Friday, May 08, 2015

From Cording to Fiber Vessels

(Above: I Am My Own Worst Enemy, Machine zigzagged fiber vessel with found, rusted object.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

I meant to write this blog post last night but I couldn't pull myself from the enormous, provided studio here at Anderson Center.  My mind continued to say, "Just five minutes more" until it was way past midnight.  This is a typical feeling when reward "the gift of time" at an art residency!  It was particularly evident yesterday.  Why?  Well, after four-and-a-half days of pulling threads and yarn through the Bernina and making several large balls of cording, it was finally time to USE THE CORD!  I applied for this opportunity with a proposal to make fiber vessels exploring the concept of containment.  I hoped to go beyond mere "bowls", resembling utilitarian objects, to create more conceptual works of art.  I'd done this before.  I filled one early fiber vessel with torn and wrapped pages form World Book Yearbooks, 1962-75 and called it Wasted Words: Global WarningsAt that time, I made another one called Wasted Words: War.  Fiber vessels CAN express ideas, opinions, and conceptual concerns!  I just needed time, an art residency!

(Above:  Wasted Words: Global Warnings. 2009.  It's been in several exhibitions including Green: A Color and a Cause at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC.)

I've always wanted to return to this hair-brained.  I knew (even wrote this on an earlier blog post) that I wanted to create a vessel with an old, rusty chain running through it.  To me, this represents the feeling of being trapped, chained, bound in one place, a sense of "containment".  I brought along an old, rusty chain too.  First, I had to make a lot of cording!  Cording is necessary!  It's how I make the initial fiber vessel.  (By the way, I've written a free, on-line tutorial on the process.  CLICK HERE to access.)

(Above:  All the cording made at the Anderson Center during my first four-and-a-half days.)

So ... I zigzag stitched cording until my entire upper body, especially my left hand, ached!  Pulling up to twelve strands of thread and yarn through the cording foot is HARD WORK, but I love every minute of it.  Plus, I ended up with ten different balls!

(Above:  Caravan ... a thread by King Tut that I bought because I liked the name!)

Two of the last balls actually used the same machine sewing thread.  I bought it because I liked the name of this color wave: Caravan!  Words are important to me.  Even a single word can suggest a narrative, conjure an image in my head.  There's something about a title too ... something that figures into my desire to create conceptual fiber vessels.  I knew that "putting a chain" through a fiber vessel would suggest some sort of concept but adding a title would make it even better.  While making the cording, I thought about titles and how they might relate to my visual ideas. 

(Above:  Threads and yarns used for the first ball of cording made with the King Tut caravan thread.)

After all, I was using a thread that I didn't particularly like but LOVED it's name.  The variegated colors suggested these rather ugly yarns and threads ... all of which I have in my stash.  My stash comes from auctions and yard sales.  Thus, I am not responsible for actually purchasing some of these dreadful, cheap, pastel and uninspired combinations of yarn!

(Above:  The threads and yarns used for the second ball made with the King Tut caravan thread.)

The second ball using the King Tut caravan thread was a little better, in my opinion.  I have dozens and dozens of these skeins of flecked yarns called "Passport Yarns", each with a little flag from England or Ireland on them.  Someone must have meant to knit a sweater!

(Above:  The first ball made with the King Tut caravan thread.)

Once zigzag stitched together, these colors are really rather nice.  The other ball is pictured in the "group photo" beside this ball on the left.  Both are nice!  I could have snapped photos of all the balls "in progress" but it would be a boring post with way too many photos!

(Above:  The first fiber vessel under construction.)

Besides, it was time to move on to stitching the fiber vessels!  I started with the first, giant ball of orange, brown, and golden colors.  I knew I wanted to add my rusty chain.  I started to go to my car to retrieve it when something caught me eye.

(Above:  The Anderson Center's Blacksmith studio.)

From the walking tour on my first day at the Anderson Center, I knew that this location was an outdoor blacksmith studio.  We didn't actually GO to it.  It was merely pointed out.

What caught my eye, however, wasn't the outstanding place for creating metal artwork ...

... it was the artwork adorning the studio ... the cool, metal iguana over the oven!  I had to check it out!

This is what I saw when I drew closer.

Lots of big, heavy chucks of metal that resemble many of the sculptures in the nearby Anderson Center Sculpture Garden.  (Photos coming in another post ... promise!)

Now ... this place is COOL!

