Monday, 14 March 2016

In the Shadows

In the Shadows, Shadow work, 2016

One of my favourite pieces of my own work is a large magpie piece from 2014, called Hail to the Thief. Inspired by this piece and a shadow work workshop I'd been booked to run  I decided to make another magpie piece, making use of the particular qualities of the silk organza I prefer to work with.

Layers pinned together

Layers tacked together

Working shadow stitch by hand

I wanted to continue to explore our odd relationship with magpies, it is something of a love hate relationship and there aren't many birds as loaded with stories and superstitions as the magpie. We admire their beautiful plumage yet berate them as bullies and thieves, we salute them and see a pair as a symbol of happiness and fidelity yet still call them pests. Personally I love to see them, from their swooping flight to the sun on their purple green feathers to the stark contrast of black and white on a grey day I find them endlessly beautiful and charming.

Shadow work detail

Shadow work detail

Shadow work detail

In many ways this has been an experimental piece for me. I have used a lot of machine embroidery in my work, partly to allow me to work at a reasonable speed and produce larger scale works. However, I also have a great love of hand embroidery and have wanted to bring this into my work more and more but I have still wanted to work on a large scale. I wanted to see how I could combine these two aims and thought that using some shadow work techniques could allow me to do this.

Edge detail

Hem detail

Hanging in the studio

I used a 'sandwich' technique to create this piece, trapping pieces of coloured organza and lace between two pieces of white silk organza. Once I was happy with the composition I tacked all the layers together and  I then used machine embroidery to draw the magpie and hold the layers in place. I then worked into the piece with some hand embroidery, adding more layers of sheer fabric in certain areas as I felt necessary. I finished off the hems and edges with pin stitch and a decorative variation of blanket stitch.

Leg detail

Head detail

Hanging in the window

I am unsure how I feel about this piece. It definitely works best as a shadow piece (i.e. lit from the back) and I think I like it but there's something not quite right. However, I think this about most my work at the moment, there are elements that I like and that are working really well but somehow it's not quite coming together as I think it should. I feel like I need some time to really focus on where I want my work to go but as that's not likely to happen in the near future I shall keep persevering and making and see what happens...

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