Once I'd decided on the composition, the real challenges began. Ordinarily, at this stage, I would just head to my studio, select the appropriate fabrics and begin to sculpt cheesecloth, and cut and sew fabric.
But this piece was different - we were to embrace materials that were not ... "material." What's a fiber artist to do? I knew that I would need to sculpt some kind of malleable "fiber" to make my customary portraiture, but maybe I could find some other form of mesh to use, and a substrate different from my typical linen or buckram or burlap.
Off to the home improvement store to see what interesting tidbits I could find.
Nothing was too obscure or weird to be considered: insulation, metal bubble wrap, black Tyvek, door screening, flooring underlay, and even a roll of packing foam.
Then it was time to visit the art supply store and consider all kinds of products that are the regular tools of the mixed media artist: gesso, fiber paste, silver leaf, glazing medium, open acrylics ....
Just for fun, I searched online and ordered special phosphorescent paints to give an eerie radioactive glow to the artwork.
I needed a substrate that referenced fabric without "being" fabric. I thought maybe I could take a canvas board and give it the texture of fabric... just saw it down to size, sand, gesso, and press burlap on ... easy, right?
So I painted extra-thick gesso onto the board, pressed various textural fibers llike burlap and grasscloth onto it ... and voila ... a mess.
Okay, let's set that aside and focus on the lettering. Something will come to me for the background eventually ....
I had the quote in mind, and could print it out on paper from my printer.
But I could not simply cave in and stencil letters onto the background ... not very quilt-like at all. Instead, I considered how a fiber artist would approach this ... the obvious answer was to applique letters in place. And that's when the idea of sculpting the letters occurred to me .The first step was to calculate the correct scale of the letters so the quote would fit around the insert that would have Einstein’s image on it. After printing it out on a sheet of paper, and placing some plastic kitchen wrap over it, it was time to create the letters.
Using fiber paste, I patiently sculpted each individual letter. Little fiber letters!
When dry, I peeled them off the plastic wrap and painted them with black acrylic paint. They were ready to be glued to the painted packing foam once the other motifs were ready.
Next time, we'll get to the sticks and stones!