Nymph

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_10_1

Nymph
Original digitally printed cotton from leaf photographs, cotton, corduroy, interfacing, reed.
Size small dress © Allison Green 2013.

The second piece in the Time Flies Collection, this dress shows the burgeoning juvenile insect. It is designed after the dragonfly nymph.

See how it was constructed, and the other items in the series: Nascent, Nubile, and Nesting.
Exhibited with Foundation at the Saint John Arts Centre, Saint John, NB.
Pricing available upon request.

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_55_1

Steely growth.

A couple of weeks back I completed a set of thin, elegant quilts. They were an experiment in a number of different techniques, mainly the idea of letting the stitches do the talking. I started out by dyeing my silk with a mottled silvery colour. Using two pictures of a transformer tower taken in uptown Fredericton, I traced the image on with disappearing ink.
Electric Trees Quilts Inspiration - Allison Green_1I then stitched over the lines, mostly with shades of purple. The plan was to use dense zigzag stitches as a sort of satin stitch for the really heavy lines. After I had started I just didn’t think it would look right on the whole piece. Perhaps in the future when some kind soul gifts me an embroidery machine (hint hint).
Electric Trees Quilts - Allison Green 9Instead I did some experiments in painting after it was quilted. I knew I didn’t want to put anything on there that would run with water or humidity, because that would make the piece a pain to care for. I discovered that black ink with a little textile medium could be gingerly painted on and then be washed without incident. Eureka!
Electric Trees Quilts - Allison Green_3(Look familiar? I used a similar photo for Astral Ink)

One problem I ran into was that the disappearing ink did not want to disappear when dabbed with water. I think the difference is that I usually immerse my silk paintings and soap them up good. I didn’t want to dunk the entire quilt so I just wet it out with a cloth until the blue finally stayed away. Anyone have experience with the kind of marker that goes away with air and time alone?
Electric Trees Quilts Inspiration - Allison Green_4Some minor tribulations, but I learned a lot and I really like the outcome here. I am especially fond of how the ink looks when painted in stripes one on top of the other (see bottom right). I find it reminiscent of metal.
Electric Trees Quilts - Allison Green_1For simplicity’s sake I tried binding the quilts by rolling the backing over the edge and stitching in place. I actually found it much more difficult than using bias binding from a separate cloth. Because of the way the cloth draws in when quilted, it effectively gathered my backing fabric in certain areas. The effect is nice but it was not the timesaver I was hoping for.
Electric Trees Quilt Back - Allison GreenMy favourite is the full length Electric Tree on the left because it required almost no ink to get the point across.
Electric Trees Quilt - Allison GreenReally they are a pair and meant to be consumed as such. I think the up-the-skirt view on the right gains a lot by being partnered. Its content is more obvious by association.

These guys are each 12″ x 24″, and are up for sale through M&T Deli.

Silk circuit.

Brings to mind passages of long past, the Asian silk routes, the all-important trade of goods and philosophies. The mingling of cultures and languages through commerce. The vast reduction in perceived world-size.

We have new circuits today, filled with electricity and numbers. Commerce by wire. The mingling of cultures through shared information. Our world has shrunk to the width of a fibre op cable.

What I have in mind brings these eras closer together. Circuits in silk.

I am beginning a series of painted quilts. They will be both a continuation and a departure from my previous quilts (The Crossing, Here Be Monsters, The Point, Written Communication).

For a time I am specializing on the idea of the engineered, the man-made, the angular and structural. How these designs still manage to resemble the organic. Where will I start? Silk circuits.

1 - circuit engineering good

Silk painting has me thinking about pooling colour, perceived ridges. It works on the principals of resistance and dispersal. Notice these qualities in the composite above. Notice these qualities in electricity itself.

Today I am researching. Like a circuit, I work best with information in my mind. More connections make themselves apparent. I am looking here, and here, and here. I have learned that circuits are often etched into copper using a silk screened resist. How curious.

I am sampling, testing the contours of the medium. Dye does not like to follow straight lines in the silk. Like any good mistress, it will require wooing and trickery.

Structuralism

struc·tur·al·ism

  • A method of interpretation and analysis of aspects of human cognition, behavior, culture, and experience that focuses on relationships of contrast between elements in a conceptual system that reflect patterns underlying a superficial diversity
  • The doctrine that structure is more important than function
© Allison Green
© Allison Green

Stone-faced.

