Thursday, July 21, 2016

Feathers by the water

The story of this piece is one of wondering, "What if . . . ?"

It started off innocently enough, a weaving in a variety of yarns and thread, then the idea of weaving feathers into the story changed everything . . .

Once the feathers were in place, weaving the last part of the piece was impossible.  The feathers changed the story, and I left off working on this for weeks, waiting for the rest of the idea to form.  That was when Sherry Mayfield suggested that I not continue weaving at the bottom of the little hand loom, but to ease the piece down the empty warp and work from the new middle toward the top.

After I had moved the weaving and feathers down, it seemed a shame to do something common to it, like weaving with ordinary (or, in my case, semi-ordinary) materials.  Instead, I made a fabric sandwich of silk paper, a scrap from a vintage handkerchief, a cutting of old linen, and covered it with silk chiffon and a small strip of more silk paper.  This was the point of initial stitching, straight stitches using a high-sheen cotton floss in horizontal lines.

When it all held together fairly well, I began weaving the embroidered block into the open warp.  That called for more stitching to secure the embroidered sandwich to the piece (or the sandwich to the warp).  For this I used silk, a pale blue Spun Silk with Flame thread from Stef Francis.   These new silk straight stitches were all done in vertical lines in contrast with the cotton.  The vintage cotton yo-yo looks on the scene with kindly interest.

Three days of intensive stitching and assessing the progress of the piece followed.  With a deep breath (carefully, carefully) I cut the piece from the loom, then began weaving the warp ends into the stitching behind the fabric sandwich.  Next came a strip of "eyelash" from Tentakulum (Painter's Threads) near the bottom and above the feathers, and stitching the little reeds in shades of indigo silk.

I believe it is done.  When I look at it I find no adjectives or adverbs in need of changing, so the story is complete.  I have never inserted a stitched cloth, large or small, into a weaving before this, but as I consider the possibilities this is a mixing of techniques quite worth exploring.  The warp threads that are left on the front of the work are the most challenging feature for future experimentation.  Thank you Sherry, for encouraging me to look at this piece differently!

A closer look at the stitched/fabric sandwich weaving:

Now, if I can keep from touching it long enough to consider mounting and presentation . . .

UPDATE on the Feathers:  Poor feathers!  One was lost in moving it about . . . I think it is time to think of a resuscitation (yet again),  as one has been lost.  Or, I should simply move on, put this hexed piece in a studio journal and note it is not something to be tried again.


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