Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Doorway done. Silk awaiting making up into window sail

This morning, the humidity and heat dropped to a more liveable level, I dashed up to the studio to press the silk ready for the tension rods' arrival, to make the window sail for the helpful friend,




to press the dyed linen piece ready to think about, and put a couple of dyed embroidery motifs in place on the Big Doorway, which I am now pronouncing Done! 




unless I have other bright ideas between now and exhibit time.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More dyed linen, the last of that batch for the moment

I took the last of my linen yardage and shibori-wrapped it with rubber bands, left overnight in a dyebath of yellow onionskin dye, and here it is drying.  Some really nice figures appeared where the bands had been irregular, must remember to do this more.  


 One side and


 t'other side.


And there's a line of weird dots which I like but can't quite figure out their origin. Possibly some silk dye left on one of the bands got transferred. Anyway, I'm good with it, and it gives me an idea for doing it deliberately on other pieces.

This will be more than one finished artwork, I think, a large size for me.  While I was at it, I was doodling about trying out various finishing touches for Big Doorway, in addition to the painted arch I put in.  And I realized that I have a couple of embroideries I did for special exhibits but afterwards didn't like to much.  



So I cut one up and dyed the pieces, just added them into the dyebath and left them overnight with the big piece of linen, and it came out very nicely.  

Parts of this might end up on Big Doorway.  And since I've dyed embroidered motifs before -- BD has three of them in residence -- I know I like the effect of stitching on white linen then dyeing so the threads and beads pop very happily.  And the thread holding the beads dyes, too, so it disappears very effectively into the background. 

Summer is a great time for art ideas for me, I think.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Some dye results

Two paintings emerged from that piece of dyed linen, using local natural dyes and some silk dye.  Two images of Plainsboro Preserve, seen from the nature center.   As I suspected, I'd made two paintings rather than one. This happens to me a lot.

One of them will go into the local artists' association Festival exhibit in September, once I decide which. The theme is local color, so mine is definitely that -- dyes made from locally picked material, to create an image of a local place, in fact where the artists plein air outing went to back in May.  It's the same viewpoint from which I made those contour drawings which I posted in here.  

Here's sunrays breaking through over the water and trees and the peninsula suggested in the background. Foliage in the foreground.


 
There's the lake, rippling in the foreground, the peninsula across the water, and more water around it, then a rosy sky in the background.  Foliage suggested here and there, with reflections, and cloud shapes. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tablet weaving technicalia

After a couple of sessions learning to  card weave with the warp attached to me and a door, and getting a very tired back in no time, not to mention leaning forward to see what was happening and losing the tension on the warp with a resultant riot in the cards, I decided to see about a loom.

And spent ages researching same, all the way from handbuilt wood from organically sourced forests, hand sanded and with inlays, to rather simpler stuff.  

All you actually need is something at each end to hold the warp so you don't have to.  I don't need it to be portable, which a lot of simple looms are designed to be. And I came up with this: 





the hook I drove into an old heavy plank thing will hold the far end of the warp, and the handle on the  little cabinet door in the foreground will be where the near end of the warp is tied, and you'll see it better when my threads arrive and I can set it up.  

This way both hands are free, the tension stays even when I have to leave the work for a bit, and the cards are held up enough not to tangle, but at the near end I can rest them on the board to turn them more easily.

Tonstant weaders will know that this is another of those cabinet doors I removed from the kitchen a while back, made one, on a suggestion from dogonart, into a rolling plant stand, and here's the other, doing duty as a tablet loom part.  Not patented, feel free to swipe!

The whole loom is at one end of my worktable, so there's still plenty of room to work on stitching on the rest of it.  The table top  was foraged from the dumpster many years ago, and has seen service as a dining table, a bedhead, a desk and an art table. 

Then there's another piece of diy cheapo home improvement, here.  The window in my loft, which is my studio, is incredibly awkward to cover. Since it faces due east, the sun shines straight in your eyes in the morning, so you need a little something.  But the window opens with a crank, so you can't put up anything that would stop you from reaching in a cranking it open and shut. And it's sharply angled, being under the roof.  Here's my solution: 





 two tension rods, and an upcycled pillow slip, stitched and rods slid through, like a cheerful awning.  It blows a bit in the wind, very nice to see.  I could tighten it if I liked a more tailored look, but I like the sails in the wind effect.

The friend who yesterday gallantly replaced my attic fan motor when it died, even helping with the computer search and deciding what was needed and shopping for it, what a gem, admired this window treatment.  

He lives next door, has exactly the same window, so guess what he's getting as a little thank you.  He rarely reads this blog so it won't be a spoiled surprise.  I have a lovely piece of Japanese silk in manly colors, bronzes and browns and golds, and I ordered two more rods.  Simple bit of sewing, and I'll install it for him.  I think he'll like it. 

For nonart related diy, all cheapo of course, go to Field and Fen! More cheapo home improvements, the kind you won't find in the glossy mags 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My dear mentor has left us, please honor her







Please join in celebrating the wonderful and long life of Maggi Johnson, my mentor and first encourager into the world of exhibiting art, who just last year came in to spend an afternoon with my weaving, giving critique and visiting my exhibit in the same building, generously asking questions and giving wisdom.

I just now discovered this had happened, and feel sad to lose her voice, but so happy to have had her brilliant and long life in our community.

So many artists have had this experience with Maggi, and we were so lucky to have known her.  Any way that honors people's talent, and art, and discovery, is good to remember her by.  And there are a couple of favorite charities mentioned in her obituary.

