It’s time again to document progress on my ongoing fiber art project, 52 Ways to Look at the River. I’m at Week 16, and here is a shot of all the panels to date, informally pinned up on a design board. Each week I travel to somewhere with a view of the Susquehanna River, take a picture, and use the photo as an inspiration to make a 6" x 12" needlefelted and stitched fiber panel. I try to complete each panel within 90 minutes, although I’ve been stretching that just a bit longer as the panels are growing more detailed.
Below are the individual panels from weeks 8 – 16. (To see weeks 1 – 8, click here.) All images enlarge when clicked. You can follow along, and see the inspiration photos, as I reveal them each week on your social media venue of choice:
Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/suereno
I am loving this project a lot. I work well when setting up parameters that allow for experimentation within them. The panels started out as quick “sketches”, improvisational and impressionistic. They are becoming more realistic and detailed. I’ve worked a lot with needlefelting previously, but my skills are growing exponentially as I figure these out each week, which is very satisfying. It’s worth noting to anyone who struggles with the creative process that satisfying is not the same thing as easy. Each week when I am confronted with the blank panel and the photo, I panic. I have NO IDEA of how I am going to pull it off. So I start, and as I go along it works out, and when I’m done I’m rather impressed with myself. That’s the usual creative arc, but most of my projects are large and take months, if not years, to complete. I think it’s doing me good to go through this on a weekly basis.
The trip to the river each week is wonderful as well. It’s a beautiful river and I never tire of admiring it. Above is the inspiration for week 16, taken on a hike to an overlook at Safe Harbor Dam. Below is the view from above of the old railroad trestle by the dam. On the walk up to the overlook, we encountered black vultures! They were hanging out on an old building and were slow to take flight. This is the closest I’ve ever been to them, and they are magnificent:
And finally, an instant karma tale of a type that happens frequently in the fiber art community. Some months ago I was waiting in line at a fabric store and struck up a conversation with a young woman who was new to quilting. She remarked on the silk I was buying, I told her I frequently used it in my work, and I gave her my card. Recently she emailed me and asked for advice. She had been given her grandfather’s silk ties, and wanted advice on how to proceed to use them in a quilt. I took some time to write a detailed response and sent it off, and she replied with her thanks. And the next day, out of the blue, I was given a big bag of vintage silk ties.
They are high end, luxury brand silks, in great prints—the wearer had excellent taste in picking them out. I deconstructed them, removing the labels and liners.
Then I carefully washed them, laid them flat to dry, and pressed them. They will be very useful for this and other projects, as I feel one can never have too much silk on hand. You can see one of them in the week 14 panel above. It was perfect for the look of the river in the heavy rain. Another bit is in the base layer of the foreground of the week 15 panel, giving just the right hint of gridded structure.
Until next time, thanks as always for reading and commenting.