Culture Victoria

Following the Thread

By Susan Mathews Posted Under Wangaratta Textile Project

Well, I was full of good intentions..... A funny thing happens when there is no deadline any more. I imagine that this occurs in the case of many artists, not just me, but I'm so much less focused and easily distracted when there is no timeline. I have had a very  busy year to date and had started to be more relaxed about work but now I have a good exhibition offer for Dec/Jan and that has got me going again. Getting around to blogging is even harder so apologies for the big time delay between posts.


I am working on the jacquard wires idea that I have posted about before where I am sewing very close rows of stitching in the pattern of the wires. See previous entry. I am learning a great deal in the process. Like, even when sewn en masse a thread which looks super contrasty to the fabric it is to be sewn on, when viewed as a few threads on top of the fabric can take on an entirely different appearance when you sew zillions of rows of stitching parallel to one another. Instead of increasing the punch, depending on the colour of the background fabric, it can look very watered down or just not at all  how you would have expected. Of course, you don't really find this out until you have sewn many rows!


The interesting thing is that it is a bit like painting on a wash of colour but the colours can mix in unexpected ways. I have sewn rows of bright orange thread on deep purple and they look bright pink. If you did this with paint you would have brown.  I've oversewn this with rows of turquoise which then created light purple which seemed logical.


I think the deepest colours are achieved, not surprisingly, when the background colour is related  to the thread.... mind you you don't probably want all the background that colour but a bit of reinforcment is good. See my photo of the green/blue pieced stitched with the jacquard wires pattern below. Having said that, I think that the piece I refer to works because the fabric is dyed in analagous colours and I have chosen one of those for the stitching. I am so far from figuring out "the rules" here.


Different lighting conditions give very different effects. I am using polyester threads which have a sheen and so the massed stitching can look different when viewed from various  angles which I find very attractive. It also follows that if the stitches are stitched in different directions, the light will reflect of them to create various shades of the colour.   Anyway, I am aiming to have three pieces which can be shown in conjunction with each other and in which most of these points will be evident.


Having sewn (over many days, including a very long unpicking session) my piece on purple fabric (pictured)  and being not particularly pleased with it, I have started a new one on a bright olivey green. I am using flouro pink thread which looks like a golden brown (pale) wash over the area I have sewn already. Need to unpick a few rows of that too so I'm held up at the moment. Normally I don't unpick much at all but mistakes show up really plainly in these pieces and can't really be ignored.


Have printed more of my time card slots lino print on strips of hand dyed fabric, also the jacquard wires linocut with  a view to creating something else. I think I originally printed these (only last week) to audition for strips between the warp roller end strips that I was looking at in my last post, but now as you can see I am confused!


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have launched into exploring another idea. I took a photo in the ACS shop of some wools stacked up in various colours and would like to use this as the basis for another piece.


SO....after stitching a design loosely based on balls of wool and being quite pleased with that, I have made a few lino cuts of the same design with slight variations and in two different sizes. More on that next time. As you see, the mind is going a lot faster than the hands can cope with, especially since I got a sewing machine needle stuck and broken off in my finger 10 days ago and had to have a little surgery to get it out! Not recommended but certainly not the first time for me. Beware of the foot pedal controlled needle and take your foot off the pedal when rethreading is the take away message.

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