Negative Space Collage

May is a new month so the theme on the Documented Life Project has changed to texture so this month is going to be all about tactile elements.  The prompt for this week was fabric and the phrase was “the fabric of your life”.

I am not a textile artist, not remotely, so I neither have the skills or the material for incorporating fabric into my art journal.  If you have followed my blog for long enough you might recall that my last foray into using fabric was when I used my husband’s discarded underpants to make pyjamas for a hibernating bear.  It was fun to create and certainly amusing but I  decided not to repeat that experiment.  So I interpreted the prompt more broadly and decided to construct fabric from a non-textile medium.

Using a piece of scrap photocopy paper as my substrate, I used clippings from magazine pages to construct a long dress and hair for a female figure.  I then used a craft knife to cut out hands and a face so that those features became the negative space within the collage.  When I glued the whole piece into my art journal, the white of the journal page became the hands and face.  As someone who loves to draw and tends towards illustration, I had to resist the impulse to draw in the fingers and the facial features.  Whether that would have improved the whole piece or detracted from it, I don’t know.  Feel free to offer your opinion.  I swithered over it for so long that I ran out of time (having given myself half an hour for this DLP page) so the blank negative space became the default.  It’s an experiment at least.  I did some line work with paint pen on the hair and dress just to give both a bit more definition.

Week 19 - Fabric

Pants, Pyjamas, Laundry and Hibernation

This week’s Documented Life Project challenge prompt had me scratching my head for inspiration.  Incorporating fabric onto the journal page seems simple enough but I don’t ever create with fabric (unless you count the occasional sock monkey or sock monster) so not only do I not have much in the way of fabric crafting skills but I do not have a stash of fabric of any kind.  Not even any old socks since those have been turned into sock monsters.  Being a tomboy mother of four boys, I don’t even have any ribbon or bows or anything.  It was suggested that I could utilise a scrap from some old clothing but we emigrated with very few clothes as it is so there was nothing that was not being worn for me to cannibalise.  One of my sons has ripped a pair of jeans but they are his favourites so he would not part with them and I also was not keen on the sewing challenge of trying to work with denim.  I kill my thumbs enough trying to hem denim jeans.  I was not about to put myself through that for fun.  My mind was wandering to ways in which I could loosely interpret the prompt and I was all set to produce a watercolour sketch of some crumpled fabrics when my husband announced that he had identified some old clothes that I could chop up and use: his underpants.

Yes.  Underpants.

At the risk of having my Green Card revoked, I am really not a fan of American washing machines.  Since moving here, I have had two top-loading washing machines – one at the rental house and one that came with our new home – and both have been awfully hard on our clothing.  Because they spin around a central axis point, it creates a sort of centrifuge (or does it?  Because I know even less about physics than I do about sewing) and all the wet garments just stick to the sides of the drum, becoming a tangled mess, straining and pulling against each other.  In all my years of doing laundry, I have become accustomed to using a front loading machine whereby the clothes spin around in the drum but also tumble because of the effect of gravity: whatever clothes are at the top of the drum fall down and rejoin the fray, so they are being constantly separated from each other.  The problem with the top-loading system is that the clothes pulling against each other leads to misshaping and tears.  A button or zip catches against a jumper and gets pulled to such an extent that a hole appears.  I have had more holes appear in laundry in the past year than I have had over the previous decades of my laundering experience.  Washing machine design is one of the few small differences between my domestic life in Scotland and America that really irks me.  When it comes time to replace our washing machine, I am hoping we can do so with a front loader.

Rant over and out but that explains why my husband was able to donate his under garments to my creative project: the blasted washing machine had created a hole in them.  So underpants it was.

It took me some pondering time to decide how I could use them on my page.  Some ideas were just too ambitious for my sewing skill level and some would have involved creating too much in the way of three dimensions which would make my art journal too difficult to work in.  Finally, last night, as I snuggled down to watch some TV while wearing my jammies and clutching a mug of hot tea, I had my inspiration: hibernation.

So this is the page that resulted from a combination of undies and hibernation.  Many days in winter I wish I could hibernate and just hole up somewhere cosy with jammies, a hot water bottle, endless supplies of tea and some favourite movies.  The undies were in a soft jersey fabric so I adhered it to some thin card stock and then used some embroidery floss to add details to the pyjamas.  The bear was painted in watercolour and then outlined in ink.  I used gel pen for the lettering and narrowed the size of my page to eliminate some of the white by using strips of colourful, patterned washi tape.  I have defaulted to my everyday illustrative style of drawing in order to create my DLP page again this week but using that fabric in a creative way was ample challenge.  It is always good to be shoved out of one’s comfort zone and try something new but quite honestly I don’t think I will be in any rush to repeat the experiment of incorporating fabric into my art.

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*PS The colours are not as washed out in real life.  That’s just my camera phone not capturing the colours accurately enough once again*