Here I show the artsy piece I’ve been working on during this vacation. I didn’t really want to show it before it is finished, but it ties in so nicely with other things that have been going on lately. I’m going to post something about what it means to me, and how I did the melted fabric background when it is finished.
The background of this was made from jute band, polyester organza and lutradur, all baked together with a flat iron on a background of batiste. All these are materials not exactly known for their durability, and when ironed they are kind of brittle too. (I will finish it off with another layer of sheer fabric because of this). Working on this made me think even more about the conservation issues discussed a few postings earlier. But doing this is so much fun that I think I will do it again anyway.
The other thing about this that made me think is that I only used kantha-like running stitches and seed stiches on it. This makes sense, it has so much colour and texture that intricate stitching on top of this would be either overwhelming or just messy. But it is strange how rarely the complicated stitches I love to practice find their way into my more artsy stuff. I love doing complicated needlework, but I often have problems integrating it into modern work. I so would want my work to express the whole me, so this is annoying me a bit. Something I will have to work on.
Two weeks ago I managed to sneak away from work early and go see Dijanne’s exhibition at Munich. Her work was breathtaking to look at. Her quilts look great on the website, but even better for real.
But there was one thing that caught my eye. She uses lots of surface treatments which are probably not washable, such as layers of silk tops or gold foiling, and that often on pieces which are too big to be easiely framed behind glass. In the exhibition, everything was hung without frames of course. I don’t really dare to question the work of someone like Dijanne, but I would try to avoid that. In fact I’m working on a sampler that will be like this,because I did not think that much before starting it, but I have good intentions for the future.
Sometimes I wonder how careless we fiber artists are about conservational issues. More often than not, we use happiely whatever strikes our fancy without giving a thought to thinks like lightfastness or manmade materials crumbling with age. I’m as guilty of this as any of you, but sometimes it makes me think twice. Because as a painter, I was taught to only use acid free paper and the best quality paints I can get. Even there I sometimes deviated from the rules for the joy of using fancy papers and other unusual things.
What makes this problem more difficult is that information about the lightfastness and lifetime of fabrics and other supplies is sparse and hard to find, especially when it is about things like polyester organza and fabrics meant for clothes or home decor (and that’s some of my favourite materials).
For me, it’s often the coice between maximum fun and common sense about conservational issues. Or is it hubris that makes me want to work for eternity, which isn’t going to happen anyway?
Do you think about such issues? What are your solutions? I would love to read oppinions on this.
(sorry for the ranty post, and the absence of eye candy)
The topic of this month’s take it further challenge is “What do you call yourself? (related to what we do). Artist or Craftsperson?
Basically, that’s the old art versus craft debate taken to a personal level. My first thought was “Why, I’m just a dabbler anyway”. But I guess that answer would be the easy way out.
I dabble in acrylic paint and watercolour, so I can well call myself an artist. But on the other hand, where is the line between art and craft in paintings? Are paintings in the style of the home decor TV shows art? In fiber, I do a few original things. But I also love doing crafty things like knitting, crochet and mindless embroidery. I think I never really defined myself beyond “dabbler in xyz”, replace xyz with my current subject of study. Maybe it’s high time I think about such things a bit.
I don’t really know yet what I’m going to do about that topic, but I think it screams for another sampler, showing the artsy and the crafty sides of me.
The colour scheme is another interesting case. The official me hates it but I think my inner child loves it.
To add a bit of eye candy, here is another progress shot of the pulled thread tulip. If I really do a sampler this will be part of it. Sometimes things just fall into place like this. This ttime, the picture is not clickable, I’ll upload a really big one when it’s finished.
