Thursday, July 16, 2020

The New York Times

(Above:  Black & White and Read All Over: The New York Times, fiber vessel and contents made from two, Wednesday, July 15, 2020 copies of the New York Times.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Late yesterday morning I got an email from a photo editor for the 'At Home' section of the Sunday New York Times print edition.  I nearly fell over.  The message said that my work was noticed on the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show's website featuring last year's accepted artists.  I was asked whether I might write a simply set of instructions for creating one of my fiber vessels out of the actual newspaper.  There were links to earlier articles.  Each one was really a paragraph or two for very easy, straight-forward, DIY projects.  (One showed how to fold a sheet of the New York Times into an envelop.  It's HERE, just in case you want to do this!)

Sure ... I knew that my fiber vessels aren't hard to make and that I already have a free, on-line tutorial for them ... but I also knew that making a fiber vessel from The New York Times wouldn't be so easy.  Yet, the challenge was on!   After all, I've said dozens of times, "I can stitch anything!  If I can get it through the cording foot, I can turn it into a fiber vessel!"  So, could I?  Could I turn The New York Times into a fiber vessel?  There was only one way to find out!

First, Steve had to run to the local grocery store.  Our subscription to The New York Times is a digital one.  He returned with two copies.

I started tearing the first copy into approximately one-inch strips.  It took about a half hour to learn a few important things.  First, only one strip would work.  Doubling it up caused problems.  Second, it was next to impossible to overlap the strips in order to make one, continuous piece of cording.  Third, it was possible to stitch individual strips together.  So, I ripped up the first twenty-five pages of the newspaper.

One end of each strip was rolled between the palms of my hands.  This was forced into my cording foot.  Almost 1200 yards of 100% cotton grey thread went into the project.  First, each strip was zigzag stitched into a length of cording.

 It was important to roll and squeeze the paper together in order for it to go through the cording foot.  Pulling caused the newspaper to tear.  Anything that held up the progress of the paper from easily gliding into the foot caused the newspaper to tear.  I knew I'd need lots and lots of corded strips.

I zigzag stitched hundred of strips into individual lengths of cording.  I really liked how the newspaper's photographs gave hints of color.  All these zigzag lengths of cording were then attached, one end to the next ... zigzag stitching over the two ends ... using a wide, open presser foot.

I rolled the resulting cord into a small ball.  This ball represents about one fourth of the cording needed.

Finally, I had what I hoped was enough cording.  It was time to start the fiber vessel.  The beginning is a small spiral.  Using a wide-open presser foot, I started zigzag stitching the piece. My fiber vessels are constructed in the same way as a 1970s braided rug, a spiral that grows with each rotation.

Soon, the coil was almost as wide as the base of my sewing machine.  I removed my plastic table and continue stitching.  My hand movements are such that the continued stitching happens to force the formation of the vessel.  It just sort of happens because the surface on which the piece is sitting is no longer flat.

Soon, the vessel is forming.  The sewing machine has to be placed at the edge of the table in order for the vessel to continue growing.  Steve even shot a few second long video of the stitching.  It's HERE on You Tube.  Finally, I put a red rim on the vessel and titled the piece with a joke from childhood, Black & White and Read All Over: The New York Times.

The rest of the first copy and the entire second copy were then ripped, rolled, and stitched into the contents for the vessel.  Carefully, the words The New York Times are seen on every piece.  There's no way to suggest this is an easy, DIY project but it was a successful challenge.  I did write to the photo editor with photos and an apology.  Who knows what will become of this project but at least I know that I really can "sew anything"!


irene macwilliam said...

good for you on rising to the challenge. I especially like then using the remainder in the piece.

Margaret said...

LOL! What a challenge. From pretty much the first sentence I could tell this wouldn't be a DIY success...but think of the doors it's opened for another series, time-consuming or not. What would you create with the Wall Street Journal? The London Times? The Washington Post? A little hole-in-the-wall small paper from one of your residency locations? The mind boggles!

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

crazy but amazing from you the creative, who is never shy to accept any challenge...

Linda Laird said...

Kathy Loomis, on her blog "Art With A Needle", wrote a humorous series about these NYTimes "Do it yourself projects" over the past few weeks. I'm sure that you wrote complete, logical instructions for constructing your vessel, but the other designers whose projects were published did not. Reading the articles from the paper, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Linda Laird