(Above: War Map, 26" x 26". Monogrammed, vintage damask dinner napkin, rusted and naturally stained with plant life from my own backyard. Dense hand stitching. Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)
Last fall while experimenting with rusting and natural dyes made from magnolia leaves, rosemary sprigs, stems of oleander, and the ever obnoxious kudzu, I used an old wire to tie pebbles into the fabric of a vintage, damask dinner napkin. At first, I didn't even notice that it was monogrammed with my initial, "L". The distressed, ruinous looking results were, in my opinion, FABULOUS and encouraged me to try the same thing on a vintage garment.
Most dyers aren't looking for this sort of effect but I've been working toward an installation that would evoke the fears on a particular night: February 17, 1865. This was when General William T. Sherman's troops (and likely many of the local citizens in an attempt to prevent their bales of cotton from falling into Sherman's hands) burned Columbia, South Carolina ... my city. There are several exhibitions and events scheduled here to commemorate the sesquicentennial occasion.
One show, Crafting Civil (War) Conversations, is being held at the McKissick Museum. The slate of jurors was top-notch. I can't wait to see the show. I was fortunate to have my work, Stitching Together, accepted. Yet, I have even more artwork in the Art from the Ashes show at the Tapps Art Center! This opportunity has provided more inspiration that I ever would have imagined. Work is still just pouring out of me. War Map is the latest. I've really enjoyed stitching on this piece. It's been to London and Pennsylvania, my hand stitching project for traveling. Eventually, I had to "call it done".
Instead of traditional batting, this piece has recycled white acrylic felt for its middle layer. The felt used to be the packaging material for a kayak or canoe being shipped from a North Carolina manufacturer to River Runner, my local outdoor shop. (Thanks, Guy Jones!)
(Above: Detail of War Map.)
To me, all the hand stitching resembles an aerial view of a military map, the plotting and planning for troop movements, cannons, conflict, and other things "blowing up" as well as the topography. The rust and dirty, black streaks of natural plant life staining seem fitting for the ruin in the wake of a war.
(Above: War Map, reverse.)
Most of the time I don't stitch through three layers of fabric. Instead, I stitch through just the top and middle ... later attaching a backing to cover the mess of threads on the reverse. This time, however, I "played it neatly". The reverse was once a hand appliqued card table sized tablecloth.
I'm not sure if this piece will hang in the upcoming Art from the Ashes exhibit or not. I've already arranged for three installations. I can't really expect more! LOL! I'll be installing at least two of the three installations on Sunday, January 25th ... and blogging about the experience! Can't wait to see my visions become a physical reality!
I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.