I have an obsession with growing and foraging the most mundane materials and transforming them, through sometimes lengthy processes, into unexpected art forms. I am most known for my “quilted collages” of handmade papers and free-motion sewing. I hand craft all of my papers, and layer them together. Then I “draw” on them with needle and thread, using free-motion quilting techniques.
While paper can be made from most any plant, I primarily use Bloody Butcher Corn husks (a West Virginia heirloom corn) and a fiber called Abaca, a species of banana plant. Abaca is binder fiber that helps hold the paper together.
The paper making process is time intensive. First the cornhusks are boiled with baking soda for several hours to break down the cellulose. Then they are beaten in a blender to form a pulp. The pulp is poured into a tub of water with fabric dye, and sheets are formed using a mould and deckle. The sheets are couched onto pieces of felt and pressed to remove as much water as possible. Finally the still wet paper is rolled onto sheets of plastic to dry. It can take eight to forty-eight hours for the papers to dry.
Once the papers are dry they are collaged together and stitched using free motion quilting techniques. Depending on the piece, sometimes they are collaged first then stitched on top. And other times they are stitched and torn then collaged. Yes! Sometimes the paper tears. When that happens I say bad words then start over.
The end result of this very long process is a quilted collage.