Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thread Painting

One of the artworks honored by the jurors for the Techno Fiber show was Joanne Strehle Bast's thread painting, Marshall's Point Light.  I asked Joanne to tell us about her process for creating these wonderful pictures.

Joanne Strehle Bass, Street Scene, Portugal (detail)
Joanne begins with a photograph she has taken, usually while traveling.  She crops the photo and adjusts it using Photoshop to enhance the desired details.  She then uses her inkjet printer to print it on cotton fabric that has been treated so that the inks do not run when wet. She stiffens the printed cotton by backing it with canvas or duck cloth cut on the bias;  the edges are turned back to finish the sides.

Joanne then stitches over the image on her sewing machine set to free motion.  This means that the teeth that usually advance the fabric, the "feed dogs," are dropped and the usual presser foot is replaced with a darning foot.  This setup means that the motion of the fabric is completely hand-controlled.  The stiffening precludes the need for a hoop, which would be needed for free motion stitching on a single layer of fabric.

Joanne Strehle Bast, Window Box Geraniums
Joanne changes thread colors hundreds of times in the course of making one of these stitched paintings in order to blend the colors, just like changing pigments in a traditional oil, acrylic or watercolor painting.  She uses a thinner thread, either black or white, in the bobbin  to help prevent the build up of thread on the back of her work.  Texture can be produced by changing the thread tension, perhaps tightening the top tension to pull up thread loops on the front of the piece to suggest foliage. Changes in texture can also be achieved by changing the direction of stitching–back and forth, up and down, circular, or even zig zag. A certain amount of distortion to the size of the original picture is unavoidable due to these changes in the direction of the stitching. 

Joanne Strehle Bast, Lazy Sailboat
Joanne uses a copy of the photo on paper as reference, as the stitching soon obscures the original fabric photo. The photo is not an absolute, but may be altered as the stitching progresses. Changes are made to suit the overall effect desired.

When the stitching is done, the thread painting is steamed and ironed flat (unless flatness is not desired, as in the puppy dog's eyes) and stitched to a fabric-covered piece of heavy craft interfacing. The picture-interfacing ensemble is then stitched to a larger piece of fabric which is then laced around acid free foamcore and framed.  

Joanne Strehle Bast, Play with Me
I hope you've enjoyed this discussion of thread painting and can come to the Gallery to see examples of Joanne's work using this technique.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Techno Fiber

Monday was jury day at the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery.  The theme for the new show was Techno Fiber.  This lent itself to a variety of interpretations, everything from weaving done on computer-controlled looms to a silk scarf with an image of a computer chip.  I'm going to give an overview of the show today and will return later this week with a longer discussion of one of the techniques.

The jurors selected three pieces for honors.  Masha Kosmos used an actual microchip as design inspiration for a soft silk scarf; hardware becomes soft wear!

Masha Kosmos, silk scarf
Ruth Blau used graphics programs for her design. She imported it into weaving software and hand wove it on a computer-assisted loom. Her hand-dyed warp yarns contribute to the beauty of her scarf.

Ruth Blau, woven scarf
Joanne Bast started with a photo, manipulated it several ways with PhotoShop and printed it onto fabric. She took the fabric to her sewing machine and hand guided the stitching with carefully chosen thread colors to create a fantastic wall piece.

Joanne Bast, Marshall's Point Light

Several other Gallery members entered scarves woven on computer-assisted looms.  Here is a display of several:

Various artists, Techno scarves
There's a wide range of patterning and complexity shown in these scarves.  If you want to read more about computer-assisted weaving, Larry Novak wrote a series of posts on the subject last year.  The first of these is available here and links to the later posts.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More Color Choices

I asked several additional Gallery artists how they choose colors for their nonrepresentational work.  Here's what I learned.

Silk painter Clara Graves told me "When I create one of the woven pieces from my New Worlds series, I have no plan in mind at all. I simply go to my collection of painted silks and pull colors that appeal to me. This is usually quite a large and colorful pile of silk. As I go through them again and again, a particular color pattern within the fabrics attracts me and I begin working to find other pieces of silk that will work with that initial piece. Sometimes I want to subdue it a bit, as in the area of blue green blended with the violet in the piece below.
Clara Graves, Toward the Sun
"Not wanting the whole work to be too quiet, I then put together some more vibrant and complementary silks to play off against that original section of the piece."

Anne Sanderoff-Walker, a weaver and felter, says "Weaving is all about color. I find inspiration everywhere. I remember when I was a kid, blue and green were never seen together, but looking at a bluebird sky and the trees in leaf, it seems so obvious that green and blue should be used together and I do. Recently I’ve been going outside my color comfort zone and using reds, oranges and pinks together. Now that I’m comfortable with the “hot” colors, I need to look beyond my newest comfort zone for something new."

