Friday, 14 June 2019

Backbone of the night II - new textile artwork

Backbone of the night II.  (60 x 112cm). Dyed antique linen, machine & hand embroidery.

Here is my latest textile work, three months in the making. The theme is of course, the Milky Way, of which the title 'Backbone of the night' refers to. I had an idea of extreme contrast of a white centre merging into deepest indigo of which was achieved through a bit of shibori dyeing, tightly wrapping cord round the middle and multiple dip dyeing. Some cold wax resist was applied to suggest stars and red Victorian fabric circles were needle punched through the main cloth to suggest supernovas.

I liked the idea of mapping the stars and referring to our planet's unique position in the galaxy so coordinates of the nearest stars and projection lines are stitched into the overall design. The piece went through various design stages from sampling to unpicking stitching on the actual piece that didn't work. There was going to be big red hand stitching on the outer edges that I eventually rejected. Through out the making, I constantly think, changing and making decisions which is all part of the process and labour spent on a work.

My work involves using antique and vintage textiles, the rips, darns, pattern and stains all become part of the design. The main fabric is part of a antique linen sheet dyed in indigo. Round the edges of the piece (see photo below), dark blue vintage Japanese fabric has been needle punched from underneath to give a rough worn texture.

I use hand dyed threads in cotton, silk and linen in a variety of thicknesses. Hand stitching in a running stitch is mainly applied all over the work with the machine embroidered design restricted to the centre. I love hand stitching the most as it's satisfying for me to do but also I like to see the handworked element. 

The whole piece is then backed onto a light cotton batting and vintage cotton sheeting with a bias bound edge to help give body to it. Eventually, once the piece has been exhibited at the Festival of Quilts this August, it will be mounted and framed so it's more easy to sell as an artwork.

So hopefully, this gives a better understanding on what makes a textile artwork.