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:

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