At last my travels are over (for now) and I have been able to get back into the studio! There is not a lot to be said for sitting in a plane for 14 hours but it did mean that I had thought through exactly what I wanted to do to one of my ‘happy accident’ discharged pieces of cloth. Looking at the darkest piece had reminded me of fragments of old sepia and black photographs; layers of our lives, past and present, the memories that stay with us and those that fade away. So I gave the cloth the working title of ‘After Image’.
My first degree is in Chemistry and I have always enjoyed working this into my art. I have made a couple of pieces inspired by Copper in the past but this new piece of cloth got me thinking about the fact that we all share the same chemistry. Over 99% of the human body is made up of just 6 elements: Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium and Phosphorus. From this finite set of elements are created infinite possibilities.
So I began by adding a layer of fine print onto the discharged squares using three thermofaxes – one of the periodic table and two of different molecules. I have had these for a while but have never found the perfect place to use them until now! I then created a temporary screen and printed larger grey ‘water’ molecules across the surface of the fabric. (The human body is made up of 57% water.) All this was done using screenprinting inks so the cloth dried quickly.
The Contemporary Quilt group challenge for this summers Festival of Quilts is called Elements (how convenient!!) and has a size requirement of 45 x 80cm. I was able to cut this and 4 small pieces approximately 20 x 20cm from the cloth. I have used the small squares to sample different stitching ideas. My ideas evolved as I moved from one to the next. In the first one I stitched different size circles and connected them with straight lines. I liked the idea but wanted something less ‘rigid’. So in the second piece I tried to replicate one of those diagrams that show flight routes between airports. I stitched curved lines spreading out from one point. Sometimes stopping, sometimes becoming a hub for more lines. Having stitched the piece I printed small white circles on the hubs. I liked this piece a lot. In the third piece I tried adding chemical symbols in different ways. I liked the H and the N but neither where obviously chemical elements. So in the fourth piece I stitched a more detailed symbol which included the name of the element as well as it’s symbol. Then I added a set of curved lines. I love this and now know how I will stitch the full piece! I am so glad to be back in the studio!