The stitch of the week for TAST, an embroidery challenge by pintangle, is Chain stitch. So far, I have really enjoyed working with each stitch to push myself in creativity. This week I decided to use this challenge as a “visual exploration” in planning for an upcoming fiber art show. The show, entitled Elemental Layers: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, will be held in Ville Platte at the Louisiana State Arboretum. It’s theme will be the use of transparent layers to build depth, color, and expression. Last year’s show turned out very well and can be seen here. All the art work will be suspended from the ceiling beams as it was before. That means both sides have to be finished and presentable.
I decided to start with the contents of one of my “project inspiration” plastic bins.
A piece of painted Lutrador, skinny fabric strips, raveled threads from pre-washed fabrics, trimmings from an earlier fused project, and a small bag of beads. In the end I only used the trimmings and the Lutrador.
Often, I get my inspirations while walking and meditating. Sometimes they actually work out. This one was partially successful. I thought it would be nice to layer organza for insect wings and cut out the back or even layer several fabrics and cut away for the wings and body in a reverse applique fashion. The Lutrador, which I chose because of it’s stiffness and body, turned out to be a bad choice. It doesn’t ravel, but it also doesn’t “play well with others.” It did fine as a base fabric with the organza on top, but it looked bad when cut and layered with softer fabrics. I considered cutting the blue out from behind the wings, but opted to leave it in place.
I’ve used size 8 pearl cotton and one strand of floss on the wings. The body employs a stitch I’d seen many times in books, but had never tried. It’s called checkered chain stitch or magic chain. It’s just like a regular chain except there are two different threads used in one needle at the same time. I wanted a bulky, metallic look so I used 4 threads: yellow wool, gold metallic; green wool, and green metallic. Other than a tendency to tangle, it was fine.
After the wings were stitched, I trimmed them close with a woodburning tool. This seals the edges and prevents raveling. Lutrador is also heat sensitive, so I used a piece of cardstock between the layers to prevent burn-through.
I’ll need to do more explorations with layers. I think stacking a variety of fabrics and cutting layers from both sides will be an interesting idea to develop further. I like the idea of stitching lines of chain stitch to hold the layers before cutting. The reverse side of the chain is a back stitch. It not only looks good, it will contrast with the design of the other side. I wonder how men’s ties will work as layers?