Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Plant Dyed Goodness

  I am working in a wetfelted tapestry for the Ecole Trille Des Bois Waldorf School. It will be a three dimensional image of a tree, in full leaf, on a magical light filled background. A forest floor full of trilliums, and somewhere- a wishing hole within the tree. I'm looking for a quiet, subtle, secret way to make this piece interactive with the students that will see it everyday.
  The pallette will be gentle- plant dyed hues in warm tones to soften and warm the hard wall surfaces, and I hope the image will engage the students with wonder. I maintain a collection of wool that I plant dye for special projects such as this.

I started with a vermilion corriedale wool base. Vermilion is the colour of life- add just a little touch of it to any  image and it brings it to life....more on that another time!  I want this piece to stand out from the wall, both physically but also in that way that an artwork can be more than just a wallhanging. The viewer should feel that it is a living artwork, embodying both my input, and also their relationship with it. Engaging.  I also used vermilion to represent the life forces of the students and their teachers; all that energy that lives within a school. This is the strongest colour that I will use in the piece, and it will be mostly invisible. Rather like the forces that move us forward through our days.

  Most of the children in the school are young, in the junior grades and kindergarten. So I softened this vermillion layer with a warm pink layer, womblike.  Now I'm ready to start on my image. These wools are mainly merino, with some Finn wool in the mix.  I keep watercolour veil painting in mind, working the wool in sweeps of soft colors across my base.

  I've added some wool nepps and mohair on the brown to give some surface detail, and added fine layers of colour over the transition areas to enhance the watercolour effect.

The last thing I do before felting is to add some cut out prefelt leaves to the upper section, and some chopped rovings ( Ginger tip#1!) to increase the depth  and give a dappled sunlight look, and layers of vegetation on the forest floor.
 Now time to felt!  I'm going to full this very well, knowing it will be in a public setting and handled regularly.

 It looks quite different once felted.  I love the way the colours have blended. The base colours have mingled through to the surface nicely. Integrated layers, accentuating each other.  I am going to develop aspects of this
for a class- it is quite amazing the influence these underlayers can have on the finished surface, and it can also be useful to think of this metaphorically...this will be a fun project for when we are settled and I have a more permanent workspace again.

  The last step for now is the tree. It has been felted separately, for another project, but is perfect for this. I have wet it and bound it, so that once dry the trunk will have interesting twists, striations and indentations. It will be sewn onto the background, maybe with some of the branches woven though the background, as in the way we see a tree, with its branches dipping in and out of it's leafy canopy.
It will take one more day to complete the piece- to make the leaves, trillium flowers, and to sew these pieces on. Then last of all to add the magic wishing hole ( still to be fully imagined!). 

Tomorrow is an article writing day, so I'll finish this work on Thursday. It has been so refreshing to work on a piece like this again. It evolves with the process. I stay mindful of the recipients and their relationship with the work, and let inspiration strike within this sphere. 


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