I wrote the narrative shortly after the accident, in 2004. Ten years later, in the winter of 2014, I started a quilt that incorporated the text of the narrative, which I stamped into a mud-colored cloth.
The letters are 3/8" high, resulting in a piece that is 35 x 48." This piece is all about reading the narrative. The words are very legible, and decisions about layout and proportions were done with a page of text in mind. I can see the impact when people have viewed it in my studio--one has to stand and read it. (I haven't posted a photo of the whole quilt, as I'm not yet satisfied with the presentation of the cloth.) In the midst of a workshop with Claire Benn, in which I learned how to make a very large printing screen through paper lamination, I decided to work again with the narrative of the accident, but to a different purpose--this time with expressiveness more important than legibility. For this next version of "Accident," I will work large. I have prepared an oversize print table from the top of a ping-pong table. Claire Benn has done very large work by climbing on top of her print table. The ping-pong table was not secure enough for that, so I removed the legs and put it on the basement floor. I covered it with a couple of layers of felt and two layers of a heavy-weight cotton, stapled around the edges to keep it taut. The table is 60 x 108."
- the small trial piece I did in the workshop with Claire Benn
- a larger trial done in my basement set-up, measures about 40x30"
- a quick watercolor sketch to get a sense of what this would look like in a horizontal orientation (lettering done with white crayon as a resist)
- (on the right) another sketch using a vertical orientation
Then I did several smaller watercolor sketches of the vertical orientation, trying out different placement of the ochre color.
I used the version on the far right in my next trial. (Would you make a different choice? I'd be happy to hear about it.) The next trial (bel0w) is about 52" wide, which is close to the size I'm planning for the final piece; the length will be about 100". In this trial, the lettering is the actual size that I will be using (about 2" high).
Things I was testing out in this trial:
- two different styles of lettering: the top half is in close to my normal handwriting (but with lines so close together that it is not conducive to reading); the bottom half is in a consciously distorted writing. The goal in this piece is to have the text recognizable as a narrative, but not necessarily to be read, so I'm aiming for reduced legibility. I haven't decided yet which lettering style I prefer.
- the transition between the turquoise and blue: I wanted more mixture of the two than in the first large trial (where they appeared as stripes), and I succeeded in that, but I'd still like more interplay. I think I'll try some horizontal dye scraping as well as vertical.
- texture in the black: In the first trial, the large black area came out uniform in appearance, even though I used four distinctive black dyes. In this trial I did a few things to get more texture in this area: I applied some splotches of color (blue, red, ochre) and then immediately went over them in black. I also applied large splotches of different blacks, and let them sit for an hour before I filled in the rest of the area with the main black that I was using. I also intentionally left some areas not thoroughly scraped with the dye, so that there would be some interruptions of white. The screen also wrinkled in one area--not intentional--but I decided not to worry about it, and I think that just added some to the texture. Here are some details of areas that show the variations:
When I look up close (as in the details), it seems like too much color shows in places, but if I step back and look at the whole, (as in the picture of the whole piece above), it looks better. I may try diluting the under-colors a bit the next time.
I'd be happy for comments on any of this, and am especially eager for any suggestions on how to handle the turquoise/blue transition and the texture in the black area. And if you have a preference for one of the two writing styles, I'd love to hear it. Here are the two lettering styles, separated: