Friday, 8 January 2016

"Becoming - Thread Song"

A textile exhibition November 2015 called ‘Thread Song’ was organised by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of poet W.B Yeats.
A curated collection of 18 artists work inspired by the poetry and life of Yeats.

I was very thrilled to be chosen to take part and this is the story of the making of my piece called ‘ Becoming’.
‘Becoming’ is a textile art piece based on the poem ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ by Yeats and inspired by the magical nature in all the works of W B Yeats.
He was a master of myths, legends and symbolism wrapped in dreams and folklore of the Irish landscape.
I eco dyed my silk backgrounds with flowers and rust objects to get a palate of dark deep shades and add a touch of age.
I embroidered stylised flowers and seed pods that are rooted into the earth.
The mythical water creature emerging from the equally mystical fish of the beautiful poem.
I incorporated 19th century lace of the same era as the poetry.
Yeats loved to show us a glimpse of a world just beyond our grasp .  .  .  there, if we choose to see it.

I choose silk because it absorbs the colours of flowers and the marks of rust deeply and always surprises me.

I had a general idea of the way I wanted to layout my ‘moment of change’ in the poem, and sketched the long shape I had in mind. Then it was a case of picking the piece of silk that had her hidden somewhere in the dyes !

I cut a felt shape and placed under the silk and started to mould with stitch to give me the fish and lady. I wanted her dress to naturally fan out with the fish tail and I twisted and twirled more eco dyed silk to form the link. I machine embroidered the selection of silks in waves and curves. 
I like to give a good structure to a piece on the machine but prefer to add all the rest with hand embroidery.

To get the detail I wanted in the fish I needed to be able to embroider on a stable fabric.
After a bit of experimenting I painted sections of my dyed silk with fabric stiffener.
After hanging on some pins I found it dried quickly and gave an interesting and almost fishey/scaley texture.

I then layered and hand embroidered the details (trying hard to know when to stop !)
I outlined sections with couching but French knots are always my stitch of choice.

I delayed for a long time trying to decide how to finish the face and hair.
In the end one of my favourite materials, antique lace was the way to go.
The piece of Victorian lace I choose was from the same era as the poem.
However it was far too light in colour, almost cream. I dipped and painted it with tea and madder until it looked ancient enough.

For the ‘apple blossoms in her hair’ I dyed dressmakers interfacing in pinks and again darkened with tea and some coffee.

To surround the elusive maiden I wanted unworldly wild flowers. I embroidered various stitches in deep shades and pod like shapes.

A small amount of wooden buttons and beads to give more texture and the very last thing I added was her ( very slight) smile !

The silk was the stitched onto black felt backing to give further depth to the light material.
I choose to wrap around a canvas rather than frame - I wanted the landscape to disappear over the sides.

It was a fantastic experience taking part in the ‘Thread Song’ exhibition.
Seeing the stunning and diverse textile pieces from other artists on the opening day was amazing.
It was so interesting to see how each artist interpreted the theme in their own unique way.

A great big thank you to the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland for the opportunity. It was fun !