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.