Over the summer and fall last year I constructed stands for the ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won frames. I sometimes refer to them as shrines. You can see a number of the 14 total finished and under construction frames/shrines in previous posts under “frame construction” category. This has been more than a decades long project but I believe my evolving vision of the work will eventually aesthetically pay off. When I finished the last of the frames/shrines last Spring, I popped a bottle of champaign thinking I had reached the finish line but when I envisioned the work in a gallery setting, I realized the stands had to be incorporated into the whole work. Groan. Not finished yet.
Upon completion of the 14 stands, I believe once the stands are sanded and painted, I will be finished with this project and am ready to open another bottle of champaign. But something is unfinished in this never ending project. I had to remember the theme of the work is about Native Americans, the First Nations, winning the Indian wars, Indians conquer invaders and retain their land and home in the new America. Over the years of construction of this project, I left America behind. I had to bring America back into focus. My solution was to make US flag themed table cloths for the stands.
Researching and gathering samples that were necessarily cotton and/or wool and/or silk, I chose cotton gauze for the red and white stripes as it was thin and would drape well. For the blue table top I chose upholstery weight cotton velvet. I am embroidering stars in cotton crochet thread on the velvet therefore dressmaking cotton velvet would not have worked as I would need a hoop but the hoop would leave marks in the velvet. Upholstery weight velvet can be successfully embroidered without backing, a hoop or needing to be stretched. I was fortunate to stumble upon upholstery weight from an online fabric store.
For the entire project I over dyed almost all of the store purchased threads and material in order to age them; knocking back the brightness. Sometimes this was a challenge. The red and white gauze flag material, for instance, is 50″ wide and 10 yards in length. The red was washed twice in hot water making sure the red color was set. I then soaked the yards and yards of material in a dye bath made from the mullein plant. The white gauze was so bright white, I soaked it in a cold mullein dye bath for an hour or so.
I am embroidering 46 stars around the edge of each table top in white cotton embroidery thread also dyed in the mullein dye bath. With 14 table tops and two pieces hanging on the wall with flags, that’s 736 stars total. The work is meant to represent early 20th century America. The flag had 46 stars between 1916-1918. I had to use skills from my old keylining graphic arts days before computers to configure 46 stars equally spaced around rectangles of varying sizes. I am embroidering the stars re instructions found on needlenthread.com.
Finished flags and stands will be posted eventually. Maybe THEN I really will be done!
copyright Tamara Ann Burgh all rights reserved, 2015