Friday, March 4, 2016

Threads of meaning

In America, calligraphy made of individual dots has its own distinctive history; one important sub-category is letters made of stitches.  Stitched letters can be seen in embroidery, needlepoint, knits, pieced quilts, or woven fabrics. They call for many of the same artistic choices about grid, resolution, and contrast that mosaics and human banners require [see previous posts Feb 28 and March 1].  But they also offer choices that are more fun and add up to richer visual texture.  
Letters made of thread are not limited to a simple square grid and a round dot.  ●●●●   =   😴  There are lots of other choices: 

One.  Fiber artists can choose from a wide array of non-square shapes on non-square grids: 

  • triangle  ▼►▲◀︎ quilts, 
  • hexagon   ⬢ ⬣ quilts,
  • chevron v ^ / \ knit, duplicate stitch  

Two.  Even on a square grid, thread can express a number of visually interesting non-square shapes.  

  • cross stitch x  
  • woven +  
  • bargello I  
  • needlepoint

So when you make letters using stitches, you can explore a visual texture that few other kinds of calligraphy offer.  I like the way that stitches look like letters and wingdings. After all, text, texture, technique, context, and textile come from the same root word for making things.    

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