The idea of a waterlily.

My time at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design is winding down. I’ve spent the last four years there: working, playing, becoming. It took me in, an emotional wreck, and spit me out a productive, contributing member of the community. Not to mention happy.

As a sort of homage, my first piece in our Graduate Studies show explores the idea of creativity. How we build it inside of us, like a little embryo. Not alone though, with lots of help from people who have practice.

A Green [Artist] Lily Pattern Design 3D Print

This piece began life as a 3D model, then was printed in plastic. To make a pattern for the full-size textile version, I covered one of the petals with masking tape to steal the form, then blew up the resulting shape.

A Green [Artist] Lily Flower Petals Pattern Sewing

The petals were all sewn up in digitally printed cotton (see Nymph for details)

A Green [Artist] Waterlily Centerpiece Cutaway Sculpture Petals

They were then attached together. When it came time to make the center, I photographed the 3D model and blew it up to the correct proportions…

A Green [Artist] Lily Petals Stamen Design

…and made a flat pattern by tracing it, adding a couple inches for shrinkage, and coating the whole thing in packing tape (my favourite).A Green [Artist] Lily Stamen Felt Flat Pattern

This protects it from the water when wet felting, so it doesn’t all fall apart before you get it sorted.

A Green [Artist] Lily Flower Felt Stamen Rain

Wet felting outside on a rainy day seemed appropriate. You end up soaked anyway. Wool was added to both sides of the flat pattern so that it acts as a resist. When finished you get this:

A Green [Artist] Stamen Felt Vessel

When the felting was finished, the resulting vessel was dyed with acid wash dyes. While it was drying I blew up a balloon in there to produce the rounded shape.

The flower itself is inspired by the water lily. Our college sits right along the river, and our culture is greatly influenced by that connection.

A Green [Artist] Waterlily Flower Idea Cutaway Centerpiece Sculpture

Inside is a tiny green Marimo moss ball in his aquatic terrarium. You may remember these guys from Nesting.

Around him are the protective and encouraging petals of my teachers and fellow students. He is the little embryo, the idea inside the lightbulb. For him this piece is named, Idea.

If you would like to meet him in person stop by the Graduate Studies show, Super Bees. It’s opening 5-7pm on Friday the 13th in The Gallery at NBCCD. Look forward to seeing you there!

Nymph.

Dragonfly Larva Scan_2

I have to say this one is my favourite. It went along swimmingly at every stage. My first step was to draw the dress design, then create a life-size paper mock-up. You can see them side by side:

Nymph Process Allison Green_8

The next step was to make this into a pattern. I chopped up the mock-up and recreated it with layers of cotton and interfacing.

Nymph Process Allison Green_2

But I didn’t use just any cotton. These patterns I digitally designed using close-up scans of leaves. The day they arrived from Spoonflower and I opened up the package: magical.

Nymph Process Allison Green_3

The next piece in the collection is Nymph, the juvenile insect. It is very closely inspired by the stunning patterns of the dragonfly larva, as seen in the charming book “Zoom in on Nature”:

Each piece of the carapace is separate and self-contained, so that they overlap like armour. Once they were all machine stitched into plates I pinned them on the dressform using my meticulous photo-records:

Nymph Process Allison Green_4
Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_55_1

I hand sewed them all to each other. It was at this point I realized two things: I am really glad I didn’t make this out of stiffer cloth, and I really really need to buy a thimble. Stabbed fingers aside, I love the control of hand sewing, and it went along a lot quicker than I had imagined. I wouldn’t begin to know how to accomplish this on a machine.

If you didn’t get to see this lovely lady in Saint John, she will be making an appearance in Fredericton! I have the luck of taking part in the bi-annual show for the Textile Dept. at the NB College of Craft and Design. A lot of really incredible designers come out of there every year, you don’t want to miss it. Check out the last one if you don’t believe me!

Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_10_1

See you at the opening in The Gallery at NBCCD tomorrow evening (Feb 6) at 4:30 – 6pm.

Nascent.

Moving back in time now to my last exhibition, “Foundation” at the Saint John Arts Centre. It was so exciting to share space again with the interns I spent so much time with at Sculpture Saint John. They had a lot of excellent work. One lovely artist, Alison Gayton, brought sculptures she created on a learning vacation Italy. You can check out the amazing story over at I Love Saint John Pottery.Others Foundation Panorama_2

As promised, I’d like to take you through the story of my work in the show. I am intrigued by lifecycles. I think it’s incredible the commonalities between different organisms when you really get looking close. These works explore the insect lifecycle, as it relates to us. You can read more about the concept in this post.Panorama in Situ my side_2

The first piece is Nascent, inspired by insect eggs. The idea came to me staring up at a tree in Odell Park one night. In the dark each leaf cluster looked like a cluster of eggs.
Insect Lifecycle Design Nascent - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus_0001

It started with a tree, and then went horribly awry.
Nascent Process Allison Green_3

As you can see, the bowl shattered under the weight. But it was a good thing after all because then I found this bowl:
Nascent Process Allison Green

But then, of course, my tree died. I was sad, I get attached. That is okay too though, as I still had a canopy of my own to add:
Nascent Process Allison Green_2

My teacher commented that the geometric shapes give it a logical, human element, and I like that. Without the leaves the form became simplified, and the more I look at it, the more I am happy about that too.
Insect Lifecycle Sculptures_13_1

Walk like a Cretacean.

