Monday, February 8, 2016

The planet suite finds some habitat

A couple of the planets have now found their home in a frame.  As you see, there's a painted  backdrop, and I've also painted the frames to work better for the artwork.  Solid black too obtrusive, so I made one gold and one metallic green.

I have two more planets to frame, maybe another will happen too.

But I thought you'd like to see their progress to date.  

And to see closeups of the painted frames.

You know how to do this?  metallic liquid acrylic, paint a coat on one side of the frame with a sponge brush, then quickly apply crumpled up plastic or saran wrap, pull it off right away, and you have some really interesting effects.  Do one side at a time, since acrylic will dry too quickly for you to work it otherwise. You have to manipulate it a bit, but that's something you can learn quickly.  You can do this on any nonporous surface.  It spiffs up items a treat. 

Of course, once again I find myself trying to paint and frame at the same time.  Inadvertent multitasking.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Great Friday

For more about why this is a Very Good Day, go to

But meanwhile, here's why I blog and don't print this all out like a book -- explanation over in Field and Fen, among other things -- just enjoy these scenes.

This is a couple of beech trees, probably planted by birds as many trees are around here when they're not self propagating with wind, or however they're designed to multiply. Today's sudden snowstorm, wet heavy snow, changed the color of the bark, and the sun came out to outline everything with light.  

The usual color of beech tree bark is a lovely warm elephant grey, smooth and a great contrast to the pale gold leaves which stay on all winter. It's one of the ways a person can spot the beech when all the other trees are anonymous to the unsylvan. 

So I took several images, with the light changing rapidly, good job I wasn't trying to paint this.  And what a lift it gives to tired spirits to see the leaves continuing their happy dance all winter.  See the wet bark, and the sunlight creating all kinds of shadows and shapes.

This is what feeds your ability to see and grasp what's going on in what seems like the dead of winter.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

One of those great studio days that come along now and then

I had a few things to attend to before I could get into the studio, largely of an admin nature, for my guild, and for friends, and wondered if I was going to make it in there.

But as it happened, once the promised tasky stuff was taken care of,  I ended up having the sort of day you hardly ever get, full of discovery and new art, as opposed to physical, energy.

The results were enough to make a person happy.  Three new works conceptualized, and just a start made, framing for five others finally figured out, more or less, the big piece Holding up the Sky or whatever its name is, don't ask me, I only work here, and cool portable ideas I can be working on in my Artist in Residence stint in March and April.  Can't ask for more than that.

So here are a few things for you to see.  My inner printmaker surged forward and insisted on printing on hand dyed linen, 

this will be a stretched, freestanding piece, with surface embroidery and might accompany me to this weekend's Stitch in Public Day, we'll see.

and on cotton lawn,

 possibly a background for one of the planet pieces framed
 and on heavy paper. Those are not creases, they're printed to look that way, an optical illusion

Definitely a background for the latest planet piece, the one trying out the frame for size and requesting more interesting ideas in the background.

I ended up having to work on three surfaces -- one clean one for the frames and glass cleaners, 

one glass one for the printmaking, and one with clean cloths on for the final work on the tapestry.  

Anyone who has ever worked with printmaking inks knows how they get around unexpectedly, and it's better if they don't get onto finished stitched and woven works unless it's on purpose. Of course, most people don't try to frame, stitch and print all at once, but oh well.  You have to seize the moment.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Copper wire planet now in orbit

Another planet completed and now in orbit.  

I think I will have to do more shadowbox framing than I'd intended, since a lot of these textile pieces, while nice to see without glass, will never stand up to being exhibited, with the risk of people wanting to handle them.

I just had to stop a visitor after she'd grabbed one of the weavings on the wall to admire it!  explained that you never touch an artwork.  But I was astonished that I had to explain this, so that was a good piece of learning for me.  I did offer her raw materials she could enjoy handling, though, such as a length of spanish merino roving, which she loved.

The difficulty is that a lot of people can't distinguish between textiles meant for handling and wearing from textiles intended as artworks, too fragile for handling.  So I have to take precautions.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Raw materials, jewelry, Vilene and net stitching

Today was about playing about with a lot of jewelry parts and bits, donated to the studio by Julie D., thank you, and here's the general effect:

Then I did some selecting and wielding of tinsnips, to get a selection that I can work on for my next planet wire weaving

Still a lot of raw jewelry material to use in other artworks.

But I have to have portable work, too, since tonight is stitch-in time, and soon, Saturday, Feb 6, to be exact, will be the national EGA Stitch in Public Day. I need something to work on then as a demo for anyone who comes by to see and maybe decide to get into this artform, or back into it. 

Local folk: watch this space for more info next week on this. It will be a joint Stitch in Public and chapter reception in celebration of the Fortieth Anniversary of our founding, with three founders to be present.  All free and open to the public.

So here's the setup for that piece:   Vilene stamped with an image I carved into a stamp, and repeated here, with a net overlay to be stitched over. The threads you see in the bag I dyed from white cotton thread.  They're in the colorway the other appliques are made of.

