Un pas més – Another Step…

Between art works

…is the motto of the exhibition. And surely, for me this much appreciated challenge has been a step forward.

Going back to the beginning: newspaper as material. Cool!. How could I use it? It was clear that it would have to be “my way”, i.e. sewn lace. However paper is fragile. What to do about it?

text printed on fabricI could print a newspaper extract onto fabric (left).I wanted it to be a meaningful text, though. Where would I find one in such a short time? And then, what to do with that text? Hmmm, somehow that wasn’t convincing.

newspaper scraps
The technical question was, how to stabilise paper? With iron-on interfacing (above).

lace of newspaper scraps
Yes, this did work, however, where was the message? I could look for meaningful words. Which language should I use? German – my native language, English – a language I sometimes find easier to work in (!), Castellano – the country’s language, or Catalán – the regional language I am only just beginning to learn and love?

No! All the languages I speak, I decided. Then I went in search of international newspapers.
various newspapers
words, collageMany interesting articles later I had a good collection of words I could use. I arranged them so they’d transcend the confines of the frame (left). The words could  be sewn (right)…

alternatives - sewn wordHowever,  that turned out to be too labour-intensive for the short time period, so this will become a separate project to be continued…

beads to attach the laceIn the end I found words that satisfied me and joined them with machine-sewn lace. I didn’t much like the frame and thought that the natural wood colour made it stand out too much. White paint was the answer. For weeks my workroom smelled of paint! However, it did the trick. I drilled holes in the frame to attach the lace with beads (right).

Between Wor(l)dsAnd, voilà, the work was finished. The title came easily: Between Wor(l)ds – my favourite space to be.

My work can be seen during the four days of the Festa Major (city festival) de Matadepera at the Casal de Cultura (culture centre) – between other interesting works of local artists who have also submitted to the challgenge of frame and newspaper. We have all done “un pas més” – another step.

Washing tapa…

… for a new project

Fine tapa from FijiTongan tapa is predominantly Broussonetia papyrifera or paper mulberry. It is the finest I’ve known, with the exception of a gauze-like piece of tapa from Fiji (left) that I saw at the recent Tapa Festival in Tahiti in November 2014 . For me as lace maker and tapa enthusiast, using this natural material is an ongoing challenge.

A friend brought me some unpainted tapa (feta’aki) from Tonga. I haven’t measured the cloth, but it is about 1.20 metres wide and many metres long. Length and width of individual strips depend on the size of the sapling that has been harvested for beating. It varies slightly.

Tongan tapa or feta'akiTapa makers in Tonga layer and join those individual strips to make a larger piece for their final printed ngatu.

Patch on Tongan tapaAny holes and tears are patched by pasting small pieces of tapa over the area with starch.

Look through tapaWhen holding up against the light and looking through such cloth, the doubled areas form quite a pattern – and tell a tale of the tapa’s quality perhaps…

My plan for a new project is to dye this paper mulberry tapa with fabric dye. I assume that the contact with the liquid dye will dissolve the starch and the joints and patches will come apart. I prefer to work with the individual layers and their ‘imperfection’ anyway. Luckily we have a rather deep shower tray, because my large plastic basin is too small to submerge the long feta’aki in enough water to soak it.

wet tapaAs soon as the water penetrates the material I can already see that the pieces separate. After agitating the bark gently, because wet tapa has very little tensile strength and can easily be ripped, I can take out the separate lengths of bark. I gently squeeze them, roll them up in a thick towel and wring that towel-tapa sausage to get rid of as much water as I can before spreading the bark on a table to dry. I have covered our studio table with sheets.

length of wet tapaIt’s a bit like detective work to discover how many larger and smaller pieces hide in such a squeezed-out ‘snake’.

layers of tapaI find out that it’s usually two, sometimes three lengths that have most probably been beaten together. The bottom part of the bark is much thicker, the top usually very delicate and lacy. That’s why they are placed so that the bottom part of the one comes to ly on the top part of the other and thus give an even thickness.

beginning of a layer of tapaI have to find the beginning of one separate layer and pull or lift the piece and let gravity do its job.

holding up layers of wet tapaI love the contact with such, at this stage, very delicate material. I find that I have to respect its specific properties, if I want it to work for me and through handling it I get to know its strengths and weaknesses – and my own.

Studio full of tapaEventually all possible flat surfaces of my large studio are covered with fine tapa. Swimming in the bowl near the water’s surface are the fallen off patches. I skim them off, spread and flatten them, long and narrow, square and rectangular, hand-size and smaller, placing them in the spaces between the other longer strips. In my mind’s eye, the new work begins to grow. All I need now for the colouring is a day of sunshine which is required to develop the light-reactive dyes full brilliance.

Many tapa pieces To be continued…

 

Tapa and Rust (1)

Strips of bark cloth

Now that I have a better idea which parts of the Edna will help me harvest successful rust prints, I feel brave enough to experiment with some samples of tapa (barkcloth). They are left-overs from previous projects. White cloth from Paper Mulberry bark (Broussonetia papyrifera, locally called aute) is precious for me, because it has been extinct on Atiu and I have only just recently planted three seedlings which I got from Rarotonga. They are not yet tall enough to use. My sample pieces have been produced in Samoa and Tonga.

Tapa and laceOne is a leftover from my Third Space installation. Parts of it are filled with machine-sewn lace.

Rust stainsA long white strip seems ideal to wind around my rusty rod.
Rusted tapa stripWhen I return the next day, I’m rewarded with lovely orange stains.
Rusty threadEven the Polyester thread in the lace has taken on colour.

The first two tapa strips seen in the image on top were used in a previous eco-dye experiment. They clearly show the resist marks and brown dye. I’ve been wondering what will happen to those pre-dyed strips which have not been rinsed after dyeing. Will they still contain the dye’s magic? Will the tannin in the eucalyptus dye react with the rust? My guess is that this should produce black stains. After I have taken off my nicely rusted white tapa strip, I apply the two dyed pieces to my rusty rod. Now I will have to be patient for a day or so…