you just start somewhere

In the annual purge that takes place in January, i found an old “mark making” journal. A period of mixed media and a lot of colour, it was my antidote to living and working in my MIL’s basement, a horrible place and situation in many ways. “Notes from Mother Nature”ย  was made in October of 2008.

My “epiphany” is gelling, if indeed epiphanies do gel. Reflective searching thought, and research has led back to some ideas, but unless i actually start somewhere, nothing will take form. Simple, right? There are many many parts i wish to use again: the studio worktable is a jumble of sketches, fabrics, notes and paper scraps.

So, start small, because small can become big when the sum of the parts become the whole dance.

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fool me once…….

HA! It took me TWELVE YEARS to figure out here was something wrong with this sketch. At the time, i was quite concerned that i get the valves and tubes all facing the right way, (there was an actual, real life cardiac surgeon on the QuiltArt list in those days, who helped a lot), but what about the hands???? Who holds a heart like that (pre-supposing one could, and not as part of some nasty ritual ๐Ÿ™‚ ) ?

It’s not the intended Next Big Thing, but a smaller part of the whole, perhaps a new “series”. Either that or a very intense sampling ๐Ÿ™‚ The hands are done on a potassium permanganate/rust/brazilwood cotton from a residency, with naturally dyed threads used for the embroidery.

I’ve done some dyeing now for this particular design, both “potperm’ and cochineal with iron (I want deep purple, not fuschia), and have some logwood dyed cotton as well for bits. I’m torn between using an indigo with potperm background, or just potperm–or something else entirely different!— and have to decide reasonably soon so i can commence the rest of the work.

paging inspiration, inspiration please come to the front desk

My sketchbooks would never be considered “art journals”, but that’s okay–they’re WORK books, not cheesed up multi media shows of virtuousity. (Yes, some of those are lovely, and for those who work primarily in painting/sketching/printmaking, perfect. Not so much however for those of us who “translate” to another medium!) And honestly,ย  most of my notes, sketches etc, are actually loose sheets in an expandable folder from the dollar store. When i finish a project, i file them immediately. I have only once participated in a show where the “documentation” was intentionally part of the show. It’s interesting for some to see the process this way, but a lot of artists i’m sure would have a heck of a time “explaining” the linear progression of sketch to sample to work–because usually it’s all decidedly NOT linear ๐Ÿ™‚

I have no desire to re-create precisely what is on the page. Work books are just that: lab samples, experiments, epiphanies and eurekas, cryptic notes and puzzled fumblings, shared only, and rarely, as part of the process, documentation that indeed, i did invent this. I have no need to pretty up the performance so i can wow somebody. Workbooks are gardens, the ideas are seeds in mysterious packets, and no one really knows what will pop up under the right–or wrong- conditions. My “back 40” is wild, unkempt, full of what others consider weeds, piles of branchy debris and bits i’m “saving”. (Much like the actual Back40 at The Stately Barr Manor……)

I think the planning for the “vision” for this one is going to take more work than normal. These are only snippets of ideas,ย  like creating a mood board from scratch! Sometimes i do that, sometimes i don’t.

An old sketch that was used for two different pieces of work, has surfaced. (One and two.) This one has me quite fascinated again, not only that it helped create two totally different from each other works before, but that i can use it again, and it will be again completely unique to itself.

The river and sky colours keep attracting me, though i’m thinking of earth and a dusky sky now, rather than the clear blue of indigo. I have some logwood dyed fabrics that are astonishingly purple, but think i’m going to fire up some of the cochineal and iron again also, for the haremcloth.

I’m quite excited by the idea of this particular “hope it works, and hope it gets done” piece. I’m a bit scattered now, with Real Life issues that are Very Important to Deal with, but am planning some dedicated time with the whole process. I have no clear vision yet of the size, the whole, the techniques or the end result (!!!), but i know i AM on the right track.

(I have only ever ONCE taken sketch to textile interpretation “faithfully”, exactly as shown, pure luck that i had the fabrics to do it, and the stamp and stencil that started it. (Heart stamp and crow stencil, my designs.)

 

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.ย  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!

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”……….

 

for my next trick

Working on the commissioned piece “Tabula Memoria” has taken much of my time over the past 6 months, in thinking and in doing, not leaving much wiggle room for other projects. It’s time to rev up and get something done for the end of “res” exhibit!

On my work blog (private), i’ve been looking at photos of older work, from sketch to sample to finished pieces, and finally decided i just might do something with this from 2012. The original figure was sketched out and used in 96 (?) as applique on a vest, back in the days when my business was wearable art. (I had intended to do this from years ago, but the fabric processes that i envisioned for it just aren’t co-operating!)

Given that i have a definite timeline, (the exhibit takes place at ACAD from Aug 27 to September something….) this piece will be MUCH smaller than works done lately ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  I’ve bogged myself down in some sense with large expanses, and while i love the finished work, i’m going to go back to more intimate sizes. For years i was afraid to go big, but i think it’s time to be reasonable in terms of what i am able to accomplish—size does matter as they say, but there’s no proscribed acreage for successful work.

moon decision made

So handy to live in a digital age ๐Ÿ™‚ Hesitant to put needle and thread to the centre, i did this first, and am confident that the top right is the way to go. Some of the sketchies were dismissed immediately, some would work elsewhere on other work, but this gives me a clear idea of how to handle that centre strip.

It needs to be “filled” but VERY discretely, and more “openly” so it doesn’t fight with the rest of the moon, and the rest of the work. The moon needs to be emphasized, but not at the expense of the other elements: it can’t assume more importance than the figures or side work.

My order of threads had arrived last week, so i’ve chosen the Caron Wildflowers #171 Caramel to work that area. It “blends” enough with the colours of the fabric and natural dye processes, but is still alive enough to add a little interest, without being overly visible. There’s plenty, with 2 skeins, to do this and to add the discrete hexagons to other areas of the whole. I may also use it for the standing figure–which has to go on the frame sometime this week and be done!