stuck in the middle (with me)

Okay, i have to come clean with myself, at the very least, if not with my (few, faithful) readers. This is not a whine. This is not a pity party. This is not a rant or a snivel. I have my Big Girl Pants on. This is not a depressive cycle (something i have fought all my life, and am thoroughly familiar with, thank you very much), but it IS something cycling.

I AM STUCK. I am STUCK as an ARTIST. I can still craft/make/create/do/stitch, but the Big Important Stuff i am ready to give up on. It’s pretty empty in that department. Shuffling paper, paints and fabrics around has a wad of maybe’s, but not for now. If i could actually DO what i wanted to without all the current self doubt, there would be an explosion of work–but i have no actual flame to blow things up. There is no now right now……………… It’s humiliating, frustrating, loathsome and a horrible terrible no good very bad way to be, but it is what it is.

Hell, it’s not even “stuck”–it’s dead in the water. Maybe it’s just not for me to keep on with the so-called Big Important Stuff. That “Epiphany” was mean —-and truthful. Maybe i need to go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back, to when things were still a joy, and i didn’t care about what it all meant in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know if even that is the answer. Don’t care either.

So………you may –or may not–see pretty things, useless things, dumb things in the next who knows how long while. I’m hoping that as a VERY valued friend said to me this very morning, that i “will fly when i catch the next creative jet stream”.

 

 

 

 

Then again, it might lead back to where i want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Please burn this after reading.

 

 

 

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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.

โ€œLet faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe.โ€
โ€• 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.

 

circus bird

That’s me, just home from “my stylist” (hear that swoony yet snotty accent? ๐Ÿ™‚ ). 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!)

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ), i DO clean it up.ย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

โ€œHow the Light Bendsโ€ 2015 rusted cotton, ecoprint and potassium permanganate dyed cotton, hand embroidery, fabric manipulation, 26ร—21โ€ณ

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.)ย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Quite frankly, i seem to be repeating myself–and i don’t mean the re-iterations above! Iโ€™veย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚ , 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.)ย  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!