Something Wicked This Way Comes

And by “wicked” I mean “wicked good”.

At least that’s how I hope it will turn out.

When I was sewing these little lovelies for the Fredericton piece, Chestnut Complex, I had this overwhelming sense that I needed to make an entire installation of bats.

Many, many bats.

 

The first number that popped into my head was 250.  I would make 250 bats and activate them in an installation space.  As I stitched I thought about how they could be displayed.  They could be on the ceiling, the walls, the floor.  If I wired them they could be inhabiting the strata. So many possibilities.

Suddenly 250 seemed like an insufficient number, especially considering their diminutive size.  Ambitiously I upped the number to 1,000.

Yes, 1,000 bats.

That means 4,000 hands/feet.

I can make about 10 hands an hour.  If I’m able to make hands 40 hours a week it would take me 10 weeks to complete the hands alone.  I know making hands 40 hours a week isn’t possible, so being realistic I’ll double the time and estimate 20 weeks to make the hands.

A stitched hand before trimming and turning. To cut down on the number of throw-aways, I shortened the stitch length considerably – it does seem to reduce the instances where I rip through the seam as I turn the thumbs.

 

A turned hand is about 2″ long. Once it is stuffed and inserted into the end of an arm it will measure 1.5″.

 

On the right are approximately 400 sewn and turned hands. In order to call them finished I still need to stuff and topstitch them.

 

At that rate of production I estimate it will take me 12-18 months to complete the installation.

I’ve already purchased most of my materials, though I was only able to obtain a fraction of the body/hood fabric that I would have liked.  This means I’ll have to find one or two other fabrics to use in addition.  Not necessarily a bad thing.

Rolls of wing/ear fabric.

 

Body fabric.

 

The cutter at the fabric shop was curious about the amount of fabric I was getting.

“What are you going to be making with all of this?” she queried.

“One thousand small brown bats”, I told her.

“Oh, for Hallowe’en?” she asked.

“Umm, no.  I’m an artist.  They’re for an installation I’m creating” I explained.

I told her about White Nose Syndrome and how it might potentially decimate Canada’s bat population and how dire that would be for the ecosystem.

“Where are they going to be shown?” she asked.

“I don’t know yet.” I said.

“Oh.” she replied, eyebrows raised.

I can understand how investing the time and money to create a thousand labour intensive bats without having an exhibiting venue lined up might seem crazy to some people.  To me, it’s all part of the process.

And you’ve got to trust the process.

In order to properly celebrate the season I’ll be taking the stats off.  Which means no post on Christmas or Boxing Day. 

Happy holidays and see you on the 27th!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *