marshall arts

Hallucination catcher number one

This is a concept I've been noodling my way toward for ... forever, I guess. Probably dating back to the days when I loved watching Lilly Munster adorning her living room with fresh cobwebs.

Around the same time (mid-late '60s), I was also entranced by the hobo-chic that was popular with the hippies at the time. The Flintstones were my fashion gurus.

I think the seeds of the idea were planted way back when I was in high school, when my mom would mend holes in our old WWII-vintage wool Army blankets, which tend to spontaneously sprout holes here and there. (Even without moths to help the process along.)

She would center the hole on the sewing machine, and just straight-stitch back and forth over the hole until it was approximately filled in, and then repeat the process in the orthogonal direction, thus spontaneously creating new fabric.

Since this produces a pucker in the blanket, I started playing with doing this by hand with embroidery floss. Works and looks interesting, but I'm not sure even a WWII-vintage Army blanket is worth it.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago. My Loyal and True old denim backpack has been steadily giving up the ghost, and I've been too lazy to make a new one, so I've been sort of babying it along by patching holes here and there. I started out by just embroidering backing onto the hole, but I found myself fascinated with the contrast of the plain denim with the stitchery of the patch, and have gotten progressively more elaborate, finally embroidering whole sections using varigated yarn I'd picked up to patch an old sweater I love.

Suddenly I found myself getting more compliments on the pack than I had in all the previous ten years I'd had it—random people stopping me in the street: "Cool pack!" What the hell, I thought to myself, and went with it. The trend continued.

Still don't have a word for the particular stitchery style I'm using here. I've asked a number of fiber artists, and the only word that comes up consistently is crewelwork, but that doesn't really describe it, as this is unbacked. Some Day Real Soon Now, I'll post some sort of demo.

Meanwhile, I've been developing a fascination with webby, organic forms like strangler figs.

This new stitch finally began gelling in my mind. And I started visualizing it on a frame...

—24 April 2011

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Last compiled: Sun Apr 24 23:21:19 MDT 2011