Well, what the title says. I can’t seem to stop myself. One of the years when the war was raging in former Yougoslavia, my family went on holidays to Spain instead of there. We did like it but it was just not the same, and I couldn’t forget why we had to go there. We were near Barcelona, which is the Capital of Catalonia . There was a “free Catalonia” Graffiti all over the place, and the people spoke French with the tourists rather than Spanish. Heh, I know there won’t be a catalan revolution any time soon, but way back when their malicious gossip about the Spaniards reminded me of our Croatian landlord’s speeches about the Serbians, which we never took any more serious than Bavarians railing against the Prussians. An uncomfortable kind of deja vu.
On the technical side, I did the same as with the last two postcards, just a different top layer. The word was painted onto the fabric after ironing the bondaweb on, because writing it mirrored so that it will turn out right after ironing the bondaweb on seemed too much hazzle.
Now this is the same, with white silk chiffon ironed on top. It looks very muted, blurry, and, well, silky. I do like the effect, although I’m not sure it fits the mood of this postcard. The red word didn’t make a difference for ironing the top layer on.
I had four days off that vocational training seminar because of all hallow’s day. I used this time for getting a bit playful and creative. I’m sorry, I don’t remember in which blog I read about this technique. I painted bondaweb-like stuff (called vliesofix in Germany) with acrylics, let it dry and then ironed it on beige embroidery fabric. Next I removed the paper and ironed orange organza on top.
Well, it turned out way more dark and dull than I thought it would. Also, the whole thing got quite stiff. It looks better on the scan than IRL, really. Next time I’ll try white cambric as background. But first I’ll have to do something with this one. And catch up on tast. And work a bit on my other WISPs. Sigh.
I did do in progress scans, but I’m not going to force these onto you. Maybe I will post in-progress shots from some future similar piece, when I really can get good results with this technique.
I just found an article about using cheap and unususal materials by Arlee Barr via Arlee Barr’s blog. It is very well done, I learned a thing or two from it although I’m not as much into plastic an using heat guns as she is.
Here are a few of my cheapo favourites that she doesn’t mention.
- All kinds of jute fabrics. I like to work on burlap/ hessian, but also on the very loosely woven deco jute and colourful jute bands. Glue arround the edges of the loose stuff with fabric glue or glossy acrylic gel before use. I’m adding an ATC sized embroidery on jute band and present band at the end of the posting
- browse the deco shops regularly, they will often have small fabric pieces for reduced prices; especially useful if you like to work small
- Try to pester a local tailor for her/his waste fabric
- make use of clothes you don’t wear any more, it also adds a very personal note to your art
- The ribbons and bands you use for christmass presents and flower arrangements. You often get good deals on them after major hollidays, and you can use what comes off your presents
- Cocoa fiber and similar stuff. The loose ones can be used for couching, the glued sheets can be used to do embroidery on or for collages.
- natural bast is very good for stitching on rough fabric, but it isn’t washable. If you use the coloured ones do a fading test before using them on precious projects; it bends easier when wet, but will shrink considerably when drying again
- use natural materials and found objects
- buying cheap jewelry and cutting it up for the beads is often cheaper than buying beads at a craft shop
- glossy acrylic gel makes a good surrogate for fabric glue and is cheaper if you need more than a few ounces of it. Beware of the matte varieties, they will come off if you wash pieces, while the glossy one from Schmincke even survives procedures like wet felting with hot water onto the glued piece.
- If you’re into painting save your brush cleaning rags to do fiber art on them later. But never ever burn them if you use any cadmium colours
- if you already have acrylic paints use them instead of fabric paints. Again, beware of heating cadmium pigments (they will turn poisonous if you do)
now here’s an example, a roughly ATC-sized thing assembled from jute band and flower band ironed on black vilene and embroidered:
Had a busy day today, and decided to be good to me. Then I saw that wool in the bargain bin at a supermarket and couldn’t resist taking it home, although I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I did hope tast would reduce my stash, among other things, but what it does is make me buy more stuff, because I realize just how many different things you can use in embroidery. And the growing heap of WIPs is yet another topic. I think I’ll need a wip finishing and/or stash using challenge next year.
(Click on the picture to enlarge it)