This motif will be added to the big dyed piece, you saw earlier,  which needs another element added in to the three stitched appliques currently in place to consider itself done.  I like to show that embroidery can cover a wide range of approaches, and all are good.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Field of Dorset buttons comes to be

So another work has come together.  This is an exciting stage, where a lot of moving parts find their home and I can show you what I had in mind all along, more or less.

Here's that linen, which I dyed with turmeric and onionskins, shibori style, then stamped with my handcarved stamps, and now have attached those Dorset buttons you saw happening way back. This piece will wait a few days before I declare it done.

And I have another big dyed work in mind to add a bit to, while I'm at it. That's the one with the embroidery on net based on line drawings I did this year.

My copper supplies also arrived, so I can get back to weaving planets in copper and other fibers. Moving right along.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Butterfly Habitat

I think this is now done.  The butterflies are pinned in place until I decide that's their final arrangement.  I stamped more images of the small butterflies on the fabric, too, and I think this will work pretty well.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Onward to the Butterfly Habitat

I have finally managed to get the habitat organized ready to receive the butterflies I've been working on, well, I'm still working on, a couple more small ones to go.

You remember the idea of the knitted and crocheted area for them?  I tried it out and found that the butterflies didn't go very happily with the colors of the yarn, which will end up as something else.  

So I thought again, and remembered another piece, which is a white openwork knitted and stretched piece on which I'd put knitted wire fish, and exhibited it.  Sooooo. Here's a better idea for it. The fish are now swimming on the walls of the downstairs bathroom to amuse visitors who didn't expect to walk into a menagerie, and the stretched piece is now in use again.

I had found a big dyed and embroidered piece which I had exhibited years ago and quite liked then, but which I now could see how to use much better.  So I took it off the original backing I'd set it up on, and stretched and stapled it, since it's transparent fabric, on top of the knitted piece.  And that's the new butterfly habitat, incorporating several ideas at once.  Liking this.  You can see the shape of the white openwork underneath, and the colors floating above it.

It's long and narrow, one of my favorite shapes, about 30 x 15 inches, and I couldn't get a good pic of it all at once, so you see here two images, which would overlap in real life, but which show you the whole thing. 

They are different in widths owing to the ineptitude of the photographer, and the limitations of the light, but it's one big piece.  To see how it works, notice that big jagged shape in the top left of the bottom pic?  see where it comes in the top pic.

So this is the Empty Habitat! awaiting its occupants. Who will no doubt demand better photography, which I will try to supply. Right now the priority is making the thing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Holding up the Sky is Off the Loom

So here it is, free off the loom, almost finished (some work at the back to stabilize how it hangs from the dowel, some decision on the final name), and I'm ready for the next adventure, probably divided between the Planet Suite and the Butterfly Habitat.

I spoke today with the Michael, the designer and  creator of the Loom Holder Upper, who suggested we come up with a better name, such as Loom Stand, and was very happy that it worked so well for me.  Also amazed at the way the sawblade has come into use.  He may be digging up more of them..

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tapestry Holding up the sky under a tropic sun

The title of this tapestry needs some editing, once I decide on how to really name it.

Meanwhile, this is where it is.  Probably close to cutting the warp and removing it from the loom, I think.  Maybe a touch more copper.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Kaffe Fassett, Antique Quilts and other marvels at the Michener

Today's field trip, with three stitcher friends, to the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was a full day.  

The featured exhibit, Blanket Statements, was a group of antique quilts, largely from the UK, with statements and responses in quilt form, as mirror images, designed by Kaffe Fassett and executed by various quilters and finishers.

But on the way there, there were other galleries, read on

an exciting gallery of groundbreaking tent quilts, great fun, total energy by Virgil Marti

And there was a  gallery of wood pieces, largely reclaimed wood, some of it from debris of Hurricane Sandy, from which we are still far from recovered, some of them in quilt form by this artist. 

There was an enormous and wonderful installation created from painted trellis parts.  

I had to tear myself away to go see the exhibit we'd come for! these are only a few of the artworks on show

Here's my group, discussing the relative merits of the antique quilt at ground level and the Fassett response on the wall.

One of our readers tells me she saw the Fassett and antique exhibit in York Quilt Museum in the UK.  So now I've seen it here.  Fassett has a local connection, which is why we got lucky and this became one of only three locations in the US for the exhibit.  Still up till late February, it's worth the trip if you're anywhere in the region.

Michener, the novelist, philanthropist and traveler and for whom the museum is named, had an interest in Japanese art and landscaping, probably influenced by his Japanese wife (!) and this shows in a lot of the design of the museum galleries, including the Nakashima room, with shoji screens and Nakashima furniture,  and in the landscaping.  

Here there's a nod to nature, where fallen seed pods are left to blend with other plants, a quiet art form in itself. 

