Today, I decided to go back to the husks, which have been the easiest to work with so far (or at least what I’ve liked the most). They are so versatile, and also I am better with two-dimensional projects than more sculptural works. I took the husks off of an ear and sewed them into a wider piece of “parchment,” then rolled the ear in ink and printed onto the husks.
This was a pretty difficult process. Sewing the husks was not as easy as I’d hoped, because the husks are fibrous the string would keep pulling through it. I had to be very gentle. Also, the husks kept curling and making it generally impossible to hold them together. I solved this problem by using rubber cement and tape to hold the pieces together so I could sew them properly. The rubber cement would not have kept the pieces together alone, I think, because they still slid around as I worked, but at least it helped. This is not aided by the fact that I am pretty terrible at sewing.
The printing was the most fun part. I ended up continuing onto a sheet of BFK Rives so that I could use it as a background in some of my work in my studio class. I like the not-quite-uniform pattern that emerged.
I think I read in one of Don Seiden’s articles that sewing (like collaging) has the affect of bringing together fragments that can be symbolic of fragments of a person’s life. I think it would be possible to draw an analogy from the difficulty of sewing together the husks to the difficulty of putting one’s life in order. The print on top has the true unifying effect, because without the print it still looks like three pieces stuck together.
I also like the idea of creating alternative papers or surfaces on which to print or write. It makes the surface more important. When someone grabs a sheet of paper from the pile under the printer, rarely is a thought given to where the paper came from or how it was made. The process of creating paper from scratch makes the paper (and maybe all paper?) more meaningful, and I think using alternative media only enhances that. If I were to use this process in an educational program, I would talk about other writing surfaces made from different sources, papyrus, for example, or animal hides, and how they have been used throughout our history.