Art Walk Project
Lately I've been working on a very interesting project that needs to be done by the end of October (eek that's coming up fast!). In my small town of Palmer, AK every second Saturday the local Museum and businesses host the Palmer Art Walk. Each Art Walk has a theme and the participating locations work with local artists to have artwork on display for that day that fits that month's theme. As a fundraiser for this wonderful event, in November there will be an auction of artwork specially made out of old sewing machines. The theme is Sew Thankful! I'm working on one of those machines and my piece is going to be displayed in the Museum! I'm really excited and having a lot of fun with this project.
When I went to pick out a machine, there were several to choose from. All seemed to be from about the '60s and brands included Bernina, Pfaff, and one or two more. The machines had been donated by a local thrift shop for this Art Walk project and supposedly they were beyond repair.
I picked out a very neat gray Pfaff 360. It's really heavy and really cleverly built with an extension table that is attached with springs and joints so it can be swung up into place or swung down and tucked under the bed. It didn't come with a foot pedal or power cord so I don't know if the motor works, but I turned the fly wheel a little and it moved pretty smoothly. When the needle dipped inside the bobbin case it would stop moving so I could only turn it a little.
I dug up some exploded view diagrams of the internal parts online and read about what I'd find inside and what it takes to repair one of these machines. I found lots of people talking about how this era of machine has nylon discs in it that can crack when they heat up and if that wasn't difficult enough to deal with, the belt on this machine wasn't standardized (length and number of metal staples vary) and so finding the right parts for each machine is becoming harder and harder so most shops don't even try to fix them anymore. I was tempted to buy a power cable for this machine on one of the online parts stores just to test it out more, but decided not too in the end.
For my art project, I was told to do anything I wanted with the machine. I could use it as is and create art on it's surface. I could dismantle it and use what I find. I could even use the case it came in if I wanted to. I've decided to take the sewing machine apart and use the internal parts in an art quilt! It's been a fascinating and saddening job to tear this beautiful machine apart. I usually enjoy fixing things so this deconstruction has been hard, but I love seeing how everything works inside and how all the parts fit together. It's amazing how many little things all work together. With the top panel removed I could rotate the fly wheel, flip levers, and turn dials while watching how everything moves inside.
There's also been an amazing amount of different screws, bolts, nuts, and tension clips all holding this thing together. It seems like as I go deeper, I keep needing more tools.
Everything is covered in oil, grease, and grim, so I've been working with gloves on and plan on thoroughly cleaning the parts I end up using. Most of the internal parts are a solid black color so they should be very striking on the surface of my art quilt.
Art Quilt Design
I've been playing around with a couple of designs for the art quilt so far. One uses the parts in an imaginative way to create things (she says mysteriously) and the other design lets the parts exist as they are and plays off of their shapes. I'm trying to design something that fits the Art Walk theme of Sew Thankful and will appeal to a large audience. In the end, it's art so I may combine several ideas or settle on something totally different so I'll leave the reveal of my design till next time.
Also, if I have time, I may reassemble the shell of the machine and paint it with some neat design. It will be a lot lighter at that point and still look complete so I think it would make a nice piece of art.
Have you ever taken on a project like this? Do you have Second Saturday or First Friday Art Walks in your area? They are a really great way to spend a day enjoying the work of local artists. Check one out if you can!