Wendy Moyer: Tool kit

Wendy Moyer: Tool kit

Welcome to another edition of Tool kit, a series of articles where we take a look at some of the favourite tools used by professional textile artists. Each item includes a description of the tool itself.

Wendy Moyer is a sculptural textile artist based in Mexico. She has permanent works in the The Huberman Collection and the World of WearableArt™ Historic Collection. Two wearable art pieces (selected to be among the 32 “Best of WOW”)  are currently in the World of WearableArt World Tour.

In this article Wendy shares with us the secrets of her tool box. We discover not every tool can be bought off the shelf and which item disappeared from her Mother’s tool kit only to miraculously turn up in her own!

Airbrush

Airbrush

Item 1 – Airbrush

Brand: Paasche
Model: VL0409
Year: 2009

How do you use this item in your practice?

When I first transitioned from Trompe-l’œil to fabric art I loathed to give up my brushes. I had many since early lessons with an illustrator in my childhood. These were literally extensions of my hands with worn spots where my fingers held the shafts. Initially I simply looked at the fabric as a canvas and painted as I always had, with a brush. But as my pieces grew in size and took on more sculptural forms, I knew I needed a quicker way to lay down color. So I purchased a basic Paasche airbrush complete system, which came with a small compressor, and had it shipped to my studio in Mexico. There it sat in its box, untouched, for over a year. Finally the time spent with brushes was more painful than learning how to use the airbrush, and I took the Paasche from its box.

After reading the enclosed pamphlet of basic airbrush instructions, it was time to give it a go, and so I did. I still can’t believe it took me so long to get over my fear of using this tool. I should have been using this back even in my Trompe-l’oeil days. My work is quite labor intensive, but the airbrush has significantly reduced the painting time. Plus, it allows for sheer effects that are all but impossible with a brush. I am a far cry from being an airbrush artist but I now use the airbrush for everything but the very detailed final strokes. That fine veining you see in a leaf or petal is still done with the liner brush I’ve been using since childhood.

Why do you use this specific item?

Since paint is diluted with window cleaner to allow it to flow through the airbrush, dry time is very quick and the pigment is not overly diluted. So this allows me to lay down a lot of color at one time. Likewise, sheer blending effects that would take hours with a brush is done in less than half that time.

And where did you buy it from?

Directly from Paasche. Mine is an older model/year. A comparable newer model would be the VL-100D.


Scissors and curved needle

Scissors and curved needle

Item 2 – Scissors

Item description: 4” Embroidery Scissors (fine point)
Brand: Gingher
Model: (no number) 4″ Embroidery, Chrome Finish

How do you use this item in your practice?

Many of my designs involve very small pieces, particularly for flowers. These are the ideal scissors to cut small pieces as they precisely reach the tiny crevasses where petal pieces join together.

Why do you use this specific item?

Although originally intended for use with embroidery to reach small strands of thread, don’t let its small size and light weight fool you. I’ve found these scissors to be a workhorse for hand cutting hundreds of pieces at a time.

And where did you buy it from?

Ok, true confession: I didn’t buy this. I stole it (borrowed it indefinitely) from my mother. After all, what are daughters for?

However, if you don’t have a mother from whose stash you can ‘borrow’ indefinitely, you can buy them online through Joann Fabrics, Amazon and I’ve even seen them through Ebay.


Item 3 – Needle

Item description: Extra Small Curved Needle
Brand: Homemade from a standard small sewing needle

How do you use this item in your practice?

All my work is sculpted in part with hand sewing that requires nearly invisible stitches and often already sculpted pieces need to be joined by hand. A curved needle was essential, but my search and trials of many I thought would work, yielded nothing useful. Even the curved quilting needles were too thick.

Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. So I took one of my smaller sized sewing needles, along with a hammer and my needle nosed pliers out to my concrete parking pad. Holding the eye of the needle in the grip of my pliers, I held the needle as flat as I could against the concrete and started to hammer down the shaft. Little by little the needle curved. I have had this needle for many years but if it is ever lost or broken I can always make another.

Why do you use this specific item?

Most often I use it when stitching layers of cotton batting and fabrics to a 3D wire mesh form. Likewise when I sculpt’ fabrics using hand stitching to craft details and give the form greater definition.

And where did you buy it from?

I couldn’t find what I needed, so I made it.


Google Photo Search

Google Photo Search

Item 4 – Google Photo Search

How do you use this item in your practice?

While I am inspired by the flora and fauna of the high-desert in which I live. I am not a photographer. Most often when I see something that captures my attention I don’t even have my phone with me to take a photo, let alone my camera. Thanks to Google I don’t need to take a slew of photos to remember the natural details of a subject. All the photos I need to reference the details of any flora or fauna can be found in a few clicks of computer keys and internet access. Yes, I am old enough to remember a pre-google world, but I’d rather not.

Why do you use this specific item?

As I said, I’m not a photographer but I am a realistic sculptor. While I do commit many extreme details to memory, searching for and saving photos of potential future subjects is necessary. Many of the photos best suited to my reference needs are those taken by botanists, as they tend to focus in on the little details – be it a pistil of a yucca flower or the shark fin curve of the maguey spine.


Candle and Torch

Candle and Torch

Item 5 – Candle and Torch

Brand: Candle: Unscented, plain votive candles;
Torch: Truper Butane torch

How do you use this item in your practice?

Heating synthetic fabrics to their melting point is how most of my sculpting is done. When working on a small piece, such as a flower petal, a small low flame from a simple votive candle is the best heat source. However on larger items, such as a three-foot maguey leaf, I use a small hand-held torch.

Why do you use this specific item?

A small flame transforms flat, painted petals into 3D flowers. For example, the candle flame produces enough heat to melt the centre crease of a petal. Quickly the centre crease is pinched with finger tips and once cooled (which happens very quickly) will hold it’s shape forever.

The heat from a torch is necessary when working with a larger fabric form sculpted around a 3D wire mesh frame. The torch will melt and shrink large areas of fabric quickly (a bit like shrink wrap that uses a hair dryer). This makes the final sculpted form more taunt and eliminates the puckering of all the hand stitching used for greater definition.

And where did you buy it from?

Votive candles are easy to find in groceries, department and discount stores. (Tip: get the longest burn time from your votives by trimming the wick often to about ¼”. I trim them even as they are burning to prevent the flame from growing too large.) The torch can be purchased at most hardware stores.

For more information visit: www.textileartistmx.com

Got something to say about the tools used by Wendy?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday 28th, September 2021 / 12:28

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NEWSLETTER FOR TEXTILE & FIBER ARTISTS

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And discover how to create breathtaking art with textiles and stitch.

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