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TitleAwakeningDesigned byKris McDermetHooked and Braided byKris McDermetInspirationA .25 plate from Experienced GoodsDimensions52" x 72"Materialswool and silk on linen, Joomchi-Mulberry PaperCuts4, 5, 6, 7Start to Finish2021HonorsCelebration 32 (2022), Viewers' Choice 2021 Sauder Village, Viewers' Choice 2022 GMRHG ShowShare

Awakening

“Awakening” started to be a rug for the floor but about a quarter of the way to completion, it was too light in color for muddy boots and animals!

I got the idea of the Leechee nuts from a platter I bought at the Brattleboro Area Hospice’s shop called Experience Goods in Brattleboro, VT.  I loved the cranberry colored nuts and the greens of the leaves.  After hooking and braiding the center I realized I would never walk on it so making it for the wall seemed to be the best decision.  Due to the weight of the braids, I decided to make it into multiple pieces and let my wall become part of the finished piece. There would be about 1.5 ” of air space between each piece, with the walls considered just as important as the hooked and braided sections. It grew to 10 sections but used the common theme of simple leaves and nuts throughout.

At the time I was working on the sections, I took a class in Joomchi* felting and made the decision to combine the Joomchi and the hooked & braided sections using the common leaf pattern as a base. I had wanted to back light one of my fiber art creations and this seemed a fitting idea with my brother Tim Mathiesen who is a wonderful lighting designer. Awakening was taking shape over the winter of 2021 during the pandemic and stay at home orders. Our imaginations were developing and Tim began looking at how best to light the Joomchi elements.

After exploring how natural back-lighting enhanced the wonderful qualities of the hand-made paper, we settled on using a lightbox. The shallow depth of the box would utilize a ‘sheet’ of LEDs with layers of diffusion to help soften or smooth the light. My husband Stewart built the lightbox and we three figured out how to attach the Joomchi 3 layers of felting. The LEDs are ‘tunable’ white (they can be a warm, neutral, or cool white depending on the room setting) and we utilized a dimmer to have ultimate control of the lighting effect.
The lights make the felting shine and help to bring out the color of the wool and silk used in the hooking and braiding.

The effect of the entire piece needs the natural light (or overhead display lights) of the room plus the brilliance of the back-lit Joomchi.

* Joomchi is a “centuries-old Korean paper-making technique that uses water to seal several layers of thin, handmade mulberry papers together to form a single, strong sheet. The paper is first wet, then, aggressively gripped, grabbed, stretched, and manipulated until the fibers are broken down, or felted. A major transformation occurs: flat sheets of paper become a very organic, leather-like, almost living form.” Susan Avishai

More rugs by this artist

Kris is a Rug Hooking Teacher

Artist Statement

“Threads and Textiles Re-Imagined” represents my work using wool, Charmeuse silk, wool and silk yarns, velvet, and crushed taffeta to complete work that tells a story, or represents nature.

Some of the fiber techniques I use were developed years ago to make functional items,  bringing warmth and comfort to early homes. Now I’m reworking these techniques to honor the past, but my designs are more contemporary.   In addition I want to raise awareness of environmental and social justice issues in my work. 

Finished pieces may be three dimensional and may be made more visually exciting by the addition of LED lighting from within the work.