Extreme sports draw attention, however, it is unlikely you will ever find me bunjee jumping off a bridge, jumping out of an airplane at high altitude with a small pack strapped to my back (that thing is supposed to save my life?), or climbing the Himalayas. Rather, extreme needleturn appliqué gives me all the thrills I require.
My artwork is generally idea-driven. From somewhere, something appears, grips me by the throat, and demands expression. Therefore, I consider possible colors, materials, and technics. Yet, one exception comes to mind. Dare I admit ? Extreme needleturn appliqué dominates my life--I’m hooked for life on that process. It’s magical. Fabric, after all, goes in all directions if allowed to. Consider all the rulers and gadgets that have been invented to keep fabric square and under control. Ha! I threw control out the window! Let the fabric go where it wants to. Illumination: fabric on the bias is a wonder of nature.
It all began about twenty-five years ago with this humble piece that I still pick up and stitch upon from time to time.
I layered four 5 inch wide stips of fabric (including a shiny satin and patchwork leftover from a garment) and began doing reverse appliqué.
Maybe someday it will work itself into a piece.
In 1991, Death of a Forest (17 ½ ”x 23 ”/ 44cm x 58cm) opened up wide vistas of possibility.
Those red lines seemed so simple yet so elegant in movement.
Coral, (37½”x54”/95 cm x 1m37, April 1997) part of my beach series, is hand appliquéd and machine pieced and quilted. The border fabrics are hand painted.
I confess to one magical trick to produce thin appliqué pieces. It's all in the needle. At my local village mercerie (notions shop) I found a long, slender needle that I could grip easily. I immediately bought a whole package and discovered that my needles were milliner's needles--number 7 being my predilection. You've certainly heard that question: if you were stuck on a desert island, what would you have packed? I couldn't live without those needles...
Of course given my nature, my appliqués have become more complex. However, I still have an uncomplicated piece or two going (commonly referred to as the "early extreme style"). A current WIP (work in progress) that I will eventually cut apart:
The method is simple. Cut out a piece of fabric in any shape, or use a large scrap that already has an interesting shape. Needleturn appliqué down one side and then cut into the shape as you go to create holes, lines, gaps, waves, etc. In this piece, I've added some stitching lines as well.
Another WIP. This garment looked so worn at the edges that I began adding a border while glued to the AC this summer. At first, I considered following the leaf design of the fabric, however, that seemed rather expected and monotonous.
The rules for this appliqué: each piece must be rather small and have a different design. I find the confusion of designs pleasing as the leaf design begins to recede.Ahh, those purple and plum colors. It must be the figs from my garden that influence my choices. This year I ventured into drying fruit. The fig harvest was so bountiful and the weather so hot and dry that I now have 10 k. (22 lbs) of delectable dried figs.
Can one beat nature for its colors and bounty?