Whoever said you need to relax over March break has never spent any time in the window of M&T Deli. A week on a sidewalk in the sun, getting comfy with a space heater and dye all over my hands; that was the only refresher I needed. I love the waving patrons and the confused children. “Why is she up there Mommy? Is she famous?” They really know how to make a girl feel special.
Not famous just yet, but really starting to get a feel for my art, and that’s even better. I began the week cross-legged on the floor with a huge silk painting. I was concerned it wouldn’t fit (and really it just barely did). The painting had to be almost a foot larger than the 4′ x 3′ mounted piece, just to accommodate the stitchwork and to wrap it around the frame.
I wanted a curvilinear composition this time around to work on my free-motion quilting chops. I came up with the design by messing around in Illustrator with this photo of ink and textile medium:
It made me think of space, and the fluidity of time. It made me think of eclipses and magnetism. I ran with that concept. And after all, hasn’t space been on everyone’s mind? Hats off to Chris Hadfield and that stealthy Russian meteor.
By Wednesday I had finished painting, and with a little salt for texture, I dried out and steamed the piece. Steaming really sets those Procion dyes into the silk. Then it can be washed out to see what the colours really look like. I was pleasantly surprised that my black came out a purpley tone.
Stitching went along remarkably quickly, considering I am a notoriously slow poke. With Silk Circuit, I had to lift my presser foot to go around corners. With free-motion sewing, you use a presser foot that allows your cloth to move to and fro. You don’t have to stop until you run out of string. In fact, the faster you go the smoother your curves are. I try to concentrate on my breath and let the hands do the work. Pay too much attention and your randomized stitchwork starts looking too orderly.
I used this surreal design as a chance to try out a bunch of different stitching patterns. Stippling for the dark green of space, circles for the red planet, squiggled lines for jupiter and the moon. My favourite of the bunch would be the “ripples in liquid” look for the purple area below. I think this technique has real potential for clothing.
I decided to build my own frame this time around. It was a whole half as cheap as buying a prefab canvas, and this purchase included a bunch of tools and glue that I will only have to buy once. My mitred corners weren’t what you would call perfect but it’s a whole lot sturdier than the store-bought variety.
The completed “Astral Ink” is hanging happily in the window, to find its temporary home inside the restaurant very soon. It will be available there for viewing or purchase. I am also now accepting commissions for custom quilts.Thanks to everyone who came out this week, and to M&T Deli for again putting up with the whirring of my sewing machine.