Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Creating Organic Fiber Studies
I'm often asked at shows how I create the organic fiber studies found in and on much of my pottery. Here's how they are done....
I start with a foundation fabric (or sometimes a thin piece of metal) and add seeds, dried flower petals, leaves, yarns, threads, candy wrappers, etc. I use anything that fits with the piece I am creating. Sometimes it is my mood and the message I am working on, that dictates what I include. Other times it is all about the color. I do like to include small bits of recyclables to remind us the need to reduce, reuse and recycle. (Now that is a whole other post!)
Once the petals and other materials are placed as I like them I place a piece of netting over it all. I carefully carry it all to the sewing machine and start quilting. Now sometimes I am working too big to carry it all without disturbing it. So sometimes I use a little glue or other means of holding it all down. Most times I'm happy with a little serendipity; or just let it all move about and land as it may. I can always add another layer on top and continue with layers until I am happy.
I usually lower the feed dogs and stitch about freely, sometimes outlining the larger pieces, especially if they may break the needle if I hit them, or if I've used glue. (I try not to gum up my needle.) You can also use glues formulated with the sewing machine in mind. Sometimes I have some handy, sometimes not.
For thread, I usually use invisible thread but sometimes I'll stitch some yarn in place as I quilt. In that case I'll zig-zag over the yarn as I go. If my fiber study will be mounted on the outside of my clay, I will finish the edges by add some yarn around the edges. I like the fun fuzzy finish! It is such a contrast to my earthy finished clay.
Another option is adding some scrunch to the fiber study. If I want a puffy scrunchy texture I will quilt everything to a backing of Solvron. Once the stitching is completed I heat some water in the microwave until it is 165 degrees F. I pour it over my fiber study and almost instantly the fabric gathers up creating the most wonderful texture. If I heat the water too much all the backing will disappear and no texture is left. So it is important to only partially dissolve the backing Solvron.
Finally I cut the fiber study to fit the clay piece it is being created for and I stitch it in place. Pictured is an organic fiber study being made; before and after being 'puckered' and finally mounted onto a stoneware plate.