Monday, December 12, 2011

Using Prompts

Recently, I read an article by Robin Olsen from the sep/oct 2009 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors  I decided to extend her idea, which was to use prompts to direct the construction of a fibre art piece.
I made up 110 cards for my prompts.  I used a list of techniques from my database, where I keep a record of  my reading and the ideas which come from it.  In the past, I have simply been able to scan through the database until I find something I felt like experimenting with, and do it - but now, with the techniques converted to prompts, it gives me random ideas for a piece.
Today, I decided, it was time to put the cards to the test!  Were there too many?  How flexible could it be? Would it work for me?
Let's find out!
I started with a piece of felt.
The prompt said "Add needle felted fabric" - Now, I have only small scraps of fabric left from other projects, not enough to cover this piece, which was about 14-16 inches square!  So here, the flexibility came in.  I decided to just needlefelt onto the felt.  You can see, I already had the machine out above.
Here I am in the final stages of covering the felt with needle felting.  (As usual, I got too engrossed to take pictures!) I used scraps of Fabric from my scrap box which included cottons, organza, satin, plastic, silk, roving scraps, painted nappy liners and face cloths, dyed batting and felt. Any fabrics which were not felting in well were covered in a fine film of roving scraps and re-needled.
 Above are a few close ups of the surface.
Here is the final foundation layer, with a few bits of scrap yarn added.
A close up of the yarn.
My next card said "Use a monoprint"  I was stumped for a while.
There was nothing for it but to get out the fabric I monoprinted a little while ago.  I looked at it.   I looked at it again.....  Finally I thought of cutting some flowers out of it.
So I got some flowery stencils out and moved them around.  The tulip and sunflower looked interesting, but... then I saw this stencil.
Decision made!
I thought the butterfly might look nice placed like this.  But I wanted to be sure.  So I loaded all my pictures into Photoshop.
First I cropped the background.

Then I got rid of most of the background from the butterfly and flowers (only a rough job, really)
and then I pasted them into place.  The contrast between the background and the elements is not wonderful, more is needed, so...
I drew around the butterfly with black to see what black satin stitch would do for it - and I liked that!
So I cut out my butterfly and put it down on the background.  I was still not sure about the flowers, though and just to make up my mind, I drew another card.
 It said "Attach something that isn't fully anchored down / dimensional" and that made up my mind for me.  I would make some dimensional flowers to add.

So that is where I got to today.  Considering I had no idea where I was going this morning and now I have a piece well on it's way, I'd say this method works.  But I'll have to try it a few more times, just to make sure, lol.
When I first started thinking about doing this, I  thought it might be a little too lacking in creativity, but the way I have put it together allows a bit of freedom in interpreting the prompt and the challenge actually seems to stimulate more creativity.  If I hadn't had to look at my monoprints, I wouldnt have looked at the stencils and I probably would never have  seen the butterfly and thought of using it.
Instead of how I thought it would be, it actually helps my creative impulse to not have to wrack my brain thinking of how to do something and instead simply take a random technique and  make it fit.

Try making a list of the techniques you regularly use and/or want to use.  Make them into cards so you can pick randomly, and have a go.  You might be surprised (like I was) at what you create.

Well, that's my story - and I'm sticking to it