We took off on our second trip to another of the NB Nature Preserves on Saturday morning. We had made a number of attempts to reach Sugar Island, but couldn’t seem to find the road that was supposed to lead us there. In fact, at the end of the road where we expected to find the turn-off, we instead found the driveway of a very disgruntled homeowner. And so we quit chasing after that one.
Instead, we set off to the Minister’s Face Preserve,  just outside Saint John, NB. This trip was arranged by my school and the NB Nature Trust, so there were a number of us that went. I’d say around twenty, counting the Trust volunteers and guides and their children. We were also accompanied by a musician and what I guess I would call his producer. They filmed a takeaway show at the preserve.
This place was really cool. You can only reach the island by boat, and it is quite sizeable once you get there. It is not entirely owned by the Trust. There were several little cabins along its coast, which made me drool over the woodsman lifestyle. What is part of the Preserve has marked trails which made it a little easier to dig our way around.
We started off by piling into an old fishing boat. It was about an hour’s ride to the island. The view was pretty intense, between the little wooded mountains and the glassy water.
It took about an hour before we were approaching the island. We came around the corner and suddenly the preserve’s namesake was in view. A massive sheer rock wall, granite rising straight up out of the water. It had a massive crack right through the middle of it, and a whole host of intrepid hover-trees.
We came around to this beached area where we were supposed to dock. Unfortunately the dock was gone or never there at all (it was a matter of some contention), so we had to continue on in search of a way to shore.
A little further on we met a private dock outside a little cabin. Desperate, we set down. They didn’t appear to be home, so we ducked ashore with all our gear and set out into the woods to try and meet up with our trails. On the way we ran into a vast array of moss and other plant life.
At the main trail we split into groups and went off in search of art, music, and new trails, respectively. The hike was probably one the most difficult I’ve been on, very steep in spots and wetlandish in others. Most of where we put our feet was sopping wood.
Really enthralling actually, you had to always be paying mind to your next step. The first trail we took led us to a little grove, perfect for chowing our sandwiches. There I saw my first lady slipper. And it was a white one, which I didn’t even know existed. Very solitary and beautiful.
We headed back down and took a side path which was to lead us to the very top of the island. On the way we met some pitcher plants. They were quite violently purple on the inside.
Just past that area we came to a stand of what I believe we were told was brush maple. They only had leaves right up at the top. Really haunting in comparison to the lush greenery right beside.
At the bottom of this hill was the first and only stream we saw, cut right into the valley. We headed straight up from there, I nearly fell out of my boots it was such steep going. Huffing and puffing we reached the top and met up with the trailblazer group.
While I had been hoping to reach closer to the outer cliff’s edge, this was certainly a sight. So high up, and right next to us was a massive drop off. We amused ourselves while we rested by throwing off rocks and waiting for the thump.
Then we trucked back through the paths, taking in a number of sights we had missed on the first go ’round, including man-sized ferns and gorgeous stumps. We ended up back on the dock, this time meeting the homeowner. He seemed not too perturbed, I think we’re probably a pretty wholesome-looking bunch. He simply sat on his porch and kept an eye out.
While we dipped our feet and waited for the boat, I snapped some pictures of this rust-eaten chain. Possibly my favourite capture of the bunch. As you may or may not have noticed I have a thing for oxidizing metal.
The boat was quite late. When it arrived it had been gunning its engines to try and make up the time and was steaming to high heavens. We heard him call in a rescue request, but eventually with much pouring of water they got it in forward motion. I was frankly shocked that we got off the island judging by the worried face on the captain. For all its faults, at least the boat was neat to look at.
After working the night before and the four-hour hike, I was mostly comatose at this point. The boat ride and drive home was sort of a blur. It was a really beautiful day, perfect weather, a healthy amount of exertion, good company, and great sights. My only regret was the efficiency with which we traversed the trails. I am one for slow-poking through nature, and I would love to spend a couple days in that place. I think that was a one-time trip though, it’s so secluded. So glad that we decided to go, I judge harshly all the kids at my school who chose to miss out.

Lending dimension.

Nothing pleases me like sewing. As much as I procrastinate with most things, when it comes time to sew, I am in there like a dirty shirt. This post will take you through part two of my painted bridge quilt. For part one see previous post. I powered through the machine quilting all in one day, but please, for the sake of your own sanity, allot more time than that.

For this stage you will need:

Painted cloth from previous step, thoroughly ironed
Garden variety sewing machine
Various matching or contrasting threads
Piece of backing fabric same size as painted piece
Piece of quilt batting same size or a little bigger
Spray-baste (or pins if you prefer)
Board or canvas
Staples and staple gun
Wire and nails for hanging

Your painted piece is safe to handle now, don’t worry about smudging it. Get your batting, backing and spray baste and head outside.