Anne often decides the colors in her woven work by her selection of yarns.  Sometimes she defers the decision on color by weaving a white garment, then dyeing it, as seen in the shawl below, which was dyed using a fold and clamp (shibori) technique.  She says that "This is my newest passion in use of color. Every time I dye I look forward to the surprise results."
Anne Sanderoff-Walker, shawl

Janet Barnard is a weaver, silk dyer, garment maker, and silk paper sculptor.  Her palette is distinctive.  She says that her color choices change with the day and whether she is weaving or dyeing because the colors interact very differently in these techniques. She continues that "I prefer darker palettes as opposed to pastel, and muted colors as opposed to  primary ones. Since I rarely use real images, I can play with color and be surprised with what I get."

Here are examples of two of Janet's recent dyed fabrics:

Janet Barnard, silkscreened cloth

Janet Barnard, silkscreened cloth
You can see examples of Janet's other work and other color choices  in our January blog post on Wondrous, Lustrous Silk

Friday, May 11, 2012

Color Choices

One important aspect of any work of art is color.  We respond to the hues selected (red, blue, etc.) and their values (pale, dark, or something between).  Many books have been written on color choices in art and we all have preferred colors for our clothes and our homes. This month, our gallery theme was Van Gogh's painting of irises.  Many of the members who responded to the theme did so by using the colors of the painting rather than the actual image of an iris.

Janet Stollnitz told me "I looked at Van Gogh’s painting, “Irises,” a number of times.  I liked the colors, but was unsure of what I could weave that would relate to the painting. Since most loom-controlled weaving does not easily lend itself to pictorial images as the interlacement of the yarns is horizontal­ (the weft­) and vertical­ (the warp), I thought in terms of color, texture, and structure of the cloth rather than representational images. In the midst preparing hand-dyed yarns for sale at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, I noticed a skein of hand-dyed Tencel that reminded me of the colors in the painting.  The yarn had shades of purple, green, blue, and a little yellow­–perfect!  A woven scarf would require more yarn than I had in the single skein.  Looking through my stash of commercially dyed yarns I spotted a cone of yarn that was a beautiful blue–sky.  I also found some hand-dyed purple and green silk yarns­–more irises.  I decided to “feature” the variegated yarn by not only making it a wide stripe, but also using a textured weave structure.  The additional silk yarns were narrower stripes woven as different twills. Wanting to emphasize the purple of the irises, I used a solid color purple silk for the weft.  Although my scarf doesn’t say Van Gogh’s “Irises,” it definitely was influenced by the painting."

Janet Stollnitz, scarf (detail)

Janet Stollnitz, scarf

Another artist who worked from the colors of the painting was Masha Kosmos, who submitted a bolero.  Though Masha often does pictorial work, in this case she used the colors of irises rather than their image.

Masha Kosmos, bolero
Photograph by Alexander Fedin

I also asked members of our gallery how they choose colors for their nonrepresentational work, which could be in any colors of the rainbow, when there isn't a theme that suggests particular colors.  Here is Janet Stollnitz's response to that question:

"Floris asked how I usually decide on colors for my scarves­, my procedure when there isn’t a theme.  Do I go my yarn stash and pull some colors that I like together?  Do I start with an inspiration such as a picture or a flower?  Do I start with the color wheel?  Working backwards, it is extremely rare that I look at the color wheel. Sometimes I am inspired by a picture or a flower.  Sometimes I look at my yarn stash and put together a collection of yarns that I think would work together.  More often my color selection is a combination of inspiration from an exhibit and what yarns are available in my stash.  However, my stash is easily changed as I often dye my yarns."

In my own work, art quilts, I sometimes start with a fabric I love and pull other fabrics from my stash of hand-dyes to complement it.  An example of this is "Spring View," which began with the mottled rosy fabric in the "windows."

Floris Flam, Spring View

In other cases, I begin with a painting I like and choose colors from my stash that echo those in the painting, though not necessarily in the same proportions.  For my collage, "Wind Dance," I started with a Rothko painting (Untitled, 1949) and chose fabrics in many textures–hand-dyed cotton and silk organza, painted cheesecloth, Lutradur®, and Gossamer–in the colors of the painting. 

Floris Flam, Wind Dance
Choosing in this way sometimes leads me to colors and combinations outside my usual palette.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gretchen Klimoski's Iris-Inspired Jacket

This is Floris Flam, your May blog editor.  Today we are going to look at the work of Gretchen Klimoski, whose jacket, Iris in a Clifton Garden, won a jurors' recognition award in our show of work inspired by Van Gogh's painting of irises.  
Gretchen Klimoski. Iris in a Clifton Garden

I asked Gretchen to tell us about her work and her process for designing and making her wearable art.

