Sunday, June 24, 2012
At our meeting last Saturday, the Finger Lakes Tatting Group – which this time was five of us – spent an afternoon working on our first trading cards. I had a head start and I’d already put about three hours into my first one. Ginny’s family had been using their plastic jugs for watering plants so she tried covering a CD; and since she had a few motifs already done, sewed one down (though she thought the sewing-down stitches were too visible. No one finished theirs in the three hours we played with them together. Even though this is a relatively small finished project, it takes longer than each of us thought it would. I don’t always center things well and my first attempt, a Celtic heart I designed, wasn’t quite in the center. I’d added an edging, but it still didn’t feel complete. so I added embroidery and beads, which helped a little. The above image is the ‘almost there’ visual. It still didn’t feel completely done to me. Here are Ginny’s works in progress. The large one on the left is the covered CD. Ginny didn’t have felt when she started this at home, so she covered the whole disk in fabric. She still plans to add an edging, because she needs to cover the join and the sewing between the two pieces of fabric. She said she didn’t like using the CD – it’s not flexible and it felt fragile. If it cracks or breaks, as CDs sometimes do, the piece is kaput. The recycled plastic is more flexible, less likely to crack. She also has an elaborate motif (center) and a rooster (one of Jane Eborall’s designs) she’s considering putting on other rounds. I’m sorry Dani’s started trading card photo is blurry, because Dani’s tatting comes out the way we all wish our tatting would look. This piece was, I think, in the nature of a swatch, to see how the gray Flora thread would compare in size to a variegated Lizbeth thread (both size 10) in the Pam Palmer elephant pattern. The verdict was they seem to tat into different gauges. But this swatch fitted perfectly on the 3 ½ inch round. Dani was going to sew it on and see what else was needed. This is an important point. These are not a matter of tatting or finding a motif, sticking it on felt and saying, “okay, good to go.” Unless, of course, it’s a truly spectacular motif that so exactly fits the space it needs no further embellishment. There are exceptions (like the work of a young beginning tatter who’s personally dear to you) but I think most of us would feel that trading a thoughtfully crafted work for a four-ring butterfly stuck to a piece of felt would be an unequal exchange. There’s a lot more that goes into these – or so we all felt when we worked on ours. It feels important to take time with each one, to truly create a small bit of art. I wanted to try to make a few more today, and I’d purchased some felt for precisely that purpose - enough to share with friends - but in cleaning my studio, pre-meeting, I managed to misplace the felt. The studio has the talent of swallowing up quite a lot of stuff (threads, yarns, with a particular appetite for projects-in-progress) and a dis-inclination to give anything back until I’ve moved on to a different idea. The studio obliged this time with a variety of unspun fibers, and I’d also carried down, for then-unknown reasons, a piece of bubble wrap just a little smaller than a standard piece of felt. So while I was listening to a book on tape (a murder mystery at the exciting, about-to-unmask-the-killer part) I layered wool on the bubble wrap, wet it and sprinkled on dish detergent, rolled and unrolled it and squeezed and rolled the whole thing on the table and made three small pieces of art felt. The one on the upper right has strands of light lavender silk streaked through it. So after another full afternoon in the studio, here are my first three almost-finished trading cards. The one shown earlier (now on the right) has a butterfly bead sewn on with antennae. I thought the metal bead helped balance the piece and added a bit more shine. To the left, a center motif with two smaller motifs in size 40 thread, with size 15 beads, sewn layered over the first piece. I found I liked embroidering around the join, so I used two colors of thread and some beads to bridge the border between the felt and the fabric. An experimental button motif is mounted on a circle cut from the handmade felt. I added extra beads, and used a buttonhole stitch (and more beads) to sew around the felt/fabric join. Buttons, beads, charms, rick-rack, old jewelry, shell, maybe even some flat sones – all are fair game for adding something interesting to the work. These are still not quite finished. As an astute commenter pointed out, trading cards need statistics with them or something. These will be finished when I’ve added a tag or business card with my name, email and address, maybe a name for the trading card, the origin of the motifs on it and/or how and why it was created can be added to the back of the tag. Our group decided to work on our own, then meet for a daylong trading card crafting session in July. We’re planning a swap with another group interested in the idea. I’m probably going to host a swap with interested parties in a couple of internet tatting groups. I’ve already seen that each one takes more than a few hours to do; also they’re not completely flat. But I’m enjoying looking at the results, and already contemplating the next ones.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Artists have done this for a while – taken scraps of art the size of playing cards, either recycled paintings that didn’t work, collaged with other ideas; or small works of art created for the purpose. They’re exchanged with other artists, a way to own a little art made by a variety of artists. Then quilters, particularly crazy quilters, thought this could be a big idea; one sent me a lovely trading card/Christmas card I’ll probably keep forever. Now it’s time for tatters to step up to the plate – or in our case, the saucer. The thought arrived after a daylong struggle with one of those summer bugs that hit you all over and send you to bed for that unaccustomed afternoon nap. Woke up feeling a bit better and was suddenly struck with this BIG IDEA. A lot of what we do is circular, or lends itself to a circular format (like hearts, square motifs, little bits of things). We like to exchange things. We also need a place to put the cool things we get from other tatters. These will fit in a small box, or in those little photo albums made for 4” by 6” photos. Here’s how to get started. You’ll need a disk of plastic about 3 ½ inches in diameter. This could be a cut-down container lid or…. you can get four out of a milk carton. Then cut a slightly smaller circle out of felt. You’ll also need a 6” circle out of fabric. (don’t have a piece that big? you could sew several pieces together. ) A saucer made a good template. If the fabric came from a scrap heap, it might want to be ironed. Thread a sewing needle with ordinary thread – if you can, match the sewing thread to the color of felt you’ll use to top the disk - cut the thread and tie a knot at one end. Sew a running stitch about 1/8” from the edge of the fabric circle and draw it closed around a plastic disk. Secure the stitching with a few buttonhole knots but DO NOT CUT THE THREAD. Add the felt circle to the top (you may need to trim the felt into a better circle or make it slightly smaller than it already is) covering the exposed plastic, and continue around a second time, this time sewing the felt atop the disk. You can see a finished blank to the left. You now have a “canvas” to turn some of your neat tatted scraps into art. More on this later.