fire escape love story

I love fire escapes. There. I've said it. Wait. I may have said it before. Well it's true. I do love them. Let me count the ways. I love their graphic lines, their rusty or sleek texture, their negative space, the layers upon layers of straight lines, the angles.
research...

research...
 I love interpreting them in stitch. Large, small and medium.
detail of Iron Spine 4 (snow dyed pine thread on plastic)

detail of Iron Spine: Hot in the City ( embroidery thread on plastic and thread snips)

Iron Spine xs2 (variegated thread on plastic)

details of Urban Towers (embroidery thread on plastic and fabric over repurposed containers)

detail of Green News ( thread over newspaper and plastic)
And extra large of course.
in progress Iron Spine 6XL

in progress Iron Spine 6XL

slow art

Happy New Year! Wishing you all lots of love, peace and creativity this year!

I wanted to share the progress of my current XL artwork. I started it sometime in November, and if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen a few posts about it. It's truly slow art... it's quite large (for me) and is all hand-stitched so far. Thus the time factor. I am working on it in bits and pieces and sometime spurts of time. I take breaks to work on other art, some faster more immediately gratifying art. But I am really enjoying the pace of it.

This piece is a continuation of the experiment that I started last year with this piece. It's coming back soon from a photoshoot with Quilt National, and I cannot wait to see how it works with this new piece.

So here's how it's been coming along...
I cut out a very large paper stencil of a fire escape and traced in thread

audio books are great to listen to when I do this type of work, podcasts are great also

it started to look like this

the base is a very old linen bed sheet from my family, it might have even been used a drop cloth once as there are white paint splotches on it. I spent some quality time mending all the worn spots.

this is what it looked like when the stencil outline was done

then I started pinning bits and pieces of vintage lace to it


I intend to cut away some of the lace after it's stitched down

this is what it looked like at the beginning of the process. The idea behind all the lace layers is that I want it to resemble/represent a wall behind the fire escape

just lace didn't work, so the fabric scraps came out to play

this started looking better!

and better!

somehow it took on a spring like feeling... I don't think it'll stay...

this is when I got done layering my scraps and lace. Now I have to stitch it all down and cut away the excess so that the fire escape can be seen again

it's off the wall and on my dining room table, and I'm auditioning threads. Not only will they need to keep it all together for me, but they'll need to add color and texture
Stay tuned! I am trying to stick to working on it for at least an hour a day. I have lots of other projects that I have to be working on, but I don't want this to stagnate. Or keep taking up my dining room table....

city love affair again

This one took a while.... too many distractions.. too many new experiments... but I still loved it, so I finally finished it.

Presenting City Love Affair 4. My grandmothers vintage linen towel, a lot of vintage lace from oh so many sources, a TAP transfer, machine stitching and hand stitching. A portrait of a beautiful building belonging to a school I never went to, but might have if I had stayed in Russia.

sky and roof

not so little round window

lampwork

details details
City Love Affair 4 © Natalya Aikens 2016
So different from the rest of the work I am doing right now, but yet such a part of me still.

XL

I just scrolled back through my blog entries to see when was the last time I mentioned about this large piece that I have been working on.... February! Geez, how time flies... I thought that perhaps I have mentioned it since, not here, but I did on Instagram.

Perhaps I wrote about it so few times because the progress on it has not only been slow (hand-stitching!) and also in fits and starts. Weeks went by between bursts of activity as I pondered where to take it next. I layered imagery of my beloved fire escapes one at a time, slowly, in what turned out to be a slightly abstracted composition.

Late last night I took the last few stitches and declared it finished. Haven't taken any official pictures yet, I intend to do so next week, so meanwhile here is a whole slew of closeups! Presenting a peek at Iron Spine 5XL.










It measures 77"x 51". The base is an old linen sheet that has served my family so well that it's threadbare in spots. ( I have a few more of those rescued for future stitching.) It has layers upon layers of repurposed plastic bags stitched to it by hand, a few dryer sheets, and some vintage lace. I've used a variety of threads: rayon, linen, cotton and paper pine which was snow-dyed eons ago.

Believe it or not, I cannot wait to get started on the next threadbare sheet..... I think I know exactly what I want to do to it!

the farm

I am starting on my newest home portrait commission this week. I think I am really being challenged here... The subject is a wonderful old (really old) farm house in Vermont.

Here are my ingredients:
the farm house
pictures of the farm house through the seasons
some lovely old linens which will be delightful to stitch on
some modern lace that depicts farm houses
remnants of a dream catcher, will be dealing with some dry rot here, must find a solution!
old buttons, fake leaves and flowers
wall paper remnants and seasonal napkins
And then which image should I choose? I am enamored of them all!

the side view with the barn buildings visible?
the other side view with the witches window?
and that fabulous texture of the barn!
Where o where do I begin??? Stay tuned!

city love affair 4

This artwork is still in progress.... It took a spring and summer hiatus, because other artwork took precedence and truthfully I wasn't too happy with how it was coming along. Now it's back out on my design wall and I'm hoping soon it will tell me what type of stitches it wants.

Meanwhile I thought I'd share a few Instagram photos I had taken while stitching on it.







asphalt

Feels like I've been stitching asphalt forever...but I'm done now!! I think it was about two years ago  that I declared this piece finished. And then it hung on the studio wall waiting for a sleeve until it began to taunt me. It screamed at me. It wasn't finished it said. Do something! So I did. I took apart the finished edges and decided it needed its asphalt stitched. With thick metallic thread. That took a while, but that was exactly what it needed. And then it said it wanted to be wrapped around stretched canvas. So I did that too. And now it's really finished.

Presenting City Love Affair 3.
First a few details...
vintage lace curtain dipped in light gray blue dye, layered over vintage linen
machine stitched with dark blue thread and hand stitched with yellow silk
bits of paper deliberately left behind
walking on wet asphalt towards the light at the end of a tunnel
And now for the whole...
City Love Affair 3 ©Natalya Aikens
Do you understand the need for asphalt stitching? Makes sense to me...