Friday, December 21, 2012

Sari Ribbon - Next Steps

Earlier in the week I shared the start of my project using recycled sari ribbon.  I created a piece of fabric by couching over the ribbons to attach them to a piece of silk organza.  Over the last couple of days I've cut that piece of fabric up to use it in reverse applique in a jacket.  Here's the beginning of that jacket.

The squares and triangles will float down the front, back and sleeves of the jacket.  I'll be doing more couching to tie things together, but I haven't made a final decision on that design yet.

When I started working on the fabric, I knew that I also wanted to do something with the ribbon in a wall piece as well.  My initial thought was to follow the same process for creating the fabric, but doing hand embroidery instead of machine couching.  As I began to gather the scraps from the jacket piecing, I realized I needed to do something creative with them as well.  They were too beautiful to discard, but too small to use on their own. I started laying them out on a background fabric to see if I could get a pleasing design.  Here are a couple of my "test" pieces.

I'm not sure where I'm going from here, but I know it will involve hand embroidery - and likely something more.  I know it will get tweaked along the way.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Recyled Sari Ribbon

I've had a hank of recycled sari ribbon hanging from a hook on the wall of our studio for months now.  As soon as we started carrying it in our web store, I knew I wanted to work with it.  I had no idea what I would do with it.  I just loved the vibrant colors.  With all its frayed edges and the overall look of haphazardness, it seemed just perfect for our Wabi Sabi-themed show.  

For months it has called my name, without telling me what to do with it.  A friend crocheted it into fantastic coiled bowls.  I love her bowls, but it wasn't what I wanted to do.  I tried braiding it, but my braids disguised  the frayed edges, transforming the wonderful messiness of it into something neat and somehow insipid.  I tried weaving it, but it came out sort of checker-boardy.  Again ho-hum.

Finally in the last couple of days I think I have found a way to use it that fits my vision and the wabi sabi concept.  Here's my beginning:

I pinned the ribbon to a length of silk organza, folding it back and forth to cover the base.  I took the colors just as they came; I didn't try to rearrange them at all.  I didn't iron the ribbon before putting it down, I left it wrinkly.  I tamed the wrinkles just enough to be sure that I covered the organza and that I could stitch over it.  Then I started couching a thin fringed yarn over the ribbons in a wavy pattern.  I worked in sections, putting in just enough stitching to hold the ribbon to the base without any pins.  Then I ironed the whole thing to flatten down the wrinkles and continued adding wavy lines of couching till everything was secure.

When I first got going I wasn't sure that the result was going to be worth the effort.  By the time I finished the first section, I liked it just enough to keep going.  The second section was much easier due to the fact that I placed the pins lengthwise in the ribbons, not crosswise.  It made it SO much easier to remove the pins as I sewed and I was still able to control the wrinkles the way I wanted to.  By the time I finished stitching the section shown in my photo, I was happy and starting to think about another similar piece.

I think this one is destined for one of my jackets - perhaps cut in strips and inset somewhere.  Then I think I'll do another similar piece but stitch down the ribbons by hand using a variety of embroidery stitches and fancy threads.  I think that will be a wall piece.  Stay tuned, there will be more to come...

Friday, December 7, 2012

More Free Lace

One of my father's favorite sayings was "you learn something new every day."  A typical dinnertime conversation consisted of his asking us in turn what new thing we had learned that day.  Often we had to struggle to come up with something, but usually we could think of something.  I reinforced the idea that learning was important and enjoyable - an idea that stays with me to this day.

With my latest free lace scarf, I learned that I should test the strength of all the threads and ribbons that I use.  I've made many of these and never had any trouble with thread breakage, but with this last one I did.  Not much, but enough that I couldn't ignore it.

The thread that broke was a decorative element, not structural so it wasn't necessarily a fatal flaw.  But I liked what it added so I didn't want to just cut it out.  I'd spent too much in time and materials on the scarf to just junk it, plus I really liked it.  I'd had fun working with colors outside my usual set.  What to do???  No ideas immediately came to mind.

I set it aside, tried not to think about it, and proceeded with all the other things I needed to do yesterday.  Late in the afternoon a friend came by my studio and noticed it sitting on my table.  I showed it to her,  bemoaned the thread breaking problem, and set it aside again.  Luckily though, showing it to Laura must have triggered something in the back of my mind because just after she left I had an idea for fixing it.

Here's the detail shot so you can see what I did.
I added in little "fringes" all over it.  The fringes anchor the broken places as well as adding another decorative element.

The whole thing reinforces one of my favorite art-related sayings - "no mistakes, only opportunities."