Author Archives: arlee

About arlee

I am a Canadian textile artist in Calgary, Alberta. As textile artists, we connect and are connected to communities larger than our Selves, or our immediate environs. We encapsulate culture, technique, history and innovation every time we touch cloth.

is it the right way on the wrong track, or the wrong way on the right track?

I started the second figure yesterday and up until 33.2657 minutes ago was pleased.

Now i’m not.

Photographing things helps me see more “objectively” and looking at this now it really doesn’t represent what i want in the second figure.

There’s also the fact that i WORKED IT FROM THE WRONG SIDE!!!! I want the figure facing the left, the hexes that represent stronger memories, youth’s facile way of remembering and the naive thinking that always the mind will be the same. (I know mine’s not anymore…)

It’s too red. The greeny blue is too greeny blue dark.  It’s blotchy, but at the same time, too “solid”. This one has to be more robust, less disintegrated, but as it stands, it’s too Too.

The fabric must also have been pulled wrong, off grain when i started working it in the hoop, as the proportions and angles have shifted. I *knew* i would have a bit of a problem with that, due to the larger size, so i think it’s going to have to be stabilized differently.

Though the colourway of DMC 4140 matches in the perle #5 and the 6 strand embroidery floss (separated into 2 strands at a time in the needle), the perle is too heavy. Even if i was happy with the whole, i’d have to pull that head stitching out, and redo it with the floss. And i don’t think the harem cloth is strong enough to withstand having been so tensioned, stitched, ripped out and then restitched.

Time invested in this though was not Lost. I learned some things, and will start again.


walking while chewing gum

I know *how* i’m going to attach the figures to the back ground, having worked that out way back *and* while working the memory hexes.

Now i’ve put myself in a bit of a spot. There’s a LOT of background to work in the centre panel! I was thinking of a third figure, but that still leaves “”huge tracts of land” to not necessarily fill as heavily as the side panels, but they can’t be left too void either. Whether i use something that blends in or not, colourwise, there has to be some treatment in stitch. I do a lot of thinking ahead while working areas, dream about things, in my sleep and as daydreams, and trust that the Universe will unfold as it should when it comes to my handling a needle and thread. I “plan”, but i don’t always follow the plan. I intuit, but i trust sampling and testing as well. There’s no one way to work anymore in this stoodio. However i do the work, i know it will have my flavour, my style, my sensibility, and that’s the best way, however i/you do the work!

If you look at this picture below, know that above the second figure there’s at least as much as the photo shows to the top of the photo (if that makes sense…) of fabric above the standing figure.

Or do i move the figures all down further to the bottom? This photo does show the whole.

Then there’s ACRES above, though it might be easier to focus on a new element for that. Trees? I do like the idea of the top “moon” being more developed *as* a moon, but then how do i tie the other lower ones in?

As soon as i took this photo, i had my question answered. It’s *not” as big or empty as i thought it might be. Lower the figures, (do i need a third one after all????), accent the top moon, treat the two lower moons *somehow*— Nimbuses?

Nimbus means a cloud in Latin, and is found as a divine cloud in 1616, whereas as “a bright or golden disk surrounding the head” it does not appear until 1727. The plural “nimbi” is correct but “rare”; “nimbuses” is not in the OED but sometimes used. “Nimb” is an obsolete form of the noun, but not a verb, except that the obsolete “nimbated”, like the commoner “nimbate”, means “furnished with a nimbus”. It is sometimes preferred by art-historians, as sounding more technical than halo.[39]\

Meh. no, not as a “halo”.

Hmm, i like the second definition here, but not quite applicable:

noun: nimbus; plural noun: nimbi; plural noun: nimbuses
  1. 1.
    a luminous cloud or a halo surrounding a supernatural being or a saint.
    • a light, color, etc., that surrounds someone or something.


  1. 2.
  2. a large gray rain cloud.
    “nimbus clouds

The imagined physical manifestation of your state of mind. Although not of the physical plane, it can be observed through the actions and interactions of the owner. And sometimes, just sometimes, it shines so bright you can almost see it.

“Imagined”, yes, since the crux of the biscuit for this one is Memory, that’s perfect. I shall work on the theory that these are Nimbuses of awareness, fabrication, illusion, perception, supposition, and what time, our brains, and neurological changes hold these to as we age.


