Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To Cut or Not To Cut...That is the Question.

Fabric, hand stamped, then painting in all the white spaces
Before I became a weaver, I dabbled with the idea of becoming a textile designer. At least, on a more home-made front, I contemplated designing hand-dyed fabrics for others to purchase for their own use and pleasure.  I spent hours printing, stamping, and hand-painting yardage, only to realize the fabric became too precious to me. I could not, would not cut into it.  At this point, I was still practicing the technique. I was no where near good enough to sell hand-stamped cloth, so I figured it might be best if I found a new area of study within Fiber Arts, which led me to weaving.

Above fabric, completed, and lining handwoven bag
On the rare occassion I could overcome the need to save every two to four yard swath of hand-dyed fabric, I cut it up and re-sewed them into a liner for a bag, or maybe a custom shower curtain. So it was no surprise to me that I resisted with all of my being cutting into my screen printed cloth.  Naturally, I chose the fabric I liked the least, and paired it with a panel that was always meant to be cut out. It felt better that way.  And of course, this meant I now had a major challenge. How to make these two elements work together, since I pulled them out of my stash, not because I thought "YES! THIS WILL BE AWESOME!" but because I went "WHEW! If I screw this up, my heart won't hurt."

Collaborative with Sheila Shuman.

I am a moderate planner, as far as my working style goes. I usually plot and plan things to a certain point, and then I allow serendipity to take a part in the creation of one of my pieces.  In other words, I allow unplanned things to happen and even change my direction totally in a piece, even if I'm half way through making something.   In the beginning of screen printing week, I had no plan other than "what happens if..."  By the middle of the week, I began drawing some mild inspiration from my doodles. I doodle eyes in the margins of my papers all the time. I doodle cartoonish human outlines.  For some strange reason, I thought it was a good idea to combine the two.

The result of stencil and stamps on silk screen
Meanwhile, we were supposed to be practicing pulling stamps into our screen (I used an eye) and freezer paper stencils (I made a human form).  When we arrived at the quilting portion of the course, I stood and studied this panel which was a bizarre combination of eyes and marionette-like figure, and wondered, what on earth am I going to do with this? Then it occurred to me. This is inspired by doodling. We're supposed to use the stitching as we would a drawn line. Hmm. What if I doodled over top of the man?

I took some heat and bond, and ironed it onto the back of a piece of light blue fabric.  I then cut out the same stencil shapes of the figure on the screen printed panel.  Finally I ironed those onto a piece of yellow fabric, and proceeded to draw lines using a sharpie marker.  This was my test.  Placing batting and a backing under the mock-quilt-top, I began to experiment. I tested my free-motion foot. I experimented with the regular presser foot to make lines. And then I decided how I was going to create my 'sketch.'  After a bit, I was rather pleased with the results, so I figured it was safe to begin plotting out my quilt.

I decided the panel would be attached to the background as an applique. But how would I make it look integrated?  Once I pinned the panel to the background, and pinned that to the wall. I stepped back. Interesting. The panel almost disappears because there's too much going on in the background fabric. So I decided to see what it would look like with a small strip of color edging one side of the panel.  All I had on hand at the moment was a little bit of pink.  Crazy enough, the pink actually worked! So I kept it.  I love it when stuff like that happens.

Letting the quilt tell me where to stitch

Attaching the applique to the background with basting stitches, I then added my batting and backing.  Where to start? The center of course.  I noticed the background had subtle oval shapes hidden amongst all the chaos.  I decided I'd turn these into more eyes.  The rest of the stitching would just happen as I went along, changing colored threads on a whim.   I chose a purple thread to do my 'sketching' of the figure.  However, it wasn't turning out as I thought it should.

"Well, you know, a sketched line has thick parts and thin parts depending on how you hold a pen or pencil and what angle the tip is at when you make that line," Barbara said to me, as I was mulling over how to fix it.
"You know, I think that's exactly what I'm missing," I said.  I sat down and began going over some of my lines until I had thick areas tapering into thin areas. The more I worked, the more I liked what I was seeing. However, it was costing me a lot of precious time.  True to myself, I chose to be over-ambitious with my project.

So as usual, I spent extra time in the studio, trying to get as much finished as I could.  Unfortunately, I didn't complete my quilt by the end of the week. But that's O.K.  Now I have something to work on at home in the evenings, much to my delight.  My sewing machine fits in a corner of my kitchen, so it's not as if it's in the way or anything. Well, the husband might disagree with that statement, but I told him at least it's not a floor loom or a spinning wheel. He just mumbled something and shook his head as he walked away from the pile I made in front of the corner hutch.    Besides, I have to finish it so I can be sure to post a picture of the completed quilt when I'm done, regardless of how it turns out. :)  After all, what's one more pile of fiber arts supplies? Right?

work in progress


No comments:

Post a Comment