Bark

Posted by Agnes Iley , Monday, July 23, 2012 8:28 AM

So now I had a human looking soft sculpt and had to decide how to morph her into a tree. I considered several options. One was to take fabric and pleat, tuck and manipulate it to look like bark. I did a little trial piece. Now to prove that I learned something during the course… Normally I would spend three days on this little trial, sewing all the little tucks and pleats. But now I covered the back of the fabric in glue and started manipulating it. I really liked the effect and when sewing it I could create knots and all the other features of real bark.

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But looking at my inspiration picture I questioned if I could get the depth of colour and richness I was after. I got more and more drawn into my thread colour matching sample. I love that soft sheen of the thread and that would give me the richness I wanted, but how to layer those colours to create the depth and texture? Then it hit me, cords! Zigzagging over cords with the different colours of thread would give me the depth of colour and richness I was after and the cords itself would create a texture that resembles bark if laid next to each other. And since I really wanted the shape to be sharp and keep the strong lines of my sculpt I decided to incorporate a wire in each cord.

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When I looked at Monet’s Weeping Willow I felt the tree was a little deeper and sharper in colour at the bottom and a little lighter and hazier towards the top. So each cord got covered in 7 different colours of thread and the stitch width varied as I went up the cord and with each layer, this to create some tonal difference between the top and bottom of the tree. I’ve got to tell you that I ended up cursing this process. Before I had enough cords to create my tree I had covered 35 yards of wire and cord and had used well over 8000 yards of thread! In the end I still was a tiny bit short and having run out of supplies I ended up my piece of demo cord from my scrapbook. To finish my shape, I have sewn the cords with invisible thread (the fishing line type for strength) to my human figure. I didn’t want to just go straight up and down. So I tried to create knots in the bark and really make the tree look like it was swaying in the wind.

I was very pleased how the individual legs came together in the trunk, they still look like separate legs, but at the same time it looks like a tree trunk that has a split down the middle. I felt that I needed a little skin peeking through the bark on one leg. Otherwise it was too solid and too much of a separation…. Feet in skin colour, head in skin colour and a solid tree trunk. The little gaps of skin on the leg break it up a little and give the whole figure a better “flow” for me.

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