Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Tools of the Trade

Yesterday was the reveal day for the Tangled Textiles latest challenge, Tools.  Here's my interpretation of the theme:

This was my first ever attempt at doing mixed media work.  I used my rusted fabric, other hand dyed fabric, pieces of paper torn out of a dictionary, gel medium, paint, and Shiva paintstiks.

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to interpret the theme.  When I thought about my work, the tools always came in secondary.  The two elements that I would be helpless without are my hands and my eyes- so that is the direction I took.  The choice was also probably influenced by my increasing awareness of the value of my hands!  Youth takes for granted their abilities and capacities; most youthful hands perform their appointed tasks with minimal awareness on the part of the actor.  But aged hands show the signs of their long use- creaks, pains, and flat-out inability to do tasks easily done before.  Mine are no exception.  So I have come to value my hands much more in recent years than I did as a youth!

My desire to try this was sparked by an article in the August/September Quilting Arts by Jennifer Solon.  I wanted to try the way of working without creating a piece that looked like it was inspired by the article.  I think I succeeded!  Another goal was to find a way to use my rust dyed fabrics without driving me or my sewing machine crazy.  My hope was that coating it with gel medium before I did any stitching would lock those tiny metallic particles into the fabric, preventing them from breaking my thread and making my machine go CLUNK.  That theory seemed to be valid, also- I did lots of stitching, and no thread or other issues.

I layers torn strips of fabric on black felt.  When I was happy with the design, I gave it a couple of coats of gel medium.  I think I mixed matte and gloss.  I layered on the torn pieces of paper, and stitched.  Then I applied Setacolor transparent paints, stamps, more paper- I just kept going until I was happy with the result.  The last element was the large hand, done with a freezer paper stencil and Shiva paintstiks.  And yes, it is my hand.  After I let the painstik color cure for a few days, I gave it a couple more coats of gel medium.  Here's some detail shots--

I had to think long and hard about how to finish the edges.  I didn't want the hard line created by a binding or satin stitched edge.  I finally chose to stitch a piece of blue-green tulle around the edge, and cut it so the edge was choppy rather than straight.  It gave the shadowed effect I wanted- finished, but subtly.

It was a strange experience creating this piece.  At times it literally felt like a out of body experience.  At times I wondered, "Where is this coming from?"  As I have spent more time with it in the studio, however, it has grown on me and I'm happy to claim it as my creation.  It has also sparked a desire to play more with the mixed media.

It was fascinating seeing the myriad of interpretations of the 'Tools' theme.  Jump on over to the Tangled Textiles blog and take a look!


What Comes Next? said...

I just love looking at all your detailed images! This is such a cool interpretation of the theme. Love your big hand, and then all those small hands - were they done with a stamp? The whole composition is just perfect!

Debra Spincic said...

Very successful!!

Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

This is such a good interpretation. I can relate to it so much since I too feel exactly as you do. In the last two years my hands have begun to complain when opening tight covers and lifting heavy objects or quilting for long hours. I took them for granted for all of my life and now I am doing all that I can to care for them so they keep serving me for many years to come! They are my most important tool as well.

I found your solution to quilting on rust fabric very interesting. I will definitely try that with that huge piece I purchased and could not use.

Judy said...

Oh I do LOVE this piece! Great going Bev!!


geni said...

Wonderful done! I also love your tutorial on how you came to and made it. Thank you for sharing!

Kay said...

A great job, and terrific interpretation of the theme. Like Barb, I can totally relate to the way you feel about your hands.

The large hand is interesting--did you use the freezer paper cut out as a resist, darkening around it, or as a regular stencil?

Rayna said...

Beverly, this is really a terrific piece. I suspect this may not be the last time you work with mixed media.