My recent embroidery works involve pipe cleaner and plastic wrap, plus a return to French wired ribbon.
(In the early 90s I was obsessed with French wired ribbon techniques, making Victorian roses and shirred cockades. I love its sculptural quality and moiré grosgrain texture.)
I wanted something that would give the wings of the fly a really unpleasant, transparent quality.
(and wow, as I typed that I had another idea- embroidering latex. Now, latex is not archival, and normally I would never use a material that is not archival. It’s part of my training to maintain a covenant with the buyer of a work that the work will endure to the very best of my knowledge. But the decay of latex, the way it dries and melts and chips and shrinks, is aesthetically fascinating and intrinsically beautiful. Artists have done a lot of work with the way latex changes over time; it can be part of the value proposition for a work. It’s a natural material, like skin. If I embroider a portrait of a face on latex !??!? It could be like Pablo Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein. She said, “But Pablo, I don’t look like that”. “You will.”)
Anyway, watch this space for embroidered latex.
So I decided to embroider plastic wrap!
I was concerned that making hundreds of tiny holes in the plastic wrap would make it essentially perforated, since plastic lacks the warp and weft of fabric. And I wanted more texture, so I added an overlay of lacy stuff.
The lace overlay holds the plastic wrap in place, provides additional structure for the thread to catch onto, and provided a raised surface for the final touch- a little gold paint!
I rubbed gold paint on my fingertips, then brushed them over the surface of the wings.
I’m quite pleased with the results.
This little guy got a gold-leafed frame, even though I usually only gold leaf the frames for works that have more than forty hours of labor, because he is so creepy. The fly was a popular Victorian naturalist motif and apparently a symbol for humility. Also, creepy.
He is for sale for $250 to Bay Area collectors- I can bring him on my trip next week!