But my trip to Japan last year really changed all that. I had been working with old vintage indigo cotton solids, but while I was there I discovered the beauty of fabrics that are dyed with persimmon- (kakishibu) and purchased a number of small pieces. I was also given a number of small samples, and after much hemming and hawing I decided to use these precious fabrics as well.
I have a real problem cutting into some of my special fabrics. Since I do not dye or do surface design (and yes, I know I should) these pieces are especially valuable to me. In one case I purchased a rather rough piece of Japanese fabric that was used to cover boiling vats of oil. The effect was like looking at a reverse of the sun, and I love it. I have pulled that piece out a dozen times, only to refold it and stow it away until another time. Like many Japanese hand woven materials, the fabric was composed of strips of fabric that are about 13" wide that are then sewn together.
Working on my last composition I decided the time was right. With much trepidation I took apart the four 13" sections and started to reassemble them in my composition. I have to admit that I was very nervous that I had ruined one of my favorite pieces and did about 15-20 different variations until I was comfortable that I had properly honored this piece of fabric.
After piecing the composition I knew that I had to do more handwork to make it come alive and to give it the texture that the rest of the piece had. And that started my foray into hand stitching around the sun area. I used a heavy cotton floss that did not contrast too much with the stained areas of the cloth. I was able to use my left hand almost exclusively to stitch these areas so it was a perfect project while waiting for me wrist to heal.
I know that this experiment with texture will not be my last. I have taken down this piece from my design wall waiting to square it up at the studio in Lewes where I have a bigger table. And I am toying around with using a hand stitch and uneven edge for the binding. But I want to think about it for a while.
I am thinking about fabric in a new way. I feel like I am at the beginning of a very interesting path- not sure where it will take me, but happy to be going....