Wednesday, October 8, 2014

- Sow/Sew Peace: A flag for India Flint's Solace Project

I've been following Mo's blog It's Crow Time (also listed to the right under KINDRED SPIRITS) since encountering her work in Jude Hill's Considering Weave. Recently, she wrote about a flag she made for India Flint's Solace Project which inspired me to contribute, too.

The flag (above) is where I actually ended up, but this journal page is where I began:

The idea to conflate "sew" and "sow" by making the central letter a theta got me searching the web (lest I inadvertently use a symbol with negative connotations). It was a kick to find out that theta is actually used in Greek as the number "9" ... an auspicious finding. Further, it turns out that theta brain waves are associated with meditative states ... and are exceptionally common in young children. One could do worse.

I knew I wanted to (finally) try weaving cloth strips, having been sidetracked from Spirit Cloth 101 during a summer of Considering Weave. Since the Solace Project plan is to over-dye the flags with indigo, I decided to choose colors that would marry well with blue. Using linen also fit in with the Solace Project requirement for natural fibers, and using several weights of linen in one piece seemed like a great way to experiment with cloth weaving and embellishing.

I searched through my fabric stash, ultimately choosing a thread-bare kitchen towel (from the Bodleian Library ... a long story for another day), the dress my mom wore on her 40th wedding anniversary (interesting now that I'm at that point in my life), a yellow interview suit (sadly, much of the linen ruined with fused interfacing), a white interview blouse (sooo glad I don't need to do that anymore), an old green table cloth (the same one used for the Kitchen Towel series), and a couple of tops that were too small to be wearable. 

The linen was torn into random width strips (no easy task), woven together over a piece of gauzy cotton harem cloth, and invisibly basted with a single strand of tea-dyed floss.

After hand lettering the words onto the flag with an erasable marker, I chose shades of green and gold floss and using four strands at a time, experimented with one, two, and three rows of split backstitch (another Spirit Cloth 101 lesson) which gives the appearance of chain stitch without the hassle. (The "S" is three rows, "e/o w" is two rows, and "peace" is one row of stitching).

To make the ties required for the project, I wove a piece of cotton tape into the last row of cloth weaving, overlapping and then cutting each end in two. I also paid homage to Jude Hill with a nine-patch symbol ... which ironically came out looking like the ubiquitous Twitter hashtag.

Finally, I attached a backing of light cotton muslin dyed with onion skins and windfall lichen, then quilted the flag with two strands of the aforementioned tea-dyed floss.

The whole piece, which is about 15" along the vertical edge and 19" long, came together in one day of concerted effort. And while it isn't my usual style of precisely stitched work, I love that it will hold together awhile and then slowly disintegrate ... blowin' in the wind.

It is now bound for Australia to join the other flags of the Solace Project ... where hopes will be melded into a found poem for peace.