Artist, Designer, Traveler, Writer, Photographer

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING

The late summer has been a time of re-organization, of purging uneeded things, of going through items left in the boxes and containers packed when I moved to my new place in Chicago nearly three years ago. After a long period of recuperating from several ailments and disasters I finally sense the creative flow beginning again. As in past fallow periods these are followed by times of assessing what I have to work with. The state of painting and drawing supplies, papers, and in this case, containers with many remaining pieces of cloth from The Threads Project.

In one box I came across a leftover scrap of white gauze. The larger portion was used to make a scroll-shaped piece called “Tender Threads”. It is described elsewhere in the Posts. It was composed simply of gauze and unspooled black thread.

This small remnant called out to be transformed as well. Using another larger scrap of black cotton upon which to work I used thread fragments in black, snippets of black tulle along with larger pieces of white tulle to layer the image. Returning to the use of the “stitch-mark”, the triangular stitch so often employed in The Threads Project, I fastened all together.

NEW THREADS 2022 12 x 13.5 inches white gauze, thread, tulle on black cotton

These random scraps could have been overlooked or discounted as having no use, but something about the gauze suggested otherwise.

I am reminded of the textile piece, “Moon, Stream, Forest” (seen in the post “Old Tradition, New Art”) which I made from scraps of cloth when I had no scissors available. I used a nail clipper to cut thread and the piece could only use the shapes of existing fabric pieces carried in a ziplock bag (result of moving back to San Franciso and waiting for possessions to be shipped.) Again, “Something from nothing.”

Following “New Threads”, I rummaged through my stores of paper. My favorite paper is, hands down, the fabulous Japanese-style Okawara. it has a smooth, glazed surface on one side and a rather rough surface on the other. Its color is a lovely neutral, creamy off white or natural color.

I have used it for many pieces over the years with fluid acrylic, colored pencil, pastel. I have even sewn it. In many ways it is like fabric but with even more possibilities. Sources for the preferred size of about 40 x 72 inches are often not as plentiful as they once were so I save every precious scrap. I took out a little box of rolled trimmings from other work, found several larger pieces to use as the foundation and began.

The strange inspiration for “Structure” was a small label that fell off some item in my household recently. I kept it, thinking there might be some odd creative use for it. The rectangular label is a much darker version of the Okawara color, yet still in the same color range. Some faded red text in Spanish is barely discernible on one side while on the other a liberal coating of glossy glue no longer functioned in its purpose.

This little label became the center and organizing element of the collage. It is what I would call an “intimate” piece; one must approach it closely to observe the very minute marks, shapes, and other elements with which it was “built”. I do think of it, for that reason, as a kind of structure, with each tiny piece chosen to work with the others. (For example, the vertical piece to the right of the label has a slight red line that echoes the nearly invisible red text on the reverse of the label.)

STRUCTURE 2022 11.75 x 9.5 inches Found label, Okawara paper, acrylic

The diminutive size of these two pieces seems to fit the need for making work that is not overwhelming yet seems to open doors to further possibilities.

An update on October 29, 2022-

Further possibilities were realized after deciding to use some leftover pieces of my hand-dyed cotton from “The Threads Project”. With some snipping and arranging and the addition of slender pieces of commercially-dyed cotton I made two more “structure” pieces. These two are mounted to remaining pieces of black felt that I had used as a support for a series of small thread drawings. Those were then framed and exhibited at a quite large exhibition for “The Threads Project” in autumn of 2015 at The World Trade Center in Norfolk, Virginia called “Threads of Time”.

This is not the first time that I had used this particular dyed fabric. The cloth itself originated in the textile design studio I had years ago in San Francisco. In 2001 I participated in an etching workshop at the famed Crown Point Press, also in San Francisco. The work on the threads pieces was really developing at that time and working with the press and master printers helped ideas emerge.

At one point I noticed that this particular fabric really called to mind the quality of an aquatint etching. I decided to make an etching to echo the cloth and place the two same-size images side-by-side on a single sheet. The cloth was adhered using the chine colle’ process.

Using fabric and textile elements was the major theme in “The Threads Project” as I tried to blur the division between art and craft. Many such pieces came from that workshop as seen on other posts and pages on this blog.

RUST 2001 etching, right, dyed cotton left, Crown Point Press, San Francisco

The two new pieces are entirely cloth, using what was left of the “Rust” material and following the general idea of the paper piece “Structure”.

TURQUOISE STRUCTURE 2022 dyed cotton and purchased cotton, thread 11 x 9.25 inches on black felt
RED STRUCTURE 2022 dyed cotton and purchased cotton, thread 11 x 9.75 inches on black felt

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