Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blocking and Squaring Boutis


The door of her cage has been opened. She is free to fly off and find her destiny.


After many months of hand stitching and then many more months of cording, my little "calibri" is ready to set off on her own. As this was my first attempt at designing so large a boutis piece, it has been a bit of a learning curve. All of the tight swirls, curls and circles are a great deal more difficult and time consuming to cord then are the longer more gentle channels. Maintaining an even tension is absolutely necessary throughout the process, so patience comes in very handy when doing the cording.

Once all of the stitching and cording is complete, the boutis must be washed and squared up. After it is soaked overnight in a basin of water with a mild detergent, it gets rinsed gently in several clear washes, then rolled in a towel to remove the excess water. 

If some of the pencil lines have not disappeared after the inital soaking, it can be soaked again, as often as is necessary.

The final step is the blocking process. There are a number of ways to block a boutis piece, but I have found that the easiest method for me is to place the damp work onto a sheet of styrofoam and with the help of thumbtacks, coax it into it's squared off shape.

Because there has been so much pulling and tugging involved in getting the cording to ease snuggly into all corners of the channels, this final step is crucial. The slack that is visible around the edges was very difficult to avoid. Because the design itself is quite heavily stitched, there will be a great amount of slack around the perimeter of the work where there is no stitching. I am beginning to understand why most boutis wall hangings have the frame butting right up to the work. Something to rethink for my next design. I'm hoping that a professional framer will have some ideas of how to help me solve this problem.


The second of my bird designs is already on the boards, but there are a number of other projects pulling at my shirt tails saying "me first"! But in the meantime, this little "calibri" will get a frame and maybe if I'm very still and silent, she will come back from time to time and tell me of her adventures.