As I was finishing up the baffler project for the farmers' market with the kids at the local middle school, a friend approached me about a different kind of project.
Alliance of Kings Artists had put a call out for entries for the Uncommon Common Arts project 2012. I hadn't thought of participating, but when my friend opened a door for me and suggested that we cooperate on a piece I tasted the thought and decided that .... it would be fun and interesting. Kelly Marie Redcliffe is a word smith, a word weaver, a painter of internal landscapes, pictorial and emotional.
I am as you probably know a fibre person, weaving, spinning, felting, all rocks my world and is included in my every day life.
Walking the dog down the street where I live shows me cattails in all their splendour and at all sorts of intriguing stages of development all year. Kelly has an affinity for these beautiful plants too and so .... our topic ....... cattails.
With this decision my deliberations of how to approach the production of said three dimensional sculptures started and slowly took off on their own evolutionary path.
Innitially I was thinking that felting the flower/seed heads would be the way to go - felting a thin layer to stuff and then attach on a stick or rod of some kind, or felting a woolen seedhead directly onto the ‘stem’, so it would be solid felt ..... arguments and counter arguments abounded as I walked in the woods and along the road watching the season of growth start up again.
The sculpture is destined to be exhibited outside, and it will go up sometime next week - at a walking path close to the Research Station in Kentville, NS - it will stay up and out until October 1, 2012 - what it will look like at that time remains to be seen - but surely it will have changed colour and shape a bit like its ‘wild cousins’ the real cattails.
In the end I settled on weaving all the surfaces, using different techniques - I am more of a weaver than a felter and it was a relief to make the decision to weave the shapes and start up the next part of the path. I was really attracted to the smoother surfaces of the brown ripening seed heads but in one of our conversations it turned out that Kelly is really into the fluff and texture of the seedheads when they break up and come apart, which is exactly what they are busy doing this time of the year.
I have a couple of Greek flokati rugs, which a friend kindly picked up for me at a yard sale many years ago. Their fluffy surface and tufty texture inspired me to use a similar weaving technique for two of the seed heads in the bouquet I was composing for our sculpture. I think it worked, and am wondering if the local bird population will have well insulated nests this spring, that is, the ones that haven’t already finished their building and interior decorating. Once they are no longer keeping a distance to these bull rushes, they might enjoy picking at them for their own delightful purposes.
Staying outside in all sorts of weather of course means that something consisting primarily of fibre will be damp and soak up lots of weather liquids (hopefully not snow, though one never knows) and so after more deliberations I realized that I had a treasure tucked away in the pantry. Bubble wrap - what better material to roll around a stem and then cover in some suitable ‘skin’ and voila, a cat tail would be created. Water might run in between the bubbles but it will be able to excape, the textile ‘skin’ will be able to dry in the sun and the wind after each soaking and ... so all will be good.
Bullrushes though do not only consist of stems and seed heads - there are also tall grassy leaves - these will be the surface carrying Kelly’s words and contemplations and .... more on this in the next issue of ...... The adventure of the Cattails and the Bullrushes!