I had a hard time getting started on this swap, largely because of a misunderstanding of the theme, internal to my own head. Finally, finally, I got on track and got moving forward with ideas in the sketchbook. All those wrong path ideas I can come back to those at a later time because some of them were pretty cool. Yeah, like I need more ideas! Sheesh!
Here is what I made:
Instead of abstract, I went representative. While sketching up weaving ideas, I stumbled on the idea of using Ogham in the design. This form of writing was uncommon, only found in a few places in ancient Ireland, often carved into the edges of large rocks. You can read the whole article, but in summary it was very old writing, like proto-Irish to primitive-Irish old. You are probably more familiar with the Norse runic letterings from similar times. In fact, the the Younger Futhark was referred to in ogham documentation as a kind of “Viking ogham”. Back then, everyone preferred writing forms they could make easily with on-hand materials, which often meant sharp edged tools on wood or stone, which also meant straight lines were better. Convenient for me, with weaving easily having straight lines.
With Ogham as the letter form, I used the Beith-Luis-Nin to spell out sonas, which means happiness. This made the piece more detailed on one side, but it gave me the opportunity to try out making wire mesh on the other side to balance it out.
The strips are made of Osnaburg fabric, which I folded, then both machine and hand embroidered and beaded, then stitched them onto the frame.
The longer letter forms are made of woven strips, consisting of yarns I painted, a couple artsy yarns I gathered over the years and thin strips of fabric. After the strips were woven, I couched them in the air, which isn’t really how couching is done, but it is the best description of how I finished the strips before I stitched them onto the frame. I also placed tiny drops of glue under all the strips where the edges met the frame to keep them from slipping around or falling prey to gravity over time.
On the bare areas of frame I did some small bits of wire wrapping with the occasional bead added in for a bit of sparkle. I did try to help separate out the letters with the wrapping, too.
The frame is made from branches from our apple tree. When I pruned it last year, I selected a variety of branches to store and dry out in the garage. I removed the bark from the dried branches, sanded, stained them with a light wash of dark brown acrylic, then sanded them again to leave some color variations. I sealed them all with a scant coat of paste wax and buffed them to a gentle shine. I doweled the connections with chopped off toothpicks. This made it somewhat flexible, but assembled enough to keep its own shape.
It was my first attempt at making wire mesh and the leading edge was a little sloppy while I got the hang of it and also because I had to float a few initial stitches in the gaps. I like the idea and look of the wire mesh and I will use it again in the future.
I also made hanging loops on the back, although only this one is visible on the left here. Also here you can see some fabric, thread and wire wrapping on the branch. There is another spot or two with thread wrapping for some visual variety.
I put one hanger on each side for how ogham can be read, from the bottom up or from left to right on a clockwise rotation, like this shot above.
Thus, my project is complete. I am pleased with how it turned out and I enjoyed trying out new things. SheepBlue likes it as well, so I consider this swap a complete success.