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 😉  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 🙂 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!

in a bit of a fix

I find myself extremely irritable today, probably because i took an over the counter sleep aid last night–which bloody well didn’t work. Minor snags, literally and figuratively with the stitching on this piece has me kind of pissy right now, so it’s time to stop. Especially since i can do this one only in the stoodio in good daylight. The stitching corner is not going to work for this element.

The original paintsketch:

seated-fig-paintsketchAnd so far, with foot sort of fixed:

fig-seated-fixLess of a heavy sock effect now, though i think the toe needs picking out too……

E N U F as Momma says. No stitching tonight either, break time. I’ll pick it up again tomorrow.

stitching in semiotics

I wonder how meaning is created, not what it is. Symbolism, connotation, iconography, denotation, synecdoche: Memory.


(Sketch of normal neuron from 2011)

A long time ago, i worked a series i called the Artist’s Body. Bones, hearts and brains fascinated, still do fascinate me. How do all these things come together to make a living, breathing entity? Now i’m focusing on one of the more “ephemeral”, unquantifiable aspects of the brain, memory.

Not all of us will fall prey to Alzheimer’s, though most of us as we age, start having faulty memories, the connections becoming disparate, as time and self dissociate. And when you really think about it, all of life is memory, except for the moment of NOW, that changing moment of awareness as we live it, and instantly it becomes the past, another memory.


Memory is time as illustration also. (Even as i write this, i have to refer to my trusty Stitch Journal, for dates…) On the 22nd, i spent 5 hours laying this out and hand stitching.

neurons-jan-22Yesterday, another 5.25 hours:

neurons-jan-23I’m almost where i can start adding the indigo underneath certain pieces.

And can something so drifting and fleeting be so tangible to, and in, physical touch? Palpable, stirring, substantial, as i run my fingers over this.


dye painting tests

My Dharma order arrived 6 days after being ordered, but with the silly season upon us, those pesky spare five minutes’s available had to wait until after chripcrapmas………..

I ordered 4 colours (teal blue, rust brown, oxblood red and warm black), planning to augment the palette with what i already have (golden yellow, red, olive, violet and true blue), trusting i will be able to approximate the colours and blending shown on the acrylic painted paper mock-up (left in photo below). Didn’t use all of them though!

On cotton, right, previously soaked in soda ash, though i also added the soda ash *to* the Procion. These fabrics won’t be washed, but i still worry about fading or exposure to any elements in the air. I’ve never had any luck in removing all the alginate before (think icky snail trails…), so bypassed  thickening and directly “painted” on the cloth. I do know however, that though usually one wants super saturation with the dyes, this one is too dark, and MUCH too red! I still like it and will continue to work on the idea.

sketch-and-fabric-sampleI also did another piece:

neurons-dye-paint-1-bThe Procion “Rust Brown” has a LOT of red in it, shall have to tone it down. It was based on this, and in a larger scale, may become the background for something.


Mood/story board in the stoodio:




I also did a little ice dyeing, tshirts for the Son below and the Greyman (still batching).


Somehow fitting that i end the year with how i started the year!

Speaking of ice, my camera captured this, a trick of the light and of the time.

Dec 26 icicles in Inglewood


And then i remembered, fortunately in plenty of time, that i also need to dye some threads as well! The quantities i’m going to need precludes buying “ready made’ though i’m sure some will come by mail 🙂 Some i’ll do the same way as the cloth, painting bits on , and some will just be immersion dyed.


And the FybreSpace shop is now gone.

textile supply woes

I need to “paint” some fabric like this.


Unfortunately, paint itself is not an option at present. The ones i have are too stiff on the chosen fabric to get a needle through, and bleeding fingers are not on my list of Happy Things. They also dry too fast to do the blending i want! I had thought of roughly “piecing” together scraps instead, but that meant too many layers. I could have done this on soluble, but noooooooooooo, Lalage is being a bitch these days and breaking threads left right and centre. (I HATE this model, worst machine i’ve EVER had. Miss my old White that went for 20some years. Kenmore  used to be a good value as workhorse machine and i had a different one for 16 years, but alas, with the current workroom one, not so much anymore.) So, dye it is, good ol’ Procion, hand painted on to satisfy the desire to if not duplicate then to simulate the above.


ARGH. I’m disturbed however, that i have to order from the US for my dyes, because not only is it on sale there, but the shipping cost is the same, and even with the currency conversion, it’s still cheaper……………and the jars are bigger! Sorry Maiwa, as much as i love love love you, i have to thank you Dharma (sigh). Even the ACAD shop has an abysmal assortment, though i suppose that’s due to the number of students who get there first!

I also have to order most of my threads from the States—local stores don’t carry enough–indeed some carry NONE, or haven’t the assortment, or the weights, or the prices….Calgary is severely lacking in places to get decent amounts of anything textile related! The only exception to this is Valdani in Edmonton, though unfortunately whenever i want to order, they are out of what i want!

Ya soldier on.

the persistence of memory

Some memories are fixed, unrelenting. Others morph, bend and change inside to outside, nightmare to dream, dream to delusion. There are memories of memories, given, borrowed, stolen from others.



Sometimes we compartmentalize our memories, or lock them away. Sometimes they fade, are forgotten, deliberately or not.

Who doesn’t want to remember, forget, remember and forget? Free but still bound.