Friday, July 15, 2011

No crewel this Friday

Sometimes a project just takes over and when it goes well and comes together it's a joy.
This pieced named itself Remembrance about half-way through.  It began in early June. We were at the cemetery, after Memorial Day and after some storms.  The "silk" flowers placed on many of the graves had blown over, been wind and water swept and many had also been mowed over by groundskeepers.

As we moved from place to place (we have a lot of people to visit at this cemetery), I noticed silk petals and fragments among the grass--bits of pink, yellow and blue. And I began picking them up. By the time we left I had a small collection of fabric petals.

After a bit of a wash I contemplated what to do with them. I'd been wanting to experiment with running stitch and quilting, similar to Kantha from India, and I've been inspired by Jude's whispering. I pinned them to an old hand towel with a knit lace edging but decided I wanted more layers and the towel shape just didn't feel right, so put them away again. I liked the idea of a sheer fabric over the flowers.

A couple of weeks ago I wanted some silk for avocado dyeing so I went over to Vogue Fabrics. I thought I might find a sheer there, too.  I found my silk but their sheers were all polyester and nylon. I always browse their remnants bin and I found a cotton lawn lurking in there (maybe batiste or voile...I can't tell)--not quite a sheer as I'd been thinking but I really liked it's softness.  In the same bin was some pale green flannel--the perfect background. Both remnants were quite large, so no struggling to fit the size.

My washed remnant pieces sat there, in my way, for a couple of weeks until I chose a general size and hacked off a couple of pieces that would fit and put the rest away. (Actually, the rest of the green flannel is on it's way to becoming a baby blanket with a crochet edging).

I spent some time laying my flower bits onto the flannel--it's slight nap held them nicely in place. I was looking for a general size and shape, thinking about stitching patterns and finishing. Suddenly, I realized a Gothic arch would be the perfect shape for what I was trying to do. I cut one from paper for a pattern and traced it onto both of my fabrics.  I arranged the flowers one last time, added the lawn on top and pinned it with many pins.  I decided that my running stitches would mimic the arch. I wasn't sure how to begin the thread so I just left the end dangle while I began to stitch, figuring I'd end it later. But I decided I liked the dangling thread, so I left all the ends to dangle.  I'm going to add clear beads to the threads.

The stitching took only a few hours and the flowers, only dimly seen before the quilting, became more clear (they are really visible when the fabric is damp but I decided not to experiment with mediums or sprays that would perhaps keep that wet effect). 

I cut a piece of foam core to shape and have taped the fabric to it.  It needs a better finish along with the beads. I plan to pin it along the edges of the foamcore to stabilize the embroidery on the backing and then I can trim, stitch and lace the fabric to the foamcore. 

I'm not sure if I'll cut a second piece of foamcore or cardboard and cover it, stitch it to the back and apply an edging or if I'll stitch a cloth backing over the laced piece--I rather like the soft edge it has now so the latter is my current preference.  I also need to consider what sort of hanging device I'll add to the back.

So, it's not quite done. For me, however, this piece came together quickly--it was so nice how things seemed to fall into place without the usual experiments, ripping and struggles.


Rachel said...

It's always pleasing when a project comes together easily. You might have to be a bit careful with backing it, perhaps add a layer of padding underneath the cloth backing to give it some body and resilience.

Jenny Woolf said...

It looks like a wonderful, subtle piece.

Anonymous said...

That's come together so well - it's subtle and dreamy. You might like to have a look at the textile art of Susan Lenz - she does amazing things with cemetery dumpster flowers!