mining the past again

That’s a page from a 2007 “fabric art journal”, a time for me of experimenting and heavy machine embroidery. “Kirlian Hand” is a portrayal of the so-called phenomena of a person’s “aura”. Named after Semyon Kirlian’s accidentally discovered observation in 1939, that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a high-voltage source, an image is produced on the photographic plate—- and touted in the 70’s as captures of the human spirit! (My ex was heavily into this, Hollow Earth theory, pyramid power, Chariots of the Gods alien conspiracy, and the whole “new age” crapola of the time….used to drive me nuts…but then *he* was/is.)

Anyhoo, i did like the design possibilities of this, so wth. The hand was cut from screen printed fabric, all of the embroidery is by free motion and the abalone shell piece was attached with glue and beads (i think..the page is somewhere in a box with other relics of the time, in a little room at the back of the house so stuffed i can’t get into it. Note to self: do something about that this weekend, there’s some Good Stuff in there too…)

It’s interesting to look at old work and not only remember how and why it was done, but to go forward with it as well, in a new direction. Yeah, some of the results from the way back machine are either embarrassing or weak, but some of it is still valid, good, intriguing, and touches a chord. Let’s roll with it!

As i mentioned in a previous post, i’m working on improving my ecoprinting skills, and while my little tests are very quite promising, i’m not completely satisfied yet, BUT, i can still use some of the bits in the Summer of Madder Study project 🙂 I’m going to “condense” the above layout a bit, due to the size of the moon i want to use, because the original layout would make too big a section to work on comfortably, considering the scale.

I’ll have to be tender with the moon too: a silk, i always have problems with stitching on this fabric, by hand or machine, as the threads of the fabric tend to “pull” when the needle goes through. I’ve tried finer threads, and smaller eye bulbed needles, but haven’t solved the mystery yet, so minimal stitching on the moon. Given though that the details are so fine and so delicious, less is more anyways: not everything has to be encrusted!

And the potential layout–just pretend/imagine the fingers are separate so the moon shines through 🙂

It’s now time then to set up the outside stitching corner!




Admittedly, i overthought this section, but i’m happy anyways with the results (still in progress). The idea/execution however is getting a bit *too* “figurative”! It’s time to think of texture and effect as well as the “embrilting”.

As soon as i finished the wing on the upper right figure, i flashed back to 2014, when i was working on “The Weight She Carries”. At the time, though i wanted redder madders than i was getting, i used synthetic dyes (Procion/Rit/Dylon, whatever was in the drawer) to get a range of reds. (The coral/peach “puffs” in the photo are the madder results i was getting at that time.) The feathers on this wing are a textural smorgasbord, and perhaps i can draw from these, literally, in shape, and figuratively, in feel.

I could see wings on the back of this garment,  but that might be a bit much! I can’t/don’t want to make them smaller to fit in a section either, as they would be too fiddly to work, and would lose the point and effect. Perhaps a few scattered?

parts for the whole

It’s time to start other sections of the garment for the Summer Madder Project, so today i pulled the booty out and started laying out areas.

I couldn’t resist adding a slice of the purple, madder overdyed with logwood (and iron). The left top is cochineal over madder, and the right top is sandalwood over madder, because “it all madders”. Ha.

I knew i had better also start using the actual pattern i want for this, a Tina Givens that i’ll have to modify somewhat, due to the construction details and sizing. I don’t want to be trimming too many sections, wasting fabric, or have embroidery in areas that will either be less visible (armpits! and under pockets!), or that will wear faster (armpits and ass 🙂 ). We also don’t want motifs centred on bosom parts either!

I won’t add the ruffle, but will extend the length to below the hip, and will be adding pockets.

I’m going to continue with the small figures, and the roses, but want to add other elements as well. Wings would work on some of these little ladies, but i also don’t want to go overboard with “precious” and airyfairy. Oh no, i will have to dye some more threads in madder! (Such a hardship 🙂 )



summer madder project Project

For a couple of years now, i’ve had an idea in my head for a special garment, after seeing something in a trendy boutique window that fired some desire for a similar “Objay Dart” (aka Objet d’art). It was in reds, all patchy and flowing, bohemian though unadorned with any embellishments, simply cut and extremely Spendy. I filed the idea away, as i haven’t made even a pair of pyjama pants in the last 7 years.

But what’s this? There seems to be a plethora of chunks of fabric, all dyed recently, in the madder summer experiment pot. And threads in various shades as well. EUREKA.

I do have more fabrics, but have to dig through some serious piles first! I’m picking up a package from Maiwa today too, which includes more madder, because even though i intend to use up the 33 year old madder currently in the pot, and the tons still left in that bag, i think the best red was from Maiwa. Two madder pots then!

I used to make wearable art, even had a moderately successful small business for 6 years, selling through local boutiques and “Craft fairs”, so i’m experienced enough a designer and construction-ist (i hate the word seamstress…), that i know the cut of this is going to be important. Cotton, at least most of the cotton i have, is not terribly drapey. They’re not stiff slices either, but with not a lot of movement in them, the design has to accommodate that fact and the silk additions, which are drapey. I might go on the bias with some of them though, as that helps a bit with flow.

