Ice. Apprehension. The two are always linked. Every spring starts the same. First, long cracks, then clear and cold water along the shorelines, often reflecting clouds above. Diamond crystals sparkle amid grime and grit left over from winter snow. So delicate, so beautiful. But strong. Dangerous. And unpredictable. Joined together, crystals form blocks strong enough to move boulders and destroy man-made structures. Some years, ice is a friend; others, a foe.
That is my Artist Statement for ICE – my first ever submission to the Textile Fibre Artist Network of Manitoba (TFAM).
Techniques used: Free motion quilting, silk fusion, felting, hand embroidery, couching, embellishments.
What follows is a description of the process.
Layer 1 – The background was fairly simple. I couched yarn for the distant shoreline and stitched movement for the water. This was done on a single piece of gradated fabric. Reflection of the clouds was important to me, so those were hand stitched knowing that most would be covered in the end.
Layer 2 – I have been wanting to try silk fusion for awhile, and this was the perfect opportunity. The book and supplies were ordered from Treenway Silks . Following instructions in the book, here is the set-up on my kitchen table. Similar to wool felting, the silk fibers are put down in layers at right angles before being ‘fused’ together with an adhesive. The result is a piece of fabric that is strong but can be cut in any shape you wish. In the end, I had 5 sheets of ‘fabric’.
It was a bit of a puzzle cutting and placing the silk, but I like puzzles (and called for help from my creative neighbour friend on more than one occasion!). Basically, for this layer I wanted to illustrate long cracks, large chunks of ice, and the start of a spring melt.
The pieces were ironed down with Misty Fuse, but needed additional stitching. That made the sky unbalanced, so some additional stitching went into the sky. Now it was a windy day!
Layer 3 – Ice always piles up along the shore – all shapes and sizes. Small, delicate crystals. Large, solid sheets. My version looked a little ridiculous, and the project almost went off the rails at this point. It was flat, scattered, lacked interest.
Layer 4 – This layer was always in the plan, although not quite in this format. The crystals were in the plan, as were the 3-D blocks of ice piled up against the tree.
The spikes were in the plan. They date back to 1886, and in this work of art, represent the power of ice to destroy things are are extremely strong, and things that have existed for a long period of time. As a side note, these spikes were removed from pews in a local heritage church when making their space more wheelchair-friendly. I was privileged to receive these three spikes, and pleased to repurpose them in this piece.
The tree was not in the plan, but my picture lacked depth. To create it, I added some hand embroidered trees to the distant shoreline, and then added the large tree to the foreground. Actually, felting a tree is not all that easy. I gave it three tries, and ended up using this one – first wet felted, and then needle felted. It is spring, and no leaves on the tree yet.
For some real life pictures, I will share these…
My picture was done when I could no longer think of anything to add. It may not be the finest piece of art, but its mine, and there will be no other piece like it.