Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Black Matters

Size 12" x 12"

I love it when, after being ‘stumped’ for months, suddenly an idea pops into being. While hiking in the forest taking photos for future ‘tree’ art I came across fire blackened Douglas Fir stumps. On closer inspection tiny lichens and infantile mosses appeared. Rather than being pure black the stump had a rainbow of colours, from the blue sheen of wet charcoal, the vibrant greens, golds, and brown specks of lichens, to the rich reds of undamaged bark. New life clung to cracks in the old.

My idea for this piece evolved 180 from my original plan. My first thought was to burn the hand-dyed cottons for the real effect. I did try holding a few pieces over a candle and under the heat gun. I found the results amusing and messy! A few burst into flame, others just got sooty and I ended up with black fingers. I abandoned that attempt, and fortunately had enough pieces left to proceed without the flames and soot.

I worked from a sketch, cutting out each piece and fusing them to a solid black base. They are stitched on using free-motion zigzag in black thread. The piece is rubbed with different colours of oil stick and left to dry for 48 hours. The first piece of batting is placed under and textured machine stitching is added. Mosses and lichens are machine and hand embroidered. A little huckleberry is fused and embroidered. The large mosses were thread embroidered onto soluble stabilizer then stitched on with extra stuffing behind. Lastly, a second batting and backing were added before the final quilting to make the bark stand out.

I’m pleased with the result, but I do have a few changes to add. I’m finding that the negative space of black is a bit too strong on the lower left and I’m going to soften it some more with added oil sticks.

Here’s a close up:

Thursday, 14 March 2013


This piece has sold

Size 12" x 12"

As soon as I saw the theme “Reflections” I knew it would be easy to fit into my series of Trees. I worked from my imagination for the sketch of trees and their reflections. I had this piece of shibori fabric that I dyed last summer and I thought it really looked like sky or water. However, in order to get the water texture to appear horizontal I had to cut a diamond piece out of the larger fabric. What a waste of fabric! So the white stripes are horizontal, but the straight of grain is diagonally. If that makes sense. I will still use the rest eventually, (but maybe in smaller triangular pieces) since I really like the fabric.   

Next I used a blending colour of polyester sheer and cut out the trees all in one piece using my reversed paper pattern on a piece of plywood and my hot stencil cutter to melt the sheer. Works amazingly well and very quick! The sheer was then very fragile and to fit it to the background I first lightly sprayed it with 505 while it was still on the pattern board. I lowered the background onto the sheers, smoothed it flat with my hand, flipped it over and then peeled off the paper pattern gently. I’ve used a close free-motion stitch in polyester embroidery thread to applique the trees. One layer of cotton batting and then quilting is done in a slightly paler colour just outside the outlines. One more darker line across the horizon and that was it. I was tempted to do swirly’s in the sky, but refrained. Binding is done in a batik.  I should have double-batted.

Sorry I don’t have a close up, but the resolution on this one isn’t  great and there’s not really any detail to see. I do like the misty feeling of this piece.