Before we continue with the tablets, a quick visit back to early work:
Domestic Armor 67"h x 46"w)
Domestic Armor was inspired by a Japanese kesa*. In ancient Japan, people would donate silk kimonos to the monasteries. These would be cut and sewn to make patchwork garments called kesas. I liked the idea of a community combining used fabrics into one cloth. Over several years, I saved potholders, aprons and towels from many different garage sales; I sewed together the protection from many different women. Groups of women often come together to help each other, to provide emotional support. Of course, you must believe in and live by the values of this group. If you outgrow the values of your group, their emotional reinforcement can start to seem rather heavy, like the weighty protection of this armor.
*My thanks to Dianne Yound, who emailed me long ago to tell me that the kesa design is said to have been by Buddha himself and based on the layout of rice fields, and that I was misspelling it (kesa, not kasa).
Here's the back of the piece, with an explanation sewn inside.
A few details: on top, the special hanger I built, with a wooden hanger, a dowel and 2 wooden spoons. Bottom left, the loop and button to close it (yes, it really is wearable!), center, a political ad on a potholder, and last my grandniece (who I will leave unnamed so as not to embarrass her) wearing domestic armor.
My Lint Project. I had played with felt, and gotten some good results, which I included in my art. I liked the way you can embed bits of crochet in the felt. I had also done a bit of paper-making (well, more like cardboard-making, given the thickness of the results) using lint. So, I wanted to try experimenting with. ..felted lint? Yes, I know, lint won't felt like wool. But I made some big screens, arranged crochet on them, and dipped them into big sinks with lint in water. Pressed it to get the water out, dried it and very carefully covered it, top and bottom, with netting. Then I hand stitched to quilt it all together.
I think if I worked further on this - added other materials to the lint so it would adhere better, or played around with lint from different fabrics - I could improve my results. But...why bother? It just didn't sing to me, at all.
I tried doing it as patches, using different colored lint with crochet bits peeking out of each.... but no, it looks sickly.
I just kept thinking that lint - which consists of cloth, really - should work as an intermediary layer, allowing a gradual transition from printed fabric to crochet.....but dear god, it looks like somebody threw up on it. Time to back away from the lint, Diane.
But: there IS an artist, Heidi Hooper, who has figured out how to use lint to create art. She uses lint as a kind of mosaic, overlapping pieces to create portraits. Look her up.
And - just so you know - you CAN dye your lint. Pack it loosely in a panty-hose leg, tie a knot, and put it in a bucket. I've done this, and (assuming your lint comes mostly from cotton) it works.
I only made 3 of these, each 12" square. And unlike almost all my other art, these are completely machine sewn. Each has several layers of silk, Wonder Under (fusible material), images and wording printed or transferred onto silk, and even very thin plastic red netting. I ironed layers together, sewed them down, then used an exacto knife to cut through a few layers, and pulled sections off (using a pair of pliers to get a grip). I liked the way it exposed the underlying layers, which could then be covered by more layers.
This one has images from keyboards embedded under the upper layers, and some hook-and-eyes sewn on top. Again, these were really in demand: I think this last one, Skin Deep, was even used as the image on a show postcard. I do like the way they evolved, from the first rather plain one, to this more visually complex version. At the bottom of this last one, there is a pattern (which I think I copied from a picture of accordion keys) under the surface - and I sewed small white beads on top, with black thread, and it really creates movement between the layers. I should use that again...
Yes, there are more maps, but first, perhaps it's time for a little detour. In my art, I usually try not to detour. There are always countless new designs to explore, and scores of fun techniques to try, but I only have one lifetime, and can't master them all. So, generally, I try to stay focused on this strange little path I'm following. However, this week, I'll be sharing things like my...
Geological Quilt Series
Yes, you can sew rocks in your quilts! While I was up in Maine one year, fascinated by the incredible rock formation on the coastline, I gathered especially flat stones to sew. I patched together a variety of fabrics, then ran big smocking stitches across them. The stones have a layer of netting over them to hold them into the folds. And it's all attached to a thick layer of wool.
Same technique here, but on a background of commercial cloth.
Down in Florida, they have oolitic limestone* which can be found in heart shapes! This has a piece of a beach towel, commercial fabric, some seashells, happy little buttons and beads and limestone. In the next photo, you can see some of the gray netting sewn over the stones:
* This limestone underlies a great deal of Florida, and acts like a sponge. So no matter how many seawalls they build, the ocean can just seep right up through the limestone.
I also made a few quilts with the round, smooth stones from my native NJ shore. But I did not follow the standard artist rule to PHOTOGRAPH IT BEFORE IT LEAVES. And this series went fast. People loved them, bought them, asked for them......and I stopped making them. If you happen to be at the beach this summer, look around, collect a few pieces and try this - it's great fun. Here's 2 more, not part of the geological series, just playing with a few stones from another coast (certainly not California, where it's illegal to collect anything on the beach):
These 2 are mounted on squares of half-inch thick industrial felt. There's a few stitches of embroidery floss over them, then a bit of weaving and wrapping.