Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Foglia 02 a Abigail Doan 2007

A few months ago I was snooping on the Vancouver Craigslist artist's section and ran into a site called neo-images. There was a large portfolio of works from various artists from New York.
I started scanning through it alphabetically and stopped dead at D. D for Abigail Doan.

There were a series of extraordinary and breath taking images. I had never experienced anything like her work. I wrote to her, something I rarely do. She wrote back.

Abigail Doan has become my favourite artist. Her use of materials and the sensitivity in her works takes my breath away. She reminds me that possibilities are hopeful and without limits.

You have to see her blog a http://www.abigaildoan.blogspot.com/


the_davies said...

I'm a textiles student from the UK, doing a project on evolution, and I was looking at how new pieces can be created from buring and developing old ones. In the course of my research I found you as a source of inspiration. I was wondering which pieces of yours specifically use the medium of burning? And whehter you had an tips?
Thank you very much!

material witness said...

Dear the_davies
I use fire or extreme heat in nearly all of the work I do.
It is not only introduced in the method but also use some materials that have already been burnt.
I am currently playing with paper mache, wrapped in yarns, covered with various emulsions and burned for texture. Check out the globes a few posts back.
Try burning and melting polyester and combining that with shibori and stitchery. That means that owning a collection of tools like heat guns, propane torches, birthday candle, pyrography tools and a fire pit when in the country come in handy. Hot irons work.
Always use a good mask for fumes and wear a "Rosy the Riviter Suit and cover your hair. Good ventilation is essential and really watch for smoldering. Always do it with a bucket of water and wet cloths to smother smoldering.

The English embroidery and City and Guilds are playing with burning or melting. Check out Maggie Grey and www.workshopontheweb.com

Have been burning as far back as I can remember but seriously used it in a series called "blood, water,salt ,rot" 1997 and a small film called "'Why I hate to Weave and Ghandi Makes Me Crazy"1996

Send me some images of your "Evolution " project when you are finished and I'll post them

the_davies said...

Thank you very much :D..
At the moment im using candles and soldering irons. I'll also look into using things like heated coat hanger ends and the birthday candles is a great idea!
The project is now having an african focus, with different patterns and techniques being used, comining with lino prining and embroidery!
Thank you very much for offering to post photos of my work, and thank you for the links (if im going to use your work as textual research im going to need your name though!.. "material witness might not go down too well with the exam board!if you want to email me it thats fine!)Thanks also for the links and if you think of anymore textile burners out there that would be great!

The davies x

material witness said...

Dear the _davies.

How strange is that? I could have sworn I put my name on everything. But it really isn't on the blog except under photos. My name is Patricia Chauncey and I don't have an identity worth taking.

The coat hangers sound very cool.
Yvonne folds polyester. places parts in muffin tins and bakes it in her over with sand poured into the tins on top of the polyester. She bakes them and they hold form.

I fan fold and melt the edges. It makes very interesting pleats.

Use coins as a resist when you use a heat gun. Even if you pass over the cloth lightly the cloth under the coin doesn't shrink and the rest does. Try using marches but don't quite touch the cloth.

There is a great book called "Surfaces To Stitch"

Other using heat and burning include many Japanese Shibori artists, Gail Harker, Lesley Richmond, Amanda J.S. Jones, Jan Beaney, Check out the Double Trouble Books.

Your project sounds delicious. I can't wait to see it!

P.S. Polyesther thread burns and melts so try using cotton or silk.
A damp cloth placed on smoldering stops any fires. I had to do that today.