process, mine and others’


I now have another entry to the Ten Leaves series – this is ten birch leaves. Each card has a second, ghost leaf in silk organza underneath the printed silk leaf. I think the proportions are not wonderful, and I may make a another using smaller leaves, or larger cards. I really like the key chain holding them together.

My process is lumpy at best. I work hard at not overthinking things, so I tend to rely on injecting randomness into backgrounds and working the foreground pieces as aggressively as I can. One of the reasons I treasure variegated thread is the lack of control I have over color. I can place it as precisely as I want, but the color is whatever comes off the spool next (particularly with the more expensive and/or hand dyed threads) and I have to make it work. Which feels good for me, in the same way stretching does.

These birch leaves are a good example. I had a couple leaves the right size, but I wanted to show them differently than just printing pictures of them onto fabric. Instead I used a paintstick (oil paint in a stick form; not exactly oil pastels, nor yet oil paint in tubes) to rub paint onto the leaves, and then ironed the fabric over it, resultng in something partway between a crayon rubbing and a print. I tried a couple other techniques but settled on this one when the alternatives were less than satisfacatory. 

Timna has a lovely description of her process, along with illustrations, on her blog.

five berries in a tin

five berries

Five berries: hand dyed silk stitched onto patchy and embroidered backgrounds. Four were easy, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry. After some thought, cranberry became obvious. I worked for a brief, exciting stint at Ocean spray, where I learned there are 137 different varieties of cranberry. Honestly.

Plus, they all fit into a Celestial Seasons Berry Tea tin. Very sweetly. So they are done, and I've posted them to Etsy. I have to finish some Trader Joe's green tea mints before I can start the next one, which will be birch leaves in a tin. 

And in the real world, today I met a fellow blogger who turns out to live in my town and have very similar interests. Diane kindly talked while I devoured a sandwich, and then I managed to hold up my end of the conversation. We had a nice time, and I hope I've convinced her to come join the fabric women. At the very least, we'll try to get together again. 


next project, process

Yesterday I spent the entire day at the barn helping with a dressage show. I can point you to pictures, but I don't think I can imbed them here. We had a nearly random test, with a large puddle in one corner providing amusement value for the judge, some appalling moments and some sublime ones. 

So today I started a new project:


Another set of cards. These are almost large enough to be coasters, if one was so inclined. Since they are going in a thing that used to have berry tea, I thougth I'd put some mixed berries on them. With additional stitching, they should round out some… Dyed silk really shines!

Ghost keys in a tin

ghost labels

As she aged, my great aunt wrote herself notes about all the things in her house. Making these labels for the ghost keys made me think of her labelling everything: keys, dishes, silverware, portraits, lamps and chairs – identifying the important things in her house, the house and all the things in it inherited from her parents, so her nieces and nephews could begin to understand the depth of the history that wrapped around her.  

ghost keys booklet of tags

These keys are sunprinted on a natural linen, and embroidered around the edges. Organza printed labels on the back identify what the keys might be for. Small grommets in a corner of each tag allow them to be threaded onto a string with another label. 

I put these up for sale on Etsy.

ghost keys

in their tin

A new project: ghost keys. I made this fabric when the fabric women came to paint things on the sidewalk. I think it is my favorite of what I did that day; a simple, natural linen with black paint and key silouetttes. It is a small piece, so I was willing to cut it into even smaller pieces in pursuit of an idea. I was thinking of making these small cards into a book, explicitly binding it and adding some text.

So these are the beginnings, and their tin. Tomorrow I'll add text and figure out how to bind the pages so it will still fit into the tin. 


ghost key pages

captured fabric pieces

fabric captured in tulle black side

Partly in response to Bev's quilt of bread bag tags, I ran the stitching differently. Instead of linking them, the fabric pieces are captured between layers of tulle and stitching lines.

While working on this, I remembered why I really hate tulle; I dislike the way it dulls the fabric, and I hate stitching it. I remember why I tend to use silk organza to cover things I want to see slightly, because I like the texture and sheen of it. It is more opaque than the tulle, but nicer to work with; less stretchy and less scratchy. 

oddly inside out quilt

Anatsui stitched quilt

One of the commenters on Flickr wondered what would happen if I were to sandwich the unfelted, floppy cotton strips between two pieces of tulle. It occurs to me that this is an inverted quilt; generally one looks at the surface and the interior serves to bulk it out and make the quilting show. In this case, the surface is as transparent as I could find today in the fabric store, so that we can see the strips in the interior. 

I thought I was done, but I am still thinking of another way to do this. Stay tuned! 


Felted stitched strips

I am really pleased with this one. It captures the way a large piece is made up of repated smaller shapes, and that they are linked together, and patterned. It is clearly made of fabric, which is my medium (as I keep saying to anyone who asks) and speaks to but does not (I hope) slavishly copy the Anatsui pieces that were so staggering when I saw them in real life. It is smaller than any of his pieces, but I am working by myself, with limited materials and space.  

I may be done with this obsession. It was fun while it lasted. I think I learned something important about the characteristics of fabric that I find so compelling. I enjoyed working to someone else's concepts, filtered, of course, through my own perception. 

felted Anatsui emulation

one possible layout

I spent some quality time this evening felting some green pieces, and a red/purple piece, and then cutting them into roughly even pieces. I think I need one more color of the tall thin ones. I really like the red/purple squares – they are a great contrast against the green pieces. Maybe yellow. I can find some yellows. 

felted parts

So Red Kate and I drove to Newton today to get her kayak paddle (and it is very lovely too; exquisitely light, carbon shaft and bright yellow blades), and since we were there we had two kinds of oysters, cherrystones, smoked salmon and one sublime crab cake for lunch at Legal, and then because we still had time, I took her to see the Anatsui exhibit. Which was still awesome. And showing it to someone else was interesting and made me see different things. Including one huge wall piece that was really lacey and see-through which I didn't remember. 


so I ran it through the felting machine

so I ran it through the felting machine

I realized I was trying to emulate metal that draped like fabric with …. fabric. So the efforts I was making to stiffen the fabric had to do with getting that interesting stiff pleating that Anatsui gets with linked stips of metal. My dislike of yesterday's piece had everything to do with that excess floppiness that came from it being fabric already.  So today I thought of the embellisher, and using it to make thickish felt to cut up. 

But I got distracted and ran the piece itself through the felting machine, and I kind of like this. Tomorrow, when I have no headache and lots of time, I'll felt up a swatch of fabric to cut into stiffish pieces and stitch together somehow.