Category Archives: journal: lessons to learn

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 🙂




the heat is on

Not really. The heat is OFF, damn it.

My third “batch” of fabrics are totally disappointing. The studio now is air conditioned, so things dry out much too faster. Every previous year i’ve been in there, i’ve sweltered and dripped, brought in fans while i was working, and didn’t worry about amounts of water on things. This year, HA. I’ve had to dump pints and quarts on things to make them work. Day three results are now actually day four results, because i had to leave things for 48 hours instead of the usual 24, and they were still SHIT.

Sigh. There’s going to be a lot of overdyeing. The largest piece was supposed to be for my res end exhibit piece, but i’ll have to rethink that now. I am reminded of my first res tip back in 2009: “Make a plan for what you’ll do, half it–and half it again”……………..

I guess i’ll be doing the majority of this technique at home in a hot sunny back 40, fighting the wind and bird poo instead! But there are other things i can do at the school stoodio, so with three months in this res, i’ll be trying a few different things. I have time to experiment and mess around, refine other processes, and just get dirty.


My deadline for Tabula Memoria is looming, the end of July, and while i have put in time with it, and am actually at a point where there technically is little left to do on it, it still needs to be worked on. (Phew, that’s one hell of a run on sentence…) I’ve been taking it with me to the fffFlower Mines (Day Job), and to the residency, so i can work on it—while doing the hurry up and wait thing!

The moon area was completed several weeks ago, and the standing figure is almost finished this week.

I can’t attach either figure until the other stitching is all done, because i don’t want to snag anything.

I started shopping around for a suitably sized stretched canvas to mount it on. The variance in prices is astounding! I’ve been quoted from $60 (seems way too low!) to $168 (way too high!) for a uniquely sized 41×43 frame, and might just end up building it myself. I do a wrap around technique, so though the actual work started at 48×46, stitch “shrinkage” had to be accounted for as well as the wrap around.




I felt like i played hookey yesterday, staying home to work on Tabula Memoria, guilty as hell, and sneaking around in my own house!

This morning, back to res, and then to DayJob. There’s just not enough hours in the hours.



123 vat left, chemical vat right:

The 123vat though did not oxidize, just came out with this “stain”. The chemical vat did oxidize, but the colour depth is sad. Starting to think that though the old vat *looks* impossible, i *might* be able to revive it again one more time. There’s still so much indigo in it, that i wonder if a big kick just won’t get it going again.

If i can get this 123vat to work harder, i’ve decided this will be not only the first, but the last time i do this one. I’m not such a purist that “organic” is going to matter much in the long run.


last man standing

The second figure for this piece has been a bit problematic. The original sketch’s colouring (above centre right) did not translate well the first time to the haremcloth—too green, too dark. The sampling (above centre left) was actually done before the large attempt at the stitching, but i lost sight of what it was and didn’t go to the now aborted attempt with it.

I’ve gone back to the idea of the stitched sample (which will become a small piece on its own, as i quite like it), for the colouring and the “flavour”. Less is more.

I however DID like the stitching i did on the first, so will be doing that again.

The tapestry frame worked a dream for stretching the expletive deleted haremcloth, keeping it taut and 99% on grain. I’m sure any nun or lace maker would agree that the 1% should be more important, but considering the piece when done will be loosely attached to the main background, subtle stitch manipulation will true it up.

I stitched it to both sides, then flipped it over and stitched one end because there was enough overlap, but the other end had to be stapled because there wasn’t enough at the end to fold over. Poohpoohpeedoo, it worked.

Now we’ll see if i can work it this way, as i am unused to hooping of any sort, except on the very very rare occasion. I suspect i’ll be propping it on the edge of a table, and working stab fashion, instead of my usual fold, borgle, crumple method.


indigo frustrations

Now WHY would the henna (123 vat) solution work as a solution, but not as a vat when added to more water??????????? Maybe the henna IS too old after all to keep working in the increased volume? Whatever! I’m completely frustrated by this, and to boot, the chemical vat is not working either. WTF? I did recommended “top-ups”, still Nada.

(Proceed to step two of frustration: slam doors, stomp around, curse, yell at the vats.)

SO, if a 123 is considered a fructose vat, i had to cast around for some info on what i could use for the fructose. Yeah right, the one week we have only apples and oranges in the fruit bowl…..oranges are too acidic and apparently apples do not work. BUGGER. Taking a trip up to the Co-op would necessitate getting dressed, catching a bus, doing the shopping, getting back on a bus, getting home, and undressing (errr, changing back into to the HouseClothes.) RAISINS!! Oh joy, usually we have two huge jars crammed with them. What do i find? One scant 3/4 cup.

Step three: weep.

Step four, just huck the damn things in a pot with 3 cups of water and boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Decant the syrupy sweet smelling liquid. (Henna smells like pudding made with mud.) Cool somewhat and gently introduce to the 123 vat. “Hello Stoopid, meet Fructose. Fructose, meet Stoopid. Get jiggy with each other please, i promise not to peek.”

Step five; keep hoofies crossed. Go do something else.

As to the “chemical” vat, i am going back to the original MAIWA instructions. Nobody else’s method seems to work, though you’d think it would all be the same. Something is missing there, but not sure what. I compared all the measurements, the instructions, the temps, and i’ll be bamfoozled if i can see any discernible difference……….  MAIWA’s method helped me revive a  frozen-through-three-harsh-Calgary-winters vat (NOT the true definition of a 123 vat), so i’m sticking to them!

FINE> I’ll have go back to embrilting in the meantime to wile the waiting away……………………



damn dyelot differences again……

I KNOW it’s impossible to get consistency in dyeing, especially with variegated threads, and over a period of years, but wow. The original dyelot i bought in 2012, at the top, the new one below:

Fortunately, this is one time i don’t need to worry about “matching”, as neither is already being used in anything!  And i actually like the new ones better 🙂 I do however when buying now, order 2, preferably 3-5 skeins of each so that interruptions won’t happen with colourways. Minor differences may not make or break work, but major ones *might* if you can’t integrate the different look.

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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Probably talking to just myself