There is hardly anything that's better than spending time in the company of people who are knowledgeable about what you're looking at, and great company too.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The tapestry goes on, and the butterfly emerges

The tapestry is starting to take on meaning now.  Here's how it looks this morning.  The two insertions are just pinned in place for now, but I think they will stay. You'll recognize the lower one as one of those fringy sawblade weavings, painted.  Once the tapestry's off the loom, I'll take pix that will be a bit easier to read, with less background interference.

It's shaping up as a World Under a Tropical Sun piece.  There will be more weaving, but some of those open areas you see will remain open, and I think some of the woven parts will be pushed about a bit to express the ideas more clearly. This is a great stage to be at, where it starts to come together with a concept and rewards all the groping about in the dark earlier.  It does fall in conceptually with the Planet Suite, too, both in the ideas and in the materials I'm using.

And, since I have to have something portable to take with me to see me mates at the stitching guild, here's another stumpwork butterfly from the  butterfly habitat in progress, one of the more junior bflies here, not competing with the big beaded and goldworked ones. 

I'm just stitching on the wire which will enable it to pose on the final work, after I've cut it out around the stitching. It's a piece I stamped from the stamp I carved and showed you a while back.  First I ran a line of split stitching around the edges, and now I'm overcasting the wire with the same thread to create a firm wired margin. The fabric has a built-in sparkle, so little ornamentation will be needed.

Tomorrow: plans for a road trip with stitching friends to the Michener Museum, in Pennsylvania not far from here, to see antique quilts from the collection in York, UK, along with Kaffe Fassett's responding quilts.  Look for pix if they let me take them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Tapestry is growing apace

More work on the tapestry this morning, while I wait for my supplies of wire to arrive to continue with the planets.

Here we are, with the insert temporarily in place, and the design going on pretty well

 Closer up, with a cloth behind to let you see better

And stepping back so you can see the relative size of it to the surrounding furniture. Weaving includes the copper wire, llama yarn, perle cotton, boucle and merino roving.  The textures are nice when you encounter this in person, particularly between the sharpness of the fine copper wire and the cloudlike softness of the roving.  The next section will use the llama yarn, for a darker contrast to the light yarns at the bottom here.

Possibly one or more more inserts might happen, too.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Celebration of Collage at the Library Gallery

Yesterday was the opening reception for the joint collage exhibit of Elaine Rosenberg and Nancy Scott at the Library Gallery of Plainsboro Public Library.

Great fun, with friends, artists' families and colleagues, catching up with old friends and making new ones, in the course of the afternoon.  There was a crowd, but the light was not conducive for putting the pix in here, sorry.  

A few shots of Elaine's work here

and here's Nancy conferring with Julie D., who hosted the event and greeted the artists and guests

Elaine with one of her favorite works.  

It was great to get a guided tour of her works with an account of the intuitive way she works.  I recommend asking exhibiting artists to walk the gallery with you and talk about the work.  It's a great way to get insight and respect for their approach.

Nancy's work, collage with a different take, not surprising for someone who is also a poet, is intricate and fine-tuned.  

Two very gifted artists here, who presented a strong show. If you're in the Plainsboro area before the end of the month, do stop in any time the library's open, for a great experience.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Planets are pushing their way in...

This is the latest in the planet visitation.  Copper wire warp, roving, floss and perle cotton weft, with boucle yarn.

 This is the same piece on two backgrounds.  One a green rug, one a pale yellow wall.  Very similar lighting though.  Huge difference in effect.  I like this a lot, since it means that as the light changes in the exhibit, the piece will change its nature.  This will probably be true of other pieces in this series, too.  

And I like the way the fringes wave wildly when on the rug, as they will if included in a tapestry and secured that way. It contrasts with the quieter effect of gravity if the piece is secured only in the main body and the fringes left loose.  The wire retreats on the green surface, and is assertive on the wall.  Future thinking there.

Note to self: need more copper wire.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sawblade weavings, both sides of the loom

I completed two more sections of the planet piece, and thought you might like to see how they were set up, one on either side of the sawblade, using the same warping for both.  Here's the blade with the other side showing in the mirror

and here's the completed second side, still attached to the loom. Spanish merino roving is that cloudy area, and there's llama yarn as well as other threads.

and here are the two pieces, now released from the loom, warp ends knotted off. I love the wildness of the warp ends, and want to preserve that if I can

 At this point I'm wondering if they are freestanding or should be included in the big tapestry.  I'll try out the idea and see.  I like the freestanding notion, though.

Technical note: if you are following this blog using Google Friend Connect but not a Google account, you may find it vanishes on Monday.  Google has had an idea, sigh, about cutting back on GFC..  

Anyway, if you don't want to find your blog feed's gone missing, and you are not on a Google account, you can sign up via Bloglovin, see right, which I don't think will be affected, or you can request to be on my direct mailing list.  If you're already doing either of those things, no worries. 

There are probably other workarounds, but these are the fastest and simplest I can think of.