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Atom Dance

Each figure approx. 2' tall, 1.5' across.

Hand-dyed canvas, beads, embroidery floss, Velcro, satin, quilting, organza, lace, and copper wire.

Atom Dance consists of two articulated, quilted, flat soft sculptures built to be hung on a wall. Each figure has mobile joints and they can be posed in a number of configurations. The fabric applique partially consists of the soft-side of Velcro, with the hooked side present on the back of the hands and face. As such, each time the figures embrace, they can attach to and support each other. However, the Velcro also catches on the embellishments; every time they come apart, they degrade each other.


The process for this piece was intense. I hand-dyed the canvas base for each figure. While they both use synthetic dyes, one of the figures consists of fabric that was dyed using Shibori pole-dyeing techniques, while the other was tie-dyed. The interplay between contemporary and traditional dyeing techniques felt like a rich contrast to build the foundation of each figure's personality.

After the fabric pieces were cut out to the pattern I designed for this project, I used a domestic sewing machine to applique fabric, a combination of black canvas and the soft side of Velcro. I used decorative stitches for this stage, selecting a specific set of decorative stitched appropriate for the theme of each figure. I also put satin underneath where the mobile parts of the sculpture would overlap to enable ease of movement.

Once the fabric applique was completed, I then hand-embellished each piece using embroidery floss and beads. The color, motifs, styles, and materials of the beads in particular were carefully selected to suit the theme of each figure. 

After the embellishments were completed, I proceeded with final assembly of the figures. Each figure is composed of ten layers of fabric: Velcro hooks, polyester satin backing, felt, copper wire, felt (to encase wire), quilting batting, felt (to encase joints), dyed canvas, satin applique, and embellishment applique (ordered from back to front). Each figure then was wrapped in quilting bias tape, which was hand sewed on.

The entire process for these figures took upwards of 150 hours, excluding shopping and research.