Somewhere along my journey I realized glee and wonder are not merely childish, but the mark of a well-nourished adult. In fact, the word “silly” originally meant happy or blessed. In our world of logic and profound detachment, this is a fact we would do well to remember.
Dinosaur dress process_7But fear not, it is plenty easy to turn up the wonder in your life. Paying attention, shutting up for a while in your head and just paying attention, that’s all it takes. Bright clothing helps too.
Dinosaur dress process_5In honour of silliness, and also dinosaurs (which fill me full of wonder every time), I have created a spring jumper. It started with a line sketch, and then a tesselation. These are very fun very meticulous patterns where all the negative space is filled with motif, no spaces between them. Think Escher with his birds and fish.

Then I sent it off to Spoonflower and they printed me a couple yards on cotton. Nothing more satisfying than having something you made on a computer arrive in the mail. Talk about the future.

I designed this little dress jumper, half inspired by Margaery’s dress, and half inspired by tattered caveman clothing.
Dinosaur dress process_1Mocked it up first, which I can’t recommend enough, especially in the case of special fabric. I’m not supposed to use pretty fabric on a sample but I couldn’t help myself. Everything was mostly okay but there were some changes to be made to the hip shape.

I sewed it all up with a co-ordinating cotton lining. It was a little tricky figuring out how to sew this up correctly. A lot of pinning and unpinning, and stogging of pieces inside other pieces. But it all came together nicely and I will never again forget how to line a jumper. If you need help let me know!
Dinosaur dress process_3Along the bottom I followed the line of the pattern to get that jaggedy caveman feel. Boning was fed in all along the collar so it would have some substance. The result is pretty pleasing and even a little joyous.

Photo credit: Drew Gilbert
Photo credit: Drew Gilbert

And, suprise! It’s completely reversible. The inside looks like one of them rocket pops from my childhood.

Photo credit: Drew Gilbert
Photo credit: Drew Gilbert

Spring fashion advice: find yourself a pretty dress, and don’t listen to anyone else’s idea of pretty.

Photo credit: Drew Gilbert
Photo credit: Drew Gilbert

But for the record, dinosaurs are the prettiest.

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.

Inkscape.

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. Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green

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.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_2I 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:
Astral Ink Inspiration - Allison Green_1It 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.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_9By 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.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_7Stitching 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.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_5I 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.
Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_3

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.
Astral Ink Fram - Allison Green

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.Astral Ink Quilt - Allison Green_8Thanks to everyone who came out this week, and to M&T Deli for again putting up with the whirring of my sewing machine.

Quiescent current.

I’ve come full circuit on this project (haha). From idea to action to rest. At least quilting feels like rest to me. It’s better than rest, because I have something to show for it.

I washed out the silk, very very thoroughly. The image became much clearer and the lines sharper. I did find that in places where the dye lapped up over the resist, it tinted the cloth underneath slightly. Part of learning the medium.
faces stolen 011 (1650x1238)I hummed, I hawed, and I sampled, but I put off quilting the piece for several days. Pinning seemed to put major holes in the silk, while binding with spray adhesive soaked through and stained the cloth (despite its bold claims to the contrary). I queried the internet and found some excellent advice here. I couldn’t find the thin fusible web that was suggested but I did discover some beautiful drapey interfacing at my school shop.
fusible interfacingI ironed it on, being careful to match the grain. I also stuck some heavy interfacing on the muslin backing to give me a little support and to help push the loft of the quilt toward the topside. Then I spray baste it all together with some extra fluffy polyester filling.
quilt sandwichIt quilted up like buttered muffins, or something equally lovely. None of that shifting and bunching that silk is so notorious for, yet somehow the interfacing was thin enough to look natural.
quilting in progressI nearly couldn’t stop. Thank goodness for deadlines. As is I stitched the poor thing to within an inch of its life. At first it was too “pillowy”, not nearly the structured look I was going for. With a little more time and thread it came together.
silk circuit_8 copyTo finish it off I bias bound the edges, using a method similar to the one described here. This was for aesthetic and also to protect the silk from the violence of my staple gun.
I arranged so that the back would still be visible. Oftentimes the back is my favourite view, I like it to be all one colour so you get an abstract view of your work. It seems almost like a secret piece you didn’t intend to make.
silk circuit_10 copyIt is now hanging for sale at the M&T Deli. I hope it finds a good home (although part of me hopes it will have to come back home with me). This one came out very much the way I had planned. Sometimes it has to go that way. Too often we arrive at the end and can’t see the beauty because it isn’t what we thought. We pick at the mistakes and distrust the compliments. But sometimes, as if in utopia, we love a project right from beginning to end.
silk circuit copy

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.

