12.14.2005

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.

4 comments:

Valeri said...

These look fascinating. It is fun melting things isn't it as one is never sure as to the exact results. It would have been better to have a bigger picture as these were hard to see detail on. Just a comment for future reference!

bj parady said...

how big can I make the pictures before I make them too big?

Valeri said...

I'm on broadband but I've been loading stuff that is about 250kb and a .jpg. When you upload it with Hello or Picasa they will convert it.

bj parady said...

thanks. I'm on dialup, hence the concern about size :)