Archive for August, 2009

Four on the Floor

Thursday, August 27th, 2009
'Pine Floor'  Kay Liggett, 2008

'Pine Floor' Kay Liggett, 2008

I have been fascinated by the grain lines in wood ever since I began woodturning.  There is a sense in which grainlines on a board resemble a drawing.  It is the story of the tree’s life, in just the way that wrinkles tell the story of a human face.  I also enjoy using ‘natural process’ image transfers.  For example, in ceramics, I sometimes press leaves or bicycle tires into the damp slab to record the textures.  With fabric, I have borrowed a rubbing technique to transfer grainlines from weathered wood by rubbing an oil pastel crayon over the fabric placed directly on it.  This was the beginning of the Four on the Floor series of quilts.  The grainlines become a very direct way to quilt through the fabric layers, transforming a hard-edged reality into a soft image of it.

‘Pine Floor ‘was the first quilt I made with this technique.  I chose light colors and color washes.

In contrast to the loft and color of ‘Pine Floor,’ I chose a thinner batting and silk to make ‘Laminated Floor.’  This quilt has a more uniform surface quality, in the way that the laminated floors keep the grain,  but lose the texture of wood.   This silk was dyed with hickory bark.

'Laminated Floor'  Kay Liggett, 2009

'Laminated Floor' Kay Liggett, 2009

The quilting on the silk fabric makes a very subtle grainline, compared to the effect of the oil pastels and stitching on the first quilt.

After working with the very smooth surface of the silk, I began to look for a rougher texture in the fabric.   I have also been interested in discharge-dying of fabrics.  I chose black raw silk to start the pattern of grainlines on the next quilt in the series.  the rubbing was done with black oil pastel.  Then I applied discharge dye to remove the color where it was not protected by the oil pastel.  The discharge process created lighter areas where the color was removed.

'Back Porch'  Kay Liggett, 2009

'Back Porch' Kay Liggett, 2009

Although the texture of ‘Back Porch’ is rougher, I wanted a contrast between the visual roughness of the fabric and the hand of the quilt.  I chose a rayon backing fabric, and bamboo batting to give this quilt the softest and most plyable hand in the series.   Hand-dyed cotton and patches of rayon add to the multi-layer sense of this quilt, which is light and pliable  (photo -below)

As I was working on ‘Back Porch,’ I began to think that the grainlines could be strong enough to construct a whole-cloth quilt from just the pattern of the wood.  I looked up one afternoon at the subfloor visible from my basement, and I recognized the big clue in almost all subfloors–they are laid on the diagonal across the floor joists.  This change in the orientation of the ‘boards’ gave the design enough motion to use just one fabric choice.  The fabric is natural raw silk, dyed with cherry bark and highlighted with SetaColor silk paints.

All of these quilts are approximately 50″ x 24.”

'Sub Floor'   Kay LIggett, 2009

'Sub Floor' Kay LIggett, 2009

The four quilts in this series will be in the “Sublime Surfaces” show November 13- 27th, at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado.