Friday, April 10, 2009

In the Studio

So, what’s happening in my studio today? I’ve been gradually sewing down the different sections of the Cement Works piece I started a couple of weeks ago. Last time I posted I had just begun to block it out on the design wall, having chosen which design and which colour scheme after much playing with sketches and piles of fabric lying around on the floor. For some reason I always find the fabric needs to be on the floor for me to decide what works best!!! somebody commented on the number of sketches I do, it’s because
a) I find I like to live with the idea for a while, getting used to what’s interesting and what’s not
b) I like a lot of choices! I like to brain storm and feel perfectly free to do that with no one waving deadlines at me – after all I left the university to get away from that!!!
c) it’s better to discover that a design is weak when it’s still in the sketch stage – I’ve had too many attempts in cloth that have ended up in the rag bag at the thrift store…now I take my time before beginning the actual piece.


The Wall of Ideas

It’s the same with the colour scheme. I’ll get ideas in the night and scribble them down on a piece of paper. Though I’ve not yet thought this might be the secret to the universe! Remember the man who thought he had the secret when he dreamed at night, so he went to bed with paper and pencil to write the Great Thought down? In the morning, in scratchy writing he read: “Higamus, hogamus woman is monogamous, Hogamus, Higamus, man is polygamous!” (old psych joke!) So often those night ideas are so much Hogamus!!! Last night I thought “aha! the onion fabric with dark red..” AND I got a great title: Onion Towers! So now I have two titles, and no sketches at all, for the next two pieces. But, you know that’s often how it begins. I remember the Beatles would snatch titles from things in their everyday lives: George Harrison opened a romantic novel and read the words “Gently Weeps” and from that wrote a lovely piece. And the famous “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” came from a child’s description of a painting.

So what is happening in the studio today? I continued to block out the Cement Towers:

IMG_1196 IMG_1202 IMG_1222
As you can see I add, I take away, I add something different, I take that away! all the time I’m working from the sketch, following the values, and taking fabric from the chosen colour scheme. I don’t make templates usually, prefer to simply grid up the elements as one does with a painting. Either method is fine – I think you should use the construction methods you’re most familiar with. I like maps and grids, so visualizing a larger thing from a small sketch on gridded paper is natural for me.

Once I’ve got the different bits all pinned on, I definitely do run a several day quality control check on the piece…looking at it as critically as I can, sneaking up on it, photographing it, bringing in any passing folk to see what they think, etc!


So here I am all pinned together and beginning a narrow satin stitch in a matching colour all round every piece….and all those yellow triangles were a pain!!! but I say to myself: “do 6, then you get a cup of tea!” And that usually works….if anyone has a better method – please let me know!!!

Yes, that’s a cat, (not a rat!), outside the window. This monster likes to live in the fabric stash! sometimes I’m peering in to find a certain colour and there are these green-gold eyes staring at me!!!IMG_1225

You can get some wonderful ideas for abstract pieces coming in with a close up!!! Isn’t this a neat composition? I’ll have to print it, and put it on The Wall of Ideas (see above) for further consideration. Here you can see some elements satin stitched down, others still just pinned. I do make all my own fabric – there’s some arashi shibori here on the left, the black/white green is double screen printed, the yellow is a clamp shibori, and the silk organza overlay is a low water immersion bath.

And now, I’d best get back to those yellow triangles! After all, I’m ready for a nice cup of tea!!
If you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth


Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

I have been following your blog for some time and am so happy you are sharing some of your techniques and your sewing. Do you ever fuse? Seems to me that would be helpful for some of your construction.

No help on the triangles, sometimes we just have to do the tedious tasks along with the more spectacular.

Thank you again.

Elizabeth Barton said...

no, don't believe in it!!! e

Tangled Stitch said...

It's wonderful so far. Can't wait to see it appear before our very eyes!