Sewing the canvases

After repairing the sewing machine and finding a copy of the manual on-line, I started learning to use it. Sure wish I had taken home ec in high school! I can’t imagine how I’d be getting along right now if I hadn’t taken typing, then. You never know what’s going to come in handy in your life, especially when you are seventeen years old. I marvel at the kids who have already figured out that they are going to become pediatricians or accountants or morticians. At seventeen, I barely had enough sense to get out of bed in the morning, so how did I figure out that it was a good idea to take typing?

Well, back to sewing. I’m pretty good at following directions, so I was able to load the bobbin, thread the needle and begin practicing sewing. Getting the tension right between the needle thread and the bobbin thread was a challenge. The manual shows how a correct stitch is supposed to look; none of mine looked that way for the first hour. The needle thread was either too tight or the bobbin thread was too tight. I just said that I was good at following directions, but there was one that I missed that made all the difference: you are supposed correct the needle tension with the presser foot lowered. I kept trying to set the tension with the foot up. When I discovered what I was doing, it only took another thirty minutes to adjust it! Not only do I follow directions well, I’m also patient.

This project is all about flexibility and improvisation, so I’ve made another adjustment to how the canvases are going to be displayed. Originally, I thought I would just hem the edges of the pieces and attach grommets, but I decided that might not be secure enough. After some deliberation, I decided to cut two pieces of canvas for each shape that will be on the trellises and create pillow-like objects: three-dimensional “sculptures” instead of just flat, two-sided paintings. I’m planning to stuff the pillows with the millions of plastic grocery bags that we accumulate and with the packing peanuts we’ve saved from previous moves. I knew those would come in handy eventually.

After cutting all the additional pieces, I started sewing then together. Here is a photo of cutting and one of sewing. I also pressed each piece so it would provide a smooth surface for the painting, which will be done before I stuff the pillows.

Electric scissors Sewing the canvas

Ironing the canvas

I started preparing the canvases last night by gessoing them. If you aren’t familiar with the term “gesso” you can go to that all-purpose, pseudo encyclopedia, Wikipedia, to find out more than you could possibly want to know about it. Here’s the link:

As the painting progresses, I’ll add photos.


2 thoughts on “Sewing the canvases

  1. Charles, these are so cool! You are one of the most creative minded people I know. You run such a wide gammet of projects AND the impressive part is that you carry them thru and complete them! I am impressed. Now I want to see them in person.
    Take care,
    Sherri and Buck

    • Thanks! Yes, we really need to get together so you can see these “on the ground.” I’ll consult my “social secretary” to see when we can do that. Let’s make it soon.


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