Collaboration with Carrie Knowles : “The Inevitable Past”

Carrie is a dear friend and a VERY talented writer and artist! I was really honored that she asked me to collaborate with her on creating a large-scale piece of artwork. This particular piece will be presented at a special exhibition at the Brisbane Institute of Art in Brisbane, Australia, November 11th – 24th.

That means I’ll have my work internationally viewed!! Ha!!

The exhibition pairs her writing with our visual art piece. I would never be able to do justice in describing her story, and recommend you read her synopsis of the story and the accompanying art in her own well-written words.  🙂

To summarize, the piece is to represent the DNA double helix, drifting as if in a breeze. The piece is a continuous 6.4 meter-long (~7 yards) piece of linen, that we worked on in my home studio. Dyeing a piece that large meant getting really creative in utilizing the limited space in my studio. We wound up dyeing 7-foot portions of the linen (the size of my work table), and then shifting the entire fabric over. It took several passes, and 2 days!

We first put soy wax down to represent a double helix image. I have never done batik on linen, and it was a fun experience, since it absorbs wax very differently than silk! Same thing goes for the hand brushed dye that we subsequently applied in shades of red, orange, and yellow.

I rolled the fabric up at the end of each day, and let it “steep” in its dampness. Working with linen meant I needed to use soda ash to activate the fiber-reactive dye, and keep it damp for 12-24 hours. It fortunately requires that I don’t steam it. Apparently, the steam would be bad for the linen. When I dye silk, I don’t use soda ash to activate the dye… as I found out in 2012, before my first fashion show ever, when the soda ash pretty much ATE some of my fabric; so as I took the fabric out of the washer, it literally fell apart in my hands!!!! Instead now, I steam the silk fabric to activate and set the fiber-reactive dye.  It works fabulously, and also removes most of the wax in the process!  Double awesome!

Well, I was super happy with the results of working with linen.  It has such a fantastic, heavy, earthy, but soft hand, and of course the soy wax left no stiff residue!!

If you happen to be in Brisbane, swing by the Brisbane Institute of Arts, and check out this exhibit!! Oh, and send me photos!!

P.S. Carrie has a new book, A Garden Wall in Provence. I certainly recommend reading this!

Work in progress shots…

The whole piece!CarrieKnowles_FullWidth

Close-up of the embroidered pieces…CarrieKnowles_7

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