After many many hours in the studio, the piece is starting to come together. It is only half finished though. However, that is enough to see what the whole piece will look like.
I am so grateful for the spinning wheel that a kind soul agreed to donate. It was broken so I wasn’t taking something wonderful out of use. It got a repair using a metal brace and then it got sanded. I then applied a coat of gesso, then two coats of white acrylic paint.
I have finished weaving ten strips (the project has 22 strips).
Each strip requires finishing at both ends. That involves a finishing technique that is a kind of braiding; then each warp end (12 per strip) is sewn back into the weft. The two pieces of wire in each strip were trimmed and bent over to secure them in the strip. The strips look good on both sides. You see tape with numbers on each strip so I don’t get confused!
Next challenge is to mount each strip on the wheel. I had a couple of hardware possibilities up my sleeve. I used large black steel staples and they worked. I bent each strip. The wheel was suspended from a wire and I used monofilament to balance the piece since it is unbalanced in its incomplete state.
Originally I wanted the strips to twist, but I decided that I would leave them rounded so viewers can see the map.
Now, what would I do about the poem? By the way, I didn’t intend for the piece to include a poem initially. But one evening when I was working up the idea in my sketchbook, I felt that words were important and started to write. A poem just emerged. It was much longer but it reduced easily to the 22 lines needed for the piece.
Originally I wanted to stitch the poem onto the back of each strip, but turns out that tapestry is very dense and isn’t conducive to stitching. It wouldn’t be very readable that way anyhow. So, I decided to use the half inch watercolour strips from in between the 2″ watercolour strips that are being woven. I mounted each strip on washi paper (a Japanese handmade natural fibre paper) and stitched one line of the poem on each. Stitching on paper is something I have done before. Using an awl, I punched holes to form the words, then stitched using the holes. I inserted a wire the length of the strip and closed up the back with the washi paper and acid-free glue. You can see the strips in the full images below and in the close-ups further down. The front of the strips show the watercolour painting and stitched words. The back (inside of the globe) is white washi paper. What you can’t see is the nice movement of the piece as it hangs.
Cleared a space in my painting studio today and found a way to hang the piece so I could photograph it. Hard to tell the scale from these pictures. The spinning wheel is 18″ in diameter and so the overall piece is about 19 or 20″ in diameter all round.
Here are the closeups.
I’ve named the piece Energy, Light and Song from a line in the poem.
Energy, Light and Song
Doe eyes searching
Pivoting on thin legs
Feet forward we spin
Leave tracks for others to interpret
Spinning in the cosmos
Among all we share
Separate and part of, all at once
What we thought we owned
Spinning we align ourselves
With all that is wild
Owning what is truly ours
Energy, light and song
Love this spinning planet
Love of a mother, love of a child
With openness, hope and prayer
Stand, Lie, Kneel
Dizzy with thanks
Love is a spinning thing.
I am submitting the piece to a juried exhibition – fingers crossed. The first deadline is coming up so I worked to resolve the issues and present the piece in an approximation of what it will look finished. It should be done by end of April.
Here is a statement about the piece which, hopefully, may help any puzzled viewers to understand what the heck this is all about:
Energy, Light and Song is a 3-D environmental statement composed of 22 woven tapestry strips, 22 paper strips with a line of poetry stitched on each, mounted on a spinning wheel. Tapestry and paper strips portray an image of the world from space, including cloud formations. If we step back from our daily life, we can see the world as a whole. My work was aided by beautiful photographs of Earth from space, available via NASA. The strips represent the stripping of the planet of its natural resources and its wild natural places. The poem speaks to the illusions that we own the planet, that we have the right to do what we are doing to it. The poetry is a love poem to the earth and a reminder that we need and love the very wildness that we are destroying. Each strip took about 7 hours to weave. The entire project involves about 200 hours of work. Material cost was minimal (primarily wool) and I like that the main resource used to create this piece is energy.
Thanks to kind readers who made it to the end of this post! Now it’s back to the studio to weave the remaining strips.