Friday, May 11, 2012

Inspired By...

My guild, the Champaign-Urbana Spinners and Weavers Guild, is doing a cooperative project with the Spurlock Museum at UIUC. Those of us who chose to participate are creating work inspired by an artifact from the museum's permanent collection.

Museum staff selected a number of artifacts which are not usually on display. The staff members who chose the artifacts are not fiber workers. In choosing artifacts from a range of cultures, they looked for a variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Pictures of the artifacts can be seen here.

In February 2011, we were shown pictures of these objects, so that we could begin to think about our choices. In May 2011, we held our last meeting of the year at the museum, and were able to examine the actual artifacts, with museum staff present to answer questions. Our final selections had to be made a month later (June 2011).

Since then, we've been puttering away. We've had lots of formal and informal meetings to discuss our processes and our progress, and have made use of a special mailing list to keep in touch (and keep up with approaching deadlines!).

This month (Tuesday, May 8, 2012) we met at the museum again, for a potluck buffet and a display of many of the works inspired by the artifacts.

It was amazing. I'd seen some of the work at different stages, either in person or in photos, but seeing what members brought, all in one room (well, one room and around the corner into the next) was impressive.

Each member's work will be shown alongside the artifact that inspired it. The exhibit will be on display at the museum August 20, 2013 - January 18, 2014.

I chose the "Wrought Iron Window-Door", item number 1929.11.0001. A photo of this object can be seen in the lower right corner of the project brochure here.  (Scroll down to the second page of the pdf.) Museum records state it to be from France, 16th Century. I wondered who looked through it, and what they saw. The more I looked at it, the more magical it seemed. In my mind, it became the gateway to a magical, mythical garden.

I'm using my renditions of the window-door as the outer surfaces of the doors to a triptych. I replicated the pattern of the window-door in wool pencil roving, which I needle-felted onto a woven wool fabric (from a thrift store skirt). On the inside surfaces of the doors will be depictions of a Tree of Life and a Fountain of Life, both universal concepts. The large central panel will be a depiction of the Peaceable Kingdom, another universal concept. The fabric for the inner panels is wool from a thrift store coat. I'm using embroidery, appliqué, needlefelting, and other needlework techniques on these panels.

Here's a detail of my Tree of Life: 

Each bird is about the size of a US penny. 

A couple of my critters from the Peaceable Kingdom: 

The lamb is about 3" from head to tail. They're made from pieces of felted sweaters, stuffed and embroidered. The lamb has real sheep curls needlefelted to his body.

Our projects are to be turned in at the museum the last week in June. I still have a lot to do, but I this project is feeding my soul in a way I couldn't have imagined at the outset. 

More to come. 

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