Sunday, September 29, 2013

Seaweed Experiment: Stitching Seaweed

Click to enlarge - see stitching along edges

During a recent foray to Mortuary Beach in Carmel, after oohing and aahing over gorgeous samples of dry and wet seaweed the question occurred: Can you sew seaweed? The answer is a resounding yes.

Black stitching sewing together pieces of wet, rubbery seaweed

Seaweed turns out to be one of the more pleasurable materials to sew. It's soft enough so that your needle pierces the stuff easily, yet has enough rubbery body that there's no danger of your stitches tearing through the material. You can give it a hearty tug and it holds.

Black stitching along fresh, wet seaweed

The problem is that after stitching a few pieces together to create an experimental sample, I placed it on dry paper and set it in the sun to dry and to my dismay it darkened considerably, with the lovely maroon seaweed turning entirely black. At that point the sample piece was hard and durable like plastic. The good news is that the stitching holes did not enlarge when the piece dried as I had feared, potentially loosening or altogether screwing up the stitching. The stitches retained their integrity; the problem was the disappointing darkening and loss of color.

Dried: very organic looking but disappointingly dark

And then a happy discovery—when held up to the light, the original brilliant colors reemerge. The photo at the very beginning of this post is dried seaweed held up to the light, as are the photos below.

Panel of dried, stitched seaweed, held up to the light

Stitched seaweed held up to the light

Panel of stitched seaweed propped in window

Next steps? Lots and lots of experiments including seaweed shoes, seaweed chandeliers, stitched and molded seaweed, and more. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, the piece above is strongly reminiscent of earlier experiments with fused plastic.

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