The old heating registers let me know that much (if not all) the scrap metal came from right around where I was standing.

So ... I needed my rusty chain ...

... but I might need something else!  I went to the Anderson Center office, asked about the blacksmith studio ... Who's using it?  Where did all the scrap come from? Before I could ask if I could HAVE a few pieces, they were OFFERED!  I went back to the container on which was written "Scrap Steel Only 30" or less.

(Above:  The first three pieces I took.)

I rummage around and found these three precious pieces.  I went back to the office to make sure it was alright if I use them in my work.  Of course.  I could take more if I wanted!

This was my second haul!

By noon yesterday, I'd transformed several pieces with cording.  What, preciously, these are ... I'm not totally sure.  I'm working on that!  I like them though!

(Above:  Should I Stay Or Should I Go?, Fiber Vessel with found rusty chain and bolt.)

By 2 PM I had the first fiber vessel finished ... with the rusty chain running through it.  I've titled the piece Should I Stay Or Should I Go?   The little bolt in the middle has a decision to make!  The second vessel I made is at the top of this post, I Am My Own Worst Enemy.  I totally LOVE the found metal screw thing ... conceptually perfect!  I also began to realize that my notion of "containment" had morphed into more of an idea of "confinement".  Whether contained or confined, there's generally the dual possibility of the experience being "positive" or "negative".  Bittersweet.  (One of my all time favorite words!)

(Above:  Cupid's Arrow, Fiber vessel and found, rusty object.)

The third vessel was entirely inspired by the another piece of scrap metal found near the blacksmith studio.  I'm not sure what it was originally but it reminded me of an arrow's quiver.  Being "in love" is another form of containment/confinement ... whether the love is reciprocated or not.  The idea of being struck by Cupid's arrow can truly be a mixed blessing!  There was a part of a sales bar code label on it.  I scrapped it off to reveal a patch of yellow paint.  Cool!

For scale, here's the piece sitting on the studio table.

(Above:  Cupid's Arrow.)

I'm really thrilled with this piece and might have to return to the Blacksmith Studio in hopes of other inspiring scraps of metal!

(Above:  A pink fiber vessel ... currently untitled.)

The other part of my proposal said that I intended to play around with asymmetrical forms.  I was anxious to try this and although the resulting pink vessel might never have any deeper conceptual meaning, I'm very pleased with the results.

Yesterday I did absolutely NOTHING with my key tags.  The day before, however, found me making dozens from the many wonderful words suggested by all the nice people who read my blog and Facebook friends!  Today, I will devote some time to the next phase of this project ... attaching them to the actual keys.  What will I use .... thin cording, of course!

(Above:  Tags for keys made using words suggested from Facebook and blogging friends.  Click on image to enlarge for reading!)

THANK YOU to everyone who contributed a word or two or several!  It means the world to me.  Many of the phrases were absolutely fabulous, things I would never have thought of, and will make the upcoming installation of The Wall of Keys that much better!  Thanks!

(Above:  Robin's nest with two hatchlings and one blue egg.)

Now I'm not spending every waking minute inside the studio and the blacksmith area!  I have to visit the Water Tower!  Half way up the interior spiral staircase is a window.  On the outside ledge is a robin's nest.  The day before yesterday there were two hatchlings and one blue egg.)

I stood very, very still for a very, very long time before the robins stopped screeching a danger warning from the nearby tree branches.  Finally, they seemed to forget that I was on the other side of the glass.  I got this photo then!

Yesterday, the third egg hatched!

And it didn't take as long for me to get this family photo!

Generally I write only one or two posts a week.  That makes it easy to select which entry ought to be weekly linked to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art work.  This week, however, has nearly one post per day.  Of course it does!  I'm experiencing the most wonderful art residency!  So ... I'm linking this one ... for no better reason than it was the latest one written!  


Anonymous said...

Those are fabulous rusty bits and I love the way the wrapping complements and partially obscures them. Looks like you're having the best time on your residency!

Merrie Star said...

Thanks again for such an informative update on your experience. It seems you have discovered your Shangra la-- offering you time to dip into your wellspring of creativity!
The vessels are so colorful and amazingly sturdy to hold the metal scraps. I can't wait to see what follows!

Yael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yael said...

These fiber art vessels are gorgeous and so truly you Susan.
Your posts about the art residence are wonderful, I enjoy them very much.
And how sweet the bonus gift to witness the life cycle of the lovely birds! :-)