Thursday, May 14, 2009

Inspiration: Adding eyes to a painted dragon (contd) ...

NOTE: If you want to read more about my design ideas, click here: MORE CONCEPTS

A few years ago (during a fabric hand-dyeing session), I sprinkled some pink and grey powdered cold-water dye randomly over a submerged length of cream coloured habotai silk.

When finally dried and pressed, the colours and shapes visible on the fabric started to inspire an idea for machine embroidery … a scene of various dragon-like creatures fighting against a clouded sky-scape. With this ‘picture’ in mind, a few test-stitching samples were begun but with the silk having a fine weave, it became necessary to add a backing fabric for the close stitching. Further test samples resulted in the addition of an inner layer of polyester wadding (sandwiched between the lightweight silk outer and the heavier cotton backing) to create a 3D quality formed by machine quilting.

A few final outlines and finishes were painted on the silk (including creature facial marks), fabric layers tacked together and stitching commenced. First some of the background and then outlines of the main dragon shapes - but other creatures began to ‘appear’ as further shapes were created from the quilting and padded stitchery. In fact in several instances, creatures actually appeared to rise out of the fabric itself – giving recollection to another Chinese verse that “spirits are attracted to the movement of cloth” !

Then suddenly – partially complete – I reached that dreaded stage of ‘what do I do next’ … what stitch – hand or machine? … what colour thread to use – more metallic or change to silk? … how was it to be finished and/or displayed - in a frame or as a hanging? … or should it just remain a large sample? The panel sat around unfinished for several weeks … inspiration failing to come and nothing inspiring me. So, I started another project – something I usually find helpful when reaching a ‘visual block’. Rummaging through several disjointed mounds of ‘reference material’ for the new project, the words ‘the finishing touch’ jumped up from a page – a definition that would now inspire me! Several months previously, a chance reading of a translated Chinese proverb had been jotted down and stored away in a pile of ‘things ready to file.’ The Chinese story and proverb provided exactly the inspiration necessary to continue stitching … mount the fabric on a wooden framework … and create a hanging picture. When finished, it was given the title of that translated proverb ie. “Adding eyes to a painted dragon” – my reminder of an inspirational block after actually painting in a dragon’s eye!