Last month I posted the first few photos that resulted from a collision between my hair-brained ideas for natural dyeing with an upcoming art opportunity. (That blog post is HERE.) Happily since mid-October, I've been rusting vintage garments with old nails, wire, and assorted washers ... often tying the fabric around pebbles ... and frequently baking my concoctions in a covered, cast iron pot donated by my mother.
I've brewed up magnolia, kutzu, oleander, and rosemary in antique cauldrons. Poke berries were colorful but didn't have lasting color. Acorns and crepe myrtle pods worked wonderfully. White vinegar and sea salt smells pretty wretched when baked with railroad spikes but the stains are tremendous. All in all, I've been having a blast ... partly because I have no formal ideas for what I'm doing and partly because I have no expectations. Thus, everything is surprising and the results are thrilling me!
My intentions are to use these garments (and others ... as I plan on continuing these experiments) in the creation of an installation. I'm hoping to use several alcoves at the Tapps Art Center, making "vignettes" with these garments. My focus is to make visible the fears and terror felt by the average citizens on the night during which one-third of Columbia was burnt by General William T. Sherman's troops. This Civil War "March to the Sea" occurred 150 years ago. Columbia is gearing up to commemorate the event.
I've been working to stain these garments with Columbia earth, from the soil and the plant life in my own backyard. The destructive power suggested by the rust is meant to reflect that night, those fears, and the uncertain future.
Recently I took the first thirteen, finished garments to Gallery 80808/Vista Studios for a photo shoot. Each piece was pinned to the gallery's nice, white walls ... under the four skylights. It is a perfect location for capturing quality images. This blog post includes one shot of each garment. Yet, I shot until my camera's batteries died ... hundreds and hundreds of pictures. Most were deleted. One-hundred-and sixteen were saved. These images are now on a Flickr! set.
Wonderfully, I was contacted by Cindi Boiter, the editor of Jasper Magazine and co-owner of Muddy Ford Press. Cindi and her husband Bob are considering one of these pictures for the cover of the literary publication that will accompany the Art from the Ashes exhibition! I'm excited and my fingers are crossed!
Knowing that my work would be considered for a book cover, I shot several details of each garment. It was an interesting process ... thinking about whether a vertical or a horizontal image might be better ... thinking about how the colors and textures might interfere or enhance the text ... wondering whether a more abstract detail would suit the publication or a more figurative suggestion. I could imagine several different ways these garments might be used for illustrative purposes. Which would I pick? I don't know! What would you pick?
There is now a website for the city's sesquicentennial commemoration. It includes Art from the Ashes but it also includes the juried show Crafting Civil (War) Conversations at the McKissick Museum. My piece, Stitching Together, was accepted ... and delivered yesterday. Honestly, I never thought this subject would have inspired me the way it has but I'm certainly enjoying the experience!
Later this evening I'm going to another photo shoot. This one will include all the invited artists involved in Art from the Ashes. Evidently, there will be an article on our work and this exhibit! I'm excited ... and thankful for this awesome opportunity!
I am also linking the post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art work.
This garment was NOT rusted or naturally dyed. It was soaked in alum water, hung to dry, and pounded with flowers from the backyard ... mostly tiny sprigs of pink clover. I blogged about it HERE. I call this garment Antebellum and plan to showcase it to contrast with the other pieces.