Friday, June 24, 2011

Big Blue Stem

Very late, but completed.  :)  When I looked at Andy Goldsworthy's works, one of the things which struck me is that while he used natural items, he usually had a focal point which was maybe related to a natural color, but kicked up several notches.  Gold boulders, outsized natural elements, REALLY red leaves, REALLY green leaves...

So, I decided to do a native prairie grass I grow in my yard which is called "Big Bluestem"  (Andropogon gerardii) and make it really blue.  I assure you, mine is a blue colored stem..but this is more blue than in nature!. 

I think I hit the rhythm requirement pretty well, both in the seed heads and in the leaves.  the other requirement was "to create an exciting background".  For this, I painted the background cloth ins shades of green.  I took some deli papers I bought and wanted to try and painted them with a thin coat of Quinacridone / Nickel Azo Gold mixed with Hansa yellow and transparent yellow oxide.   I tore the pieces into strips once they were dry and attached them to the fabric using Matte medium.  I felt that the back ground should probably have been lighter as once the yarns were added for the seed heads, I didn't think that they contrasted enough with the back ground.  You can see an OK shot of it just on the background on Maria Elkin's blog here.

In order to brighten it and make it pop, I added the orangy-gold border.  I then took some King Tut variagated thread and did a wiggly line first one direction and then another over the background to give it more interest and hopefully lighten it a bit.

I then quilted the border in triangles which were quilted in first one direction, then the opposite.  Overall, the piece is equally quilted.  I'm not really pleased with the wavy border...but then I didn't have time to block it either...The background is backed with Decor Bond which makes it lay nice and flat and is great for stabilizing the yarns I couched down as well as the thread painting I did on the stems and leaves of the plant.  I don't like, however, how it doesn't seem possible to get any loft in the piece once you use the Decor bond.   I would have liked to have had the plants stand out a bit more from the background.  As I did the threadwork before I quilted and only outlined quilted those parts, it should have stood out a little...(I used warm and natural for a batting).

My blurry vision and lack of feeling in my hands made the execution of this piece much more lengthy as well as difficult.  I had to rip out the quilting along the border a couple of times...the fact that my Bernina is having tension issues didn't help.  Off it goes to the shop (AGAIN!) I can't figure out how even when the upper tension is set at "0" it is still tight enough to pop the bobbin thread up. My picutres aren't the sharpest in the world either because again of my vision.  Profuse apologies!

I had intended to enter this in the Marianist Environmental Education Center's show in Dayton which is closing this weekend, but I finished one of my entries, just not this one in time.  So, I took it down to the Dayton Visual Art Center member's show (Dayton, OH), least it is going somewhere!

This was one of those times when I said to myself "Boy, life would sure be easier if you'd stick to'd be done by now and you'd have more of a choice to lighten the background!!!."  Sigh.  I do like the texture though!

Finished size:  20 1/4" h x 24" wide.

As always, comments/suggestions / thoughts are greatly appreciated.


Sharon Robinson said...

Really nice piece, Lisa. I think the orange border is great, and makes the whole piece pop. Yes, the background could be a bit lighter, but it's not bad. I love the texture of the seed heads. Do you mean deli papers like what they wrap food in? Never thought of that but I love the idea. Sorry to hear about all your difficulties.

Michigoose said...

Yes, the deli papers are exactly that! Someone on Quiltart a while back was talking about them and like the lemming I am, I went out to Gordon Food Supply (GFS) and bought a box of what...500? in the larger size..they come int he small size like you see at the grocery store to select bagles, or bigger, like 11 x 13 or so sheets. They paint nicely and I'm going to have to mess with them to see about developing the translucent quality. One of the things which is sort of cool is that you can trap threads and cords underneath them or wrinkle them as you're applying them to give more texture.

Thanks so much for your comment. :) Lisa Q.

California Fiber artist and composer said...

The colors are gorgeous. Both the repeated grasses and the quilting pattern which repeats in a checkerboard are good examples of rhythm and repetition.