Years ago, I had a residency at Peter’s Valley, where I met Marisa DiPaolo. Our textile art is very different. But we both have a strong obsessive streak, an addiction to pushing the materials and methods far beyond common sense. Marisa was tying strands of Easter basket grass (that flimsy green stuff under the eggs and candy) so she could knit it. I was cutting up vintage drying racks to create moveable frames for my printed cloth. We kept jokingly pushing each other - “are you sure that isn’t too simple?”
Well, just in case my tapestries so far have been too simple, I’m going to have an Opus Angelicanum-style center for my next piece. Which means…..
..instead of my outlined images, like these (above) from my Marginalia Tapestry….
…I’ll stitch in the entire piece. The faces will be worked in swirls of stitches (like the one above) to contour the faces. I’m aiming for faces like these (below):
There’s no way I’ll achieve the perfection of those masterpieces, but we’ll see how close (or far) I get. Before I begin sewing, there’s a lot of research to do. Can I still use Spoonflower’s basic cotton, or will I need something stronger? I refuse to do this with silk thread (oh, the tangles! the knotting! please god, no!) but will my cotton floss be good enough? And I need to practice some of those more complicated stitches.
In Opus Angelicanum pieces, the background was done in one of two ways:
The image was stitched to linen, cut out and then sewn onto a rich background, like red velvet. In the example above, the velvet nap has worn away. Some of the stitches have also worn away, showing the red underneath.