Tuesday, July 10, 2018

"That's How the Light Gets In"

The Southern Highland Guild has a members only show every other year in the main gallery of the Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC. There is always a theme; in years past such things as "black and white", a piece no larger than 6" and fellowship where you teamed up with another member to make a piece were used. All were great fun and very challenging.
This time around, the theme was Wabi Sabi - a Japanese concept dealing with finding imperfection in things is beautiful. The exhibit - "Perfect Imperfection - Embracing Wabi Sabi" opened this past friday.  I had come across a poem by Leonard Cohen - an instant connection and knew this was going to be the focal point and name of my piece. I printed it out on muslin and burned the edges with a woodburning tool to give it an aged look.
I love working with photographs, especially layering and using filters in Photoshop Elements. I had it in my mind to use a picture of a wall with cracks and peeling paint...I found plenty of old walls in downtown Asheville and took dozens of pictures.
I also wanted light to come through the cracks which the poem suggests; I have a file of sunset pictures which I thought might work. It did take me 2 full days to get the right wall with the right sunset and light coming through in the middle...so when I layered them and used different filters...
this was the reult.
The printing gods were with me this time and my little C-88 Epson printer did a great job printing on fabric. Above is the fabric on left and photo on right. Fabric isn't always as vibrant as photo paper but this time....spot on.
I made several copies on fabric, cropping areas for smaller parts of the photo to use in other areas of the quilt.
And now the fun begins...putting this all together in a pleasing and balanced way...always difficult for me. I started using some hand made paper, silk screened images etc....many frustrating moments.

I find what works for me - let it stew on the design wall for a while. Going in and out of my studio gives me a new perspective each time. Above right...the long strip of blue near the top...thought I loved it until I lived with it for a few days....too strong....also the bottom left is too heavy and needed something to lighten it up. 
 Adding a strip of lighter colored fabric helped it I think. I love words, so words were screened on the fabric to make it more interesting. I also thought the poem belonged on the left...not in the middle. Everything was stitched in place and machine quilted. This piece was to be mounted over a canvas frame so not necessary to have a backing fabric.
Time to flip it over and finish it...this part is tricky when you've worked with a geometric design and every piece a certain size. It has to be even everywhere on the right side...so it's one staple each side, flip over to check...then 2 staples on each end...flip it over and so on and so on.......
You can see, there was not a lot of quilting...didn't need it. I did use an extra layer of batting under the photo to give it more dimension.
Once it is stapled all around - staples very close together...I insert
1/2" foam cut to size to fit inside.
I don't know why I do this, maybe I feel it offers more stability.
The back finishing fabric is stabilized with "So Sheer" a fusible non-woven interfacing not to be confused with a fusible web. In my hurry to get it to the gallery, I forgot to take a picture of the back so I've enclosed another piece using this method.
The backing fabric is stapled all around the edges; the staples covered with a flat braid. This piece is silk screened, wabi sabi piece just used a pretty printed fabric. I used picture frame wire and eye hooks for hanging.
I named the piece "That's How the Light Gets In" Thank you Leonard Cohen for writing such beautiful words; they were truly my inspiration.


  1. Your pirpi is outstanding!!!! I love it...

  2. I’m so anxious to see your piece in person tomorrow when our small fiber group, PTA (Professional Textile Artists) will tour the entire exhibit!

  3. I love this piece and appreciated how you took us through the process.