It’s time to check in with my latest project, 52 Ways to Look at the River. I finished the first 8 panels, and collectively they look like this pinned up on a design board:
I’m really enjoying the challenge and the outcome, and judging from the comments I’m getting, many of you are as well! Here’s how it works—every week I travel to the Susquehanna River and take a photo to use as my inspiration. Back in the studio, I use the photo as a reference to create a needlefelted and stitched 6" x 12" panel. It’s a simple concept, but one that is proving to have a lot of depth. Each week I need to decide where to go, perhaps a favorite spot nearby, perhaps a road trip. Then I need to frame the view for the photo. Back in the studio, I get to choose what elements to focus on, and make it all work on a small canvas.
Because I want each one to feel a bit like a sketch, I set a time limit of 90 minutes for the actual felting and stitching. Fiber art is very time-consuming, so I can’t dither. I start each one in a state of mild panic, which subsides as each design decision leads to the next one. It’s very exciting and gratifying.
Below are the first 8 panels individually. It’s going to be fun to see what happens as fall advances and the landscape color palette changes.
This next bit is for everyone who loves reading about process. The only way I can complete a panel in 90 minutes is by being very organized in the studio. I have my pieces of rayon/wool felt for the base precut. The base color may or may not show through, depending on how I felt it, so each week I choose accordingly.
I have bins of wool roving in various colors, and lots of medium sized silk scraps I’ve been saving.
If I need something specific that’s not in the scrap bin, like the plaid for the railroad tracks in the week 9 panel, I can go to the stash of silk yardage. I have a fairly complete mental inventory of everything, so it doesn’t take me long to find what I need.
I also have wool yardage and scraps to work with.
And for finer details and spots of color, I have a bin of silk snippets, and the threads that pull off in the pre-wash, that I’ve been saving for years. A lot of the silks were hand carried back from India, so I’m loath to waste any of it.
I begin with my felt panel laid out on a piece of dense foam, where I block out the basic shapes and colors. I use a hand felting punch to take things in place before taking it over to the needlefelting machine and doing a thorough job of it.
Different hues of wool roving and silk snippets are blended and layered up on the base. Once the felting is done, I add detail with machine stitching.
Here’s the fisheye image I started with for the week 8 panel:
I’m posting the weekly pieces to my Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/suerenostudio
My Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/suereno
My Tumblr: http://suerenostudio.tumblr.com
and Instagram: sue_reno_studio
I also post each week’s inspiration photo. Pick a platform and follow along!
As always, thanks for reading and commenting.