Category Archives: a collusion of ideas

for my next trick

Working on the commissioned piece “Tabula Memoria” has taken much of my time over the past 6 months, in thinking and in doing, not leaving much wiggle room for other projects. It’s time to rev up and get something done for the end of “res” exhibit!

On my work blog (private), i’ve been looking at photos of older work, from sketch to sample to finished pieces, and finally decided i just might do something with this from 2012. The original figure was sketched out and used in 96 (?) as applique on a vest, back in the days when my business was wearable art. (I had intended to do this from years ago, but the fabric processes that i envisioned for it just aren’t co-operating!)

Given that i have a definite timeline, (the exhibit takes place at ACAD from Aug 27 to September something….) this piece will be MUCH smaller than works done lately πŸ˜‰Β  I’ve bogged myself down in some sense with large expanses, and while i love the finished work, i’m going to go back to more intimate sizes. For years i was afraid to go big, but i think it’s time to be reasonable in terms of what i am able to accomplish—size does matter as they say, but there’s no proscribed acreage for successful work.



Hopefully my reasoning will now make sense, and the explanation clear. I embroidered most of the phrase in binary code, but left some words, and some parts of some words as text. ( I did leave “by” as binary too.)Β  Those sections became their own phrase, poetic, and meaningful within the context of the whole original phrase, and the intent of the whole work.

I’m nearing the final phase of the other embroidery on this piece: a teeny bit on the standing figure still to do, then to attach both figures,do a bit more work on the top left panel, and then sit back for a week, just looking at it, sensing if it needs anything more.

The next phase is to figure out the journal that goes with it, the explanation, the sketches and samples, the whole meaning and the subtexts, the wonderings and wanderings, the crux of the biscuit.


an elegant solution

That’s a Binary table above. I wrote out the entire phrase in it, punctuation included, and surmised that it would be insane to stitch the whole thing this way…………I’m “translating” a phrase that holds 58 characters, a piece of cake in regular text, but multiply those by 8 and that’s 464 little marks! The space available for that means my “numbers” have to be too tiny, which makes them impossible to read, and therefore pointless, and the TIME to do this wholly in Binary would exceed my timeline–given that there are other parts that still need working.



Truly, the punctuation does not have to be in Binary, and when i started looking at the phrase, certain words jumped out, and became another phrase in themselves, fitting with(in) the original phrase, the meaning of the whole and *as* another consequential but purposeful catch of words. It also lessens the numbers of signifiers by 238, so i have “only” (HA) 226 to do. Given that some of these are now going to be actual letters/words, it’s less daunting, and requires less space, time and layout!

Yesterday at ACAD, i made a start as i waited for fabrics to percolate and imprint. And it took less time than i thought, not as much a worry as anticipated!

Proofreading was the hardest part πŸ™‚




coding for Tabula Memoria

01010111 01100101 01110011 01110101 01110010 01110110 01101001 01110110 01100101 (we survive) oh boy this will take some time and patience……..

I’ve had this brilliant idea all along that the work needs some text, but last night “saw” what it would be. Nobody but a programmer will be able to read this i suppose, but it’s fitting given my client’s profession.

The full phrase will translate as “We survive by remembering, but sometimes we survive by forgetting.” That’s a lot of 1’s and 0’s, so best get on with it! At least it’s simple stitches to do though: uncomplicated shapes, small and straightforward, no frills needed. This area will be around/by/below the figures.



res exhibit ideas

At the end of every Contextural residency, we have an exhibit of work (hopefully) done through the summer. (Some people put whatever they like in, done wherever and whenever, which to me is pointless…….but we won’t go there.)

Being as this is the 10th anniversary for Contextural, and even though i’ve only been a member since 2009 (though i missed one year), i thought i’d look at my own work done 10 years ago.

Seriously? Very little i did then is show worthy really. Futzing about with mixed media, extraneous details, overloaded with technique and colour, the only value they have now is as samples and whatnottodo-whatthehellwasithinking’s! ICK. Fortunately (?), most of them are photos only, lost, tossed or given and flooded away (2013), so i don’t have to store them πŸ™‚

But i did find this:

Above, the finished page, below, in progress shots:

A page i had done for an international fabric art journal exchange, i could work with this. I can incorporate the indigo, ecoprinting, rust and potassium permanganate and create something new. Looking back can take you ahead.


moon decision made

So handy to live in a digital age πŸ™‚ Hesitant to put needle and thread to the centre, i did this first, and am confident that the top right is the way to go. Some of the sketchies were dismissed immediately, some would work elsewhere on other work, but this gives me a clear idea of how to handle that centre strip.

It needs to be “filled” but VERY discretely, and more “openly” so it doesn’t fight with the rest of the moon, and the rest of the work. The moon needs to be emphasized, but not at the expense of the other elements: it can’t assume more importance than the figures or side work.

My order of threads had arrived last week, so i’ve chosen the Caron Wildflowers #171 Caramel to work that area. It “blends” enough with the colours of the fabric and natural dye processes, but is still alive enough to add a little interest, without being overly visible. There’s plenty, with 2 skeins, to do this and to add the discrete hexagons to other areas of the whole. I may also use it for the standing figure–which has to go on the frame sometime this week and be done!


small things, and lessons to learn

I had a hankering to do a spring heralding something this week. Saturday was a blissful, sunny 17C day. Sunday it dropped to 0C and snowed. April in Calgary as usual.

The bulb to the left is from March 2 years ago, rust dyed cotton and embroidery, the right one is this week’s effort, my favourite Caron colourway of the day, on indigo dyed cotton. I mashed up Emily Dickinson “A light exists in Spring” with Alexander Pope: “When Hope springs Eternal” on the shoot, since either as a start to something makes sense. “When Hope springs Eternal, A light shines in Spring, When Hope springs Eternal, etc etc etc”

I’d still like to make a bowl of these as a Spring tonic!

I was going to prune the Stoodio Jungle also this weekend, but up near the ceiling where there’s a snarled mess of live and dead vining, i found this:

Since the passionflower blooms lastΒ  barely a day, i’ll wait until tomorrow!



Oh fer…………………

The Callender “Shibori” book is FANTASTIC. Clear diagrams, lots of eye candy, concise instructions, plenty of inspiration, how to work with natural and chemical dyes. One should however think through what one is doing though, instead of just jumping in. Lessons learned:

  • A. Don’t make copious stitches on a substantively dyed fabric and then
  • B. put it in a previously untested dye substance and
  • C. suddenly discover that a leftover chunk from a previous project is actually a poly cotton blend and that’s why the *first” project turned out the way it did and
  • D. don’t further the insanity by using “saved” Procion that is past it’s due date and then expect any results…..

I got all Gung Ho on using Henna, thinking i would get a “rich brown” as some sources stated it would give, dumping in 1/2 cup of the powder to 2L of water. (Advice is that you must use 20-50% WOF.) The resultant slurry was a cross between mud and congealing chocolate pudding, fooling me into thinking i would get that said Rich Brown.

Uh, NO.

I’ll save the henna for the 123Vat.

About that poly/cotton blend that didn’t work initially: way back when i was first ecoprinting, i had a huge bucket of cottons and silks that i would use, but somehow this damn chunk snuck in and got used, predictably becoming a “FAIL”. I *did* make something beautiful from it after all, but why in hell did i never do a burn test to see what the fibre content was?????????????

I’ll get there yet…….