My Working Process
What starts with a spark of inspiration found in a donated object evolves by repeatedly assembling various objects and then rearranging, joining, taking apart, removing and/or replacing objects until the work seems complete, all of this governed loosely by a self-imposed set of rules.
The rules for my Arrangement series of work: In honor of my brother, all the works contain guitar strings and/or guitar-string ball-ends, or these components from other stringed musical instruments. Objects are arranged in sets of six and/or multiples of six to reference the number of strings on a guitar. The objects, to include the musical instrument components, have all been previously used. They all contain history – memories. Song titles name the works. The works are all circular to reference the everlasting, the infinite. The objects are joined with traditional stitching techniques, almost always either a running stitch or a buttonhole stitch. The buttonhole stitch is used in honor of my mother who always said that a handmade buttonhole is a sign of a well-made garment.
It is a collaborative process with the donated materials and, by extension, with the previous owners who chose to own these objects, and with the donors – if in fact they are not the previous owners but rather the heirs of these belongings. The objects are received only after a series of choices by others.
The gifts of objects to be used in my work are upon receipt, washed – if necessary, sorted and stored by type, i.e. ties in one bin, jewelry in another. More often than not one of the new gifts suggests a potential relationship with one of the previous gifts-in-waiting. These objects are placed together in the working area of my studio, sometimes causing me to put aside a current work-in-progress. Usually there are several works-in-progress simultaneously in my studio. The works inform each other. All the works since my Memento series have built upon each other.
I start at the center and work out. Although not dictated by any specific arrangement theory, I am certainly inspired by Benoit Mandelbrot’s fractal theory of repeating patterns as found in nature. My works all have a distinct center, almost like a center disk of a flower, surrounded by concentric rows of motifs, like sound waves.
I assemble the works on stretched canvas, similar in concept to working on a quilting frame. The center assemblage is created on a small frame, or embroidery hoop, then when finished is cut off of that and attached to a larger stretched canvas frame for the purpose of building a larger work. I always start small, never knowing for sure if the works will “grow”. Each of the largest works in this show (48 inch diameter) had to be assembled on a total of 3 graduating sized stretched canvases, with a final 54 x 54 inch size stretched canvas. The size of my work is restricted to the length of my arm, due to the sewing process.
The song title which names the work, and my name and date of the work is embroidered onto the work, usually towards the bottom the edge, in a very small stitch so as to be unobtrusive, but named nevertheless.
Finally, the works are cut off of the stretched canvas and sewn to mat board for framing.