Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shiny Fancies: Playing with Silk and Glass--Part 1, shawls

My art show is currently up at the UC Davis Craft Center Gallery, now through March 11th.
The Craft Center has been one of my favorite things about Davis. It has a bunch of different studios: ceramics, jewelry, flameworking, textiles, photography, welding, screenprinting, woodworking. They offer classes which are open to everyone, both students and community members. You can also use the studios on your own when there aren't classes in session. I started volunteering at the Craft Center in the summer of 2001. The first class I took was a black and white photography developing and printing class. I started teaching tatting (a Victorian form of knotted lace) shortly after. I switched to teaching weaving at some point and taught that for several years, and now have been teaching "Tiny Glass Sculpture," a flameworking class, for a number of years. Since volunteers and teachers get half price on classes, I've taken as many classes as I can and have learned so many cool techniques. Bookbinding, spinning, weaving, stained glass, fused glass, beadmaking, glass sculpture, ceramics, screenprinting, woodworking, ornamental metal, soapmaking, sewing, wood turning, enameling, jewelry making, lost wax casting, lapidary...I don't have much of an attention span; I like being able to do and doing everything. My show reflects that. I'd contemplated all sorts of ideas for this show. Grand themes for exploration. Experiments with a certain media, even with a certain technique in that media. In the end, I just made a bunch of things that I like. Beautiful and shiny and colorful.

My shawls are felted silk, inspired when I dyed up some silk roving and while I was preparing it for spinning by "refluffing" it. Silk sticks to itself and looks crisp when it has just been dyed. When I started to pull it apart again, it clung to itself in a delicate web. I loved the look and it made a beautiful shawl but was way too delicate.
I thought nuno felting might enable me to preserve the lacey ethereal look of the silk while making it more sturdy. Nuno felting is a wet felting technique, usually done with thin layers of wool on silk gauze to create a thin, light felt. Wool felts because each fiber has little microscopic scales which open up in hot water, then interlock with agitation and soap as the fibers matt together into felt. Alpaca has smaller (shorter?) scales than sheep wool, but also felts. For this first shawl, I hand-dyed silk gauze and baby alpaca fleece to match the silk roving I had dyed earlier.

For the second shawl, I wanted to capture more of the ethereal quality of the original idea. I liked the way the contrasting parts of the silk on the first shawl writhed and wriggled but wanted something even lighter and more open. I dyed the silk roving and wool roving at the same time so they would match. Once everything had dried after the dyeing, I pulled open the silk roving into a rectangular shaped web then distributed an even thin layer of wool over it. The completed wet finished shawl is cobwebby but holds together nicely.

In the third and fourth shawls, I wanted to depart from the rectangular shawl shape. Both are made similarly by pulling sections of silk roving out and spreading them with some overlap to form a triangle or half circular area. The third shawl uses natural grey baby alpaca to felt the silk.

This fourth shawl uses a cormo lamb fleece from Cormo Sheep and Wool Farm in nearby Orland, California.

Next: Head cups with giant marbles

1 comment:

Mel said...

Thank you so much for posting the pictures of your gallery exhibit! I wish I could be there to see them in person. My favorite nuno felted piece is the square fuschia one....gorgeous & ethereal.