Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Outlines Provide Impact

I am an avid collector. My collecting passions are many but one of my most consistent efforts has been finding and buying antique textiles; especially embroidered or otherwise embellished textiles. I've run the range from Arts and Crafts era pieces to antiques and also more modern pieces.

There are textiles I have found irresistible from the mid-20th century. Moving from Arts and Crafts and Art Deco to Moderne, some of the textiles I have collected are indeed fascinating. The design above is one of my favorite prints.

It was found during one of my usual scans of textiles on eBay. A short single curtain, this linen was obviously unlined as it had sun wear on the back but the front looked great. With no identification on any selvedge giving me a clue about it's origin, I proceeded to deconstruct it's pleats. Once I had it in a flat panel, I determined it to be stable enough for a gentle hand washing. It was filthy!

Finally, I decided to embellish the design with just an outline on some of the major areas. It didn't need much but I guess I wanted to leave my own mark. I then used some Rogers & Goffigon fabric for the backs of a pair of pillows seen above. One day I hope to take my fabrics and reproduce them, creating a line of textiles.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Fine Art of Trapunto

Years ago I graduated with a MFA in Weaving and Textiles from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Prior to that I received a B.S. in Art Education. I've always been a teacher personality and I hope to be able to teach again sometime soon.

During my time at school I learned about trapunto. This age old technique allows one to create wonderful relief patterns on the surface of a textile. Often times it has been used to enhance a design on the fabric or in some cases creates the design on a plain fabric

The method of doing trapunto was to top stitch a pattern onto the surface of a fabric - either with machine or by hand - using a secondary fabric underneath so that one would have two fabrics being joined with the stitching. Once the areas of relief were determined, one only had to make a cut in the backing, stuff the area with fiber, and hand sew the cut to create the desired effect.

Through the years, I have discovered a much better way of creating trapunto. There is such a thing as a hollow needle that when combined with the use of an air compressor, can pierce the backing and shoot fiber (string) into the pocket created by the double layer of fabric and produce the same effect with much less effort and a much cleaner look. The needle is a bit flexible and allows one to get into the corners and tight spots. The above photo is a detail of one of my favorite trapunto patterns. This one is on a beautiful Rogers & Goffigon wool twill, which adds a beautiful directional pattern to the work. Be sure to click on the photo - it will give you a good look at the results.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jansen's Curtain Border Interpretation

When I first glanced at the beautiful book "Jansen" by James Archer Abbott, with it's striking red jacket, I found it compelling. Then, on page 219, I saw a beautiful drawing of a window treatment for the bedroom of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Allen Jr. The simple but graphic border along with the beautifully articulated valence, soft blue gray color against the black background just captured me. Needless to say I bought the book.

Within hours, I set out to capture the essence of that design using satin stitches on a Rogers & Goffigon wool sateen. Technically, I think I did a proper job, but I did not catch the pattern's romance in my first attempt. I put the sample away and moved on to orders.

Recently, Interior Designer Suzanne Rheinstein approached me about interpreting the pattern for curtains in her New York home. This time I took a different approach. The fabric ground is a handsome platinum colored silk from her own collection designed for Lee Jofa. For the image, I custom dyed a rayon chenille in a dark taupe and using the hand guided Cornelly machine applied the chenille and finished using chain stitch. The finished embroidery is finished above along with a detail for closer inspection.

The chapter on the Allen residence does not show the master bedroom and I am not sure if the curtain treatment was ever made but Suzanne tells me that she loves her curtains which makes me very happy indeed.