Now that I’m done with phase 1 and phase 2 of the process in creating my most recent piece “Under the Microscope #3”, I move on to the third phase. In this phase, I use my sewing machine to create line drawings in my work.
Line drawings can be done with pen, pencil paints etc. I choose to do my line drawings with threads by pushing the concept of what a stitch can be used for.
I used line drawings in three different ways. I used them to
- hold the fabric collage pieces
- draw dendrite branches
- draw cell-like shapes
Line Drawings with Thread to Secure the Collage Pieces
Stitching the collage pieces to my background fabric was easy peasy. I just had to “retrace” the shapes with my machine stitching in order to accomplish that.
I must say that I find sewing free-hand much easier than following a path or tracing a pattern. It’s so much faster because you don’t need to ensure that you’re sewing exactly on any lines.
But it’s a necessary part of the process to ensure a high-quality piece of work. So I patiently and carefully secured all my fabric collage pieces with stitches.
Then came the next two parts which were so fun. Because they do not involve tracing. It’s all improvisational drawing of shapes with my sewing machine.
Line Drawings with Thread to Create Dendrite Branches
Stitching the line drawings in this part involved some planning ahead. But it wasn’t all planned as the previous part. So it was still a lot of fun.
Since it’s much more difficult to get a sense of the total area of the piece I’m working on when it’s under the sewing machine needle, I had to do some planning ahead. I used my white Fons & Porter mechanical pencil to draw shapes on the piece while it was pinned up on the wall to help me figure out a good design layout for the branches.
I’ll make a few line drawings, then return to the sewing machine to sew. After which I’ll pin the work up to the wall again to figure out where the next lines needed to go. It was as though each line drawing determined what the next response or line drawing needed to be.
That’s the beauty of working improvisationally. You don’t know what the next step is going to be until you take this step.
All the while I was sewing the line drawings, I had to keep in mind my guiding principle #3 of how to create exciting color schemes. Because the fact was that each tree branch I sewed added some more color to the piece. So I had to make sure my color scheme was still working.
Line Drawings with Thread to Create Cell-Like Shapes
Drawing the cell-like shapes was the most fun of all the three types of stitching I had to do on this piece. But it was also agonizing in that I had to stop very often to change threads and to pin it up to the wall and make sure that I was mixing up the thread colors in a good proportion.
I stitched for hours at a stretch. And then I’ll leave it for hours and sometimes days without any stitching. In those periods, I came back several times to stare at it on the wall, just to make sure, I was getting a good overall design.
There’s something about looking at the work on the wall that doesn’t happen when you look at it on a table. On the wall, it’s easier to figure out what the next move needs to be. However, on a table, it doesn’t come that easily.
There were days when I went into my studio planning to do two hours of thread work and by the time I looked up at the clock I’d done four hours without noticing. But after several hours of work, the thread work is finally done. I’ve got a rule of not unpicking stitches. I just don’t have the patience and time for that. So it was all done without using a seam ripper. Not even once in the process. Yay!!
The next phase will be squaring it up so all the edges are straight. Then sewing on a facing to finish the edges and attaching a sleeve to the back for hanging. I’m getting there. In a little while, I’ll be done with it and it will be all ready for entry in the exhibition – Local Color 3: Inspired by Science.