Weaving a background

You may have been wondering what all of these fabrics I dyed are for. As with some previous pieces, the idea is to create a wall-hanging of a sort. I was asked to make such a work, with the only instructions being a certain size and "warm colors". 

The first step was to  choose which colors to use. My dyeing adventures had yielded a wonderful palette, including a lot of warm colors, but choices had to be made. After a lot of trial and error, making piles of fabric, shuffling them around and changing them over and over, this is what I came up with.

Red and pink from sandalwood, orange from annatto, yellowish-brown from rhubarb root, yellow and a contrasting greenish-brown from onion skins (with iron for the brown). I ended up using very little of the rhubarb, and added in some more brownish-red which I obtained by mixing sandalwood with annatto.

Next: turning the chosen fabric into "yarn". I sewed the fabric into a loop and cut it into one continuous strip, spiral-wise. A simple wooden frame provided the base for the finished piece. The fabric strips are wound around the frame in one direction to form the warp, and then I simply weave over and under in the other direction for the weft.

Starting the weaving. There is avocado-dyed wool and fabric drying on the left.

Starting the weaving. There is avocado-dyed wool and fabric drying on the left.

Repetitive activities like this are what I live for. Taking a strip of material, pulling it over and under another one, over and over... it takes me into a meditative state of flow that I never want to end. So of course I had to keep going until I was completely done.

This is about 1.5 hours into the process. My arms are definitely starting to get tired, but I'm not even half-way done, so I'm not stopping, although I'm starting to get fed up. This is the point where the magic starts to happen: the fight between my body's desire to rest and my compulsion to keep going is at a decisive point. Unless I'm in really bad shape physically, the desire to keep going usually wins - and pulls me into a particular mental state that I can't achieve any other way.

Another 1.5 hours later, I'm almost done. I've gone into a kind of trance state, ignoring the fact that my arms feel like they're going to fall off. I'm so close to finishing now that stopping is not an option. It's getting dark outside, which is why the photo quality is deteriorating, but time of day is not important when I'm on a mission - and I'm on a mission to finish this thing! 

After about 3.5 hours of work in total, the woven part is finished, and I can finally clean up and go home...

This will serve as a background and support to the finished piece. Unfortunately I didn't document this with any pictures, but I've spent days and days sewing little shapes I like to call "bananas" from more matching fabric. Straight ones, crooked ones, round ones and pointy ones... each one is individually sketched onto the fabric with chalk, cut out, sewn together, turned right-side out, stuffed with polyester filling and sewn closed. These shapes will be placed onto the background and attached, once I figure out a composition that makes sense. 

In the meantime I leave you and myself with this teaser. After days and weeks of monotonous labor, the piece is almost finished, and I like to linger at this point of near-completion for a little bit. The feeling of satisfaction when a piece is truly finished only lasts for a short while, but I can stretch out this exciting time of "it's-almost-done" for as long as I want. At the same time, this serves as a period to reflect and tweak any necessary details before everything is nailed down. 

Which it will be, soon.

I will let you know.