Friday, June 30, 2017

Floating in a Sea of Symbols

Floating in a Sea of Symbols
40" x 40"

created for:  Dinner@Eight, Personal Iconography: Graffiti on Cloth An artistic expression based on personal style

An underlying social message

A story that is told through lines, shapes and imagery

A graphic landscape that conveys a story

A mark, an object, an idea

"As I get older, I indulge in reminiscing about my past. Each ocean layer is comprised of an abstraction of shapes which have multiple meanings for me. This allows me to express my personal history while simultaneously maintain some privacy."
This is an invitational juried exhibit.  Each year when I make my entry, I never know if I will be able to come up with an idea and then be able to execute that idea to my satisfaction, AND, whether or not it will fit in with the rest of the exhibit.  I am delighted to find out that this quilt has been accepted to the exhibit.  I am also very pleased that it is so appealing to me.  Double win!
I had a hard time getting started on this one.  The theme of personal iconography didn't speak to me.  I struggled and struggled.  I gave up more than once.  I tried googling the words in the title.  I tried journaling about what it meant to me....more than once.  The entry description is purposefully vague and open to interpretation, but I was not feeling it.  Sigh...
For me, making art is about expressing something that I need to give my voice to, something personal, something meaningful.  However that voice can also be too personal, sometimes private, and I am not comfortable sharing it with a wider audience.  It is a delicate balance.  

And so, I finally made some progress when I settled on an ocean theme, with blues, and quite a bit of reminiscing.  Each layer goes back to some period in my life.  All of the symbols represented large overlapping chunks of my life, decades.  I also had a long list of symbols I wanted to use, but decided to narrow my choices to those that had multiple meanings for me.  

I started with blue. It has been a while since I have dyed anything or played in my batik studio.  So, I bought some new blue dyes, and set about the task of experimenting so that I could choose my blue palette.
Next stop, the process of patterning my cloth with batik.
These concentric rings would become my sodium chloride ions.  The fabric started as blue, then I stamped some concentric blue circles with different found objects.  This shows what it looked like after bleaching out the blue fabric that was not protected by wax. It was later painted with 2 different colors of dye.  Then the wax was boiled out.  I used fabric paint to paint dots for the electrons, and a black ink pen to put the symbols Na+ and Cl-. (Not tedious at all, eh??)
This one is similar to the above.  It was dyed a dark blue, batiked, and then bleach discharged.  It is waiting to be overdyed.  Notice how the dark blue dye did not discharge to a white (like the fabric above).  That happens sometimes, and it adds interesting color qualities to the next stage of overdyeing.
These two have been dyed, and then batiked.  The next step is the bleach discharge to remove the color.  And then dyeing again to put a contrasting color on top.  
After getting all my fabrics done, I decided which order to put them in by layering them on the floor.
Then, I used a freezer paper template to cut out the wave shapes for each layer.  The fabric was then fused (sweet, sweet Mistyfuse) to some white cotton batting, and then the white batting was trimmed with scissors to echo the shape of the fabric wave.  I built up the quilt one layer at a time, machine quilting as I went.  When I finished, I hand stitched the tiny white float with the girl on it.
As for the bicycle layer?  I ironed freezer paper to the back of a section of blue fabric, and then traced with a black pen from a line drawing underneath.  I taped the drawing and the freezer-paper-backed-fabric to my sliding glass door to let the sun shine through in order to see the drawing through the blue fabric.  Then I colored in different parts of the bicycle with markers and heat set. I LOVE the bicycle!  And, I love the scale of the bicycle!

This exhibit will open at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this fall.  It will be at both Quilt Market (Oct 27-30) and Festival (Nov 1-5).  I can't wait to see it!  The images flooding Facebook yesterday from the selected artists are incredible!

1 comment:

Cindy Cooksey said...

I already loved your quilt when I saw it on fb, but it was great to hear you talk about it, step by step. Wonderful work!