With all the felting for the piece completed, I sent all the individually worked components back to Sarah West in Raleigh. Sarah had to finish brazing the metal forms that she had left incomplete so that I could manipulate them under my sewing machine pressure foot to free-motion embroidery the felt panel on each. To protect the white felt from getting dirty as well as from burning in this process, she wrapped the felt panel in plastic first and then covered it with wet paper towels. Brilliant!
Sarah came to Asheville with all the components and we arranged them on a body form, marking which pieces would be connected together. She then returned to her studio to prong set the pieces of vinyl and to link all the components. At this point, I was leaving the country to teach workshops in Santiago, Chile and had to pass off the remaining responsibilities to her. I am grateful for her final push to complete the piece, find an excellent model and photographer, coalesce our processes and concepts about the piece into a coherent statement and submit the work on time.
Our Artists’ Statement:
This piece uses the interplay of steel and felted wool to create a transformation of materials into a wearable protective shield. The shoulder components were created by encasing the underlying brazed steel structure in a seamless skin of wet felted wool fiber. As the felt shrunk, the forms compressed to alter their original shape, suppressing movement and sound. The work further eliminates sound by introducing pieces of vinyl from a heavy metal record. The free-motion embroidery is both inspired by the pattern of the record and the intensive energy of the music. In the act of wearing it, there is a final transformation from an individual’s natural state to one that is powerfully guarded.