For the past couple of weeks I've been working non-stop on constructing the table runner and hand stitching details on it. I abandoned you all for a while but there wasn't much to say except I was stitching and sewing together the table runner.
Before I show you images of the stitching and the finished work, I want to show the work of a couple of textile artist's that I find very inspiring and beautiful.
Some of the techniques are very interesting and I have tried them in the process of designing this work, and some I just find inspiring for no particular reason.
Either way, these and other images have influenced my work in different ways and I thought I would share them with you.
Now to the point:
After printing and doing some trial embroidery and stitching I started working on the final piece. Sometimes it can be hard for me to take that step and start working. I get carried way with the sampling process and it's difficult to know when to stop and work on the actual piece. During sampling many new ideas turn up, which is good most of the time, but it can also be a distraction from what you had in mind in the first place. I tried embroidery the way I've always done it... but it didn't quite work for me so I looked at some other techniques which I wanted to try for a long time and were relevant to the project. Quilting was one of those techniques. I had never done any quilting before and wanted to give it a go. I just love the texture you can get from stitching layers of fabric and wadding together. Screen printing can be very flat and the work needed some volume and texture. As a quilting beginner, my technique is far from perfect but to tell you the truth I like my naive stitching combined with the printed pattern. It definitely suited the concept and represented the ideas behind the work perfectly.
I also researched a particular quilting technique where objects are inserted between the fabrics and held together by stitching around very close to the object.
Since I didn't want to introduce too many concepts, styles or shapes to the piece, I chose metal and wooden rings in two sizes, continuing with the circle motifs that represent the production at the mills as well as the “cyclic” relationship between the inhabitants of Wangaratta and the two textile factories.
From one of my initial croquis (representing the heddles of the Jacquard looms at Bruck), I hand painted, pleated and stitched at both ends of the table runner to show the motion of the heddles. I also cut and attached 4 stripes of the printed fabric and placed it between pleats to signify other production processes at the mills. The rest of the croquis and concepts were translated into stitches throughout the piece.
To sum up, each end of the table runner represents one of the mills and their production, and the central panel represents the city. The central panel’s rectangles signify the people of Wangaratta and the city itself, and their connection to the mills is represented by the circular motifs (warp rolls) scattered through the panel and “touching” almost every rectangle. The table runner is 3m long by 56cm wide. I am including separate images of details.
I am pretty happy with the final result. The work is visually quite minimalistic, simple and clean and I believe tells the textile story of Wangaratta…
I want to thank Wangaratta City Council, Wangaratta Gallery, Craft Victoria and Culture Victoria for this wonderful project. Chris, Justine, Eleanor, Rita, and everyone else involved. Thanks to Susan Mathews for her comments on my work and for her fantastic posts and work. Thanks also to Julia Raath, Ilka White, Rachel Halton, Libby Noblet andDouglas McManus at RMIT for their help. It has been a fantastic experience full of historical, personal and technical discoveries... I hope you all enjoyed it.