Gretchen told me "I created Toad Hollow Designs after moving to Virginia in 1965 after a long history in the field of historic preservation and serving as a consultant in nonprofit management.  Realizing that this area didn’t need another consultant, I followed a friend to Design With Heart, a fiber arts conference in Santa Fe.  Inspired by so many creative women, I returned home and began to experiment with designs and techniques.  While I had sewn my own clothes for many years, my only try at original design was “designing” new clothing for my paper dolls by cutting up my older sister’s Seventeen magazines. 

"Since 1995 I have explored many surface design techniques but have become very fascinated with all things Japanese.  It all began when I found a merchant on Cape Cod who imported bales of kimono, sold the “best of the best” and took the rest apart to sell as fabric.  I was hooked!!!  Soon I found that the stains and wear and tear of many of these salvaged fabrics limited their use and I now purchase unused kimono bolts from Japan.  Staying in my “Japan” frame of mind I began to experiment with sashiko, the quilting technique of northern Japan. I now us this running stitch technique to re-create traditional – and not so traditional – patterns on many of my designs.  I love the rhythmic flow of the needle through the fiber and can almost meditate while I sew.
Gretchen Klimoski. Sashiko on raw silk vest
"Aside from the kimono fabric, I am an opportunity shopper.  I love ethnic fabrics of all sorts, particularly the ikats of southeast Asia and the rough hewn weavings of parts of Africa.  I sort fabrics into related piles by color and fiber and just sit back and let them speak to me.  That is how Iris in a Clifton Garden came to be.  With the theme of the show in my head my gaze settled on this lovely violet dupioni silk – what could better convey iris in a garden?"
Gretchen Klimoski.  Detail of Iris in a Clifton Garden
Gretchen doesn't confine her work to ethnic fabrics and sashiko stitching.  Here is a hand-painted raincoat she made:

I hope you can visit our gallery and see Gretchen's work.  Iris in a Clifton Garden has already gone home with one of our customers, but you'll find Gretchen's other work and that of our other talented members when you come. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shades of Van Gogh's Irises

AddThis Social Bookmark ButtonMonday was the Potomac Fiberarts Gallery near monthly jury day. SAll work leaves the gallery and an entirely new body of work enters. Each piece is individually juried for acceptance on the basis of artistic quality and technique. This month our theme is Van Gogh's Irises. While not all work needs to be theme related, it is encouraged. 

First,Van Gogh's iris painting:

Three works were singled out as especially outstanding.
Gretchen Klimoski"s hand stitched and beaded silk jacket "Iris in a Clifton Garden":
 Joan Hutten's "Irises", hand dyed felted scarf.
 And Roz Houseknecht's "Purple Iris", nuno felted wool and silk scarf.

Many more iris theme items include: Silk scarves by Lubna Zahid (hand painted) and Joanne Bast (stitched)
 Beaded Necklace by Zoya Gutina

Hand painted scarf by Anna Yakubovskaya

Pieced and stitched Tote bag by Beverly Baker

Nuno felted silk Bolero "Spring" by Masha Kosmos
 Wool Felted neckpiece by Masha Kosmos
Cotton Necklace by Kathleen Thompson
Iris colored Hand woven scarf by Janet Stollnitz
 Hand painted silk adhered to the back of a glass platter by Lubna Zahid

For the past 4-5 years, a spring theme has been a classic painting and it always stimulates the creativity of out members. Joanne

Saturday, April 21, 2012

More Nuno felt and new Gallery Theme-Van Gogh's Irises

AddThis Social Bookmark ButtonI have a wonderful nuno felted neckpiece by Masha Kosmos to share. She states that The basis of this Necklace is 100% natural silk hand felted with very soft merino wool and silk fibers and Decorated with tears beads.
The front of the Necklace, from the top to the bottom is 6 inches deep.
The Length of this Necklace is about 21 inches.  

It is time for the Gallery to close the previous themed show and jury in another. The theme for the April-May show which will begin on Monday is Van Gogh's Irises. For the past few years, each spring we have selected a classic painting and encouraged members to interpret it in fiberart. I have some previews of works to be submitted to the next gallery show:

First, Masha has told me that she has made a nuno felt bolero for the Van Gogh exhibition but has not as yet photographed it.

Second, Joan Hutten has created a shawl based on iris colors.  It is wet felted with hand dyed wool fleece and angelina fibers in turquoises and lavenders.

Kay Collins selection is The silk painting is of a German bearded iris growing in her yard. She used silk dyes and painted on china silk with a "dry brush" technique that she has used when painting watercolors as opposed to the traditional silk painting technique of filling a loaded brush of silk dye between lines of gutta drawn on the fabric.

Roz Houseknecht's entry will be a nuno wool on silk scarf.

I (Joanne Bast) also have been working with the iris theme. A freeform machine stitched bowl of sewing threads, a silk scarf with stitched irises, and a felted wool and silk wall hanging.

The Van Gogh Iris Exhibition show be an interesting one. Come in if you are local. Check the website is you are not. Joanne