It has opened a new world of art making with a meditative and repetitive process that keeps my hands busy making while my mind is off somewhere else.
Here is the short story of how I got to this point. Read on and be inspired!
Over the summer, I started to intuitively knit sculpture using a loom while the San Diego heat blazed on. It was a savior for me to be able to make something when it was too hot to turn on my encaustic wax.
Every time I would heat up my encaustic wax outside, I questioned my sanity! You don't want to know how miserable I was during this heat. All I wanted to do was make something that didn't require a heat gun.
Knit, knit, knit. I made odd shapes in soft, blood red yarn. They looked like shirt sleeves that morphed into pig organs. But they were fun to make.
So next semester, I enrolled in a Fibers class at San Diego State University which worked with my schedule, which was Fiber Surface Design. Can you imagine my surprise when this class expanded my view of art completely?
Since I have been studying "fine art" at SDSU, I was ignorant of a whole world of contemporary art which is normally shoved under the category of Craft.
My instructor, Kathryn Harris, is an amazing and has opened my eyes to a world where art and craft not only tolerate each other, but actually work together to create art that is unique. Thrilling, right?
So I have a new body of work that is fiber without encaustic wax that I am not sure where it fits into my portfolio. But it is so exciting, I have to share it with you! Here we go...
Thread Sketches - Exploration of Universal Symbols through Machine Embroidery
Machine embroidery is new to me.
Two months ago, I learned how to hand embroider in Kathryn Harris' Fiber Surface Design class and I love it. It is slow and repetitive. It can be painstakingly exact and rigid.
But it can also be fluid and intuitive. I have replaced my pencil and paper with needle and thread.
So when we moved from the hand to the sewing machine, I was not excited. Why would I want a machine to do the work for me? Because a machine can do what I cannot.
What is free-motion machine embroidery? It is embroidery that can be done with a sewing machine that uses a foot that allows you to move the fabric all around instead of just front to back.
Check out this quick, un-intimidating video by author Rice Freeman Zachery which shows free-motion machine embroidery as an easy way to add decoration.
Free-motion embroidery on a sewing machine is just another tool for expression.
I took scraps of fabric and using the free-motion embroidery foot on the sewing machine, drew on the fabric the universal vagina symbol. I made some more.
The top thread and the bobbin thread are different which makes the front and the back of the piece look different. I love the duality.
White on black. Black on white. White and gray on black. White and gray on white. Black and gray on black. Black on black. The possibilities with only three hues...
I hung them on the wall with pins like my fiber and encaustic sculptures "Fibrous Waximus". Still wasn't sure what to do with them. So made some more.
I made some thread lace using Solvy which is a water soluble plastic wrap. You take one piece of solvy, put some threads on top, then another piece of solvy on top of that. Then you sew through all layers. Rinse the solvy off of the piece and all that remains is the thread.
After showing them to Kathryn, she suggested I try machine embroidery on Solvy. That opened even MORE possibilities.
After doing research on Ana Mendieta for my Contemporary Latin American Art class, I was inspired by her Silueta series.
Ana Mendieta Silueta Series
I made a small homage in machine embroidery to compliment her large scale outlines of the human body.
I embedded a small leave in the belly of the figure to hint at the natural world.
I made another...
Inspired by these, I decided to further my homage to Ana Mendieta by doing machine embroidery on actual leaves.
Mendieta did drawings by piercing on green leaves of universal and feminine symbols. She embraced the changes in the leaves from green to brown.
These have already changed colors, and curled since I first made them on Saturday, and when I scanned them on Sunday. How do you think they will change?
See those gray spots on the left side in between the stitches? Those were not there on Saturday when the leaf was fresh and full of juices.
So what did we learn from this experiment?
- Art or Craft? Both? Either way, it is a new way to work
- Machine Embroidery is easy to do
- Thread lace and solvy are more tools to use
- You can bend and break the rules of what is fiber
- Inspiration comes from many sources
- and for me...Not everything in my artist portfolio NEEDS to be covered in encaustic wax!
I would love to hear what you think! Experienced in the ways of the sewing machine? I bow to your expertise. Always wanted to try free-motion embroidery? Let me know if this helps you to get started.
Happy sketching! ~ Jaime Lyerly