THE “STITCH-MARK” AND THREAD-DRAWING
The use of thread as a linear “thread-drawing” method in textile pieces during “The Threads Project” became a singularly important idea.
The discovery of a triangular mark, the “stitch-mark”, as it came to be called, was a simple yet versatile method of creating texture on cloth as well as serving as a method of making “drawings” with thread. By varying the length of each side of the stitch I could cover large areas while varying the direction and size of the mark. This quickly became a useful motif which I then adapted into works on paper, drawing, and painting.
In keeping with the basic concepts of THREADS PROJECT, I wanted to use paper as well as cloth and often combined the two. Here was the possibility to create “hybrid” images. In some cases I incorporated thread stitches into the surface which might be paper or on canvas. In others the motif was painted or combined with pastel but the main idea was to continue to use a variety of ways to blur the distinction between “fine art” and “craft” (textiles in this case).
As with many of the other methods of mark-making over the years (frottage, embossing, wrinkling, masks, xerox, etc.) the “stitch-mark” provided a fertile new territory for expanding my definition of drawing. It seems that the borders of drawing and those of “works on paper” are as porous as those of “fine art” and “craft” but the terms are quite useful in their ambiguity.
Below, “Turquoise Thread Map” is from the first years of “The Threads Project”. The triangular “stitch-mark” serves to add texture to the border but also as a drawing method within the image. This is an example of a “thread drawing”.
TURQUOISE THREAD MAP 2003 Thread on cotton 29 x 25″
Another textile piece, “River, Stones” (which is also the image for my blog header) is one of the major works of “The Threads Project”. This began as part of a series I had in mind to create a large series of analogous images. Analogous imagery is a primary idea for the Project. I wanted to prevent the viewer from immediately ascertaining whether the work could be thought of as “art” or “craft” and so the idea to blend materials and techniques with cloth and paper came into play. This particular work was meant to be one of perhaps six very large vertical pieces, each roughly six feet high by four feet wide using a variety of supports and media. They were to be linked by theme, size,and perhaps color. I had already completed two of the “Analogy” Series on Okawara paper and wanted to use a fabric for this work.
I started this with a tightly-woven silk as my main support, with brush-strokes of black acrylic, adding black cotton “stones” and layers of various colors of tulle to take advantage of the transparencies. With thousands and thousands of stitches, including the important “stitch-mark” this work took six months to complete. Near the end I realized that this could not work as a vertical piece. What I had made was a horizontal work, a memory of standing on a walkway next to a little river looking down into schools of tiny fish, waving water plants and the beautiful dapples of light on the water.
RIVER, STONES 2003-2004 Tulle, cotton, acrylic, thread on silk mounted to cotton 35 x 68″
Detail of RIVER, STONES:
The “stitch-mark” again, serves as a drawing element, as “thread-drawing”.
Many of the drawings and works on paper are on or of a favorite paper, Okawara, a natural-color Japanese paper that is glazed on one side and has a toothy, more fibrous surface on the other. The suppleness and strength of this beautiful paper appeals not only because of these characteristics, but because it clothlike surface provides the perfect material to link textile works to the drawing. Its surface accepts many media-pastel, colored pencil, acrylic. It can be cut, sewn, collaged. Okawara, as do other Japanese papers, serves as beautiful surface for Asian-style brush paintings such as Sumi, but when using fluid acrylics (I use the Golden line) wonderfully expressive strokes can also be made.
Using this technique again, this time on the Okawara paper,”Seeing Red” has layers of paper. The drawing with red colored pencil can be seen underneath. This “analogous” work can be compared to a collage or to applique’ in textiles. It is a “hybrid”, bridging, as the Project intended, art and craft.
SEEING RED 2003 thread, colored pencil, Okawara paper 12 x 17″
Some of the additional methods used as I continued this avenue, included collaging drawing fragments to a heavier watercolor paper. Here are several works, beginning in 2004:
WEB DRAWING #3 2004 Marker on paper, with reversal, collaged to watercolor paper 12 x 9″
WEB DRAWING #1 2004 Pencil, marker on paper collaged to watercolor paper 12 x 9″
FRAGMENT I 2006 Marker on paper, with reversal, collaged to watercolor paper 15 x 20″
WEB DRAWING V 2006 Color pencil, thread, hand-sewn to paper with embossing, frottage 8.5 x 14″
This pair, mounted together are created from one another. The image on the left was made by using the method of frottage-making a rubbing of the image on the right which has embossing and the use of “stitch-marks”, hand-sewn.
These experimentations with drawing clearly blur the categories of drawing and works on paper.
Over several years this work developed into a new body of work I call “Webs And Threads”. Although I had not called myself a painter before, I began painting using the “stitch-mark” and found that this motif was a wonderful way to begin painting in earnest. 2004 was a most productive year and I was pleased that three of my “Web” paintings were accepted into a juried show in Massachusetts.
In my next post I will show some of the paintings which were made using the theme of the “Stitch-mark”.