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Forming the Cave

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

In the beginning of the series, "Dawning", I had experimented a little with needle sculpting the wool into more 3D forms. I liked how it diverged from traditional 2D wall art, but because it was more cumbersome in terms of storage and shipping, I decided to put needle sculpting on the back burner. Recently, I decided again to give it a go and "Cave" was born. Below are some images from the development stages.

For the basic form, I'm using a very coarse wool, which has almost no other good use because it's so rough. That roughness, however, makes it perfect for quickly building up shapes by needle felting. On the left, the white spot is where I substituted a natural-colored wool in the welt felting process in order to conserve my colored wool, since I knew it was going to be covered up in the end. On the right, I'm preparing my blended wool palette to cover the brown wool.

Once the wool was completely covered over, it was time to figure out the center and the human forms. The center presented difficulties, since the 3D nature of the area created an unusual lighting situation. The center always seemed to be either too light or too dark. The entire piece gave me difficulties in that regard, I think because I used a decent amount of viscose, which reflects light. If the lighting was good, the piece shown. If the lighting was bad, it just looked like a dark expanse. On overcast days, I was often forced to turn on lights during the day, in order to see the results of my work with these darker colors. Frankly, it was tricky, and if I were to do it again, I would lighten the color palette a little.

I also had to make two sets of figures, as the first set turned out to be too high contrast.

Then, I gave them a path to walk on, and needed to determine how to connect the mouth of the cave to this path. I added a network of silk threads, which entangle and draw them in toward the entrance. These intersections were anchored by glass beads. The figure at the center of the cave is in a web of these threads, as if already past a barrier, beyond which there is no return.

Version 1

....update about a month or so later....December 27, 2022- Version 2

I wasn't really happy with the result, so when I had the chance, I went back and reworked the piece. I added some lighter colors for contrast, and generally changed the concept (at least in my mind). Luckily, I didn't bother undoing anything, I simply worked on top of what was already there. It then has the added benefit of adding depth, as if that's what I was intending the whole time! Now I'm more content with the final piece. What do you think, is the first or second version better?

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