One of the things I like about my new day job is that there is less travelling and generally more ‘regular’ hours. I will have more time in the studio and be better able to plan my output.
But this week I have had a couple of very long days and on Saturday I fly out to the US for a week. So my plan to work at the bench breakdown printing with my new colourway is on hold. I print using thickened procion dyes on cotton so I could leave the printed pieces rolled up in plastic for weeks before I wash them out but I prefer to get in a rhythm of printing, washing / drying, assessing then printing. Don’t ask my why but the first piece of fabric I print after a period away from the bench is always disappointing and often butt ugly!
Instead I have spent my few hours in the studio this week working on my piece for the SAQA call Made in Europe. All the ‘construction’ work is complete and I am now stitching lots and lots of parallel lines. If you look closely above you will see that I keep my lines straight by using my walking foot as a guide and placing masking tape strips about 1 inch apart. I may not be in complete control of my schedule but boy do I control those lines!
Storm 2 (Dark) detail
Here’s a sneak preview of Storm 2 (Dark). I didn’t start with the intention of stitching lots and lots of black lines but that is where I ended up. It makes the piece darker than intended, hence the title, and reflects my mood as I stitched.
Ruins 5 – background quilting completed
Not everybody would find pleasure in stitching so many metres of straight lines but, thankfully, I do. With an average speed of 20 metres per hour it has taken over 22 hours to complete the background quilting on this large Ruins piece. Keeping the lines straight and equally spaced requires just enough concentration to stop this being a mindless task. Instead I have found it to be mindful. Whilst stitching my mind stops racing, stops worrying, stops trying to solve all the problems in my life.
I’ve hinted at some ‘life’ issues in previous posts. For the last few months my husband and I have been providing 24 hour care for our eldest son who has been in a very dark and troubled state of mind. It has been a distressing and exhausting time. Although we have had great support from our family, friends and from my ‘day job’ I don’t think I could have coped without having my studio and my art to take refuge in. Working in series has meant that there has always been something to work on. From stitching straight lines on days when my mind needed calming to composing new pieces on days when I have felt stronger. There is a simple joy in stepping into a studio full of colour, in working with cloth, in stitching straight lines!
Over the last few weeks I have also pieced together another large scale Ruins piece. The composition of the background is quite different from the earlier works and it took me a long time to audition all the ‘bricks’ into a something that I was happy with. Tiredness probably played a part as I’m usually much more confident when I am working on composition. The piece is 275cm wide by 140cm high and has ‘light’, ‘medium’ and ‘dark’ bands. Over the coming weeks I will stitch using many, many more parallel lines. Some would find the prospect boring or maybe even intimidating – me, if find it joyful.
New Ruins composition