I knew I wanted to turn the patterned oxidised copper piece into a brooch with some sort of fabric/threads/textiles included and over the next few days I turned over all sorts of ideas in my head. The fabric needed to be somehow quite stiff to support the metal and I went through all sorts of options with vilene and folded calico but nothing seemed to click.
At the weekend I was turning out a shelf in a cupboard where I keep most of my textile stuff and I found a load of silk carrier rods in various colours. I ironed one flat and knew I’d found the perfect medium to back the copper plaque – stiff, yet with that wonderful silk sheen.
I chose a carrier rod in faded shades of rose and peach and in trying to manipulate it, accidentally pulled one end away, leaving that lovely fluffy effect which I decided to keep.
I wanted to stitch the copper to the silk but in a way that wouldn’t need holes in the metal and also wouldn’t obscure the lovely pattern. Initially I thought about the type of stitch used to attach shishas, but obviously the copper wasn’t round and the shisha stitch would hide too much.
So I came up with the idea of curve stitching, which uses straight stitches to create a curve. Decorative but functional and using Gutermann metallic machine thread, just enough to hold the corners of the copper to the silk.
It looks quite flimsy, but the thread is very stiff and pulled very tight and the little nets it creates hold the copper very securely.
To finish, a brooch back sewn onto a piece of cream kid leather and then stitched to the silk.
As well as oxidisation, we also had a go at reticulation, which is heating the surface of a piece of metal (in this case brass) to boiling point so it bubbles and waves and produces a fabulous texture. It was rather easier said than done and by the end of the evening I had only managed this:
You can see the idea I was aiming for on the edges but it melted on one side and some of it stayed unchanged and it really was a disappointment. Until I turned it up the other way…
…and it made me think of mountains and rivers and plains. So the next week I carefully took a hacksaw to the line where the ‘mountains’ meet the ‘plain’ and made myself a river.
The silk carrier rod gave a good idea of the colour effect I wanted, but I also wanted a fringed bottom so a ‘waterfall’ of threads could come out of the mouth of the river and fall off the bottom of the piece.
So, wonderful shot silk dupion encasing a piece of pelmet vilene for strength.
I frayed it into a fringe at the bottom and am using the metallic Gutermann thread again to attach the brass to the silk. The curve stitching only works on perpendicular sides so I’m simply putting threads across on the right to hold it down while I see if I can come up with anything better.
This one is going to be a pendant, with a piece of brass tube enclosing the top edge of the silk/Vilene sandwich. It reminds me of the kingdom of Eregion, just east of the Misty Mountains on Tolkien’s maps of Middle Earth so I’m calling it the Eregion pendant.