Tuesday, December 30, 2008


"Where Sky and Water Never Meet"
crochet and stitchery on unsized canvas
approx. 24" X 24"

This is the first of many posts that will feature the creative process for a particular piece of art or a group of works.  I will be explaining some or all of the following: how I conceived the idea, how I created the piece, how I decided on the title, and perhaps some other parts of the creative process, including how I resolved a problem. 

This post is in response to a prompt at

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The Idea:  
        I had been creating fiber arts for many years. I worked on a 4-harness loom and created tapestries on a huge frame loom. I used batik, patchwork, stitchery, and macramé. Sometimes I even spun my own wool yarns and dyed them with natural dyes such as onion skins and lichens.
        At a fiber arts exhibit, I saw two great crocheted works. One was a sculpture of a bull dog made from stuffed crochet pieces. The other was a crochet box that had been "bronzed' the way parents used to have baby shoes electroplated. 
        When I was young, my grandmother, or maybe my mother, taught me how to crochet a lacy edge on a handkerchief, but that was as far as I had gone with crochet. However, it seemed like a medium that would be great for creating unique fiber pieces. 
        I took an evening crochet class to learn basic stitches. I followed some patterns just so I knew what I was doing, but I never used patterns thereafter. I created crocheted pieces to add to tapestries, unusual crocheted wall hangings, and unique clothing.

The Process:
        For "Where Sky and Water Never Meet" I stretched unsized, unbleached canvas on a frame.  On the back, I lightly drew a circle with pencil. Then, I started to make crocheted pieces from unbleached cotton thread. As I completed pieces, I stitched them onto the canvas, keeping them wavy, but somewhat horizontal and within the circle. I left a blank area purely for design purposes.  
        As I progressed, if an area seemed blank, I would create a new piece. Or if one area seemed to have a higher relief , I would create a piece to balance it.
        After I completed all the crocheted pieces, I made additional designs on the canvas within the circle with stitchery.
        At that time, I was "into" white or neutral colors. Everything on this piece was an unbleached white. I liked the effect of only the textures and shadows creating the design.  I placed the completed piece in a silver metal frame that fit over the canvas stretchers.

The Title:
        I had been teaching art for many years. Most of the time, I taught grades 6, 7, or 8. Some of the younger students were still drawing pictures of the outdoors with an inch or two of sky at the top of the paper and the ground on the bottom with an open space between. I often walked students to a window to point out that the sky appears to be touching the ground. If they were drawing a seascape, the sky would appear to touch the ocean.
        This piece was round, like the earth. The crocheted pieces reminded me of clouds and ocean waves.  The open space between the top and the bottom sections of crochet and stitchery reminded me of children's drawings, therefore I named it "Where Sky and Water Never Meet." 

The Problem:
        "Where Sky and Water Never Meet" was shuffled from exhibit to exhibit, stored in different rooms in my house, made a move to another house, and was left in a dusty attic for a while.  The natural white had become a dingy gray with dirty spots that I couldn't remove.

The Fix:
        I mixed some strong blue dye and painted it on the top of the canvas, allowing it to run toward the bottom. I then turned the canvas unside down and did the same on the bottom, allowing the dye to run toward the top. With the canvas flat, I brushed dye on the crocheted parts and more on the canvas, leaving some areas undyed. With multiple applications of the dye in some places, I was able to create several shades of blue. I chose blue because the title indicated sky and ocean. Thus, I was able to keep the title yet give the work a new look. 
        I had liked the effect of white on white, but the blue dye added a depth to the piece that wasn't there before. And it looked even better when I reinserted it into its silver frame.

"Where Sky and Water Never Meet"
crochet, stitchery, and dye on unsized canvas
approx. 24" X 24"
(art work, photos, and text ©2008, C.J. Peiffer)

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1 comment:

Diane said...

Utterly fantastic. Love your creative process. thank you for the detailed write up. so glad you found me through my nature printing.