I finished weaving “Bipolar Prison” this morning, and added some padding to the bars and face. There’s still quite a bit of work to do, but I like it!
Here is a shot of the piece as it currently stands:
I decided to pad the bars and the face because I wanted them to stand out from the background. I could have woven the whole thing as a flat piece, but that would have been, well, flat. I wanted to exploit the flexibility of cloth to accent the elements I wanted to emphasize – the prison bars and the face. So I deliberately wove the piece keeping the layers as separate as possible, and then added layers of cotton batting behind the bars and the face.
Here’s what it looked like fresh off the loom, without padding. The crinkles on the face are physical ruffles: the white layer wove up more loosely than the red/blue layers behind it, so it naturally puffed out a bit. Perfect for padding. The bars, likewise, were a bit loose before padding.
So what’s left? I need to cut open the bottom layers, add the padding, add a backing fabric, and quilt around the eyes and prison bars. Quilting around the eyes will add depth and make the eyes more expressive. Once I’m done with that, I’ll line the piece and prepare it for hanging. And then I’ll start looking for shows to send it to.
I’m still thinking about what to title the piece. “Bipolar Prison” is the working title, but I’m looking for a better one. The best I’ve come up with so far is “Inside the Prison of My Mind,” which is OK, but which doesn’t capture the bipolar disorder/mental illness aspect. If you have other title ideas, please put them in a comment or email me! I’d love help naming this piece.
I think it’s the perfect title. Bipolar is like that. It’s a beautiful piece.
Louise Adams says
Gabriela Waschewsky says
I can’t find the right words for it, but I love the eyes looking OUT at the world from the bipolar prison. Seeing/recognizing the (nearly) limitless world but feeling trapped in a world limited by illness.
Tien Chiu says
Thank you! I was worried that I wouldn’t get the expression right. I’m glad to hear that I did. 🙂
Sheila O'Hara says
No dust gathering under your feet! Good job on completing the weaving. Looking forward to seeing in in person some day.
Andrea Schroer says
Constrained by Extreme Highs and Lows? I don’t know, I’m thinking Bipolar Prison still explains it succinctly and best.
Tien Chiu says
Thanks! It’s not a bad title, and I may wind up using it if I can’t think of something better.
The use of the word “Bipolar” focuses the viewer on one mental illness. Great if that’s your intention. What on the piece represents the nature of the bipolar condition? The red vs the blue? “Inside the Prison of my Mind” is too wordy, and which part is “inside” the mind? Clearly you want people to think of mental illness as a prison for the mind, and your piece is very dramatic. I can hardly wait to see it after the quilting! What kind of reaction do you hope to evoke from the viewer? You could purposely give the piece a provocative name by using non-PC words and shock the viewer right into your message. Example: Trapped in Crazy Jail. What kind of expression are you going for with the eyes? Sadness? Pleading (for help)? A single tear would be a nice touch. Or Emptiness? Blankness? Lack of power? The ultimate trap because not only can you not escape, you don’t understand that you’re trapped. I guess my point is that the title needs to reinforce the impact you want to have on the viewer. Mental illness is like a prison has no impact, no power. Figure our the emotional impact you want to have and the right title will come to you.
Tien Chiu says
Thanks for the very thoughtful comment! Some thoughts in response:
– Yes, the focus is meant to be on bipolar disorder; the red/orange represents mania, the blue depression. I have bipolar disorder, so this speaks of my own experience before being diagnosed and finding the right medication regimen.
– Sounds weird, I know, but i hadn’t thought of what reaction I wanted to elicit from the reader. I’ll have to chew on that a bit. Thanks for helping me frame the problem – this is really helpful!
Stuck between me and me