Using the Stitch to Hold an Idea

While trying out my new XCut Press this week I put in a concertina folded strip of walnut ink on gelatin plate. I used two of the etched plates that I recently did with Australian subjects, the emu and some gum nuts. I also found an old wooden stamp of another emu. So for fun I just printed along the strip on one side only.

Anytime a concertina or accordion book form is used the viewer can’t help but read it left to right as a narrative of some sort. I added a few emu tracks along the way and when I was through playing with the imagery, it needed something else. Some sort of density….a thickness….a denseness.

So I went to the small pile of contact dyed scraps of fabric that I found at Beautiful Silks while teaching there last month. They were fun to do with  absolutely no idea how they would turn out. I just fitted them in between scarves I was making for friends and family at home.

The duller parts were perfect for tying into my theme of the bush. So now I have started a new series of books titled, “Bush Boro Books”. The paper was amenable to being poked with a needle and the thread is a four strand silk that I also acquired at Beautiful Silks. Here is the cover.

And another view of the book completely opened.

It seems that lately I have been using the “stitch” more often. The recently finished book titled, “Decenia Scrapbook” had it on every cloth page and often stitching through papers and other memorabilia.

I am not a very good stitcher. Sometimes it is all I can do to just thread the needle. But I like the marks it makes. I like the back side where you are not paying that much attention and the messiness of poorly placed stitches really shows how little care the sewer is actually taking.

When in graduate school there were so few of us working with textiles that they asked me to critique a new student’s work that seemed to be a statement about the heritage of women and quilting. The patterns were so familiar in the language of quilting and were of little interest or impact. But when I asked her to turn the work over and look closely at the marks that were more her own, perhaps she could look at the idea of women, herself in particular, and the use of cloth and thread as an identity in the world of art in a whole new way.

A few years ago I used the stitch in different ways with small scraps of cloth on copies of my white line prints. And then for a recent master class in Australia I went further and used the actual print itself to stitch through.

The students over there were so much better at stitching. Their work was wonderful. Here is a sample in Patsy Bush’s work.

So I am taking it one step further and adding the bits of cloth to the prints to turn them into a narrative of sorts. I have several white line prints I made while staying out of my students hair while teaching and think there are definitely more Bush Boro Books to make. I will post more as I do them and certainly will write about my next adventures with the new printing press….that wonderful little XCut XPress machine.