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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fun With Sharp Needles

Fianlly, what I started at Geelong Fibre Forum last year has been finished. Well, more or less finished - it is a triptych and I can't decide how to arrange them or finalise the piece.

The work is called (at the moment anyway!) We Look At The Land Through Different Eyes, You and I.

I won't go through every step of the technique I used, as Carolyn Sullivan teaches this and it is definitely not my place to reproduce her class! But I will run through the main steps.

The base for these pieces is wool/viscose felt from Spotlight - good quality and nice to handstitch through. Then I used an embellisher machine to apply bits of hand-dyed scrim (by me) and prefelt (not dyed by me), embellished a few pieces of hand-dyed silk ribbon (not dyed by me either). Then lots of stitching in Appleton's crewel wool, two strands in the needle - mostly kantha stitch and seeding stitch. Then I ran the embellishing machine over the whole piece again to embed the woolen stitches (and make sure the other bits were thoroughly embedded. Finally, lots of kantha and seed stitching in variaged perel cottons (commercially dyed).

The inspiration - we spent a morning sketching views and close-ups near Geelong Grammar, and taking photos too. During the afternoon of fiddling around with our sketches, narrowing down possibilities and in many cases making further sketches from photos, I settled on a sketch I had made of a photo of a eucalypt.

Carolyn helped me to isolate a section of the sketch I had made. While mulling over the final sketch I was suddenly sparked by memories of a lecture the previous night by an artist whose name I have forgotten, and a book I studied for Literature - That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott - and came up with the idea of looking through the tree and seeing the landscape at morning and night out over the water, and in reverse from the sea to the bush and midday. Using the lines of the bark and seeing the background through them - to me it gave me the idea of a 'ghost gum' - not in the sense of the actual gums that are known as ghost gums, but a ghost of the past/present/future of the landscape and the people.

It's another example of slow creating, as it took quite a while, but I can honestly say that I loved every second of doing this work. So much so that I have another one at the design stage, vaguely inspired by Mrs Dalloway - I certainly didn't start out intending to create works based on books I am studying, but it seems to be turning out that way right now!

Edited to add - an embellishing machine is a needlefelting machine - it looks like a sewing machine but is much lighter and has a set of needles (5 in mine) with barbs which mesh threads together when you run it up and down through the fabric. I have the cheapest domestic version.


Taphophile said...

Such dense stitching and such depth of colour - glorious. Look forward to the Mrs Dalloway piece.

Sue Bursztynski said...

It's very beautiful. An embellisher machine - what's that? Sounds like you have some serious equipment there for your handcraft! :-)

What will you do with it - wall hanging?

catdownunder said...

Just caught up with these and they are lovely! What are you going to do with them?