aurora stuck

I am paralyzed by a fabric. This fabric, in fact.
I made it over a year ago, playing around with potato dextrin (not reading the directions of course) and fiber reactive dyes. This is actually the back side of the fabric, which I have, after much debate, decided I like better than the front side.
When I look at it, I see the aurora borealis over the Mississippi. See the far shore in the picture, the reflections in the water, the streak across the sky? It's there, it's subtle, it may be all my imagination.
Sometimes I think I should just let it be, and frame it as is. I paint watercolors, too, and the hardest lesson I keep having to learn over and over is to just stop painting when it's nearly right. Go too far in watercolor, and there's no going back. Many pictures are ruined by continuing when I should have just stopped.
But then there's the thought--an evil, insidious thought--that I should continue just for a bit, that I, the almighty artist, will know when it's right to stop, there'll be no question in my mind. The almighty artist rarely speaks up at the right time. I have the discard pile to prove it.
And I do know that a lot of what I might do to this particular fabric would be reversible. But some things I do aren't. So here I sit, stuck on it as surely as it's stuck on the wall. Generally I can convince myself to dive in (I believe in the Doritos principle--use it, I can make more), but something about this piece and its serendipitous beginnings makes it a unique piece I'm afraid I can't replace.
I ironed it again today, hung it back up after not seeing it for a few weeks. I fear I will probably let it hang there until the new year, and then put it away again. Maybe the right idea for finishing it will come along, that perfect solution...but I do love the piece the way it is now.


ok, here's a bigger view. Is it too big? Does it load to slowly? Can you tell I'm on a dialup connection and very concerned about this issue?

felt and silk

It all started with a piece of silk I painted. I was trying to abstract the scene of late fall trees along the Mississippi riverbank, where just a few still had yellow leaves. The sky was gray, the water was gray, the trees were brown and rusts, but there were bursts of yellow gold here and there.
The painting was going well, but for some reason I decided I should repeat the yellow gold in the sky. Big mistake. When the piece was done, that was where my eye went first. I tried adding lots of different things on top, the only thing that came close to working was a bright blue piece of silk with yellow and orange shapes on it. But that changed the feel of the piece, and I wasn't happy.
Then a new issue of Quilting Arts arrived. Although I can't point to any one article as inspiration, somehow the idea of layering with melted felt came to me. So off I went to the only choice in town, WalMart. They didn't have felt on the bolt in a suitable color, so I came home with pieces of 9x12 in denim blue.
I wanted to modify the color of the felt, so I tried disperse dye printing on it--success. Next I stitched in random swirls all over the piece with Sulky blendable thread. I arranged the pieces on the top of the silk (which I had backed with a stiff cotton to control it), butting them up next to each other. Using straight lines and an irregular grid (no marking!), the felt was secured.
Now came the fun, the pyromaniac in me says. I got out the heat gun and started the melting. At first I trimmed back where the loose edges were, but decided I liked the randomness of the heat gun better. You can see the difference where the big open spaces crisscross the piece. The hardest part, as usual for me, was knowing when to stop.
The final touch was some iridescent Shiva paintstick over the melted edges. The resulting piece, Prairie Fire, looks like stained glass to me.
The next piece was done with bolt felt, and it didn't melt as well. The fuzziness of the felt still shows in the final piece. But I like it anyway. The colors remind me of June, but the felt gives an aged feel to the piece, so I called it Last June.
Because I keep hearing the name Kunin felt associated with melting, I looked for it and the only kinds I could find were glitter and furry. I got a piece of the furry, stitched on it, and melted. Lots of potential there.
Now the only problem is to come up with a short name for this process and series...felt and silk doesn't quite cut it.