Saturday, March 22, 2008

Grains of Sand into Pearls -- Or Maybe Just Dead Oysters

I was commiserating with my friend Becky this morning in an e-mail -- we both seem to be wrestling with materials that just won't cooperate with our creative intentions. Since a good analogy always helps rekindle my positive attitude, I likened our struggles to grains of sand in oyster shells, no doubt a comparison born of all the wonderful raw oysters I just slurped my way through on the Florida coast. So now that I've grabbed onto this cheery analogy, I'll see if I can brainstorm some solutions to the Page 3 piece I washed out yesterday!

Some of the letter forms, like this grouping, look just fine, with the raw but firm edge that I was aiming for.

But here's where the problem solving process starts. Unfortunately, other letter forms didn't hold up as well to the rinsing process. The ones above actually started to pull apart (I had fused two layers together to make the sheer silk stronger).

Some letters look a little puckered and misshapen. All in all, more shifting and skewing than I intended. While I was a bit despondent about the results last night, with my pearls from sand attitude now firmly in place I can see some choices to consider for completing this piece. Another day of sunshine helps my attitude as well!

So here are some options I'll consider while I'm working at my studio today. I can:

1. Fuse another layer of fabric in the exact same shapes over these existing ones to make them look crisp and "floating" on the surface.

2. I can distort the troubled letter forms even more, exaggerate their coming apart and incorporate that idea intentionally into the overall composition.

3. I can stitch over the letter forms -- either machine or hand stitching- to define them and cover any imperfections in the fabrics.

4. I can rip them off and leave only the stitched thread outlines and bits of stuck threads there to indicate their presence.

I'm sure I could come up with more ideas, but these will be enough to chew on while I head for my studio today and work on another grain of sand that I left waiting there for me when I got back from vacation, the third piece of fabric I silk screened in the hope that it would become the next Parables piece.

This is the way it looked when I completed it late one afternoon and left it overnight in my studio to complete the dyeing process. Strong value contrasts and definition. What I didn't realize until I stayed late another night is that the building's boiler is now getting turned way down around by 5 PM so the room was probably 60 degrees or lower overnight, too cold to keep the dyes activated.

So when I arrived the next day and washed the piece, I got pretty extreme washout. The piece above turned into the piece below.Oh yuck. Even I, who rarely give up on a piece of cloth, truly find this a sorry sight. But honestly, if what I layer on today doesn't save it, I can just start fresh on a new piece next week instead of trying to resuscitate a lost cause. On the up side, I get to experiment with layering ideas and that is always fascinating enough that the slight tension that always accompanies layering -- the not knowing whether the new layer will make it worse rather than better -- is a trade off I can handle. If nothing else, the resulting fabric can be cut apart and the good parts turned into small works.


  1. This is my opinion. The arrangements of the wniztqmsquares and the letter forms are very regular and the forms look very strong against the background. If you pulled away more of the sheers to leave the letters in tatters and left the stitching, you would introduce some irregularity into the composition. I don't think that it's a disaster. As far as the dye washing out, that's happened to me too. No fun.
    Your posts from Florida were great! So poetic.

  2. Jeanne, sounds like you should consider the microwave to finish up. If you wait until they are almost dry, the dye won't migrate and will set which it won't in a 55 degree studio! I would have been REALLY disappointed having the dye wash out of that lovely piece. Beth

  3. I've just started following your blog and haven't yet figured out your process but got to say it sure is interesting! I work with collage on canvas and layers of added and subtracted glazes... just to get something close to what you are getting by accident! Funny world! An example: