Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dream Catcher

Are you sometimes afraid the great ideas that sail through your mind at night will drift away before you wake up, lost in the mist of dreams? Me too. This piece, showing through June 29 at the Ed Gray Gallery in Calumet, Michigan, is my Dream Catcher.

Dream Catcher by Donna Kallner
It began with the odd figure on the left, printed by metal on a recycled pillow case. Usually dreamcatchers are made of knotless netting worked in a circle on a round willow frame, to hang in the window and snag any bad dreams that might try to get in. But this made me think of a dream catcher whose job is to snag the good ideas that drift through my head when it's on my pillow.

On the design wall

I pictured the Dream Catcher casting a net across the deck of a vessel that struggles like a fish.

 He picks the net as he hauls it in, throwing back what is too small for now, to catch it again another night.

The vessel in this piece was made from recycled quilt blocks given to me by my sister-in-law's best friend, from her aunt's estate. I overdyed them in the indigo vat.

The frame is made from flannel blocks from the same source, also overdyed, then turned to use the back side so the prints were more subtle.

Netting is a knotted form of looping, close cousin to the knotless netting (also looping) found in other dreamcatchers. This netting was worked with a shuttle and gauge and linen thread, which I dyed before netting and hand-painted with gesso after it was stitched on the piece.

Bill suggested the anchor when I was talking about feeling "unmoored." When my lines get frayed and snap, setting me adrift, he's the Dream Catcher who keeps me from losing it.

Next time, I'll take you inside another of the pieces from the show. In the meantime, sweet dreams.


  1. I love hearing how this piece comes together from the artist's perspective. You choice of materials and techniques is only fit "for prime time". This piece is ingenious, like your mind :).

  2. I'd love to get some dialog started about the process other people use as well, Pam. Would love to hear about your pieces -- hint, hint :)


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