After posting the photos of the the first cup and saucer piece, one of you asked if I would talk more about the decisions I made when “framing” it with its Shibori border. What follows are some of the things I was thinking about — and continue to think about as I work on this series.
Two points to keep in mind: a) my goal is to find a way to bring my daily drawing practice and textile work together while celebrating and remaining true to the qualities of each, and b)I never know exactly what will happen until I dive in. Especially in the beginning stages everything is an experiment. I start with an idea, take a shot, see what happens, then go on from there with what I’ve learned.
It Isn’t That Simple © 2016 Elizabeth Fram
Composition is my number one consideration, regardless of whether an artwork is abstract or representational. I have written before about my inclination to organize my drawings where the image hugs the perimeter of a piece and the subject often moves outside the field of vision. I am also partial to creating breathing room within the overall framework, enhancing a sense of balance and space. My preference is to walk a fine line between presenting a recognizable object while simultaneously pushing toward an abstracted view of shapes and values.
Key Lime Pie ©2017 Elizabeth Fram
I like to keep in mind that when the subject lies beyond the boundaries of an image, it leaves room for a viewer’s imagination to envision what happens in that unseen space, deepening the “story” by encouraging participation. As a counterbalance, negative space provides a visual rest, an area where subtle stitching can supply interest by dividing the space without overwhelming the image.
It Isn’t That Simple, detail ©2016 Elizabeth Fram
Figuring out how to frame a composition is just as important as how to crop it. It has to enhance the image, furthering what it has to say without merely becoming an edging on all four sides. Surrounding a stitched image with pattern created via stitched-resist Shibori forges a harmonious blend where both elements work in tandem, rather than one overpowering the other.
Respite, in process ©2017 Elizabeth Fram
For many years my pieces were made with irregular edges, a quality I still find intriguing yet which poses a dilemma when the work will be stretched and framed within a traditional floating frame. Because the Shibori pattern is created by stitching, I have flexibility to manipulate where the pattern will appear, the direction of its flow, where to squeeze in narrow gaps (essentially creating an area of escape from the small rectangular enclosure the cup and saucer fills) and where to open up wider expanses via a color field that pushes toward the outer edge, making a statement of its own.
Morning Musing, in process ©2017 Elizabeth Fram
Therefore, what may first appear as a “frame” is actually an essential element of the piece as a whole, serving to ground and engage the stitched image of the cup and saucer within a fully integrated exchange, rather than solely being a vehicle for separating and confining it. In fact, it’s important to remember that the Shibori patterning in these pieces was created first, making it a crucial consideration of the overall composition from the very beginning.
Many thanks to the reader who asked this question. Writing is a wonderful opportunity to give thought and substance to the ideas that float in the back of one’s mind, but which benefit immeasurably from being articulated. I encourage you to try it with your own work, and please, feel free to ask more questions any time.
For an intriguing take on presentation/framing, check out the work of Sondra Sherman, a jewelry maker who displays her pieces in the carved-out pages of the books that inspired their creation.