1000 little pillows

So here I was, having decided that my next piece had to be big. This decision immediately gave me so much energy and motivation, I felt like a new person. Now of course I didn't have a definitive plan right away, but I had to strart somewhere. So I took my lovely green and yellow tansy-dyed fabric and my sewing machine and set myself a goal: to sew 1000 little fabric shapes or "pillows".

I was a little fed up with the "banana" shape that I had been using previously and felt like I needed to try something else. The shape I decided on is basically a tube, sewn flat on both ends, but one end is sewn perpendicular to the other. The result is a kind elongated tetrahedron. And I really did sew 1000 of them... 


It took me a few weeks to finish. I got so obsessed at some point that I strained my wrist shoving the polyester stuffing inside hundreds of them in a row and had to take a break for a few days. That was hard! But here they finally are: different lengths, different shades and different fabrics, but they are all the same width, so they will fit together nicely in a kind of grid.

Most of the fabric is dyed with tansy (yellow and olive-grey-green), some with weld (which makes pretty much the same shades) and some is indigo I already had from ealier, over-dyed with tansy or weld. I like how the indigo adds a nice pop of more intense colour to the gentle greens and yellows.

The next step of course was to find a way to assemble them all into a finished piece. I had previously constructed similar pieces by weaving strips of fabric in/around a frame, and then sewing the pillows on. But assuming the width of 5cm for each pillow, and a grid of 20x50, the finished piece would have to be at least 1x2,5m - not a very practical size for a frame! - and that wouldn't even include any visible background. So if I wanted to have any visible background I had to make it even larger than that, but either way I didn't think such a large rigid frame was going to be a good idea. My solution was to weave the background with fabric strips on a frame like before, but to then remove the frame and finish te edges without it. A tapestry or wall-hanging doesn't necessarily need a frame, after all. So I built a frame, made a lot of fabric strips and started weaving...


After about a day's work, I was becoming more and more unhappy. The weaving wasn't turning out large enough, the strips of fabric I had sewn together kept tearing, and somehow the colours just didn't seem right. I kept picturing the finished piece in my mind's eye and it just seemed... bland. There was only one thing I could do: take the whole thing apart and go back to the drawing board.


In the meantime, I busied myself with some white paper, indigo fabric and red sewing thread, a combination that had been floating around in my head for a while. The way the paper is arranged on the fabric just kind of happened, based on the number of sheets of paper I had and an irregularity in the fabric that I wanted to cover up. Sometimes you just have to go with what you've got and let the materials be what they want to be!

One thing led to another and I finally decided that the 1000 pillows also needed an intense indigo background. There's already some indigo in some of the pillows after all, and the colour contrast would elevate the whole thing from bland to spectacular. At least, that what it looks like in my mind's eye. But of course I don't have enough blue fabric lying around, so it's back to indigo-dyeing, and that's where you'll see me again very soon!