circus bird

That’s me, just home from “my stylist” (hear that swoony yet snotty accent? 🙂 ). I’m not sure if it’s a circus tent top, or an exotic bird, but i LOVE it. Pink and blue over dark cherry.

For the record, i loathe selfies, so that’s all of me you’re going to see– the topping ,the brain, and the eyes.

The boss however may have a shit fit, but hey, it’s my hair, and hair grows. (I *mean* the boss too, not Greyman who likes this sort of thing, strangely and happily enough!)

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being “organized”

My friend Heather over on True Stitches asked how do others keep their immediate working area clean and organized? (We’re not talking the whole studio space, just where you do *most* of your work, for those of you who use “hand” methods.)

HA. My stitching corner “stand” is most often a jumbled pile of various threads, whether in use or not. It also attracts stray earrings, dog hair, pins, cat hair, thread labels, dog and cat hair and old fashioned dust. And dog and cat hair. Once a month (whether it needs it or not 🙂 ), i DO clean it up.  Usually when things start falling off the back, or between the stand and the couch, or won’t fit anymore because there’s already too much stuff in it… And presently, i am not sure and don’t care about whatever is in the bottom drawer….

To the right of the stand is my homemade niddy noddy for winding thread skeins, and a large board that i dream of Greyman attaching to the top of the stand to extend my space, *someday*………. i need more room for more crap after all. And dog and cat hair.

THIS however is my Best Friend.

Bought 6 or so years ago at a cheap department store (probably a Zeller’s or Giant Tiger or V&S, can’t remember as that store is now gone), for the magnificent sum of $8.00, i just can’t work without it. A lap table, it’s wide enough underneath that i can sit with my legs crossed, extended, or doubled up in agony ’cause my hip is bothering me again. It’s high enough that i don’t need SuperPower glasses to see what i’m doing (though i wear the Just About Super ones), holds scissors and marking tools out of the way for safety and for easy use, and has space for thread ends and bags of threads. I have to have a lifted area to work on, as arthritis also affects my shoulders, wrists and right thumb, so not dangling stuff over my capacious lap is paramount. I do clean this out after every use as the spaces regularly fill up with bits and scraps and the ubiquitous you know what hair.

And i never ever EVER use the armrest of the couch as a pincushion!!!

 

 

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”……….

 

abracafabric!

I SWEAR that i looked everywhere for the fabric i wanted to use for a new big work. Potassium permanganate dyed, it was a substantial piece of yardage, and i could not for the life of me figure out where the damn thing went, and finally surmised i must have cut it up. I had scoured bins, boxes, bags of fails, scrap debris in the dye dungeon and the usual odd places where something goes to be “kept safe”.

Yesterday i was going through a stack in the studio, pulling out chunks to be redyed, admiring or not in new separate piles 🙂 , refolding, and hanging larger pieces over the back of the chairs, and

WHAT????!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had just refolded the piece i was looking for all along.

So, i redyed it in the PP vat, as the original bath it had at the summer res was weak and old, resulting in a negligible beige blandness, and have now a warm deep milk-chocolate-verging-on-dark-chocolate chunk. I’m going to introduce it to both logwood cloth (cotton and silk) and madder, osage and logwood (cotton) threads.

See how much darker the silk is? Technically this is why protein and cellulose fibres shouldn’t be in the same pot, as proteins uptake faster and deeper. (I should have divided the bath and done separate soaks.)  The logwood threads were done by themselves in the first new pot, and the colour uptake was phenomenal. (The silks and cotton fabrics were done in subsequent soaks in the same pot, in two sessions.) Of course, that’s because i accidentally dumped in what was left in the jar, instead of actually measuring!

I am perfectly happy with the results though, even if the cottons are quite mottled (due to sitting in a pot all day while i was at the DayJob and unable to stir once in awhile), and will use it all anyways. I still however have to do a post mordant/modify with iron, so expect these to become somewhat darker. Again, going with the flow, and happy the work is working!

And there’s still some dye left in the bath, so am scrounging up some more protein fibres: a lone piece of linen, maybe some wool threads and a bit more silk. I expect they will be not as deep a shade, but can always build on them in other dyes, such as cochineal, madder or the old stand by, indigo.

HOWEVER, since i have been lazy/uninspired/busy for at least a month and a half, i am keeping all my notes in the 2018 file. I have 3 small moons to finish, and will not allow myself to start major new work, while dibbly bits are still hanging around waiting for their turn. I WILL get to new work before the end of the year, but the luxury of starting will be only when the UFO’s are gone!

even greater distances

I don’t know how many textile artists work, when out of the public eye on blog, Instagram and FB, but me, i keep files and a private blog for ideas, sketches, colour and fabric combos, inspiration and possibles. Though little was “accomplished” this year, i’m happy with the results, and the dye play i’ve been doing, BUT i found myself this morning opening a new file and category for “WORK 2018”.

