what to make when you can’t make, “figuratively”

I find myself unable to just sit, and think. Or not think. I have to accept that sometimes my mind *is* in low drive, for whatever reason, but i’m also one of those who *have* to keep my hands busy, so i’ve turned to “finishing” small things that have sat around for aeons.

At times like this, i often look to old work, whether sketch or textile, and found two small bits that were based on a 1975 pen and ink. The first is a little happier than the original at least! A bit to do in the top corner and maybe off to a new home for someone?

All naturally dyed threads again (some in the shop), and approximately 5×7″. I cropped the original below, sparing you the other portion of the teen angst sketch it was then 🙂

A smaller one (also still being worked on):

That figure was also on “How the Light Bends”, the piece that was accepted for the SDA “Materialities” conference/exhibit in 2015, so she’s been around the block a few times.

“How the Light Bends” 2015 rusted cotton, ecoprint and potassium permanganate dyed cotton, hand embroidery, fabric manipulation, 26×21″

However……these have led to this:

I dipped some of this treasured “lace” in potassium permanganate, and being a nylon base , it soaked it up. (I think it’s nylon, i know it’s definitely NOT a natural fibre, but it’s had pieces dyed in brazilwood, indigo and walnut and they all “took”! Some nylons will take up some natural dyes.)  I’ve been eking out this fabric for 6 years now, and will be quite bereft when it’s gone. I found it at the local thrift shop, a shower curtain cover, and it’s almost a signature fabric. (Now that i think of it, why couldn’t i make my own with a sheer and some soluble???) I started stitching on this (other than the outline), and have decided already to rip out what i did!

This figure was also the basis for work on “Tabula Memoria”:

I don’t really do well with abstract, or fields of just colour or just shape, so i think the figures will be on the worktable for awhile. They’re easy to read, fundamental to most viewers for interpretation and even when the same, *not* the same. (And i’m still looking for the blue figure from the previous post, in a “safe spot” no doubt, just like my wedding ring which i lost last week…)

And i need to do some self directed workshops again 🙂 Quite frankly, i seem to be repeating myself–and i don’t mean the re-iterations above! I’ve  let go by the wayside the experiments, making mistakes and messes, and throwing things together in serendipitous mixes. Every day now i have a moment of “i’m not doing this anymore”……….

 

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why do i bother???

It was all planned out in my head, but the needle and thread sampling did nada for me. Went back to the work blog and zipped through all the photos, and tada.

This figure (never attached to anything, from Jan 2016)

on this PP dyed cloth

and logwood threads

and this strip that came from aborted work (two photos because it’s too long to photograph easily)

with this manipulation on the PP

yes

’cause apparently planning is taking a hit lately, so i’m not going to waste time, just jump in.

“In progress” un-named.

the wings of possibility

Rarely are things set in stone here in the Stately Barr Manor Studio. Evolution, the Baby,  and tossing out part of the bathwater is part of the game as well, to mix several metaphors…….

Samara’s wings aren’t exactly what i’d call problematic, but with a clear vision in mind that somehow isn’t getting to the actual execution, it appears that the plan has to be changed somewhat. When i started her wings, the “feathers” were like this:

Not quite what i wanted, though i like them, so i started these:

Ha, still not quite what i wanted, so i’m going to combine the ideas. I also like both fabrics i used, so redrawing the pattern is also going to have to take into account the placement of both to present an integrated it-makes-sense design.

And no res exhibit for me after all. There is no way human for me to even get enough done to vaguely represent what the whole will be. I can live with that, studio work being the more pleasant result than forcing a deadline.

 

 

progress on Samara

A samara is a winged nut or achene containing one seed (ash and maple for example, though there are many others that are unfamiliar and unexpected shapes), and it’s also a feminine name of Hebrew origin, meaning “Guardian” (or protected by God). I don’t believe in God/*A* god, but i do believe that Mother Nature is a powerful force, one i hold with reverence and fear equally. (The Calgary flood in 2013 shaped a lot of my attitudes to my art and to my environs.)

 

I digitally manipulated my own photo to get these colours, more suited to the work than the original:

And though i don’t think i have quite enough naturally dyed threads, i have some that will work, and will couple nicely with the commercial ones i’ve already used on the body. (If i had known i would get that far with dyeing my own threads, they’d all be used, but c’est la vie: it doesn’t bastardize the idea, so i carry on with both for this piece. I ain’t such a purist that one is better than the other.)