The first step is to make your quilt sandwich. I decided to try out spray-baste with this project and found it worked really great. Was a little sticky but you could wash it out afterwards. You start by spraying all over your batting, then positioning your backing fabric. It is in theory re-positionable but try to get it on your first go because it buckles if you try to change it. Then you flip over and stick down your painted piece. Try not to smoosh the whole package too much as the spray when wet will compress it more permanently.
Let it dry for a couple minutes and head to your sewing machine. I think I had my stitch size set at 3 but pick something that looks good to you. With your painting facing up, you are just going to trace each of the areas of colour. You can be as detailed as you like, or not. I went off the lines quite a bit to begin with and I think it just added to the sketched quality, so don’t be too too careful.
I started in the middle with the bigger lines and worked my way out to each side. This tacks your batting into place really well so you don’t get any folds. Then I went back and did all the fine detail work. Working this way also means you are feeling like a pro by the time you get to the fine work. When I got to the VERY fine area in the middle of my piece I balled up the rest of the quilt with elastics so I could work freely without fighting the excess fabric.
I used thick dark brown thread for most of the lines, dark red for the rust-coloured areas, and on the railings a soft purple thread designed for jeans. I used a rust colour for my bobbin thread to make it even on the back. I think the more thread colours you used, the better this would look, so go nuts.
I did a fair amount of hand-embroidery after the fact, to outline the little people and do the loose crosses in the rafters. You could skip that part if you wanted to. The next time I try a piece like this I would like to do quite a bit more hand-embroidery. I think it finishes it off nicely. You could even do the whole thing that way.
Here it is all quilted. I love the way it bumps out all the different elements. I think you could take this even further with trapunto (a sort of selective stuffing method) or a double layer of batting. You could hang it just like this or use it as a centerpiece for a larger quilt.
I chose to mount it on a piece of MDF since it will be sold alongside paintings. I laid the piece face-down and put the board on top. Then I temporarily taped around the edges and flipped it over. I wiggled it around until centered, then flipped back over and stapled it profusely. I stretched it a little so it would hug the board, but not so much that I skewed the image or flattened the batting. Then I put a couple nails into the back and wrapped each end of a wire around them for hanging. It came out to 32″ x 16″.
Very important: Always sign and date your work on the back. I also stitch-signed mine with a free-motion foot, you can see it peeking around the bottom right edge.
Here is the picture I was working with for comparision:
Let me know if you make something along similar lines, I would love to see the outcome! It really is so simple, just a little time-consuming. But isn’t that the way with anything worth doing?

I’m unabashedly happy with how it turned out, haha. Can’t wait to make another one, and I am going to have the chance real soon! The last week of this month I am going to be making art in the window of the M&T Deli (Queen St, Fredericton), for the same people who put on this auction. I think it’s going to be a real experience.

I’m going to play with this sort of subject matter a little more too. I like the idea of “softening” industry. Now more than ever we are trying to marry technology with humanity. We have seen the vulgar results when these two areas are left to their own devices. For me, representing this relationship in cloth is a no-brainer.

The makings of rust.

You lovely folk have helped me to choose the Train Bridge photograph for my auction textile. I was so impressed by voter turn-out, thanks a ton! I’ve re-coloured it a little, and given it symmetry. While I enjoyed the bluish twilight tinge, it took away the rust colour that I love.

I’ve printed it off in sections to 32×16, which I will now stick to cardboard. Then I’ll x-acto out each little piece of bridge to use as pattern for cutting the cloth.

I was going to use fabric I had around the house, but looking at the lovely colour variation in the wood and metal I realized it should really be hand-dyed. Fabricville was having a great sale yesterday so I slipped out and bought a collection of dyeable neutrals. Cotton, linen, canvas, muslin. Natural materials feel so nice on the skin.

Since my favourite thing about that bridge is its rusty rusty surface, I’ve been thinking I’d try to dye its rafters with actual rust. Been checking out some different tutorials. This one looks real promising if I can find the ferrous sulfate. Her shibori is beautiful, I love the blue/grey iron variant:

Artstitches: Rust Solution Dyeing Tutorial.

Today I went to the college for a little while. I was talking to the co-ordinator for the Nature Trust exhibit we are having in October. They’ve decided the title will be Nature of Art/Art of Nature. And apparently it will be held at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John (that’s a big deal!!) and then coming here to Fredericton. I’ve been getting ideas in my sleep for this project, something along the lines of a multi-tiered puzzle (could I be more vague?).

We can pay to use our school’s amenities during the summer, how cool is that? I took pictures of my 3D work from this year in the little photo studio, so I’ll be able to take you on a walk-through of some of my final projects in the coming days.

Alright, I’m off to spend the day in the sun and the evening in a pile of cloth!