August 10, 2008


First off - hello to Tracy, Linda and Suzanne for joining in subscribing - glad to have your company!

Secondly - I have been a little behind in posts as I am enjoying my first free time all summer and the fact that our cabin (that was flooded with 9 feet of water in the floods of 2005 and has slowly been repaired by my husband, working alone) is now ready for human occupation - hooray! The past two weekends have been spent out there golfing and continuing with the small repairs, like cleaning out the eaves which turns into removing and replacing them (you know, small stuff like that!)

And thirdly - I am going to be discussing the pieces I made for the Nectar exhibit now hanging in Inglewood in Calgary and should explain that all of their titles are in French in honour of executive chef and owner Rebekah Pearse's pastry training in France.
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So, onto piece #1. Entitled Pommes et Pomegranates (Apples and Pomegranates) this piece started as a white piece of cotton.

The first step was dyeing the background. As I don't have enough space in my studio (that is, basement rooms that I am ever expanding through) for wet work, Lesley Turner and I get together every summer in her garage. Throughout the year we gather white materials in cotton, silk, wools and synthetics and then, play. When we have a lot of natural fabrics, we like to follow Ann Johnston's book Color By Accident and work through her different techniques using Procion MX dyes and low immersion dyeing. We fill big buckets with a mix of fabric types and I especially love the 'colour parfait' method that gives a different colour for each level while in the end all levels correspond together. This piece ended up salmon colour on one end working through to a magenta on the other.

The next step was when I took a Discharge class at Alberta College of Art and Design this spring. With instructor Tara Griffiths, I learnt about Vat Dye Discharge for the very first time - it was like magic! You put an image on and the process removes the colour of the original cloth and dyes it a new colour at the same time - wow, how cool is that!?! So I designed and burnt a silk screen (again, for the very first time) and printed on a lot of different fabrics. Here is what this one turned out like - I spread dyed discharge paste ranging from deep purple through lemon yellow (that turned a green in the center where they touched) along the top of the screen and printed away. The piece was then processed by steaming (the white marks are where the water droplets dripped onto the cloth in the steam bath - could be considered an oops, but to me it is just another layer of interest!)

Then onto the sewing machine for some quilting (which in its pure meaning is simply stitching two or more layers of fabric together.) The method I choose for this piece is called Italian Quilting, whereby parallel rows of stitching are added, and then stuffed with wool to get a padded surface. This picture doesn't show how textural this piece is but gives an impression...

The next step was edging. I decided to use silk flower petals but as the colours weren't exactly correct, I spent a day dyeing them to match.

I then overlapped them along the edge and attached them to the woolen strands that overhung with my Embellisher machine. (Aside: I love my newest toy, a sewing machine with no needles to thread! Instead there are five barbed needles that mesh fabrics together to create a new surface. Its common name is an Embellisher, but that is actually the Babylock brand name. My machine is actually by Janome and called Xpression. Check link for details.)

After the two sides were completed I added a flange to the top and bottom in a complementary fabric and colour; painted a canvas to mount it on in a deeper shade of orange; and attached the two together.

I was really happy with how the colours blended and how the side edging added to the overall piece for design interest, and thought the entire piece was cohesive. If you're in town, check out Nectar to see it in person!

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