This Little Guy

This wasn’t my own pattern or anything, just a fan project that I’m working on with a friend. It was a heritage doll pattern that they adapted and my first stab at soft sculpture in so very very long.

IMG_5590I try to be a lot more closely representational in my own work, caricatures are not my strength but taken in pieces, it came together. It all started with the eyes and I will admit that I went far overboard on the amount of colours but… hazel! They’re hazel eyes, they’re supposed to have a crazy amount of colours in them!

IMG_5608The face was very simple as is the case with most heritage dolls, but I did make the eyebrows a lot thicker than the lines that they suggested because it was necessary. The character he’s styled after has some eyebrows on him. The eyes were a simple long stitch done much like an eyelet with a French knot in the centre for the pupil. The nose and eye outline a stem stitch; and the eyebrows and mouth were satin stitched lines.

The hair took the longest just because of the sheer area to cover with long and short stitches, I marked the hairline and sideburns first and then left him looking like a medieval monk for too long while I worked on the back of his head.

IMG_6200I left the bangs and the beard till last because they really complete the face for me. I was going to add a little salt to the pepper and may yet but I want to get the clothing completed first. Not going to reveal which character he is but also not going to deny it if someone guessed.

Misspent Youth, The Technique

I would never have gone so far as to call myself a graffiti “artist” even back in the day but there is a slight chance that I may have dabbled in a little urban… decoration in my time. My (alleged) technique of choice was stencils because of the speed and precision of the image.

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FullSizeRender2Putting all of those hours spent with an Exacto blade to good use for the sake of a Boba Fett cosplay commission.

 

IMG_5167This was done for an as-yet-to-be-revealed project. The image transfer technique that I was trying didn’t work at all (so grateful for no deadline!) so I went back to the tried-and-true for this part of the process.

I have definitely come to prefer screenprinting for a lot of my textile work but it was great to have this to fall back on as a low-tech solution when I needed it.

And there are still a lot of undecorated dumpsters in my neighborhood so it might come in handy! Allegedly.

 

The Images, The Album Art, the Tshirts, the Technique

As much as the music and lyrics were behind the Steam Punk series, the art and logos found on the liners, on those black rock shirts was just as much a part of the experience for me. The task was to scale those images to tea cosy size! I tried a few different techniques with varied success.

FullSizeRender1For the more complex photo, I tried Mod Podge as it seemed to be one of the more reliable methods out there.

IMG_4261 I reversed the images as necessary, tried a few sizes as I didn’t know what I wanted and just followed the instructions.

The greyscale photo transferred really well for what I had intended but there were a few patches that didn’t register. I suspect that the goo was a little thick and just didn’t cure sufficiently. It was kind of like creating an iron-on decal right on the surface of the shirt.

 

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The crazy quilt style of the Steam Punk pieces means that I was able to maneuver around the bare patches.

The other technique involved soaking the paper in solvent and burnishing it straight onto the fabric but… it didn’t work, not even a little so I don’t have any pictures of it. I’m game to try it again as I suspect that I used the wrong type of printer to produce the transfer images. I’ll write about that one when I get another run at it!

Spite Can Be So Motivating

Sooooo maybe this piece was inspired by a very specific “them”, but so what? I needed to practice my rusty embroidery skills and this was as good a sentiment to immortalize in silk as any!

FullSizeRenderMy Photoshop skills are weak so I sketched out the pattern by hand. No specific font, I just stretched out and cleaned up my own block printing. Dredged up all of those drafting skills from my first run at university!

IMG_5840I was feeling an 80s vibe when I was auditioning thread against my favourite polka dots. I’ve tucked the green away for some future project.

IMG_5841Played around with the colours and patterns before I committed anything to cloth.

My satin stitch is slowly recovering but doing it in black hides a lot of sins, adding a single strand outline around each letter hides the rest of them.

IMG_6704I filled in the color with I guess a long and short stitch? Maybe? Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of structure to it, I just kept filling in stitches until I had the coverage that I wanted. I was using 2 strands so it’s a little lumpier in closeup but it works. The really high gloss thread like this is a bit of a pain to work with but worth it for the shine.

I’m happy with how it turned out though and I can honestly say that I still feel that way today so it hangs proudly on my wall now.

 

That Super Secret Project I May Have Mentioned

Joined

Each of my Steam Punk pieces begins with temporary musical insanity. When I’m immersed in a piece, the regular music playlist becomes a single song on a loop, then maybe just a phrase as I sift through images and racks of clothing for scraps of memory to use.

I Live By The River. 2014. 8 x 9 x 6 inches, quilted and embellished textile.
I Live By The River. 2014. 8 x 9 x 6 inches, quilted and embellished textile.

For the most impressionable of my impressionable years, my mother ran a record store in an isolated Northern town. Because she had a lifelong love of all things musical and an apparently boundless enthusiasm for new styles, the punk music was the soundtrack of my days. I roamed free range through the store, practicing reading from liner notes and rearranging the vinyl in the racks according to my artistic tastes of the day. Album art and concert stills an indelible backdrop to so many rites of passage.

She Just Couldn't Stay. 2015. 6 x 9 x 6 inches, quilted and embellished textile.
She Just Couldn’t Stay. 2015. 6 x 9 x 6 inches, quilted and embellished textile.

The lyrical language that I soaked in gave me the vocabulary that I would need after she died much too young. The well meaning hospitality and murmured condolences offered by women of the community did nothing for an angry pre-teen who already chafed at the isolation of the small town.

In its day, crazy quilting was considered rebellious, rejecting the traditional patterns and symmetry of the time, the creative freedom that it allowed was a danger to both health and home! In the same spirit, I use salvaged fabrics and embellishments to recall the songs that taught me that a wall of noise could drown out the murmur of tea and comfort when needed. I hope that my work allows the viewer to recall and reconnect with the music that gave them permission to scream and flail and stomp when they needed to.