Tuesday, August 09, 2016


(Above:  Rain, 27" x 15". Strips of plastic, metallic threads and floss, and snippets of a sparkly snow-inspired chiffon ribbon stitched on Mokuba water soluble stabilizer to create a unique ground for self-guided, free-motion machine embroidered lettering.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Last October 4th I left South Carolina for a magical month at PLAYA, an art residency in the remote, high desert, "Oregon Outback".  On the same day, Columbia flooded.  Dams broke. Houses were lost. People died.  It was a 1000-year event, a disaster.  I don't know anyone living in Columbia that isn't on a first name basis with a friend who experienced a major loss.  Why did this happen?  Rain ... too much of it!

Artists tend to get creative in response to such stimulation.  The Jasper Project knows and has organized Marked By the Water, an upcoming, multidisciplinary arts event which will open on October 4, 2016 at the Tapps Art Center.  I'm one of the visual artists invited to create work.  My Clothesline Project is part of this exhibit.  (This is going very well, as a matter of fact!)  Yet, I had another hair-brained idea.  The idea popped into my mind on the same day that I was invited to participate, but I didn't think I could pull it off.  I tried to forget it.  I still might not be able to pull it off, but I couldn't help myself.  I had to at least TRY!

(Above:  Rain, detail.)

My idea was to use Mokuba's "free lace" water soluble stabilizer to make a unique ground/substrata on which I could "write" words.  In my mind, the substrata would resemble sheets of rain pouring down. In my mind, I would collaborate with one of the poets ... someone whose work will be featured in the upcoming literary book that will be published for the exhibit.  Of course, before initiating a collaboration I need to know if the hair-brained idea will physically work!  Thus, I used a definition of the word RAIN for this experiment!  It worked.  My process is below!

(Above:  Strips of plastic, metallic threads, ribbon floss, and snippets of a snow-inspired chiffon ribbon on top of the re-positionable but sticky half of the Mobuka "free lace" stabilizer.)

I've used Mobuka's "free lace" stabilizer on several prior occasions.  It is how I created my Epitaph and Decision chiffon banners and my Leaf and Flower dresses.  I know how it works .... but this would be different.  Generally, some sort of a grid is needed in order for the elements to be held together.  Yet, I wanted a definite vertical orientation for Rain.  I also didn't want the resulting "fabric" to be too much of a solid.  I wanted it to resemble "water" ... as in sheets of it pouring down in varying amounts.

First, I applied the non-sticky half of the Mobuka over the threads. Then, I stitched up and down using a fine, metallic silver thread ... hoping and trying to allow the more vertical lines to also overlap enough to keep the materials (also all vertically oriented) together.  There was a risk involved.  Too many verticals ... without being connected ... could result in the piece falling totally apart.  After stitching, I drew a few ink lines on the piece ... knowing that this layer (the non-sticky, top layer of Mobuka) would wash away ... including all traces of the lines.  

Finally, I started stitching the words.  What does it say?

Rain is a noun: 1. Moisture condensed from the atmospher that falls visibly in separate drops 2. The descent of this water 3. he water that has fallen as rain. Rain is a verb: To fall like drops of water from the sky.

The definition of rain was created from various on-line sources.  I used a 100% cotton, variegated blue thread.

The last step found me in the bathroom washing away the two-layers of Mobuka.  Warm water dissolves it ... turning first rather slimy ... but leaving just the strips of plastic, metallic threads, ribbons and stitched words.

I hung the piece up to dry and later stitched it to part of a coat hanger's rod for hanging.  In the meantime, the Jasper Project has already selected the writing for the publication.  If they find a poem (hopefully not a significantly long one!) for me ... I'd do this process again.  Yet, I'd do it different.  I'd not introduce any color ... just silvers, greys, and clear plastic.  We saw see!

UPDATE:  Permission for two of three selected poems have been received.  This weekend will find me creating this work!  Also ... I'm linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts. 


Margaret said...

Oooh...I think the idea of 'grey/silver/clear plastic' instead of blue would make this even more rain-like...Wow!

Debbie said...

Love this piece

Norma Schlager said...

Love, love, love it! SAQA is having a challenge called H2O. This would be perfect! I wish that I had thought of it.

Wanda said...

this is very different but so YOU! I love it!