I started thinking about this project in December. I want to submit it to a juried exhibition with a due date in a few months. I worked up a lot of different ideas before settling on this three dimensional piece. What was I thinking? The project started to take on a life of it’s own and a large life at that!
After filling up half my sketch book with roughs, I settled on this idea – our globe with its beautiful surface in strips, twisted but still radiant – an environmental statement but also a fun take on the spinning world.
I worked up some rough sketches in watercolour, cut them in strips and decided that I would leave spaces between.
Now I had to get serious. How was I going to turn these into a globe? I decided that a spinning wheel was the perfect armature both for the physical requirements and for the metaphorical aspect. I’m still tracking one down, hoping the one I have a lead on will work out.
How would I make the strips twist? I decided to weave each strip in tapestry with two pieces of wire in the warp near each edge. I decided on stainless steel wire, 19 gauge, I think. I’d never woven with wire before, so I worked up a sample. I couldn’t produce a long warp with wire in it, but a warp of about 2 yards worked.
I had a lot of yarn that would work, but I was missing some colours. I found the Briggs & Little yarn stocked by the Baddeck Co-op would work well. But I was still missing a significant blue so I ordered it from Brassard Bros in Quebec.
I hunted down some armature alternatives in case the spinning wheel I was after didn’t turn up. Now knowing the particular size, 18″ in diameter, I could begin. I painted a full-size cartoon of the two parts in watercolour on brown kraft paper. I layered the clouds over top with white acrylic.
I’ve made some adjustments to the clouds since I took these photos. Despite painting on the brown Kraft paper, these full-size cartoons turned out quite well. I cut them in strips, each 2″ wide and 28″ long, 22 strips in total, with a half inch cut out between each strip.
Ya, the clouds definitely needed some adjustment. Nevertheless, I was surprised by how many cloud vortexes there were in NASA images of the world!
How was I going to weave up the strips? I could use my big loom, but it would be awkward with the wire. I could use my table top loom – in fact that’s what I had used for my sample – but it was awkward. I put out a request to borrow a tapestry loom and a kind weaver offered me theirs. Of course it came in two very large burlap bags all in pieces. It came with instructions, in German! Thank goodness there were pictures.
It took me a whole afternoon to assemble this tapestry loom which turned out to be really quite simple once I figured out it could go together in two different ways and some parts were for one way and not the other . . .
Still, I couldn’t have done it without the pictures . . . !
The main floor of the studio is devoted to this project for the next six weeks!
After the initial sketches, a poem came to me. It was quite long, but I whittled it down to 22 lines. Perfect! Now, how would the poem fit into this piece?
Here are the full-size cartoons with the poem strips laid out in rough on top. The poem is supposed to appear on the back of each strip. That said, how the poetry component is integrated is still in development.
Although this is not at all how the piece will look, I kinda like the way the words overlay the images.
Here’s the first strip in progress on the tapestry loom.
Looks like I can weave one strip a day . . . 21 to go!
First strip finished. It’s not perfectly even, but it’s more straight than it appears – the wire is bending it.
With some luck and lots of persistence, I hope to have the strips all done by the end of March. The piece is a kind of love poem to the Earth, and that spurs me on to keep working on it.