Unraveling The Fiber Art Process - Guest post by Karen Payton
Whenever I talk about my art, I always get asked, "how long does it take?", "Is it a quilt?" "What do you call it?"
I call my work fiber art. I am hoping the universe will bestow a more clever, easy to interpret name, but for now, that's it. It's not a quilt, there is no batting, and you can't snuggle up with one of my pieces. As for how long each piece takes.... a very, long time. But, it’s all joy and worth every minute!
Here's a sneak peek into my process:
Inspired visions turn into tiny sketches. After a few attempts, I sketch the image to the actual size of my finished product and then outline with a fat, black Sharpie. This becomes the sewing pattern.
Next, I take the face of the image and using a lightbox, trace my sketch onto thick canvas. I spend a few days layering colored pencil on the canvas and then stretching it onto a frame. The colored pencil becomes my guide for the shade of embroidery floss to use.
When I am on breaks from the hand stitching, I start the applique process. I collect tubs of old clothing, sheets with stains or tears, fabric remnants from the sale bins and donations from kind friends. I sit with my collection of fabric and start to pull together a color scheme. I often need to dye the larger background pieces to get the perfect shade.
I use either Procion dyes or Jacquard fabric paint or both. Sometimes I will dye a piece over and over until I get the right color. I love this process!
I then use my large, sketched out pattern to trace each part onto interfacing. I iron the interfacing onto the fabric. Then I put each part into place.
During this stage, the process can often go wonky.... I either cut something too small, or it got too wrinkled or there are weird gaps. I pin and play and cut and dye and paint and cut and iron until it seems all the parts are fitting and ready to sew.
I use a zig zag top stitch over every piece, changing thread colors as I go. Once the embroidered face is complete, I add that to the image.
The final piece then gets professionally scanned, stretched and framed. From start to finish, depending on the size, it takes 2-4 months.