Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fabrications Retreat and Studio Progress

I ended up NOT making any changes to "Seeds of Compassion," other than altering the shapes of a few of the colored slivers within the cocoon shapes. It is totally and completely DONE, which gives me closure. Now I can switch my focus to teaching.

Since my last studio day on Thursday, I've been preparing for my drive to Michigan to teach a class called "It's All About the Stitch" at the Fabrications Retreat:

Here's a class sample showing a few of the stitch and thread combinations that can be combined to build textural surfaces. The variables in freemotion embroidery techniques are the types and weights of the threads used and adjustments to the top and bottom sewing machine tensions.

Some stitches are worked on the back of the fabric using heavier threads in the bobbin, which builds up texture and pattern on the front. Varying the speed of stitching, types and colors of threads and machine tensions all provide different effects that can be combined to create fascinating surfaces that invite the eye to linger and explore.

Rich texture can also be created just by using straight stitch variations, shown in the detail of another class sample, above. Combining colors and building the surface with layered stitches is a fascinating process that lends itself well to small works, where the smaller scale creates a more intimate interaction. It is fascinating to learn and I enjoy helping other artists to expand their textile "vocabularies"-- back to that language theme again.

There's a pleasant undertone to teaching and traveling knowing that three new works in progress are waiting for me when I return. For these large scale pieces I'll be revisiting the palette that was in my piece "Translations", with a few new additions. I need to include some touches like the marvelous saffron gold in these Sri Lankan monks' robes to this neutral, earth-tone palette.

Here's a detail of the original Translations piece, so you can see how this new work is beginning to expand the palette. This piece started with a rusted fabric ground, so I also rusted new fabrics in my studio on Thursday for when I return.

Can you see the subtle Phoenician alphabet letters applied with wax resist before rusting on this piece? The results are very promising and I am envisioning doing more for future works. This will be a wonderful ground fabric to work with as a starting point for another new piece.

For one of the new pieces I've cut out numerous letter forms in a variety of scales -- some will be resists to create negative space letter images and others will be patterns to cut out other fabrics as positive shapes to layer onto the surface. I haven't decided how to place them. I did move the pattern shapes around and considered the areas of positive and negative space. Lots more work ahead on that but this is a good starting point.

I'm trusting that I'll have wireless Internet at the resort where the retreat will be held and will send images of the class and the beautiful Northern Michigan landscape. Two years ago it snowed while we were there -- I'm hoping that's not the case this year!


  1. After following your blog for few months I was very excited I see your Parables & Parables II today at The Knitting & Stitching Show in London. The experience is so much richer in real life than the glimpses on the net. Your work is straight away recognizable as yours and I enjoyed examining all the little details.

  2. Wonderful samples. I have just started exploring with free motion quilting...and your samples are inspiring. Thank you for sharing those.

    Your 'in progress' work with the resist letters on rust dyeing is fascinating. It is wonderful to see a project develop.