For some time I have been buying old napkins and tablecloths at yard sales. I think it started because I had some I had inherited, but I couldn't bring myself to do anything with them...my philosophy usually is 'use it, they'll make more', but something stopped me from using those exact ones. So I bought other people's discards.
I love the feel of them, the texture, the way the patterns are subtle but still distinctive. I've even done some compost dyeing with some of the tablecloths.
But recently I started playing with dyeing them. I'm not sure of their fiber content, but I think they're linen. If they're not, they're cotton. Either way, they take Procion Mx dyes wonderfully. I do multiple dye baths to get a range of color in them (which I plan to exploit with a bleach pen soon).
At the same time, I was drawn back to a bird I keep drawing. I had started him from a petroglyph I saw online somewhere, but thanks to an article about Morris Graves on the Ragged Cloth blog, I was reminded of the ones that the abstract expressionists made. Including one of my favorites, Paul Klee.
So when I saw the color and depth of one batch of the napkins, I wanted to recreate that feeling, the low key value system, the texture, the mystery. Here is the result of the first one:
The bird was sketched with Shiva paint sticks. He looks off the edge of the piece, almost sadly. I then machine quilted it heavily, but the piece seemed a little too bright. So I fused on some black Misty Fuse, torn into abstract shapes. Better. But they are a little too shiny.
So I've started yet another series...this piece is named 'After Klee'.