Primary Tools & Materials:
FIBERS, SEWING MACHINE
Additional Tools & Materials: scissors, thread, xacto blade, tweezers, straight pins, tape, fabric, ribbon, yarn, twine, camera
This ribbon letter came from combining fibers (ribbon, fabric) and textile machinery (sewing machine). It would have been tempting to simply sew a design onto fabric for this pairing, but I wanted to take it further. I decided to sculpt letters with various ribbons, yarns, and twine, then sew those letters onto fabric using my sewing machine.
Constructing the letters and pinning them to the fabric was the easy part. Figuring out how to sew over those letters was tricky. At first, (see yellow B, images 2-5) I used yarn to shape my letter, then I pinned it down under a sheet of tissue paper. I figured the tissue paper would easily tear off after the letter was sewn. Removing the tissue paper turned out to be tedious, requiring an xacto blade and even tweezers. The resulting letter looks like the original yarn placement for the most part, with the exception of the wavy design inside the B's stem - I had a hard time following the curve back and forth, keeping the yarn centered below. For both of these yarn letters I used the same zigzag stitch, thinking it would be the best stitch to encase the yarn and hold it in place.
Next, I tried creating a letter from yarn then taping it down for sewing (see images 6 and 7). This resulted in a letter that looked much less refined than it started, as the yarn would become caught between the teeth of the sewing machine's presser foot, keeping it from making smooth curves. (This could probably have been solved with a different presser foot - but I didn't have a "closed" one on hand.) The tape proved even more difficult to remove after sewing than the tissue paper.
Then I tried two letters with very similar structure - each made from folded ribbon, held down by straight pins and sewn along the vertical stroke. In the first, (images 9 and 10), I sewed a decorative sunburst stitch along the stem, then a simple straight stitch at each of the three joints. This was to keep the structure of the two bowls intact, as I planned to leave the curved edge without any stitching. The next letter, my cover image for this study - is simplest in its construction - just three strips of ribbon attached only by an outline encasing the stem. The curve of the ribbon creating the bowls gives this letter the ability to change shape as you rotate it in either direction - the bowls can become pointed or almost completely round, depending on the direction you approach.
The last letter is the only lowercase in this study, a scripted B made of twine encased in a zigzag stitch. I used straight pins to secure the twine to the fabric while sewing, and this seemed to be more effective at maintaining the original shape than tape or tissue paper did in the yarn studies. This could also be due to the fact that twine is a little more sturdy than yarn and less flexible, making it better at holding its shape.
I think the strongest image of this study is the first, made of blue grosgrain ribbon. It has a the qualities of being both highly legible and easily translated into its component parts. I can also imaging how each letter of the alphabet could be constructed in this way. It's not too different from the origami letter I made back on Day 5. Both studies involve breaking a letter down into its essential parts and manipulating a flexible material to express those parts.