Monday, July 17, 2017

Fiber Art Defined

What is "Fiber Art" anyway? I'm sure we all have our own definition.  Those who do simple scarves with knitting or crochet could be considered fiber artists, but in the eyes of the "professionals", maybe they aren't as much.  And those professionals can be loosely defined as well, as people who choose to create something fancier, more unique or just plain crazy that one wouldn't be likely to wear to Walmart. 

A good definition of Fiber Art that I found is: 
"Fiber art refers to fine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor on the part of the artist as part of the works' significance, and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility."

Where am I going with this? Well, I've always considered myself a fiber artist, despite the fact that my paintings have no physical fiber in them.  It can be argued that my scarves, shawls, etc are all fiber art, but I wouldn't put those in a gallery show.  My paintings, however, depict images of knitted forms and are created by looking at a still life created from the actual knitted forms, so shouldn't they be fiber art?  

I've never really worried about this until now, and I haven't had much opportunity to display my works in a fiber art show.  But as of late it's been on my mind a lot, as a local gallery in town is hosting a juried fiber show and, to quote a good friend, "A fiber art show in Downtown Bryan without Lisa Urban in it is just wrong".  

I've experimented a lot the past few months with what I want to do to enter this show, as my normal oil paintings just won't cut it. I've tried attaching knitted thread to create "clouds" on top of my paintings.  I've tried physically knitting a panel and oil painting on it.  I've tried sewing threads in certain spots of a painting.  None are convincing enough for me.  I was about to give up when I had the honor to teaching a "kids fiber arts" camp a couple weeks back.  Teaching the kids some techniques gave me an idea.

I was teaching the kids to weave one day on small, cardboard looms and the next thing I knew I was joining in on my own little wooden one.  Using handspun yarn scraps, I created a few small coasters. I got to thinking that they'd be cool to sell at the shop I work in, and considered making more.

But then something clicked and I realized I had a solution to my fiber art problem.

Little woven canvases! I have a ton of this old rug warp and linen yarn that a friend gave me.  I never thought I'd use it, in fact I debated donating it or selling it at one point.  I'm so glad I didn't!

Using scrap sock yarn as the warp, I'm weaving with the linen (I think it's linen) yarn to create little squares on my little wooden loom. 

Once the squares are created, the ends are woven in and a small coat of primer is applied to the front side.  I am then using gouache to paint a small version of my knitted landscapes directly onto the surface.  the result is a surreal, woven painting.  I showed this to several people and they all agreed this is a clever, cute way to create 'fiber art' that is unique to me. 

The four blank ones above are going to be my next ones, with the color scheme of the painting matching the yarn I used to warp.  The final projects are then mounted on a black square of mat board and placed in a simple frame.   Along with the local show, there are a few other shows I think I may enter if I can pull this idea off.

What do you think? What is fiber art to you? How fun is this idea? 


Monday, July 3, 2017

New Designs

I hope you all are having a fabulous summer.  It's hard to believe that it's already half over - my school job starts back up August 1!

I'm really excited to share my latest FO with you all, as it is something that I've been working really hard to perfect the last few months.

"Morning Garden Stream", which is named after the painting and yarn used, is a fun shawl that I have been working on designing since May.  Using the handdyed yarn that I matched with my painting, the idea was to recreate the painting in knitted form.  

The shawl features an asymmetrical design created by strategic increase placement to create four wedges. The body of the design features triangular bands of seed stitch, openwork and a band of blue at the bottom, all of which were added to emulate the colors and textures found within the original painting.

You've have probably all seen this painting a million times by now, but I wanted to share it once again just as a reference point for the design.

It was a fun little knit.  I took notes the whole time and plan to type it up soon, so that I can release it along with the yarn when the time is right.  


If you're in the United States, I hope you are enjoying this holiday weekend - I know a lot of people have today off for Independence Day.  If you're out shooting fireworks, stay safe :)