Wednesday, August 12

Fiber Sculpture Recap

I've just received pictures from Pamela Thomas, who had taken my Fiber Sculpture Week intensive at Fleisher the last week of July. My camera chose to run out of batteries at a most inopportune moment, but luckily Pamela came to the rescue.

Fiber is such a broad field of both materials and techniques that it's hard to narrow it down to a few to present in a week's course. This summer I thought about starting with paper as a fiber medium as it would be a material that everyone would be intimately familiar with. Our first experiments produced a folded paper box and a plaited coaster, seen below.
Once students felt comfortable with the idea of weaving and manipulating paper we moved onto a newspaper basket. They started as woven mats for the base square, with the "staves" then folded up. Some twining helped keep the base stable and a folded and bound top edge finished it off. (My sample piece has become my new favorite place to stash my embroidery supplies by my chair in the living room!)

Continuing with the idea of vessels, we tried some wrapping and coiling. The pic above shows a purple ribbon and yarn coiled form sitting on the basket. And you can see another form at the bottom right of the picture below made of curtain cording and twine, suggestive of a seed pod.
This bright lady is Joan Forman, a great experimenter in mixed media (although her first love is watercolor and collage). Her week's labor produced the objects above. When we moved on to soft/stuffed forms, she transformed a needlepoint pillow top into a triangular form that tried to be a snake but turned into a seated form using Joan's button collection for embellishment and structural tacking.

The aforementioned Pamela- of -the -pictures, was extremely interested in doll forms, and was in seventh heaven when she was able to start the form above utilizing her African-inspired fabrics. She was able to selectively place her pattern pieces so that the face in the print acted as the face of her doll. She also discovered how much faster machine-sewing is over handsewing! I'm a great fan of the handsewn- especially in embroidered embellishment- but for structural stitching and speed GO for the Machine!
I'm pleased with what these ladies were able to accomplish in such a short time. However I'm torn between wanting to introduce techniques and materials versus being able to create interesting, inventive, artistic forms. When students are learning a technique for the first time it's hard to think about content and be ambitious with form at the same time. And one week is too short to be able to master anything! I've also realized that in my teaching I'm far more concerned that students learn new methods and be able to accomplish and complete something than to make that something perfect and beautiful.
Sculpture is not my comfort zone artistically- but it's good to do things outside your comfort zone sometimes. It challenges and stretches the imagination. I enjoy looking and thinking about sculpture more than I like producing it. So I appreciate these ladies taking this adventure with me.

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