Friday, September 9, 2016

Black Floss on Cotton

I embarked on an enormous journey of discovery and endurance with this piece, never thinking I would actually stitch the entirety of the 10" x 18" cloth.  My style is to make smaller, more intimate pieces.  After I had gotten bored, I reasoned, I would remove the piece from the frame, cut the work away and fold what was left of the multi-processed cloth and move on to something else.  To this end, I set out to try some different ways of doing a few things with simple, expressive stitches.  Instead of becoming bored, the challenge became so absorbing I couldn't put it down, and I worked weeks and weeks with the magic that was happening on the rectangle.

It is a study in lines, and to that end I used a single strand of black cotton floss.  I wanted to see how much energy short, dotted lines might have.  And then there was the idea of bending a longer line by keeping it under tension rather than Couching the slack thread with two needles.  Or, what if the circles were stitched as loose Detached Chains and tied down to make rough circles of many sizes and shapes?  Is it possible to get a certain depth of perception with a tiny Straight Stitch by changing the compression, working dense stitches that graduated to a little more breathing space?  Could I really do this without using even one of my favorite little spot stitches, the French Knot?  Is there personality possible in a Square Chain Stitch?  And on and on it went, more questions, more answers.

If you've ever seen geology texts where the artist has drawn beautiful illustrations of earth strata, subducting plates, layers of sediment under pressure, conglomerate rocks-- this is where the idea started, buried in my twin loves of earth science and pen and ink drawings.  My husband sees an aerial landscape here.  It is hard to say which explanation I prefer, but in the end, the piece speaks in a different language to every viewer.

A word about the fabric:  This is a soft, loosely woven cotton.  I rusted it, washed it, buried it in the garden for a week, dug it up and washed it again and decided it would do as a mop-up cloth for a painting session.  The color in the lower part of the piece is from spilled dyes and cleaned paint brushes.  More washing.  Nothing was planned, and when I last washed it I thought it might make a good lining cloth for other projects.  I've used several smaller cuts from the cloth in stitched pieces over the past several years.

This thin, loose cotton is lined with four layers of linen, including worn napkins and a piece of linen left over from dress-making eons ago (how's that for responsible re-use of materials?).  The back of the work is almost as interesting as the front-- there are times I can't decide which side to show and which to put against the wall!

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