Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fiber Arctic- Nicole Wolfersberger

Now we have Nicole Wolfersberger, a woman with many fibery talents.

S- I love checking on on your progress for Embloggery. Can you tell our readers more about this project of yours?

NW- As an idea, it was a very natural progression for me. I spend a lot of time thinking about both tedious process and handcrafts, as well as popular/internet culture and the nature of "instantaneous" publishing. I liked the idea that a hand-constructed, embroidered object could become a digital object by photographing it and exhibiting it as an image file. The first time I actually experimented with this was with the "avocado.jpg" punch-needle embroidery. The idea was to exhibit it and others like it in digital frames, but the idea wasn't strong enough and I lost interest after the first embroidery.

"Embloggery" didn't happen until about a year later. As I was playing with the idea it dawned on me that I could use other tools like html to enhance the images and make them truly unique as digital objects as opposed to simply being photographs of embroideries. That's when I began to experiment with embedded links and rollover text in the embroidery image.

When I started "Embloggery" I mainly wanted a break from making rugs. I was and am pleasantly surprised at the great response it's received, and I have fun continuing to play with it and make visual puzzles. It's also got me interested in pursuing embroidery more seriously.

S- I really love your latch hook art. Can you tell us more about your process, how you choose your icons, how long they generally take you and some of your favorites?

NW- Thank you! I adore latch hook, in part because I love texture and in part because I really like working on a large scale.. I also enjoy the puzzle of having to greatly simplify images while keeping them recognizable.

When choosing subject matter, there are lots of things I see on any given day that I think "oh, I should make that into a rug!" but many ideas have to be discarded because they simply won't read well. It quickly becomes apparent if the image is too busy to work well as a rug. I think having some background in printmaking has been useful to me in being able to pick out important details and simplify images for needlework.

After I've chosen a subject, I either enlarge the image (if it's a pre-existing one) or draw it on small graph paper (about 10 squares to an inch). If I've enlarged a pre-existing image, I then make a transparency of the small graph paper and tape it over the image. I've tried putting a grid over the image in Photoshop, but I really like being able to pull the grid away and see the image without it.

Once I've come up with a ratio I like, I decide how many colors the rug should be. To help me figure this out visually I'll often go in with a pencil and circle areas of color to give me an idea of where the divides between shades lie. It ends up looking a lot like a topographical map.

Then I purchase (and occasionally dye) yarn and begin the long process of stitching and more stitching. I don't usually work with a frame when I do latch hook. I prefer portable projects and don't mind the weight of the rug on my lap. For tufted rugs, the process is a little different. Tufting also requires a frame.

Rugs take me anywhere from 8 to 50+ hours depending on the size, technique used and subject matter. A 3' by 4' latch hook rug is my usual size and typically takes around 40 hours to complete. My favorite rug I've ever made is probably the first rug (of my own design), "Badlands Justice," though I'm pretty fond of "Bryan Ferry" too. It doesn't really seem like there are too many other people designing and hand-making rugs, but there are a few talented people that I know of that I really admire, like Whitney Lee (http://www.madewithsweetlove.com/).

S- What is the difference between a tufted rug and a latch hook rug?

NW- The latch hook rugs use pre-cut (about 2 inches long) pieces of yarn and a latch hook to individually knot each piece of yarn around a strand of the rug canvas. Tufting uses a skein of yarn, one end of which is threaded through the needle of the tufting tool. The tufting tool is basically a hollow needle with a shuttle so it can be pumped back and forth by hand, and a metal tongue. The needle and metal tongue penetrate the stretched backing material and push a loop of yarn through the canvas, then the needle portion is drawn to the back again. The metal tongue remains pushed through the material and holds the loop at a specified length at the front of the canvas. As you move the tool in the direction of your line, the needle "walks" itself over the canvas, leaving looped pile on the right side, which can be either left as loops or cut if you prefer. The tool does most of this work, so it's actually much more quick than the description may sound!

The main advantage of tufting is you get a more natural, less pixelated line, since you're not limited to a grid. It's like embroidery versus cross-stitch.

(featuring the wrong side)

S- Lastly, I am so impressed with your punch needle embroidery! I have never heard of this process but noticed you also mentioned it was really fun. Can you tell me more about it?!

NW= Thank you!! I think I stumbled on punch needle embroidery when I was trying to learn more about tufted rugs. The process is similiar to tufting, but on a much smaller scale, using a very small hollow needle and either fine cord or embroidery floss. Usually people use the looped pile side as the right side. Lately I have been playing with using the "wrong" side as the right side, because it's such a fast, pen-like way to get an embroidered line -- you are just punching the needle forward rather than doing any kind of backstitching. Punch needle goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of it and it's really fun to feel like you're drawing with thread. I also love the shiny look of the pile obtained when I use embroidery floss.

No comments: