Great White Whales

(I actually wrote this post at the *beginning* of 2017, never published it, and for the most part, did nothing with the piece i’m talking about…)

Jan 23/17: January means re-organizing, prioritizing in my stoodio. I dig through drawers and boxes, sorting, knowing some things will never be finished, but unable to part with them, making new stacks of “possibles”, and a bit of clenchedteethtossing of a few, VERY FEW, pieces. I get fired up by beads, miniscule scraplets of cloth, short ends of thread, and serendipitous colour combinations when things fall on each other.

And then, i find

The Great White Whale.

This whale takes up a lot of space, literally and figuratively. Once in awhile, the currents of present day sweep it back under the waters, and it sinks, sulking at the bottom of my subconscious for months, and then when i least expect, it breaches loudly, and sings, briefly, but oh so emphatically. I *know* i had the right idea when i first conceived it, but, but, but, BUT.

β€œLet faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Jan 1/18:

Is it any wonder i can get nothing done, feel no gumption, have no inspiration? Piles and messes like this used to really inspire me; now i just walk away from it, overwhelmed, disgusted, bored, frustrated. There are cupboards and bins not visible, full of fabrics slated for projects, and a lot OF projects in progress/notprogress. I’ll spare you those. Time AGAIN to re-organize, declutter, throw out.

In particular, the Great White Whale has been packed away since April 2014, with maybe a 10th of the expanse worked. It was overly ambitious, daunting, heavy in my lap and on my mind. I even had a separate blog for it, now private as i couldn’t bear to see it myself, never mind anyone else…. (I *might* re-open it, depending on depending on…)

Original cloth, 48×72″, made during 2012 residency:

I’ve worked on only maybe a 1oth of the area (not that the area is finished…).

That photo does no justice either to what i *have* done.

Everything on it got away from me. I *didn’t* believe in it anymore. Too many ideas and interpretations, i had intended it to be a record of sorts of my practice and evolution, but it’s just a damn sampler now.

Scissors, we will have scissors.

It never had to be ONE piece of cloth. I’m going to be cutting to cut, re-arrange, overlap, make deliberate spaces, maybe even holes, patches, whatever. Because i also see the photos like this:

and fall in love again.

 

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in which i publicly humiliate myself

Because we’ve all done Stoopid with a Capitol 9 at least once………

“Normally” i would have thrown this in the unfinished pile where it would have sat forever, but the lace is too precious to me to “waste” it. And i *have* gotten much better at (im)patiently pulling or cutting out mistakes, because the initial idea is good. When they lack in interpretation though, cut your losses, or cut the threads!

Firstly, the lace puffed up and made itself look big, trying to scare me. I do believe i forgot to iron the underlayer (Lazy!) and a wrinkle in there resulted in this lofty attempt at escape.

What’s REALLY sad is that though i had a very clear picture in my head of how she would look when worked, i didn’t stop for any consideration on HOW i was going to do that, and just Started. Dear GAWDZ but this is Horridatious, looking as if an inexperienced newbie or a 4 year old got hold of it. I have done trite work, i admit it (we all honestly have) but this? Not only trite, but badly worked–NOTHING to do with what the figure is/says, NO beauty in any of that working, and seriously, i am embarrassing myself horribly by showing this. Is it any wonder she’s holding her head in her hands???? She’s wailing!!! “What have you done to meeeeeeeeeeee???”

I picked out ALL of the interior stitching. I slit the lace and flattened it down–nothing anywhere says that can’t be done, or will detract from the work. I don’t know about you, but there’s nowhere in my contract that says i HAVE to do something ONE way or it’s Wrong! I had to also soak the whole thing to let the resulting holes and pulls Relax. (Relax, Baby: i’ll still respect you in the morning.)

I had this bright idea to use several of my naturally dyed threads, and while the colourway would have worked, it took too much away from the figure, putting focus on the threads instead. I have gone to my commercially dyed threads in rebuttal πŸ™‚ As i’ve always said, colour is colour–yes, brown is too a colour!—and i’m not about to get all precious about just naturally dyed, so all my “bland, boring, beige” browns in all their glorious permutations are being hauled out.

I’m off to appease the Stitching Gawdesses with a cup of fresh coffee, small sweet biscuits and a sacrificial thread loaded needle or two…..i already gave blood, sweat and tears…………

a natural moon

I’ve been slowly (and not so diligently, as other pursuits in the studio have “interfered”) working on this indigo moon, using my newly dyed naturally dyed threads. This is a lesson in itself, as the indigo i’m working on is strong enough to overshadow certain colours, necessitating some more neutral backgrounds for future plans/use.

 

The moon is worked with cotton, silk, silk/wool blend and wool threads in cochineal, osage, logwood, and privet berries, with the brown of the seeds coming from potassium permanganate (actually an inorganic compound). I found a walnut bath i had stored several years ago, when i was setting up in the basement, and shall test to see if it’s still “live”, for some of my browns in future, though i do love all the permutations the PP gave on the skein of cotton. On the background surround, in cotton, silk, wool and silk/wool, the colours i used are privet berry, cochineal, brazilwood, rhubarb root, hollyhock (and that’s where the “oh-oh” happened, as some of the colours are so soft, they are barely discernible), osage, logwood, and sandalwood. Using pre-mordanting (VERY important), and post modifying methods, changes the colours to a wide range. (Ha, just realized i used none of the wonderful madder results!)

I have two other moons still in the finishing stages, and hope to get them done soon too! All will be in the shop.

 

 

Tabula Memoria journal available, and residency exhibit news

If you are interested in process, rather than project, the journal that accompanies “Tabula Memoria” is available through Blurb now. This was as much a labour of love as the actual work was, and i’m quite proud of it. The print quality is fantastic, and i am liking the response from the few who have seen it “in the flesh”. It’s a bit chatty, but that was part of the point as well!

The actual link is here, because clicking on the photo below takes you to only the preview, with a bit of a counter-intuitive search for the information!

 

I have yet to figure out the PDF conversion so at the moment, it’s only available as an actual Real Book. I also have not jacked the price very much above the base price, as i’d rather more be able to add it to their libraries! (And remember, the price is in CANADIAN DOLLARS.)

With the timeframe i’d had left to get work done for the end of residency show, i decided instead that since the owner of this work isn’t picking it up until near the end of September, that i could show this instead. Created with fabrics during my 2016 residency, and worked on during the 2017 residency, it suits perfectly in that respect as work done DURING res (because i have seen work in those shows that had nothing to do with res…which kind of defeats the purpose of the exhibition IMHO), and also, as celebrating 10 years of Contextural, it was a perfect opportunity for me to see and show how *i* have evolved in 10 years. (Though i have been a member for only 8!)

To show the scale, i gritted my teeth and had my photo taken with it, hanging at the 371 Gallery at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). I really don’t like getting my picture taken anymore, because it reminds me i am no longer a sweet young thing (yes, i was, a long time ago, and sometimes still, inside πŸ™‚ ), but it *is* important that people see the Actual Real Artist on occasion!

If you are in or near Calgary, Alberta, or are visiting, the exhibition is up, ready for you view it. The Closing Reception is Thursday, September 14th but you can come into ACAD’s public areas and take it in anytime daily until then between 8am – 8pm, weekends too. Remember to check the two areas – the Main Mall and Room 371. I don’t know at this point if i will be at the closing reception, but who knows?

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!!!!