A LOT of the 2017 notes are archived already. Some are switched to the 2018, and a LOT MORE deleted.

I love the little moon series i’ve created over the last two years, and intend to make many more, however i also need to get back to the larger works as well. “Samara” will be one of them, and after seeing her in the sun yesterday, i pulled a bunch of these naturally dyed fabrics.

They may not all get used here, but given the initially planned harder look, i think this is more on track with what she’s saying, softer, still strongly feminine, but with a more “fertile” approach. I want her wings to be more inviting, enveloping, brilliant even. Autumn after all is not just a time of endings, but of rich harvests and warm gatherings. I do need however more autumnal colours so into the dyepots again with some of these scraps.

For other work i’ve wanted to do, i guess i will be making larger pieces of the potassium permanganate dyed cottons after all. I must have cut up the piece i did during residency, thinking it was a “fail”, a lesson learned: leave it alone and the time will come as it needs to!

While digging around in the actual fabrics i still have, i found this, and am thinking to use it as a “marker” for a new series with the PP.

It’s snow dyed, with Procion, but that doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme of things, colour is colour. And the texture of this old rayon velvet is freekin’ awesome. It’s vintage, at least 20 years old and at a yard and a half, is plenty to incorporate into this dreamed of work.

Another week of dyeing, and i figure i will have enough of threads and cloth to “share” and to use.

 

greater distances

Every time i finish something now, it seems a greater distance to the next one. I know these things are in there, in my heart, mind, gut, wherever that inspiration and dedication comes from, but digging it out gets harder and harder, though lord knows i feel empty and bereft without *something* going in my hands. Sometimes i wish i could just take a picture of the inside of my head and put that immediately on the fabric and in the stitching, but alas….it doesn’t work that way, does it? It’s almost as if there is a starter shot i’m waiting for, anticipating but never hearing or hearing a second late. I know i will jump in when the sound stops, but in the meantime it’s quite frustrating! It’s like that first step will mislead me, a commitment to the wrong future. May 2014

I used to “worry” about producing X number of pieces a year, but in the last couple, have recognized i don’t work that way anymore. The few i do get done take time, lots of time, as i invest my heart and soul in them, working myopically, intensely focused, by hand. “Tabula Memoria” was an 8 month project (Dec 2016-Jul 2017), and this year i have completed nothing else. I’ve started a few things along the way, small, not terribly exciting to me, or soul satisfying, but i don’t wonder anymore if i still have “It”, just because there aren’t 11tybajillion “finished” bits…..

I do still have It. It though has it’s own timetable. Part of this is logistical: there’s a certain piece of potassium permanganate dyed cotton i did during this summer’s residency, a large expanse, but do you think i can find it? I can’t even remember if i’ve already cut it up and used it for something else, overdyed it or threw it out. That of course is the piece i MUST have…… I’m giving myself a day to find it, and if i don’t, well, back to the PP pot. (Potassium permanganate that is, not a hissy fit of urine….)

And this, this i must get back to, caught yesterday still hanging on the studio wall.

 

 

animal lovin’

Oh, deer….this morning’s usual let the DogFaced Girl out was interrupted. At 545, in the dark, in my nightgown and bare feet, i am sliding through mushy downed apples and cold wet grass, as i try desperately but calmly to herd two baby deer towards the gate. Momma Deer is on the other side of the fence, glaring at me, the babies are panicking because they’re too little to jump the fence, and now i’m panicking they are going to hurt themselves. Finally, i get them to a point where they can SEE the open gate they came in, and they bolt. *Now* Nessie can go out, and i’ll assess the hoofies everywhere destruction in the garden later. Wouldn’t give up these wildlife experiences for anything though! Oh and wash the applesauce from between my toes!

 

Sigh, part of loving animals is saying goodbye too…Last week it was our old baby boy, Mo, (right) and today, it’s his brother Cosmo (left). The family plot is sadly filling…………..

Truly the end of an “era”. I don’t know about other people, but Greyman and i mark this especially, since when we met, we immediately had a “blended family” of 5 cats… now ALL of those babies are gone.

First we lost Slowroll:

Then Doogie:

Then, their Momma, Selena:

Then, Miss Piggy:

Then Mo:

Now, Cosmo:

Still loving Nessie, the DogFaced Girl, and Slapshot, the Spastic Elastic:

 We gave them/give them love and spoiling, and they do the same for us. We just can’t have a house empty of animals.