In art, all materials are grist for the mill. When I was at SAS Fabric Superstore the other day, I saw some sage burlap and decided it had potential. I’ve seen over-dyed pink and yellow burlap, but the sage color was new, so it came back to the studio.
Tonight, I decided to work with it–no expectations, no project in mind. Just working to see what I can do with it, using what I know how to do.
Digging through my stash, I found some thread and some embroidery floss that worked well with the burlap. I cut a piece about 10 inches by 4 inches. To make the edges even, I pulled some of the woven threads out to create a fringed edge. Eventually, the edge will have to be sewn so it won’t unravel, but that’s not now.
Threading the blue embroidery thread, I followed a thread across the fabric, weaving under and over, adding a thread to the loose weave. It’s quite easy.
Another piece of embroidery thread is run through, this one is joined with a piece of orange thread. The blue thread was put in first. Then I used a double thread and wove it on either side of the blue. Because the space is getting filled, I pull out a burlap thread to make room for the weaving.
I continued doing this, making sure that I don’t try to do very precise patterns, because burlap isn’t a precise materials.
To give the piece more interest and a less stripey look, I pull some pearl cotton mixed with orange thread through in the other direction. I love this look, because it has a lot of potential. It’s geometric, and fun.
We are all weavers of our own lives. Our lives are seldom tightly woven, complete when we get them. And if they are, they fray and wear, until there are holes in them. Older folks remember the darning egg. We dropped it into a sock or elbow of a sweater and carefully wove back and forth, weaving from the edges to the center until the fabric was whole again. The patch would show, but that was all right. It was wearable. That’s what we do with lives. Take what we have and mend it to cover the bare spots. Or use a needle and decorative memories to make the loose weave pretty.
This might be a journal cover. Or just a reminder of a life that’s still loose enough to be decorated.
As always, I’m open to all clever suggestions.
—Quinn McDonald is having fun with non-paper materials. She’s astonished at herself.