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...