still absorbing and still challenging me

16 Oct

WEEK FORTY & FORTY ONE ( october 2-15)

In between all that the last two weeks held, the Sulphur Crested Cockie trio have continued to absorb and challenge me. They still morph continually. I think that I can see the end result but then achieving the look that is in my noggin is not so easy – not helped by continually moving these feathers into a different direction.

I did make a big change when I unpinned each of them, in turn, from the design wall and overlapped them to fit on some board – simply to be able to move them as necessary. Clearing and cleaning and prepping the studio ready for the two day class forced their remove. Slowly, carefully, each feather was taken from the wall and placed on a board. I worked from the bottom up, left to right. I overlapped each row by about a third so that I could reach the top row. I did all three in turn, layering board upon board.
I moved the top one to the table.
I moved the next… and it bent in the middle. A disaster.
The collapse of overlapped feathers was upsetting but only momentarily – their inward slip looked great.

This was what I needed. The loosening. The now much more exciting push forward. The relaxing of my aesthetic.
I pushed the other two inwards. Same result.
BUT…now I need about three extra rows on each to define the shapes.
And then more as each board changed and as the design compressed.
Bugger…. but still I am pleased.

So the feathers now overlap. The plumage is ruffled and not pristine. Backwards and forwards to Bunnings, to the machine, to the table.

Late last week, with a whole day to myself, I was finally ready to assemble. I prepped the tables with a gridded plastic cloth, I layered white cotton fabric under open-weave silk scarves. I meticulously, and very slowly, registered the fabrics (which were now tacked together) to echo the grid. Whilst still not sure that the fabrics were necessary OR whether I will end up cutting all but a foundation away, I needed the insurance of having them there anyway.

My plan is to stitch each row to the foundation, one at a time, from the last to the first. I try a little bit of PVA to hold the first row. It takes an age to dry but the rows stitch well on the foundation and are so much easier than I thought they would be. I then figure out how to pin the feathers to the foundation. It is much quicker but still can’t be hurried.
The stitching is fast in comparison.

By the end of the day I am ready to see the piece vertically as I’ve been standing on a stool looking down on the work table all day.
Setting up and then stitching one row at a time, building from the bottom up is a big gamble.
When I do see it on the wall I am disappointed – the top three rows are out of whack and need to be compressed down and in. My view from the stool has skewed the perspective much more than I expected.

I am also not sure about whether I will feature the silk/fabrics – though they look lovely draped and folded out of the way.
I really can’t decide that now – I need to work on compressing the ‘top of the tail’.

There is a lot to love about the feathers though. On the wall the threads dominate and create a white veil. On the table the colour dominates giving a clearer design. I do have to work them for the wall though.

Skates are on too. These pieces must resolve this coming week. I do hope they become more obedient.

Amongst my feathering obsession I held a lovely and productive two day class – the first of many two day sessions I hope.

And our weekend work at the moment, the girls shed, is close to being complete on the inside. It only needs a tiny bit of paint on the windows, a sand and paint and lock on the door, then the floor needs sanding and oiling.

Our  lights, six of them, each have a long green cord which will be wound up or stretched out around the room as necessary. Cup hooks will determine their position.

Air con will come too.
Can’t wait to play in there – whether it is twister with the kids or stitching up a storm. This other very slow project will certainly become a great asset.
These malingering, troublesome cockies though….not so sure…

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Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Act/Craft (Textiles/ Sculpture)
Living in Perth, Western Australia
Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher.