Taking a Break With Some Beads

b_beading_7726 aThe knitting order is done. A painting has just been finished (post to come soon!). Panels have been primed with gesso. It seemed like a good time to mix things up a bit and spend some time on fibre art.

b_beading_7727 aI’ve taken a different approach to this piece compared to everything I did in 2014. First, this one is small; 10 inches by 12.5 inches or so (unmounted). Secondly, it is completely unplanned, it was a case of drawing out the image with stitch. I needed to loosen up the pieces to enjoy working on them and let them evolve and not have rules. I needed to shrink the size of the pieces as on large works the bead work was being lost in the scale. The beads worked wonderfully when viewing a piece in person (lots of “wow” factor), but on a computer screen the detail was completely lost. Unfortunately the reality now is that work needs to look better on a screen than in reality, that is how shows are chosen. So in keeping with “playing the game” I am going small with the fibre art pieces so that the beaded detail shows.

Now I am starting to flesh the image out with glass seed beads. Each bead is about 1mm in depth. Time consuming work. Last night I sat down to work on the piece, BBC documentaries playing in the background (slightly addicted to BBC docs!), and when I finally looked up at the clock it was 4:00 am. What is more, only a small portion of the area is done. Slow, slow work…and morning comes way too quickly when you work until 4:00 am or later.

b_beading_7728 aThe piece is again made of naturally dyed threads and fabrics that I have hand dyed in micro batches. The base piece is cotton dyed in marigold, the blue thread in the image above is indigo. There are also, to date, appearances of logwood, cutch, and a funky lac/madder combo (seems to be a weird personal favorite on cotton….no idea why).

I am using up bits and pieces from my stash of naturally dyed materials; making what I currently have work before I end up with an unmanageable amount of naturally dyed fabrics and threads. Next in the “stash busting” will be using some of the eco-printed fabrics, perhaps incorporating stitching and beading (of course!), and maybe going with creating functional items for a change.

Fibre art by Debra Hunter
www.debra-hunter.com
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Also check out the project I am building at
www.handmade-canada.com .

A project being built for for Canadian artists, artisans, writers, musicians and growers.

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What’s Happening Thursday

Seeing as I’ve been foot powered for four weeks I’ve been tackling quite a few projects. Here is what is happening today:

blog knit crochet_4367Weaving in ends and blocking knit and crocheted pieces.

blog knit and crochet_4363Prepping cotton pieces and yarn to be scoured, mordanted and dyed.

blog crochet_4375Reworking a crocheted prototype…different hook size and measurements. Sometimes you just “know” you can make an item more functional and better.

blog crochet beads_4372Working beads into crocheted pieces.

blog spin_4386Breaking down yarn scraps to spin……

blog spin_4383….and spinning them. The ball of yarn is growing. Quite frightening to think these scraps would normally just go to the landfill.

blog stiching_4379I have also started another stitched piece. Smaller. Experimental. Naturally dyed (as usual). Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, we’ll just see where it goes.

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Crafted by Debra Hunter
www.debra-hunter.com

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Interested in the new project I’m building? Check out Handmade in Canada.

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“Remnants” (2015) – a new fibre art piece

Sharing a finished art piece that I have blogged on my website http://www.debra-hunter.com .

Debra Hunter - Canadian photography, art and handmade

"Remnants" (2015) 10" x 14" ntutally dyed and eco dyed cotton, naturally dyed cotton, silk and wool threads, hand stitching “Remnants”
(2015)
10″ x 14″
naturally dyed and eco dyed cotton, naturally dyed cotton, silk and wool threads, hand stitching, lino cut bull skull

“Remnants” is finally finished. This fibre art piece, started in late October or early November has been a journey. Originally it was to be a small lino cut skull printed on naturally dyed fabric and then embellished by beads. As I worked on the piece the idea grew to a larger piece that incorporated eco printed fabric ( the leaf imprints), took on a landscape concept, and relied on hand stitching to create the image. The idea of beading was completely abandoned; too fancy for this piece.

This piece has a roughness about it. Raw edges. Rough fabric. Lopi tacked down. Fabrics dyed with marigold and tansy; dyes from the earth. It is a rugged piece, rugged like the prairies. Inspired by farms down dirt roads…

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Bull Fighting

blog bull fighting

detail of piece, bull skull measures 6 inches across

Working on this piece has been so rough it has felt like bull fighting. What a trial.

