stuck in the middle (with me)

Okay, i have to come clean with myself, at the very least, if not with my (few, faithful) readers. This is not a whine. This is not a pity party. This is not a rant or a snivel. I have my Big Girl Pants on. This is not a depressive cycle (something i have fought all my life, and am thoroughly familiar with, thank you very much), but it IS something cycling.

I AM STUCK. I am STUCK as an ARTIST. I can still craft/make/create/do/stitch, but the Big Important Stuff i am ready to give up on. It’s pretty empty in that department. Shuffling paper, paints and fabrics around has a wad of maybe’s, but not for now. If i could actually DO what i wanted to without all the current self doubt, there would be an explosion of work–but i have no actual flame to blow things up. There is no now right now……………… It’s humiliating, frustrating, loathsome and a horrible terrible no good very bad way to be, but it is what it is.

Hell, it’s not even “stuck”–it’s dead in the water. Maybe it’s just not for me to keep on with the so-called Big Important Stuff. That “Epiphany” was mean —-and truthful. Maybe i need to go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back, to when things were still a joy, and i didn’t care about what it all meant in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know if even that is the answer. Don’t care either.

So………you may –or may not–see pretty things, useless things, dumb things in the next who knows how long while. I’m hoping that as a VERY valued friend said to me this very morning, that i “will fly when i catch the next creative jet stream”.





Then again, it might lead back to where i want to be.






Please burn this after reading.





you just start somewhere

In the annual purge that takes place in January, i found an old “mark making” journal. A period of mixed media and a lot of colour, it was my antidote to living and working in my MIL’s basement, a horrible place and situation in many ways. “Notes from Mother Nature”  was made in October of 2008.

My “epiphany” is gelling, if indeed epiphanies do gel. Reflective searching thought, and research has led back to some ideas, but unless i actually start somewhere, nothing will take form. Simple, right? There are many many parts i wish to use again: the studio worktable is a jumble of sketches, fabrics, notes and paper scraps.

So, start small, because small can become big when the sum of the parts become the whole dance.

Jam Day Ecoprintingpalooza

Friends and i have been planning and hoping to get together for literally months to have a play day! All of us of course have busy lives, but finally on the 27th, we were able to commit all at the same time, to the 29th of January.

Lyn has a wonderful second story studio set up, waaaaaaaaaaay out by the mountains!

With oodles of materials to work with from rose to cherry, sumac and grevillea, onion and maple, marigold flowers, rose petals, turmeric, something like sliced betel nut, privet berries and oak, eucalyptus, osage curlings, well, you name it–if it was scavenged locally, buyable or shared, we had a plethora of materials to choose from. Almost overwhelmingly so! We also shared pre-mordanted fabrics, and lots of discussion and tips about various methods and techniques.

We had a pot of onion skins going for one bath, and a pot of superstrong Lac as well.

I had a difficult time choosing, so  i stuck to the “tried and true’s” of maple, oak, grevillea, euc and osage, with experimental hints of privet berry, rose petal, the almost betel nut, amaryllis and rowan. (Note, the privet berries give a nice green dye, but do NOT print at all….) Lyn generously shared a long strip of viscose (?) scarf (commercially dyed, and un-mordanted) that we first soaked in vinegar (NOT A MORDANT, but a modifier/Ph adjuster), and then layered with plant materials, with me adding a strip of previously logwood dyed silk in between. I had gone out for a bit of fresh air at one point and picked some fresh fir, tearing it into little pieces and putting that between the layers, with a bit of euc also.

!!!! When this was wet, we couldn’t decide if there was a definite imprint, thinking perhaps it was just an “embossing” effect as the viscose was thicker than most cottons and silks, but yup, fir and euc did the job and discharged just enough to make it interesting. First photo below, un-pressed, second pressed:

(To see more details, all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.) Part of the effect i think is that some of the logwood “transferred” to the viscose, as evidenced by the darker colour. Even so, i think i’m going to discharge this whole piece, and try again. I might even add a crocheted or needlelace edging after so i can wear it as a scarf.

And look what it did to the logwood silk!!!


We tried some of the haremcloth as well. Lyn got crisp results, mine not so much, but i think mine was too loose a bundle.

I love this green from the onion bath, very atmospheric and reminding me of an old Arthur Rackham illustration.

Great colour on this one from the lac, but the maple, euc and osage is barely visible, except as a contrasting yellow:


Blah, but i like the string patterning, always my favourite part, and usually strong even on failed pieces:



I wish i had a shot of one of Susan’s pieces–she has used alum acetate with a chalking after (mordanting procedure for cellulose fibres) , something i have pooh-poohed as a step i didn’t “need” to do 🙂  However, it definitely made the colours from the leaves and dyes bond better, with maple leaves showing such incredible detail and colour range that you would believe it had been painted by a VERY skilled artist.

These two pieces are the ones though that really made me SQUEAL.

Above, euc, oak and osage on cotton, with lac. Below, euc, oak and osage on previously logwood dyed cotton, in lac.

Obvious to me is that pre-mordanting properly can make a major difference. Click on the photos to see the full glory 🙂

I still have one bundle cooking right now, as it missed getting into either pot, so maybe another surprise or two.

(And alas i don’t have a lot of in situ shots, or pics of Susan and Lyn’s results–oh some were to die for!!– as i forgot to put the chip in the big camera, and had to use my phone. And most of those were blurry ’cause i was so excited 🙂 )

I do believe i could get excited about ecoprinting again. I’m still in “Epiphany” mode though, so taking more time for reflection and doing, rather than showing and sharing here.


