This is third and final part of series of blog posts about the creation of my textile painting Seachange: Whale Tracks. This artwork has been selected for the Studio Art Quilt Associates* global exhibition Season After Season on tour 2019-2022.
- Part 1: Design and Fabric Selection
- Part 2: Construction and Assembly
- Part 3: Stitching and Finishing
I have also documented my creative process in a hardback journal that can be viewed page-by-page online.
Pulling out threads for quilting and top stitching is one of my favourite parts of the process.
I like to use a variety of hues and weights; variegated and solid; blending and contrasting with the fabrics in my design.
Let the stitching begin!
My artwork is complemented by intensive, straight-line stitching that echoes the motifs in my designs. It’s a laborious process that involves physically turning the work under the needle at every corner and intersection. The payoff is the glorious texture that catches the light and creates secondary patterns. The view from my sewing machine is some compensation too 🙂
In the sky area, I decided to leave the bands of clouds puffy and unstitched.
Then came the moment of truth – measuring up and trimming up on the living room floor. After facing the edges, the work measures 73×31 inches ( 185x79cm) – HxW. This is within the size range allowed for this exhibition. Phew!
Often I will block a work after stitching to ensure that is flat and will hang straight. That is, I soak the work in water and then use a gentle spin cycle to remove most of the water. I then lay the work on some interlocking foam squares (I got mine from Clark Rubber but there are lots of other options) and pin it so it is flat, taut and square.
In this case, I was concerned that washing, even in cold water, might result in shrinkage making the work too small to comply with the prospectus. Instead, I spritzed some areas of slight distortion and weighted them down with plastic rulers and heavy books.
As shown in a matter of time photography day, I generally pin my work to a white polystyrene board and photograph it. However, this work is too big for my boards and my design wall was the only place I could hang it for photography. I took overall and detail shots using a variety of manual and automatic settings on my point and shoot and SLR cameras. My goal was to prepare a compelling set of images for the jurors.
My design wall is covered in threads so removing the distracting background is imperative. I outsource this task to www.deepetch.com, an online image editing service. Pricing varies depending on which credit package you purchase; the complexity of the assignment and the requested turnaround time. Deep Etch offers an introductory deal where they process FIVE images free of charge so you might like to try it out on your next exhibition entry form.
On the Clock
As shown on my time tracking report, quilting and stitching accounted for 63 hours 53 minutes (approximately 60%) of my time on this artwork. Finishing, photography and submission took another 12 hours or so. (The www.toggl.com app can be used on desktop computers and mobile devices.)
Here is the final breakdown:
- Design & fabric selection: 3 hours 35 minutes
- Construction & assembly: 26 hours 49 minutes
- Quilting/stitching: 63 hours 53 minutes
- Finishing & blocking: 6 hours 59 minutes
- Photography and submit entry: 4 hours 45 minutes
OVERALL TOTAL: 106 hours 5 minutes
Documenting the Process: A Journal
In accordance with the Season After Season prospectus, “each accepted work which explores the artist’s journey from initial thoughts and concept to final artwork”. There is no prescribed format for the journal. Since I work with digital sketches and take lots of photos in progress, I decided to create a Blurb book that you can view online at Seachange: Whale Tracks. This is a hardback book that will hopefully withstand lots of handling over the three year tour. I am really happy with the quality.
Season After Season Catalogue
The Season After Season catalogue catalogue is available for purchase from the SAQA website.
You can also view the other works in the Season After Season online gallery and listen to recorded artist statements. I won’t be able to attend in person but I look forward to seeing installation photos after the exhibition opens.
Season After Season premieres at the Texas Quilt Museum La Grange, Texas from 7 January 7 – 24 March 2019 and tour through to 2022. Other venues include the 25th European Patchwork Meeting in Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines, France from 12-15 September 2019.
*Studio Art Quilt Associates offers many exhibition, network and mentoring opportunities for its members. If you’ve been thinking about joining SAQA, add the discount code “WKS” to the application form (and add my name Brenda Gael Smith in the referral field) and you will receive a 10% discount on the membership fee.