A bird in the hand is worth what? Mathematically, if the two in the bush are equal to the one in the hand, then we may freely substitute a bush full of birds wherever one appears in our mitts. Thus, Avian Algebra.
But from the fabric geek point of view, this piece is about exploring the limits of needle felting. Popular theory holds that felting requires 75% wool to succeed. That’s true of wet felting, surely, but how is acrylic felt made? with a needle. So if we’re needle felting, we may ignore that rule. The hand is 100% acrylic, from recycled fibers.
|Avian Algebra, side view|
Needle felting requires a core or a support. Or not: two layers of the hand were formed over starch foam. The core was then washed out and a third layer of felt needled down on what is now a shell of felt. It wouldn’t hold its shape when attached to the bush (it needed another layer of felt, probably), so it ended up stuffed with wool, but free-standing shells of unlimited complexity are now possible.
The bush was inspired by formal topiary. It is four layers of felt stiffened by appliqué. Again, the form was a bit too sensitive to deformation, so to keep it ball-like, a wire core was collapsed, inserted in the shell, and then expanded to form the branches.
The birds are almost an anticlimax. They are embroidered and assembled with a blanket stitch, and stuffed with wool. Birds called for a bird cage, and that was the inspiration for the stand.
It became a project driven by the sheer joy of tinkering.
Michael Dennis has been a freelance graphic artist since 2002, doing business as MDIM. He graduated in 2010 from Pennsylvania College of Art & Design with a major in Illustration, and may eventually get a diploma.
Previous shows and commissions:
2010 Note card commission, Children’s Choir of Lancaster
Six vignettes in paper depicting “kids and music”. To be released in Fall 2011.
2010 Amtrak Station, Lancaster, PA
“Twins” railroad-inspired art commissioned by CH&E Construction. Reproduced on a construction barrier during renovations through 2011/ early 2012.
2011 Size Matters at Some Things Looming, Reading, PA
“A Whale’s Life” series, depicting 19th–century whaling from a whale’s point of view. Works in this show were limited to 12” in each dimension.
2011 Community Art Show at Lancaster Museum of Art
“A Whale’s Life” series.