Fiber Arts #6

From 2006 onward, my textiles work combined my interest in tapestry, rag weave and screen-printing with more graphic designs. This led to a process that I greatly enjoy where I create a design and then have to first weave the fabric on which I will print said design. I have stuck with this process and, should I have access to a printing studio or a loom any time soon, I am rather certain I will keep working down this vein…

To start off talking about the pieces done in this way, we’re going to be looking at my absolute favorite, and chronologically, the last of three pieces. In order of creation, they are: Friend is a Four Letter Word, A Peaceful Spring Mandala, and, the one at hand, Life is a Matter of Perspective. In terms of narrative, it’s got a slightly more structured story than the earlier two pieces — Friend has a strong story, but one that I have to provide personally, while Mandala has bits and pieces of stories that the reader has to piece together.

But we’ll chat more about the other two later — for now, let’s turn to an overall image of Perspective…

 

The original idea for this piece was based on a plan for a print in repeat — it entailed having an image of a person dancing or falling mirrored to create the sense that the person was falling and dancing at the same time through the repeated print design. But…then I got it in my mind that I wanted to create a fake-out … by making what appeared to be a mirrored image. Basically, I wanted to make the viewer second guess themselves after assuming what the story in the image was.

The image as it came about was inspired by a vision I had while meditating (yeah, corny, I know). It was intended to be of a goddess in some woods, who is dropping a ball into a lake — and create a reflection beneath her where the ball appears to merely be falling in reverse — but is actually floating. The ball would then be the 4 phases of the moon to connect with the cyclical nature of time and existence — that we change and stay the same, that life waxes and wanes while we try to live it. That it depends on how we encounter situations that determines how we come to understand them — the worst experiences are often that way because of how we come into them…

Or something like that.

Now, how did I make it? I started with a tapestry based on a ‘map’ guideline I made myself by blowing up the image I originally drew for this image — I blocked out 4 colors: white (the woman), green (the rest), brown (the trees), and blue (the water). I learned from the other projects (especially the Mandala one) that simplicity is ideal for weaving these pieces, as much of the printed detail will get lost in overly detailed warp patterns or overly woven wefts. So, I kept it fairly basic — and then created  paper stencils for each of the colors I intended to use: gold, purple, brown, green, peach, and blue.

This was woven in a plain weave, using ripped up fabric again. The unfortunate result, and one which I planned for, of printing on this cloth was that much of the detail would stay or get lost depending on how the dye landed on the fabric — if the dye landed on a rise of raggy-ness, it could blur or not print right at all — if it landed on a flat spot, the detail would be crisper. As you can see in the detail above.

Still, I love this print because the random detail and overall composition worked out fairly well. And, despite my tendency towards being a bit OCD and yearning for perfection, the imperfections in this piece help give it the sense of calm that I was hoping to create. Here’s the movement from new moon to crescent to gibbous to full moon —

 

 

Best part, in my opinion? Those TREES! I love the detail that I managed to get with the combination of printing and weaving them in. A few years later (this was originally woven in 2009), and I still adore this weaving and the way these arbors look…

I suppose I am inordinately proud of this piece because it was only the second time that I’d allowed myself to work entirely from my own imagination. Although I did use a friend to model the particular pose the goddess/woman takes, I drew and designed the whole piece from a vision that I had while meditating one day — a vision that brought me to a calm so deep, I felt I had to do something with the imagery I had imagined.

Until tomorrow, when we get back to comics proper,

J

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