I think I may have shared a snippet of this piece before so I thought I would do a “work in progress” post as incentive to get the piece finished. Originally I started this work back in October or November, it fit a theme for a submission so I jumped in with both feet. I quickly discovered an ambitious idea, even on a small scale, takes a lot longer than a few weeks to complete so I abandoned any thought of submitting the piece.

I wanted to put together a fibre piece that had a lot of different elements. So far this piece has been naturally dyed, eco printed, had a lino-cut made of the bull skull and then printed on the fabric, it has been stitched with various hand dyed threads including some very thick lopi. Beading is still to come.

Composition was a challenge from the beginning, probably because I didn’t plot everything out and just went for it……..and then changed my mind from a small 5″x7″ piece to a 9.5″x14 inch piece part way through when I realized I wasn’t going to submit it. Thankfully the lopi helped tie the composition together.

The lino-cut didn’t reproduce exactly how I had planned either with the final look being thin and grayish. I’m not sure if the natural dye I used was maybe weaker than my last batch, or it was a case of printing a lino cut on the naturally dyed eco-printed fabric, but things didn’t go to plan. Perhaps a mix of too many variables to really be able to pinpoint the lino-cut issues. Rather than dwell on the issues stitching seemed to be the answer. I will try a print on plain fabric once this project is done and then I can see if there is a dye problem and then fix it if needed.

The other challenge has been the actually stitching, the fabric (2 layers) is almost impossible to get a needle through. I have never encountered this before. So far I have tried many different needle and thread combinations but the result has been the same, the only way I can stitch is pulling the needle through one stitch at a time with pliers. It has taken forever. Strange thing is I have used these fabrics before , they are just different cottons, and one layer at a time they are fine, but going through two layers is impossible without pliers (and you have to pull really hard too!). Really odd.

So what is left to do? I need to finish up the “grassland” stitching and stitch around the eco-printed leaves (these items aren’t included in the detailed section in the picture shown). After that a little bit of beading just to add in one more element and introduce a new texture and some new colors. The last decision will be how to frame or hang the piece (never easy to figure out).

There is still a very long way to go.

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For those who are interested, I have a new photo project blog going, a photo essay of our neighbourhoood. It is a “mostly pictures and not much text” blog that evolved out of another blog that was started almost a year ago. I think it will be interesting to explore our neighbourhood through a lens. The blog can be found HERE if you are interested.

Of course I still write at the blogs  Island Home and  Debra Hunter as well. Each blog has a different focus and they are pretty fun to write.

www.thehuntergroup.ca

 

A Change in Light Can Make a Difference

The three pieces shown above have been hanging in one of my studios for a while. As I have walked past them over and over I noticed how the way they look in real life looks nothing like how they look on-line. It has been really frustrating. So a few nights ago I decided to go with a harsher, more directional light and it made an improvement.

The biggest change was in the appearance of “The Star Money”. Now it has more dimension where the first version really flattened out the piece, now the silk has more richness.

“Sunset, North Saskatchewan River” also improved under the directional lighting, especially in the beading. The piece is still more interesting viewed in person. It is hard to shrink a piece over three feet in height down to four or five inches high and expect it to have the same impact. The intricate beading can only be appreciated in person.

“Grain Elevator and Tansy” had only a small improvement probably as it is mostly cotton with few reflective areas.  The reproduction of this piece looks very much like the original piece with both lighting patterns. It was interesting seeing this piece shot both ways (previously it was soft, even lighting) just for the sake of the experiment.

So I have learned a lesson this week. The harsher, directional light will be the best option for pieces made of silk or with reflective areas such as the glass beads.

Now I need to find where the originals were posted and substitute in the “new and improved” versions!

 

 

Nothing says “Fairy Tale” Like Beaded Stars

I feel like I have been neglecting this blog a little bit, but I have been spending my normal blogging time beading and stitching. Most of the past week I have focused on beading. I think glitzy, sparkling, beaded stars are just perfect for a fairy tale themed piece.

blog star money in progress 1Here are a few detail pictures, as you can tell this piece is all about fun.

blog star money in progress 2Hundreds upon hundreds of tiny seed beads. My goal is to have all the beading done by this evening.

Artwork by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

www.thehuntergroup.ca