December 17, 2012

Interview by Stella Belikiewicz

The lovely and talented Stella Belikiewicz has done me the honor of interviewing me for her blog.  She asked some intriguing questions, and I think you will enjoy the dialogue that ensued.  Read all about it here.

Silk Mill #3 - Work in Progress, Update 2

Having printed the imagery I needed, I turned my attention to the color palette.  I wanted to pull out the brick tones of the building, along with sky, earth, and vegetation hues.  This is one of my favorite parts of the process.  There are infinite possibilities at this point, and I enjoy the discipline of narrowing them down.  And many of my fabrics are like old friends, having been used in previous works.  It’s a pleasure to find the new combinations that will make this work unique.
I chose four sets of fabrics, and began slicing them into strips for piecing.  I dislike measuring things as a general principle, as I feel it puts an unnatural interface between myself and the work, so I wing it where ever possible.  I cut as many strips as I think I might need, in the random widths that will give a scale appropriate to the work, and more often than not it works out correctly in the end.  Of course, I have paid my dues, I spent years and years doing the math and the plotting out, so based on that experience I have a good idea of what I will need.
There are silks, commercial cottons, hand woven cottons, and fabrics I hand painted in these sets.   I like the variety of textures and tonality they provide when all mixed together.
The blue strips on the left are some extra screen prints that I cut up. I find that it helps integrate the prints and the patchwork.  The fabric next to it is an especially fine French cotton; I’m using up the last of it here, and I will miss it now that it is gone. 
All of these were  sewn into strip sets, sliced apart, and combined again to form the framework for the printed imagery.  I feel it is an especially appropriate setting to represent a building that was put together brick by brick. 

To track back this work in progress, and the other works in this Silk Mill Series, click the Silk Mill tab at the top or click here.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting, and stay turned for further developments.

December 6, 2012

New Work in Progress - In Dreams I Flew Over the River

There’s a thousand and one things I could and should be accomplishing right now.  So I started an unscheduled new project and am obsessively exploring new ground.
My lifelong fascination with the Susquehanna River has been escalating lately.  It’s been showing up in my dreams.  I wanted to explore the ideas of flow and undercurrents.  I wanted a procedural vacation from my usual well loved techniques and modes of expression.

I started with six panels of wool/rayon felt.  I began laying out wool roving and slivers of wool and silk fabrics to block out areas of color and pattern.   I worked with a machine needle felter to meld the layers.  The felter looks something like a sewing machine.  The working part is a cluster of felting needles, which are very slim and are tipped with small barbs, that move up and down to interlock the fibers passed underneath them.  It’s faster than hand felting, but still picky and laborious.  It’s fascinating work, because different fibers and fabrics react in different ways.  Some of the silks stay cohesive, and some practically dissolve into the background fabric, and it’s fun to play around with the effects.  The wool roving can be fluffed out into a thin layer, or concentrated in denser areas.  All these decisions were made on the fly.
Once I had the river and the island delineated, I added to the banks and the fields and the woods running alongside it.  I have been saving the threads that unravel when I pre-wash my silk fabrics, and some of them were perfect for the foam and windblown wavelets on top of the water. 
I joined the panels and added more felting along the joins.  At this point it's roughly 26" high by 42" wide.  Upon  consideration, I flipped the orientation of the piece.  The majority of the felting is done, and I’m starting to add other elements.  The brown lines are vintage lace, temporarily held in place with white-headed pins.  There will probably be layering and quilting, but I honestly don’t know where I am headed with this one yet.  It’s just what I needed.