Friday, June 1, 2012

Setting it on fire

I've been asked to be the guest artist this month on a blog that you may be aware of -- ...And Then We Set It On Fire.  

This blog has a half-dozen fulltime participants who have agreed to learn and play with a new technique of fiber art every month.  The official definition of their scope is kind of broad: "dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques.  First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, smooch, fuse, slice, dice, and then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools." 

Recently the group has taken to inviting a guest artist each month to teach a new technique.  In the last couple of months they've learned monoprinting from Rebekah Meier and improvisational piecing from Rayna Gillman.  I'm honored to be their guest in June.

Here's what I'm telling the group in my initial post this morning:

Although I have tried dyeing, overdyeing, painting, resisting, silkscreening, stamping, fusing, and heat tools at one time or another, none of them have earned a permanent place in my repertoire.  But then I found "slice" and "stitch" in your list, and felt more confident.  Those two techniques pretty much make up my current body of work.  I slice fabric apart, piece in a very thin line of contrast fabric, and stitch it back together again.

But will they work for you?  Maybe better than we think at first glance, and here's why:

During my surface design years I found myself in possession of yards and yards of fabric that looked absolutely wonderful, but I had a hard time figuring out what to do with them.  Didn't want to cut them up into little pieces because I would lose the lovely designs.  But simply quilting them whole-cloth, or suspending them to flutter in the breeze didn't seem to be enough to transform them from yardage into works of art.

In thinking about how I might provide you with inspiration, I realize thar maybe my slice and stitch techniques would be a good solution to that beautiful-cloth problem.  Perhaps by insetting a network of lines you can add a new dimension to something you already have produced.

I've been reading this blog for some time and have been fascinated by the sheer volume of surface-designed fabrics that the participants are making.  I know they all have plenty of stuff in a pile somewhere they can use in piecing experiments, and I'm curious to see what they'll come up with.  You can visit the blog to follow along, and I'll let you know at the end of the month how it turns out.

Here's an example of a quilt that I made using this technique, adding fine lines to two beautiful fabrics -- a screen print by Shelley Brenner Baird and a hand-dye from my own stash.

Fault Lines 5, 2011

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