With the coral-making safely behind me (or rather steaming ahead as semi-finalist in the National Contemporary Art Awards - woot!), stitching fossils is my latest consuming passion.
I've been thinking about this for many months but didn't let myself start until You are an agent of change was all finished. Somehow I knew that once I got a taste for this fossil work I wouldn't be able to tear myself away from it to pay proper attention to anything else. My test piece was a tessarolax fittoni, an extinct gastrapod from the Cretaceous era (145-65 million years ago).
I stitched it onto a piece of an old blanket that I found in an op shop, already felted probably by hot washing at some point. It's a lovely fabric to work with. The tessarolax is stitched next to the blanket label, which though worn to shreds, says "Kaiapoi Woolen Mfg Gompany Christchurch New Zealand (All Pure NZ Wool)". The Kaiapoi Woolen Company closed in 1978 after a century in business. It was the beginning of the end of an era in which New Zealand companies manufactured most of our needs and few goods were imported from overseas. Two fossils then, together on one blanket, representing extinct species of a past ecology.
The next square of Kaiapoi blanket is being stitched with a crinoid, a sea lily enchinoderm, from the Mississipian period (362-323 million years ago) of the Paleozoic era. Now that I'm confident about working on the felted blanket, I feel inclined to be more adventurous with texture and colour. It's all done free hand, as I'm basically making it up as I go along, with reference to my sketches from photos in fossil books. Stitching the coral felt like drawing with thread, and this feels like painting only much much slower; at the glacial pace that I like to work and that so suits this subject matter.