Speeding Up the Slow Process of Marking Art

A number of the pieces I create are made of scraps of found and recycled objects sewn onto fabric. I organize the scraps by color. After transferring the image to the fabric or drawing a grid and then the basics of the image, I start to sew going across each row: Blue, blue, blue, brown, yellow, brown, etc.

This is a slow, tedious process. I'm opening and closing storage contains and moving them around my work cart. Also, the work cart is cluttered with the boxes and jars of colored stuff. This was taking about 1 hour per square inch. The current piece is 15 x 23 inches or 345 square inches. If I work on this four hours a day, it will take me about three months to complete. Too long.

Then it occurred to me "Why not apply one color?" I can keep the boxes and jars of that color within easy reach and set aside all the other colors. So that's what I'm doing. And while I'm working with one color, I further sort it into hues -- one container for light and one for dark, maybe even one for olive green versus grass green. Then when I'm done with that color, I put the color away in my studio. Not only am I getting the squares done more quickly, but I'm making room on my cart for just what I need.

In the image to the right, I completed all the blue. Yeah, I know it looks like I missed some in the lower right corner. That area will be pink, white, and grey.

Next I completed the green. Because I still had some thread on my needle, I went ahead and put in some brown next to a green spot on the neck.

The fabric is clamped to a frame. Moving the canvas around is easy but takes some time as well. Tonight, rather than going back to the top, I'll leave the canvas where it is and work on the jacket -- the pink, white, and grey area. Then I'll be done with another batch of colors. More room on the materials cart!

Oh, my goodness. It's upcycle art by numbers. Don't tell anyone.