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.

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