Monday, August 20, 2012

The Challenge of Balancing Technique with Simplicity

How difficult it is to be simple. (Vincent van Gogh)

dyed silk drying on the porch

I love dying silk. The colors can be so intense. The resulting fabric is sometimes so beautiful I often feel it should be framed as a finished piece. Instead, I use dyed silk as a jumping off point to create other more complex pieces of art

detail of silk gauze ,wool and embroidery


I use a process called nuno felting.Silk gauze and wool are combined by forcing the wool fibers through the silk with a barbed needle.The process involves a lot of hot water, soap and friction too.
It results in a messy studio that smells like wet mittens.

layers of red silk gauze and dyed wool

This vessel combines a dizzying array of techniques.I started by weaving a basket with dyed reed,then I created a nuno felted wool painting. I wove a  tapestry using acid dyed  silk gauze torn into strips. I used the resulting fabrics to cover the surface of the basket. I intend to add dimension with surface embroidery.Whew!

detail of tapestry woven with torn strips of hand dyed silk
This week I changed direction. I dyed silk using a Japanese technique called shibori.I liked the fabrics and patterns so much I simply fused the layers together in compositions I liked. No felting, no weaving, no complicated embroidery...just dyed silk... 

Shibori dyed silk on wooden support

I liked the resulting compositions, but it was very difficult to make myself agree that they were indeed, finished works
Shibori dyed silk on wooden support

So this week I learned that while I enjoy complex techniques that employ all of my skills and concentration, I was surprised to find that simplicity can be every bit as challenging.I believe it's important to find a balance between both ways of working

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