Endeavourers’ Reveal Day Two: Change/Transformation

I am part of an online art quilt group called The Endeavourers that started up late last year.  Members suggest themes, one is picked at random, and then we have three months to create a piece that fits the theme.  We are not shy about working with enormous topics — our first theme was Nature, and our current theme is Change/Transformation!

I decided to portray the process of “art alchemy,” when we choose an ordinary subject and materials, and transform them into art.

“Artist’s Alchemy”


I started with this photo, which in itself distills the idea of change — an ephemeral spider web, drenched with rain drops.

Spider web on a rainy morning.

Then I interpreted it with different materials and techniques:

— First, the most basic version, edited in Photoshop and printed on silk organza, bordered with handwoven silk from a fair trade shop —

As simple as it gets.

— Second, printed onto cotton, and couched with bouclé threads, and bordered with more silk.  This was very simple, and turned out to be my favorite.

Spider web in couched boucle threads.

— Next, printed onto a tee shirt transfer and ironed onto batik, and then beaded.

Hand beaded.

The most interesting part of the image for me, was the way that the web strands made irregular Xs, and then the rain drops doubled in size where those strands met.  I did one little hand-stitched piece with an abstract design based on that detail.

The web lines with drops, reduced to basic lines and stitched in different threads. I also wanted to move on from the square shapes of the other pieces.

Also, there is not a focal point in the image — the colors fade in and out, and highlights appear in random spots.  I wanted to play with that idea, so I took an old piece where I had fused random scraps to a background.  I couched threads over some of the intersections, and then painted Lumiere paints over the whole thing.  I cut that sheet in two and used it in the background.

Fabric scraps fused and couched, before being painted.

A detail of the same scraps, after being painted.

Like a lot of the other participants, I wanted to transform old textiles into this new piece.  I dyed some old linen napkins and painted them too.  Most of them did not get into the piece, but now they are ready for another.

When it came time to put it all together, I wanted it to look like a layout in an artist’s sketchbook, or a vision board.  I added a hand-stitched color palette and some little rolls of fabric, to portray the materials we have to choose from.

The top corner.

I really wanted to have the small pieces extending out past the background, but time ran out and I assembled it in a way I felt familiar with.  Looking at it now, I think it would be great if I had made the small pieces into pockets on the background, and then I could use it to store supplies!

I loved working on this piece.  I really love hand-stitching and I want to make more time for that.  I loved the textures of the old linens and the silk.  I loved using the metallic threads, velvet ribbons, and old buttons I have inherited, and getting them off the shelf.

As I worked on it, I thought about the alchemy we perform — transforming fleeting moments into lasting images, transforming ordinary materials into beautiful statements.  I thought about the ways that art and craft transform me — how working on a piece like this simultaneously comforts and calms me, energizes me, and opens my mind to new ideas and influences.

It really isn’t done.  I may add some beads or some more small pieces.  But if we had not had a deadline, I think this piece would have ended up on the shelf as I contemplated the perfect way to finish it.

To see the other pieces in this challenge, please visit The Endeavourers page.  And here are all the individual participants:

Catherine – http://www.knottedcotton.com   @knottedcotton
Janine – https://rainbowhare.com/
Nancy – http://www.patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com/
Carol – http://beadsandbirds.blogspot.com/
Barbara – https://theflashingscissors.blogspot.co.uk/
Ruth – http://benandcharlyscorner.blogspot.co.uk/
Gwen – https://textileranger.com/
Martha – www.weekenddoings.com
Julie – www.pinkdoxies.com
Maureen – https://josephinaballerina.com/
Tonia – http://allthingzsewn.blogspot.com
Kay – http://thecraftyyak.wordpress.com
Soma – http://www.whimsandfancies.com/
Fiona – http://celticthistlestitches.blogspot.co.uk/