mining, trying to go beyond the status quo

“Mining” =digging through one’s own life and art for inspiration. (Or is it an avoidance tactic or procrastination?) I also think of my last “word for the year, (Origin), something i don’t do anymore, because seriously, like the magical flip of a calendar page from one year to the next is making your life better (NOT), neither will one word define my practice.

Origin(al paths)
08 Dec 2011

1.something from which anything arises or is derived; source; fountainhead: to follow a stream to its origin.
2.rise or derivation from a particular source: the origin of a word.
3.the first stage of existence; beginning
4.ancestry; parentage; extraction
5.Anatomy a.the point of derivation. b.the more fixed portion of a muscle.

So i’ll acknowledge–or not–the source, the origin, whether in words or in the art as i see fit. Look at all those definitions, how can things ever be original?????????? Sounds SO pointless and frustrating to try–but i/we continue, because i/we Must, i/we Have to, i/we Need to. I might “reference” someone, i might “be informed by” something else (ArtSpeak hooray……..), but in the end, it’s me me me all the way ’cause no one forced my hand to move the way it did.

I’ve been looking at really old work, old in the sense that when i started playing with textiles and techniques, all i had done to that point was sew clothing, do machine applique and embroider with only satin stitch, french knots and chain stitch! When the internet finally exploded (2005-2009) with art and tutorials, i tried everything! From melting and burning paper and plastics, beading, inchies and atc’s and postcards, making boxes of various shapes and sizes, from stuffed figures to sewn art journals, i was so excited by all the potential that i often posted blog entries 4 times a day, loaded dozens of photos a week to Flickr, and enthusiastically collected junk and ephemera every where i went. If there was an exchange, i was in, a round robin, i was in; i even initiated a few projects myself with a textile journal going/coming from around the world, a CSI inspired inchies exchange and two (three?) versions of an exquisite corpse game in fibre.

There’s little from that time period i am actually still proud of. A few bits and pieces from that period still hold my heart, but more for the recognition that i could do with textiles something i couldn’t with pen and ink, than with anything truly thoughtfully done.

“Emergency Self Esteem Kit” 2008:

emergency self esteem kitMore photos and the story, here.

“Alchemy” shrinebook 2009 :

shrinebook a side


Cover of “Sea of Electricity” sewn art journal 2007

sea of electricity

Below, Copper pod hand stitched, left unadorned, right with free motion on soluble inserted in openings, 2007

pod panorama


Below, “Artefacts” 2006 (4 separate pieces), small dimensional beaded pieces. (Over embellished i see now, and combining two different ideas really, but there are mind jogs of possibility there.)

artefact panorama

Noticing a lot of red, and rich deep colours, lots of texture, machine work, layering, can i work this love of visual and tactile excitement back into current work? Way back in the 90’s at Capilano College doing the Textile Arts program, it was being exposed to the idea of texture, depth, THE FEEL of fabric and fabric manipulation techniques that got my gears going. While my current work IS very sensory to the hand and eye, i’m still feeling the lack of something, undefined, ineffable. Colour? Placement of elements? Concept? (Shudder)  Technique?


I think that the next few months (at least) is going to be a lot of searching, sampling and studying. I’m watching a few others in the blogosphere going through various degrees of this themselves right now, so it’s not just me. I won’t be satisfied until i’m satisfied. With only one deadline (currently), i do have the time and inclination. The Dunnewold course starts in 3 days, and i’m looking forward to that, trying to let go of misconceptions and stubborn-ness: “This is the way i’ve always done it, why should i change? Ain’t no-one gonna tell me what to do.” There’s a little part of me however stuffed down in the subconscious, that is trying to get stronger–after all, if you learn something new everyday, you know you’re not dead.

EDIT: I realize this sounds all dry and possibly off putting–i want the joy back too.

4 responses to “mining, trying to go beyond the status quo

  1. HA! “The problem with evaluating the first fifteen minutes of frustration is that we easily forget about the 5,000 minutes of leverage that frustration earns us if we stick it out.” Just read on Seth Godin’s blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE the Emergency Self-Esteem Kit. One thing I find really difficult is looking at older work without criticizing it. Like, thinking about it as being exactly what it needed to be at that time. And maybe there’s something in thinking about what it was about certain works and techniques that kept you going and making? Hmmm. I’m going to think about this some more.


    • oh i think some of it we can criticize, and other pieces are what they are, finished or not, and part of our history in making—–if we can glean from them what the lesson was, so much the better. Like a recipe, a pinch of this and a pinch of that does not necessarily make it taste better–and sometimes you want bitter 🙂 Bitter makes comparisons sweeter, benchmark results. Too, part of the learning process is that enthusiasm, the disregard for rules and the excitement of actually making–that’s what i want to re-find, re-discover, use again

      Liked by 1 person

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