I don’t know how it is for you, but to me the holiday season always feels like an in-between time. One year is ending, another is beginning, and, as this transition takes place, we sail through a few weeks of suspended time.
My daughters came home from college for the holidays. The house was once again full, loud and messy, and it was absolutely wonderful! I enjoyed spending time with them, as well as cozying up at home in the darkest, coldest time of the year. Periods like this are never great for creativity, but this year I really didn’t want to completely stop making. My reorganized studio space is a fun, welcoming heaven, and it kept calling to me even when I was doing other enjoyable things…
And so, in those moments when my family was busy doing their own thing, I found myself sneaking into my sewing room to play.
I had a few unfinished, big projects I started at the end of last year, but this wasn’t the time to complete them. Instead, I needed a project I could work on in small bits of time. Something fun I could accomplish in half an hour here, fifteen minutes there. I decided to work on some mixed-media textile collages.
My new sewing room configuration makes turning the cutting table into a painting surface a piece of cake. I quickly set it up for wet work, and pulled out my acrylic paints. I decided I wanted warm, happy colors to end one year on a joyful note, and give the following year a good start. So I mixed some purples, pinks and teals, and started painting “ugly” fabrics from my stash. I didn’t paint everything at once. One day I painted cloth blue. The other purple and so forth. A bit at a time.
Once I felt I had enough painted fabric, I took out my acrylic markers and started making marks.
Eventually, I dove into my scrap drawers and pulled out some fun, textured pieces in matching colors. I followed this with several sessions of composition making. The compositions I created were very intuitive and spontaneous. I moved the different pieces around until the overall look felt “right.”
As with other of my smaller-pieced series, I chose to work on several pieces at once. Nine pieces to be exact, mostly because I realized I like how a series of nine looks in a grid.
I started sewing after I had all nine compositions ready. I used my free motion foot, and used my machine to both hold the various pieces together, and make additional stitch marks all over the surface of each of the pieces.
When I work on a series like this, I like looking at each piece individually, but I also like seeing them as a whole. The pieces in a series have a dialogue with each other, and often changes in one result in changes in all others.
When I finished machine sewing everything, I moved on to stenciling. I chose a stencil with a botanical motif, and applied acrylic paint directly on top of each sewn piece. The result was far from ideal. Maybe I used too much paint, or maybe stencils just don’t work as well on uneven surfaces. Either way, some of the paint went under the stencil, and I ended up with rugged edged that I wasn’t too happy with.
Acrylic markers to the rescue! I outlined the stenciled motifs with matching markers, and the result, I think, is even more interesting than a perfect original could have been…
Then came my favorite part: choosing thread for hand stitching.
I bought myself a big box of pearl cotton for the holidays, so I had lots of delicious colors to choose from…
Hand stitching gives a piece a unique look. I try to add it whenever I can.
“Stolen Moments” Mixed Media Series
I ended up with nine mixed-media textile collages in colors that really excite me. Each is 9″ x 9,” and includes both painted and reclaimed textiles. The collages are built in layers, and include many techniques: painting, stamping, applique, and stenciling, to name some. They are machine and hand stitched. I really love how they turned out!
When the time came to choose a name for this series, “Stolen Moments” came to mind immediately. It perfectly describes the time I took off family-time to make it.
I hope this “Stolen Moments” mixed media series will start the coming year on the right foot. In the last few years I made a lot of serious, heavy art, because that kind of art needed to be made. I have more solemn artworks in the works. But I know that fun, playful art is important, too, both for me as an artist and for art lovers in general. This little series is the kind of art that makes me smile 🙂
What do you think? Do you have a favorite?