smith, curator, put together a sterling group of fiber artist for an exhibition at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design at North Carolina State University.
Each artist has developed a mature voice and stretches the limits of fiber in their own direction.

Artists included Marian Bijlenga from the Netherlands, Rachel Brumer and Lou Cabeen from Washington, Dorothy Caldwell from Canada, Carol Ann Carter from Kansas, Kyoung Ae Cho from Wisconsin, Marc Dombrosky from Nevada and Michigan, Nancy Erickson from Montana, Susan Lordi Market from Missouri, Gail Rieke from New Mexico, Devorah Sperber from New York and Clare Verstegen from Arizona.

It was the first time I had the opportunity to see in person the unique work of Devorah Sperber who recreates classical images in spools of thread that can only be interpreted when viewed at a distance with a "viewing sphere" that turns the image upright and lets the brain assemble the dots of color into a familiar image.

Kyoung Ae Cho
created a series with seedling tree roots and burn marks that was lyrical and evocative at the same time.
I love this artist's work. ILink have literally sat on the floor in front of one of her pieces in Quilt National and studied it for hours.

Much of the art was of large scale. Marian Bijlenga's
Palimpsest 1 was both minute and grand of scale. A detail is seen on the cover of the catalog. The overall dimensions were 106 x 108". Much of her work had the same opposite scale characteristics and masterful use of space.

Dorothy Caldwell also masters scale usage with small details keeping the eye moving across and around her monumental pieces. The second photograph is her
Fjord which is 120 x 114". It is wonderful to see fiber work on such a grand scale, and used so effectively as these two artists are able to do it.

At first look, Caldwell's
Fjord appears to be a weaving with patches. Upon closer viewing, it is surface designed with her own silkscreen printing with small appliques and much hand stitching of details. To get a feel for the masterful use of color, look at the number of different shades in the blue band near the top of Fjord.

The third photo is a detail of Fjord and shows her silkscreen background work and the hand stitching across the surface of her work. Caldwell's work can overwhelm in the pure size of her pieces, but then they draw the viewer in to look at details and textures created by hand stitches.

Caldwell spent a year traveling in the Canadian Arctic and Australian Outback where seemingly small details mark the place in great expanses. Her work conveys the importance of these markings very well.
Having traveled above the Arctic Circle in the summer of no night, I love the imagery in "How Do We Know When It's Night?" It takes me back to the long daylight hours when there was no darkness or "night". Caldwell has an amazing ability to convey location with her work.

The Gregg Museum and Lynn Jones Ennis, the Associate Director and Curator of the Collection, are to be congratulated on this excellent exhibition guest curated by Barbara Lee Smith. The selection of artists was inspired. The work was well hung and showed very well in the gallery at the Gregg. The catalog is well done, and quite informative with excellent photography to document the work for the future.

I look forward to future fiber exhibitions at the Gregg.


Kousa Berry Details

Having inked the leaves to the design, I return to the berry to add details that will bring it alive. So often the intricate details in nature add the touch of authenticity and the eye of the artist.

The Kousa berry has wonderful details that are both organic and geometric in nature.
Since I am completing this part of the design prior to berries ripening, I collected a number of photographs of ripe berries to use in designing the berry details.

The first photo is of the details for the stencils for the berry. I often make a second set of stencils to add details.

The second photograph is of the details on the fabric. More detailing will be added in the stitching process.

The entire top has been stenciled. Now I will go over each part to see if additional details need to be added to increase the balance and to make sure the image conveys what I have planned.

Next steps in the process- such as two different forms of basting the top layer, the batting layers and the backing fabric - while essential to the quality of the finished project, are not very visually interesting, so I will be blogging less about the steps until I get further along.


Monday, July 18, 2011

More Progress on the Kousa Dogwood Piece

The commission for the Doctors' Lounge at CMC Mercy Hospital is moving along.

One of the largest leaves is set up for stenciling in the first photograph. Between the white stencils, you can see the hand-dyed cotton sateen fabric that is the fabric that I am stenciling my design onto.The colors in the fabric seemed well suited to the colors in the doctors' lounge where this piece will hang when finished.

I purchase the hand-dyed fabric from a dyer from Germany, Heide Stoll-Weber. She is the only fabric dyer I have found whose hand at the dye bath results in a subtle fabric to use for stenciling designs. You can see that I have already inked the veins in the leaf.

In the second photograph, I replaced the stencil over the veins to protect them from the inks used on the leaf.

The bottom half of the leaf has had some ink added in the initial stenciling process. While more ink will be added, the colors of the fabric will come through the semi-transparent inks, giving a watercolor effect to the finished piece.

You can see a bit of stem and some other leaves at the upper right of the bottom photograph.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why I Work with Fabric and Thread

Last year I began pondering why I work with fabric and thread as opposed to paint and canvas - to me it is all about the texture that results from the stitching process. To read more about this pondering, please check out my earlier entry. You can see the entry here that goes into details.

These two photos tell the story for me. I love what the quilt line does, and the extra dimension that is created with stitch and threads. To me, the image comes alive with the stitching.