You may, or may not(!),  notice that i have disabled the “like” button on posts, starting with Jan 21st of this year. It’s starting to feel like FB where people “react”, but never actually say anything. Blogging is about interaction, and as guilty as i myself am sometimes for doing that, i’m feeling if i *do* “like” something, it might be is helpful, encouraging or validating to someone to actually SAY what i mean. Trying to change that habit myself!

fool me once…….

HA! It took me TWELVE YEARS to figure out here was something wrong with this sketch. At the time, i was quite concerned that i get the valves and tubes all facing the right way, (there was an actual, real life cardiac surgeon on the QuiltArt list in those days, who helped a lot), but what about the hands???? Who holds a heart like that (pre-supposing one could, and not as part of some nasty ritual 🙂 ) ?

It’s not the intended Next Big Thing, but a smaller part of the whole, perhaps a new “series”. Either that or a very intense sampling 🙂 The hands are done on a potassium permanganate/rust/brazilwood cotton from a residency, with naturally dyed threads used for the embroidery.

I’ve done some dyeing now for this particular design, both “potperm’ and cochineal with iron (I want deep purple, not fuschia), and have some logwood dyed cotton as well for bits. I’m torn between using an indigo with potperm background, or just potperm–or something else entirely different!— and have to decide reasonably soon so i can commence the rest of the work.

paging inspiration, inspiration please come to the front desk

My sketchbooks would never be considered “art journals”, but that’s okay–they’re WORK books, not cheesed up multi media shows of virtuousity. (Yes, some of those are lovely, and for those who work primarily in painting/sketching/printmaking, perfect. Not so much however for those of us who “translate” to another medium!) And honestly,  most of my notes, sketches etc, are actually loose sheets in an expandable folder from the dollar store. When i finish a project, i file them immediately. I have only once participated in a show where the “documentation” was intentionally part of the show. It’s interesting for some to see the process this way, but a lot of artists i’m sure would have a heck of a time “explaining” the linear progression of sketch to sample to work–because usually it’s all decidedly NOT linear 🙂

I have no desire to re-create precisely what is on the page. Work books are just that: lab samples, experiments, epiphanies and eurekas, cryptic notes and puzzled fumblings, shared only, and rarely, as part of the process, documentation that indeed, i did invent this. I have no need to pretty up the performance so i can wow somebody. Workbooks are gardens, the ideas are seeds in mysterious packets, and no one really knows what will pop up under the right–or wrong- conditions. My “back 40” is wild, unkempt, full of what others consider weeds, piles of branchy debris and bits i’m “saving”. (Much like the actual Back40 at The Stately Barr Manor……)

I think the planning for the “vision” for this one is going to take more work than normal. These are only snippets of ideas,  like creating a mood board from scratch! Sometimes i do that, sometimes i don’t.

An old sketch that was used for two different pieces of work, has surfaced. (One and two.) This one has me quite fascinated again, not only that it helped create two totally different from each other works before, but that i can use it again, and it will be again completely unique to itself.

The river and sky colours keep attracting me, though i’m thinking of earth and a dusky sky now, rather than the clear blue of indigo. I have some logwood dyed fabrics that are astonishingly purple, but think i’m going to fire up some of the cochineal and iron again also, for the haremcloth.

I’m quite excited by the idea of this particular “hope it works, and hope it gets done” piece. I’m a bit scattered now, with Real Life issues that are Very Important to Deal with, but am planning some dedicated time with the whole process. I have no clear vision yet of the size, the whole, the techniques or the end result (!!!), but i know i AM on the right track.

(I have only ever ONCE taken sketch to textile interpretation “faithfully”, exactly as shown, pure luck that i had the fabrics to do it, and the stamp and stencil that started it. (Heart stamp and crow stencil, my designs.)


Redux start

I know i’ve started when the printouts, and the plans for the plans begin. I write all my meanderings on my private blog, with wild flights of fancy, because hey, ya never know what will connect, then slap all that in a dedicated sketchbook, and start colouring in the lines, way out of the lines, adding “patterns”, shapes and technique notes, and even more scribbled why nots.  So far there are elements of several previous (finished) projects (Mother’s Heart, Nightmare Interrupted, Ebb and Flow, The Difference Between A Plum, unused Leighton work) and seeing how the interpretations fit together is where the fun, and the serious work, begins. I have the notes from those previous endeavours as well, and will riffle through them, slotting them in and out and away, as needed or rejected. It also makes it impossible then to “COPY” myself, as now there are Frankensteiny mishmashes happening!

I even have a title, though that will wait until some definite work has started.

This little bit has been stored in one of my sampling/”component” boxes since Jan 2013. It’s not the “thingness” of it that draws me, but the potassium permanganate dyed cheesecloth, and that wild stitching on its peripheries.

Though that stitching was done by machine, i don’t want to use Lalage again, bitch that she is, because she *is* a bitch to work with. (One of THE worst machines i’ve ever had…) After the work i did on the figures for TM, i now know that it is possible to tame the harem cloth enough to stitch, by putting it in bondage on a tapestry style embroidery frame. (Never say never though…) I can do the stitching also pre or post dyeing, depending on the effect i want with the threads.

I’ve decided to start the intended Redux project with some sampling for hearts a la “Mother’s Heart”. Off to the potassium permanganate vat in the Dye Dungeon!