Fossil Strata (2008) 23" x 23" The top layer here is a damask napkin, dyed gray and sewn over scissors, pins and sewing machine parts. My thought was: if thousands of years from now, archaeologists dug up my sewing room, what would they find? What would it look like? My art presents sewing notions as fossilized items (why are our tools called 'notions'? Notions can mean small useful items, or whims, wishes, fancies. Why can't they be TOOLS?). Anyhow.....
As I was saying, as I was 'fossilizing' these tools, I got it in my head that if fossils were such an important element in my art, I should actually SEE more fossils. Of course I'd been to museums, but I wanted to go behind the dioramas and cases, and see how scientists deal with fossils. A friend of a friend introduced me to someone who worked at a big museum, and he invited me to come visit. Now, this very nice man didn't actually work with bones...he worked with insects at the museum. I'm not the world's biggest fan of bugs. But....I went. And I saw the cases, the Schmidt boxes of bugs-on-a-pin, the stacks of materials waiting to be cleaned and studied.
And there was a mason jar, with small vials in it (on the right). The vials held 'soft-bodied specimens' in liquid, and the vials were stored in the liquid of the mason jar, so there was absolutely no danger of them drying out. This one just stuck in my head.
A few weeks later, I bought a big box of old mason jars, with glass lids. And I made my own display of Soft Bodied Specimens:
The lids are resting on a bed of cotton in a shallow tray. Each lid covers a specimen of embroidery or crochet.
Soft Bodied Specimens #2, with crochet and lace.
Soft Bodied Specimens #3. The background cloth has the names of various types of lace, while each lid covers a lace specimen. And this one has small plastic vials containing tiny bits of lace and crochet.
A couple of years later, I was putting together a show at a small local museum. The director wondered if I might be interested in creating a show combining my textile art with their large clothing collection. What I heard was "wanna play with our collection?" Oh, god, YES! Which is how the show Closet Archaeology (a future posting) came about at the Hermitage Museum in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. One of the items in their collection was a corset from the 1700's:
All hand sewn; such a wonderful piece of art, with that amazing shape. Even if it was meant to tightly restrain women. So.....I went into my collection of old corsets and girdles, and my mason jars, and created a series of Preserves:
Stuffing those torture devices into glass jars was great fun......
In my next post, I'll show you my current adventures actually digging for fossils.