As of the beginning of the week, my design wall was a bit crowded.
I have two quilting projects ongoing, plus work from my Textural Style class, as well as photos to inspire new projects. Starting from the top right, there’s my two single color studies from class.
The blue one is done except for an edge treatment. The red one has become a two color study and has lots of big stitch embroidery. I have a section I want to embroider, but it’s mostly done. I have to figure out an edge treatment, but it won’t be bound. I may do a buttonhole stitch and then paint over that to seal the wonky edges.
On the bottom right is my fantasy village that now has lots of machine quilting, though it doesn’t show up well in the photo. I found that black thread works best. White is anemic and even red thread doesn’t show up well. That will have a pillowcase finish as batting is already fused to the silk pieces.
In the lower left are two pieces from the final day of my class. They began as one, but I couldn’t get the left and right sides to work together, so out came the rotary cutter. They are built on a dye mop up cloth and include rotted linen, silk organza scraps, handkerchief scraps, painted cheesecloth, and leftover fabric feathers. The scraps are roughly machine sewn down and I have begun hand embroidery. I’m thinking of mounting them on larger quilted pieces to give them more presence as they are less than 12 inches square.
Finally, there’s my problem child, the piece in the upper left. It’s not the piece itself, though I spent lots of time creating the sky. Rather, I am unable to get a response from the photographer on whose photo I based the piece. A friend sent me the photo which he found on Tumblr. I wanted to do the right thing and get the photographer’s permission. After I identified the photographer through an image reverse search, I found his website and wrote to the email address given there for permission to base my work on his. No reply. Then, I found his Instagram account and DMed him. Still nothing. So, I decided to go ahead and finish the piece, but I don’t think I can exhibit or sell it. Of course I will credit his photograph. At any rate, I will quilt it before I add the last bits of black bias tape.
Off my wall I have my 100 day project little collages, which total 38 as of today. They’ve proved to be great little arty snacks I can knock off each day. Limitations (4 by 4 inches, only paper scraps) really help clarify the mind and speed up a project. Another off my wall project is a sketchy inventory I did of my studio’s contents for insurance purposes. I am appalled to realize how much money I have spent on thread alone.
If I want to start more projects I better get the wall cleared off. I’m keeping a list of possibilities.
This past Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I participated in a Zoom workshop on Textural Style with Natalya Khorover. We had a two hour Zoom session each day and then homework to do for the next day’s class. The class focused on using scraps of any type to create small machine and hand sewn collages. Natalya stresses materials reuse, especially plastics, in her work and teaching, though this workshop used fabrics more than plastics.
By Friday afternoon my studio looked like a fabric scrap cannon had been fired off, I had started four pieces, and my brain was exhausted. So, there was no Friday blog post.
I will be unpacking the lessons I learned for some time, and then merging them with what I already know to arrive at what works for me. Natalya loves working with small scraps (including old cashmere sweaters) and favors hand stitching. She often uses heavy Pellon interfacing as backing and skips batting. She doesn’t use glue but relies on pins and tulle to hold bits in place until they are sewn down.
Here’s an example of her work, which began with a piece of muslin used on her painting table.
Our first assignment was to create two one color small works, one machine stitched and one hand stitched. I finished the machine stitched one, but have miles to go on my hand stitched work.
Next, we picked a work by our favorite artist and created a piece that interpreted it. Natalya showed us many examples of her interpretations of work by Matisse, Sargent, and others. I chose “Temple Gardens” by Paul Klee and lived to regret my choice. My first downfall was Klee’s palette which I strove mightily to match from my scraps. My second struggle was trying to interpret the watercolor without copying it.
Finally, we were to choose a failed block, ugly dyed fabric, or the like to transform. One of Natalya’s examples was her piece shown at the start of this post. We had a good laugh at the choices made. Lots of dyeing goes wrong, apparently. I chose some cotton with yellow and red dye splotches that I had screen printed over with yucky results. I then started laying ripped up loosely woven old linen scraps on top followed by silk organza scraps. We are to work on this piece on our own.
Class wrapped up with a review of different ways to finish textile art work. Natalya does no binding and little facing. She often glues her smaller work to canvas with matte medium and then finishes the canvas sides with paint. This type of presentation, along with mounting in deep frames, elevates work from sewn together scraps.
Right now I have mixed feelings about the class. I appreciate the different ways I learned to create with scraps and take advantage of scrap qualities such as their “hairiness” (i.e., raveled edges.) The videos shown of Natalya creating work were informative. On the minus side, I had a hard time creating quickly with no advance directions as to subject and materials needed. For example, the course description could have said, you will create samples in single colorways, interpret a work by your favorite artist, etc. I need time to gather my thoughts and materials, and typically we were told what the next assignment was in the last half of each session. We began work during the Zoom session, but I barely had time to gather my thoughts and start grabbing materials. I asked for more advance notice, but received little guidance. I guess part of the class was about improvisation. I think this class would be better in person so students could interact with Natalya and fellow students as they worked.
Natalya is folding this class into her Innovative Repurposing Community, so it is no longer available as a stand alone course.
The upshot is I now have more hand stitching projects to work on, and a different perspective on what constitutes a scrap to save.
I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.
Filed under collage, Commentary, Techniques
Tagged as Hand stitching, Natalya Khorover, reuse, scraps, Textural Style, workshops