Posted by on March 20, 2017 in Commission, in progress, Tabula Memoria


first figure done!

Sweating bullets when it was done.

You can see how much the figure disintegrates as memory changes, diminishes and fades. But would it survive, maintain its integrity after being removed and transferred to the actual background?


I’ll mop up the bullets, and move on confidently to the other figure now.


progress is as progress does

Day three, when ever that was (i’m losing track of what day i worked on what piece for this commission):

Added a bit more shading as well.  Though i don’t want the figures to stand out too much once they’ve been applied to the background, i want them to integrate a bit more as well. That slight purple addition references some of the shades of brazilwood on the main cloth.

Day whatever, but as of March 14th:

The left panel is within two hours of being done, at least the hex memory part……


cosmic debris clearing

Oh MY. It’s the annual “Clear all this crap, WTF was i thinking keeping this?” time. I’ve been going though boxes and piled bags, big Rubbermaids and small mystery piles, pulling out crap and good stuff and more crap, and getting rid of it. No more shuffling it into new piles or boxes, not gonna use it, LOSE it!!!

A few delights along the way though.

I don’t have this piece of fabric anymore, but i did find the metal “flowers” that left the marks. Set that aside for res work.

In one box, i discovered dozens of separating zippers, still in their original packaging, from the days of my wearable art business—1999!!!!! (That number looks so wrong now that we’re in the 2000’S….) I found plant saucers, sheer synthetic uglies, empty journals, full journals (half of which are not worth keeping, though i still have sketchbooks dating back to ’93 that i consider “valuable”), dried eucalyptus leaves, bags of rubber bands, patterns i haven’t touched for 20 years at least, bundles of fabrics tied together from when i mass produced bags (all cut and ready to stitch), a lot of paper garbage, scraps too tiny for even the savviest of hoarders to use and clumps of hair where obviously some animal we’ve had made a nest.

I apparently also have a plastic bag fetish, a secret one even to myself, as i had no idea that i have stored in various other plastic bags, enough to fill two large garbage bags……..pitched it in the recycle bin of course, not the garbage.

I managed to sort my cottons (and other “naturals”) into white solids for dyeing, and coloured solids for over-dyeing, by emptying 2 Rubbermaids that were filled with definitely what would be considered Crap with a capital S. Though i don’t sew clothes for myself anymore, i still can’t bear to part with a few yardages, but most of it is going going gone to UjaamaGramma donations.

I wish i could find someone who was truly interested in a collection of at least 100 Threads magazines.

Somehow i have three containers of indigo, and several of soda ash. And more measuring cups and spoons that you can poke a snake at. On the bright side, i have two boxes of ecoprint “fails” that are destined for indigo over-dyeing.

I figure by the time i’m done, i should have at least 5 very large garbage bags full of stuff to donate, and 3 to either recycle or huck in the Gar-bahj. Even if it doesn’t sell for the Grammas to use the funds from, some will get shipped after to places/people who can use it in some form. The last bits are today’s plan.

There’s floor space again.




Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Probably talking to just myself


so close i can taste it

At least on most of the major work of the left panel!

This piece is huge and still has lots of area to work, but it bodes well so far.

I’m hoping to have coffee in the next two weeks with my “Patron”–a little nerve wracking, but also quite excited to be able to show the real thing to the person who commissioned this.

Part of this weekend also has me headed into the storage room where there are at least 10 big Rubbermaids to go through–i’m clearing out a lot of “commercial” fabric for donating to UjaamaGrammas.

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Posted by on March 11, 2017 in Commission, in progress, Tabula Memoria


a little stitch or two’ll do ya

Chipping away at this and that amongst the dyeing days. The left panel has small areas to finish, spread over the whole so tonight will be the zone for completing all that!

Sideways or it has to be “scrolled” to see!!!

I’m almost done the first figure, also for this piece. Patience and dexterity are being called into play there. Also have to wear stronger glasses! I’m further along than the photo suggests, but i haven’t time this morning before heading off to the DayJob to re-photograph.


Posted by on March 10, 2017 in Commission, in progress, Tabula Memoria