unintended consequences

I don't do figurative work. I just don't. Maybe it's tied up in why I studied botany in college and had no interest in zoology--I would just rather look at plants than animals. Or find more artistic inspiration in them. Or maybe it's more shallow than that, and based on the simple truth that plants hold still while you examine them.

A few days ago I got seven more linen napkins for 25c apiece. I decided to try some shibori techniques on them (without taking the trouble of actually looking up how to do shibori). I pleated and stitched and threw them in a midnight blue dye bath.

The results were ok, but not quite what I thought I would get--which is part of the fun of dyeing. I ironed them, and started playing with them (after all, I had less than $2 invested in the whole bunch, so no down side to messing one up).

One had not very much white space left. It kind of reminded me of trees in a dense woodland, so I took out my tsukineko inks and added some yellows to hint at foliage, a bit of rusty brown for the ground. When it was dry, I hung it on my design wall.

Do you see the men standing there, all in a row? The second vertical line from the left indicates the most prominent one. Men in the woods? They're kind of scary looking. And now that I've seen them, there's no turning back. It's like the spot in the wood paneling of my childhood home, where a face could plainly be seen staring out at me. I couldn't turn away no matter how spooked I got. That problem was solved when my father built a bookcase that happened to cover it.

But what to do with this? Go with the flow and accentuate the figures? Ignore them and let them be a surprise to the viewer? Pass the piece on to someone who likes spooky things? (Ann, it reminds me of your piece that spooks me)...I can't decide.

And so it hangs on my wall, all of them staring at me, waiting for me to decide. The unfinished project, one of the spookiest things of all.


Ann said...

"Men" in a forest?


bj parady said...

how do you find these things??? get thee back to your studio.

Deb said...

I see them and I love the unintended mysteries that happen in dyeing and I have the same frustration around what to DO with this wierd little things.

Look at this one:
I still haven't cut it up or used it almost two years later.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Can't resist adding my own piece of fabric that is filled with faces. I'd folded the fabric and applied paint until it was saturated. I'd done this sort of thing with immersion dying and was curious to see if I could get a similar lattice effect with the paint. I'd never gotten quite this effect before - it evokes masks in my mind. See it here: http://idahobeautyquilts.blogspot.com/2006/06/oh-my.html

I'm planning to quilt it to emphasize the mask idea, and add a few squares of fabric here and there that have been printed with eyes. Well, if it's going to be spooky, you might as well go all the way!

My partner and I were always finding faces in our hand-dyed fabric we bundled for sale. Some customers were thrilled, others not so much. One t-shirt had a little figure that really and truly looked like Jesus - it just wasn't us that thought so. Now THAT was spooky!