Mark-making = Stitching, Quilting, Embroidering
Mark-making is that quilting thing. One of my favourites. I have been asking myself that profound question: why make fabric art? Why play with textiles? Why not simply paint on canvas, and be done much more quickly? The answer is probably my love of that extra layer of marks I make with a sewing machine.
Once a piece is assembled, I’ll spend a lot of time staring at it on my work wall, deciding where I will add texture, how much texture, and what the “theme” will be. Sometimes it’s obvious, and at other times… not so much.
But I persevere. Before I add texture to a quilt, I like to warm up for all this mark-making with a sewing machine. This is a playful moment, “doodling” with needle and thread. My warm up exercises are carried out on little rectangles made up of the same three layers as a quilt. When the mark-making is done, these rectangles get folded in three, forming mini-bags.
Little Bags: experiments in mark-making
My little bags are texture and fabric painting and dyeing exercises. Because they are small and they don’t represent a big investment in time, fabrics and creative anguish (oh no!), I feel free to get warmed up, to kick start my imagination and to experiment.
I try lots of pattern ideas on them and I especially love to build up patterns, line after line. Below is a gallery of some of those bags. Over the years, I have made hundreds, and no two are the same…
After taking a class with Ken Smith, an Australian textile artist who does extraordinary embroidery, I began to see the relationship between lines of stitching: their closeness, their not-quite identical repetition creating interest, thread variations, and so on. An a-ha moment.
I really liked the freehand approach to mark-making and have been playing with this ever since. You can build pattern by starting with a single line, a wave, let’s say, then returning alongside this wave, adding circular lines, or anything that might evoke a natural shape.