Jenny Williams is a artist from North Carolina who specializes in Free Motion Machine Embroidery (FMME). More of her work can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jenny-williams.html
She recently shared some of her interests and techniques with SAQA’s Clairan Ferrono.
SAQA: What inspires you?
Williams: I am inspired mostly by nature and finding thread colors that will help depict it. I enjoy trying to make a FMME piece look like you can reach out and walk into it. My FMME is not made like the currently popular thread paintings where the photo is merely highlighted or accented; it is built up over several layers so that it actually creates a real painting made entirely of thread. The end result is so thick that it feels almost like a tapestry.
SAQA: Tell us more about your technique.
Williams: FMME is very labor and time intensive. My machine feels like it is literally beating up the fabric as it gets thicker and thicker with thread, so I have to take frequent breaks and sometimes work on another project for relief of hands and sometimes headache.
The photo is printed on regular printer fabric if small, or a heavy professional transfer fabric if larger and then transferred to white fabric (it is a rubbery feeling transfer).
The final printed/transfer photo is fused onto heavy cotton duck canvas.
On the smaller pieces (=<7×10) I don’t do as many layers – but am careful to constantly be moving from one area to another to prevent curling or bunching.
On the larger pieces I build up 3 or more layers of thread.
The first layer of thread is lightly spread out using large stitches – moving from one section to an opposite one – over the entire picture to kind of stabilize it. I don’t pay close attention to matching thread to exact spots, just that it is dark, medium or light.
The second layer is heavier – but I have to frequently move from one side to another to prevent the piece from curling/bunching up or being stitched unevenly.
The third layer (and more, if needed) is to blend colors where needed, as sometimes I can’t find just the right color thread I want, or the one I used is a bit too bright or light, etc. I also blend one color into another when I don’t want a harsh line of color separation. This is the finishing layer where it all comes together.
To enter one of these into an art quilt show, I will mount it onto a background fabric and sometimes extend the lines of the piece with the quilting, matching thread to background fabric so it is very subtle. I nearly always use black for the background.
SAQA: Have you donated to the auction before?
Williams: This year is my 4th or 5th time donating to the auction. The 2nd year after my first donation I wasn’t able to finish a piece on time to get it in, so I missed a year, but I try to be sure I do get one finished. It means a lot to me to have all of the different opportunities available to me on the SAQA website, even if I don’t have time to fully experience them all. I was thrilled when the Wiki opened up and a friend working with it asked me to volunteer to help. I was honored to be able to have one of my pieces critiqued with Sandra Sider in their online critique session. I understand what it must take to provide all of these services, and to have all of these people willing to volunteer to share them, so it’s the least I can do to make a small piece to help raise funds.
I have not been a collector of auction pieces so far, but I will be. I am retired and not wealthy, but I’m okay. I hope to purchase pieces in the future, if only at the last day. I know they all help.