I could of course just draft my own design, but i pulled out my only Tina Givens pattern, and had a look at that.

Hmm, slip “too” biasy, pants too much fabric. The crop top however might work, but i may forgo the ruffled detail at the bottom, and just lengthen it a bit. Actually, there could be enough silk to do the slip too! OOOOO, wouldn’t that be decandenty-bohemianish-artful-artistry-Artist-y? I tend to live in either leggings and a shirt for work and out-and-about, and a tank and pyjama pants at home! My body has settled into a 60 year old shape (though a “few” pounds could be lost) and i really don’t care to “dress to impress” anyone anymore, but it’s always nice to have something for “good” 🙂

So, though i may have chunks of fabric, and hanks of thread to share in the shop, depending on amounts and time, i will also have something to really show what i’ve been up to. It’s not a daunting project either, as i have no deadline, no rules to follow, and no one to account to. I can do whatever treatment i like to the “patches”, take my time with those as well, enjoy the process (and maybe make learn new skills or at least, new applications of older skills), and go easier on myself in my studio. Perhaps the Muse will return somewhere along the line here, and if not, well, i’ll have some new duds at the least.

***EDIT: For those of us with that 60 year old body, you might want to read this review, with its tips. (Please be aware though that the writer of the post, Lorraine from Calgary, has passed on since…i sure would have liked to have met her in person.)



unfinished business is getting busy with finished!

Too many bits and bobs, unfinished, but not used for anything. I have to keep my hands busy, and sometimes despair of what to use things for. I’ve never been precious about what i do, so what the hell, let’s have some fun! I could look on the burgeoning piles as exercises, samples, tests, even a bit of wasted time and effort.

It’s like an athlete who has to continually keep moving, exercising, stretching, twisting, extending. Such a nasty word, *wasted, all definitions pointing to loss, garbage, effluence, used up, thrown away, the only comforting interpretive “a gradual passing of time” resonating… So, let’s say these are running in place exercises.

How many does a person really need (to do)? Simple: as many as a person needs (to do). But i DO know what i want to do with some of them.

It was past time to dip into the bead stash again. If i died tonight, there are so many, poor Greyman would be overwhelmed!

A Spring Burst!

hand embroidered Spring Burst textile art moon

And a Tango Tangerine too 🙂

hand embroidered tango tangerine moon textile art

Baby juice moons, weighing in (errr, measuring in) at 4″ square.

Working on things incorporating those eyes in the third photo too! It’s slow time in the studio–though i’m being patient, i’m finding it hard to corral beads, thread ultrafine needles, and deal calmly with fraying threads and smashed beads! It doesn’t help that i dropped a mouthful of grapes and cheese into my coffee either!

And quite honestly, though it seems all i’m doing lately is pushing my shop, these are *in* my shop 🙂 Since i’m no longer employed by anyone else, and am hoping NOT to go back to ANY ffFlower Mine, hey, a Woman has to do what a Woman has to do. Thank you to those who *do* support me–you’re all Wonderful Blossoms!



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!


I’m still rattling ideas around, getting lost and frustrated, but slowly slooooooooowly pulling things together. Remember when “word of the year” was really trending? I don’t do that anymore, but am thinking anyways of one year in particular when i found myself: 2012 the year of “Origin”, going back to old ideas and techniques, staying true to myself, letting myself rest. I need to do that again. Because seriously, the months since completing Tabula Memoria have been one long nasty picnic of doubt, self loathing, frustration, boredom and, yes, even Anger with myself. (Don’t get me wrong: i love that piece, but it took a LOT out of me, something i didn’t realize was happening at the time.)

Certain things keep popping into view in old files, in Flickr and my private blog, and i do believe it’s time to work ’em again/finally.

From 2011, this weaving idea has been pinned up and removed from the inspiration board so many times it now has a fine cloud of holes around the edges 🙂

The interpretation is actually going to be a bit different than i originally planned, and involves the harem cloth (and natural dyes) mentioned in a previous post. Also using that fabric in something like this has sparked some ideas:

I loved making Mother’s Heart in 2013, still one of my favourite pieces, and maybe i could shake it/make it on/with the languishing Anno Suturae. (Photo above is when i was auditioning background pieces for MH). Redux’s are always fun as you evolve and riff from them I seem to do better/feel more in tune with what i am doing, when seemingly disparate elements are combined, and i feel i’ve misplaced that somewhere in the lat few years.

I have Anno Suturae pinned up rather haphazardly so i can see the whole, check different orientations and decide where to cut, move, remove and add, because it’s time to really combine some ideas. I may even “lose” the stitching that is already on there, as most of the intent is gone. Perhaps it should be renamed Annos Suturae!

My Inner Critic of course is snargling.

“Yeah right, another “Plan”, wonder how long that will last?”

“Oh, you’re just copying yourself again.”

“You obviously don’t have any original ideas anymore. Ha, original, get it: you talked about Origin, but you’re way off base. Ha.”

“It’s easy to sit on the computer and blether about it. When ya acshully gonna get off yer bazotski and do it? Oh yeah, never.”

Going to have to shut that bitch in a box and throw her in the freezing many yards away garage.