Originally i had deliberately created “filler fabrics”, small motifs with clearer imprints, but now i’ve found this chunk, and fell in love with it. There’s *just* enough to use for both wings! (The main fabric she’s on now, and this, were all created during my 2016 residency.)

This doesn’t look like wings (yet), but when you see how they come together, it will make sense in the grand scheme of concept 🙂 While i know i won’t “finish” the piece in time for my deadline, these are portable enough and easy enough as i go along, that i may have enough progress to make it worthwhile showing an “incomplete” work.

I’m excited again about working in the studio. That’s more important than a deadline.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On a side note, since this post is *sort of* about this summer’s residency, i’m pretty sure this is my last one. As much as i loved having the space to spread out, with ACAD having fixed the air conditioning (!) in the dye studio, it means there’s not the right environ now for that wonderful process that occurs between iron and oxidization. It’s not something you can force, and waiting for days instead of overnight is neither productive, nor satisfying. And honestly, since most of the results go into my commerce site (which essentially “pays” for my residency, and sometimes gives me a little “gravy”), i might as well be doing it at home. I’ll be back to fighting with the wind, shooing birds away so they don’t make deposits, chasing squirrels so they don’t borgle everything up as they try to build their stash (HEY, that’s MY stash!), but wth, the backyard is very hot and sunny this summer, so, wth again.

The last couple of years too, some have been been very lax about the security of the home studio. Sitting across the hall with the doors open, does NOT give a clear view of who’s going into the home studio, often people who do not have any clearance to do so. And anyone who is to lazy to spin the numbers on the combination either, after shutting the door, is really an ASSHAT, because this week i discovered that someone had gotten in, and rifled through my suitcase of supplies…..buried at the bottom were two Maiwa dyes that are now missing. (I refuse to believe that it’s any Contextural member, as i know *most* of them.) I’m out $73 bucks there, plus the shipping……thanks.

This all being said, i have decided to buy my own potassium permanganate (expensive initially, but not with “cost per wear”), build my own steamer with parts and pieces i already have, and as i mentioned, set up in the backyard again.

Of course, now the damned weather will turn again…………………………

 

maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that, maybe it’s neither, or both

I’ve never before experienced such vacillation in choosing to do something! The residency exhibit is going to be hung Aug 27th, and i still haven’t started anything for it, going back and forth with so many, too many ideas that just aren’t inspiring, or gelling. I *do* usually have a fallow period after completing a big work, but months long is just not going to cut it.

I am still looking at this cloth though:

now with these:

and maybe doing a free style work like this from 2010:

Haystack, 2010, hand and machine embroidery, naturally dyes, ecoprint. In private collection.

combined with elements from this (2011):

“Girl: Strength”, 2011, natural dyes, hand and machine embroidery, in private collection

Obviously this year the work will be much smaller than previous years, due to the time frame! Best get cracking!!!!

keeping the ball rolling

Definitely a different weight, lovely, looks like #5 perle when relaxed, but with tension in stitch will be equivalent to a #3–perfect!!

And i’ll be rolling it into balls–no desire to fight the twangles otherwise!

I had to resort to card bobbins after all for the previously dyed batch—the skeins are too fine to keep unsnarled otherwise, even in little zippies. (The silk i will leave as is ( :O ) as it actually is easier to unravel as i work!)

I’ll be doing all these colours again, as this new one is a silk/wool blend (previous was all wool), but am going to add some other colours as well, and some fermentation dyeing as well. I have a lovely vat of bubbling hollyhock…………….. I’m premordanting today, and tonight will pop them into their sweaty little baths.

I’ve been busy fondling and admiring these and figuring out what to stitch next. I think some will be on this fabric:

Tired yet of seeing that one languish in a heap!  I’ve never before experienced such vacillation in choosing to do something! The residency exhibit is going to be hung Aug 27th, and i still haven’t started anything for it, going back and forth with so many, too many ideas that just aren’t inspiring, or gelling. I *do* usually have a fallow period after completing a big work, but months long is just not going to cut it.

I might look to this for inspiration:

Haystack, 2010, hand and machine embroidery, naturally dyed cotton. In private collection.

 

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 😉  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.