I’ve been trying to reconstruct in my head how I go about the process of making a cloth collage. The slow-stitch, hand-dyed kind. It’s always more about the process than the product, but what is the process?
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a “how-to-collage primer.”
So yes, I begin with scraps or patches of hand-dyed cloth, in this case, Bengala dyes, natural mineral dyes from Japan. If I am making a 9-patch as the basis for the collage, then there’s re-arranging of cloth, pinning, then stitching seams. Sometimes the background cloth is chosen first, and sometimes not.
The stitching could be by hand or by machine, depending on my mood. Once the patch is placed on the backing, I use the Jude Hill glue-stitch. (See SpiritCloth Blog for details). In looking back, at some point I decided to add suns, moons and stars for Jude Hill’s challenge. But I do not have a photo of the in-between process from sewn 9-patch to decorated 9-patch with hand-embroidery. Sometimes you get wrapped up in the process and forget about photos.
Yes, Chicago in the winter is not a good place or time to be natural dyeing. It’s 17 degrees F today. I use my townhouse deck for storing pots and kettles and freely use the iron balcony bars for dripping and drying my fabric. When the wooden deck boards get warm in the summer, it’s a quick dry for naturally dyed cloth.
So what do do? Branch out. Use pieces you made this past spring, summer and autumn. Make nine patches. And embroider. Did you know that February is National Embroidery Month? That’s according to DMC, the longtime maker of gorgeous floss and threads for embroidery.
So I grabbed my harvest moons, which I shibori-dyed this past summer, and although I intended to make a 9-patch with them, I discovered I only had 6 moons. No problem. Add a previously dyed scrap of the same lightweight cotton batiste. And add an un-dyed mordanted similar scrap.
Then draw your own design. But what? I’ve got my water soluble pen ready. So stay tuned.
Not knowing where to start is a frequent problem for me, no matter what type of art I am doing. There is always the question of color, design, thread. What colors look best together? What is my overall plan? Should I use regular DMC cotton, Perle cotton, or some fancy silk thread? This is what bogs me down.
So Friday eve, I began to attach cloth scrap to cloth scrap. Thinking about design but not really planning. And I came up with two pieces:
These were meant to be vertical strips of cloth. The sun has been on my mind, or lack of sun. So gray skies with barely visible moons and a sun trying so hard to break through. But then I realized these pieces didn’t feel right for what I had in mind. Back to Spirit Cloth–ah, plan a design? Sketch it out? Hmm I don’t do that. Ever. But I can start.
At 9pm, when I am usually reading, I grabbed the remainder of my Bengala dyes set (these Japanese-made mineral dyes are so fast and easy!) and proceeded to dye 4-inch squares of cotton cloth. Enough for a 9-patch. On Saturday, I ironed and heat set the marbled designs. Pinned and ready for SunMoonStars.