The Fiber Guild has been meeting in the French Art Colony for several years. In the fall of 2011, the group decided to combine efforts to produce a wall hanging that would be donated to the annual FAC Silent Auction to be held the first week of March, 2012. The work was to represent the many fiber skills held by Guild members.
Creating a corporate work of art was new territory for the Guild. Marlene G, Susan D, Cathy C and Mary P agreed to serve as the Design Committee and started by defining the guidelines for the blocks that would be used in the wall hanging.
Each member was invited to contribute a 9″ by 9″ block in the fiber medium of their choice–crochet, felted, knitted, quilted, or woven. In order to avoid potential clashes in color, all agreed to limit the materials to white, grey and/or black.
Most members produced several blocks by the deadline set by the Design Committee, and soon after the January Winter Celebration at Marlene’s, we had at least one usable block from all twelve members. Several chose to explore fiber work outside their usual media. The picture below shows the blocks that were completed by the January Celebration. Later contributions included a needle felted items, woven inkle braid and a lacy knitted square.
Concept Exploration–Jan 7-Feb 17, 2012
One of the most challenging aspects of group design is coming to a common understanding of what will be accomplished and the best way to make it happen. Even putting what we envisioned as individuals into words and reaching a common understanding provided unexpected challenges. Resolutely, we pressed forward.
Having all black and white blocks considerably simplified the decision on what the background color should be. However, it wasn’t easy. We had to find a background that provided a contrast to the range of shades found in the blocks, while allowing each block the prominence it deserved.
We first tried draping cheesecloth under the blocks to give fluidity to the design. Plain background in some areas, various densities of cheese cloth in other areas could provide needed contrast for the different color values of the blocks. We didn’t like the look of the white cheesecloth on black background, so we considered other background colors.
We auditioned dozens of fabrics (including fabrics found in our closets) and finally settled on a medium gray, with “bladders” of other fabrics to provide the needed contrast and relief from an otherwise monochrome color scheme and bland background. We chose a lighter color of grey for a large moon-shaped bladder at the top of the design, and a red shape at the bottom. Blocks were to be distributed over area of the design according to what provided the best contrast.
When we finally settled on the overall distribution of color and value in the background, as well as the 3 by 4 grid arrangement of the blocks, we felt we were ready to take the design to the rest of the Guild at the February meeting. Members discussed the arrangement of the blocks and sorted through the “short list” of fabrics the Design Committee brought to their attention.
It was at this meeting that we agreed upon the name of “The Gathering” as a fitting expression of the combined work and persons that make up the Appalachian Ohio Fiber Guild. Once concensus on the design, the Design Committee purchased the fabric from shops in Gallipolis and Columbus, OH.
Construction Begins–Feb 17-24
One of the Design Committee members was pretty much housebound, due to extensive foot surgery. Luckily, she had an excellent work area to spread out. We decided on the size and shape of the two bladders and basted them down onto the background.
When we liked how it looked, color and design-wise, we began exploring what we could do to pull the blocks together–one observation was that we didn’t want it to look like a school bulletin board, with no depth or fluidity. We also wanted the red to be repeated somewhere else in the design. Susan offered to spin some extra thick yarn she had dyed a beautiful red. We also began to consider using bead embellishment.
Mary, Susan and Marlene strung several lengths of red, black and white beads that we planned to dangle from some of the blocks. We also decided to sew some of the red beads singly onto the knitted tree block and a freeform woven block.
Further embellishment continues in Part 2.