Here be monsters.

There have been many a thing on my plate as of late. To begin with I’d like to talk a little about my time at the M&T Deli. There I spent the last couple weeks sitting pretty in the window, picking away at a painted art quilt. It was a wonderful experience, and I even got fed delicious soups and sandwiches. Wish it were my day-job :)
I thought I would feel tension at being watched while at work, but on the contrary it relieved pressure. I was not tempted to become distracted, to have a nap, to stare blankly at the piece, waiting for inspiration to come.  I just kept plugging away with a smile on my face until the whole thing came together. There was plenty of people-watching to occupy that part of my brain which likes to blabber in my ear, and I met a lot of interesting and interested people. Someday I will find my very own downtown window studio.

I would have to say this is the largest piece I have every accomplished, 48 x 36″. I decided spur of the moment to create a giant map. I’ve always wanted a giant map, and I love pouring over old ones. I ran down to the Owl’s Nest book store, a trip which never disappoints, and picked up some books.

After some deliberation I chose an area in Cape Breton. I have a lot of roots there, but truly I chose the particular spot only because of the composition and the little islands to the right. I blew up the map with the photocopier, and believe me when I say this was the hardest part of the project. I can’t get on the computers at school again until next year, so I had to blow it up in a number of steps to get it as large as needed.

Once I had printed it off I followed essentially the same steps as my train bridge quilt. I transferred the photocopy onto cotton muslin:

Mixed my colours (inspired by another map in a very beautiful french map book, seen here ripped out mercilessly onto the floor):

Mixed with textile medium and painted onto the cloth:

Stuck with spray-baste to some extra-loft quilt batting (which I will forever use henceforth, despite the moderate price increase), and quilted with a variety of threads:

This is where the main differences lie with this project. While the train bridge piece was from a photo, and therefore required much less decision-making, the details of this piece are mostly from my head. It took me a little time to decide on a quilting scheme. It is also entirely curvilinear and thus I had to use the free-motion presser foot. This form of quilting was best described to me in a how-to video; it is just like drawing but you have to learn to move the paper, not the pencil. This was a bit daunting at first but I quickly came around and will never shy from curves again.

First I sewed a line around all of the landmasses. Then I began on the waves, only because I had an easier time deciding what to do with them. I made repetitive wave forms in a variety of directions, sizes, and colours, mostly trying not to overlap. I am most happy with how they turned out. This dense quilting had the effect of tamping down the batting where the water is so that the landmasses rise above it. And so very undulate-y.

I used quite a bit of metallic thread to make the water sparkle. I found out very quickly that a special needle is necessary. Not sure exactly what it was that I used but it had a groove all the way up and a decent hole. This put an end to all the breakage.

I decided to split up the land along intuitive lines that vaguely followed the splotches of colour. This protected the raised quality of the land but added some interest.

At this point I had finished the quilting and flipped the piece over to take some extra stuffing.  I put little slits in some of the land segments and squished in some fiberfill. A sort of barbaric trapunto.

This makes for little mountains of land when the whole thing is stapled onto MDF. If I had it to do over though I would rub glue over the entire back of the quilt so that the water would stay totally flat. Very pleased with the outcome at any rate.

I thought I would be finished here but looking at the piece I felt it lacked a narrative element. The boy had recommended giant squid and I now thought more seriously about the idea. I love the old maps with their pictorial warnings.

I made little sepia ink drawings on muslin and sewed them on here and there. The piece may have benefited from additional little drawings but I thought it looked crowded when I tested them out. I didn’t want them to be the entire focus. I was originally going to apply them as a folded-edge appliqué but time was running thin and they were looking a little too prominent. So I cut them right to the edge and whipstitched them on with transparent nylon thread (my best friend).

I love the fray around the edge, and how they lie completely flat. The boy commented that it seemed like the map had been made first and then as monsters were discovered they were tacked on in the appropriate places. I like the idea of a map as a work in progress.

In my first day of art history we made a map of our initial understanding of the subject. One could as easily make a map of their internal environment, or their life experiences. You could tack on little drawings as events occurred, or sew on whole new continents as time passed. I think I might start one today.