See more about this marvelous woman here:

http://www.centraljersey.com/obituaries/margaret-maggi-kennard-johnson/article_299b5577-398f-51f2-8afe-2a7a937edcbf.html 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Many projects, only two hands, sigh

In the midst of  number of projects, including a choice of which artwork  to put into the local artists' group September show, for the Festival of the Arts, meaning working on both dyed and stitched pieces at once, and then deciding. Then there's a bit of framing of the chrysanthemum piece, and the thought that, pearl clutching moment,  possibly I finished that Big Doorway, with a spot of paint, what a concept.  I agreed with all the blogistas who spoke up, that the arch shape needed more definition, and I applied some with copper paint...

But I'm also in my Personal Growth challenge: the cardweaving, aka another f.g.o...




Here's the bookmark I promised myself, worked with all the thread I had available, only a learning piece, needing contrasting colors. I hate pink and green together, but what could I do, it was there..anyway, this is double faced weaving, where how you string the cards makes all the difference to how the weaving works.  The previous attempts were about pattern weaving, where how you turn the cards is as important.

But despite the lumpiness of this little effort, full of experiments in turning, striping, chunking, forgetting to snug up the weft, and other such events, and foreshortened by a lack of thread, I have got a great notion of how to do double faced cardweaving. And if this looks rough now, you should have seen it before I trimmed up the sticking-out weft, and knotted off the fringes and combed out the tangles from behind the cards.  But look at my character, it's got abs!

Double faced weaving is the one where your pattern comes out on one side as the mirror image of the other.  The pink stripe on this side is the green on the other, I mean.  This works better when you get to actual shapes, which is my next goal, once my perle cotton thread in a bigger gauge arrives. Then I will have motif on background, where the colors mysteriously come out opposite on the other side, motif now the color of background and bg now the color of m.

But this is not really about card weaving, though I report braggily I worked this with sixteen, count them, cards.  Because double face works best in multiples of four -- making little square figures, or very symmetrical bigger ones, and stripes needing to be about the same as other stripes and predictable.  I now find that I cut cards out of any hankie box, food package, or small appliance box, before recycling the scraps.

What I found today in my weaving adventure was that once again process rules.  In most art, otherwise why bother, there are moments of the most piercing joy as you work.  

Contour drawing, where the shape comes to life as you study it and let your pen respond, stitching where you apply the principles of lost and found edges from painting -- I did this in the petals and leaves of the mum stitching, which is why it works without edging.  Each stitch was a minute part of the edging.  Goldwork where the stitching takes off and works for you, and you feel that generations of stitchers are there helping.

Every art form has this -- shibori dyeing at the moment of unwrapping, monotype making where you lift the print off the plate, watercolor painting where you paint the negative space (lost and found edges again), knitting where the lace magically appears, beadweaving where the design starts to show up as you go, any artwork where you juxtapose colors and shapes in just the right relationship for your purposes.  

And I find that in double face cardweaving it's when you turn the cards to change the shed and a lovely complete solid color, all the warp threads matching, suddenly starts to appear.  The next quarter turn gives you a mixture of both colors.  Then the next qturn and magic, the other color appears!  The excitement when this started to happen today has decided that I will do more double faced cardweaving, never mind the pattern card turning stuff for the moment. 

No pix of this since at the moment of discovery I was a) attached to the weaving and the door and b) both hands were fully engaged and c) Butler Mervyn Bunter,  crack photographer,  was out in the Lagonda shopping for thread for me.

 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dyeing with natural and unnatural colors

I seem to be returning to my roots, oops unintended pun, there.   After an afternoon of dyeing with spinach then a mix of beet and red cabbage, with turmeric in there, too, some shibori, some dipdyeing, I ended up pouring color down the fabric as I used to years ago.  French Blue and a deep pink, silk dyes.  I really don't need to rinse till clear anyway, since these pieces are not going to be washed, but be stretched or hung with dowels.

Here's part of the process, many moving parts in this one.  This is an edited few! 

Then you'll see the finished whole piece followed by a couple of details, which may become finished pieces themselves.  As you will see, I was working sideways on this piece the whole time, intending it for a horizontal artwork.

















And I tossed kosher salt on the silk dye as it dried, to make starbursts, and create a kind of landscape effect.  I think this is a horizontal piece, long lines.  You can see a water image in the foreground, and suggested trees and shrubs, with mountains in the distance.  It might be two or even three pieces, this often happens to me.  And there will be goldwork and other stitching, possibly beading, too..  TBA!

Meanwhile, while I was up in the studio pressing the painted dyed piece, I finished the purple dyed backing for the small doorway piece, and here it is.




You can see the molded impressions taken during the shibori dyeing process, which I left there, very happy with them.  This piece was dyed with red maple, I think.


And while the iron was hot, I struck again, and pressed out the card woven scissor keeper.  




What a ton of learning went into making that little thing! and now I examine it I can understand the effect of turning the cards different ways.  It's working like a tiny workbook of beginning cardweaving.

So a lot of movement in the studio today.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Art Exhibit, Felted Work

I was invited to two art openings this afternoon, and picked the closest one!  and didn't regret it, though sorry to miss the other.  Met with friends I hadn't seen in ages, and had a wonderful party.  The artist cooked all the incidental food, too, and raised the bar on  food at art openings to an intimidating level!

The subject matter is felting, done with natural dyes, just up my street, and wonderfully joyful and happy.  The exhibit is perfect for summer, carefree and fun, and the artist is, too!  met her for the first time and felt I'd known her for years.   



So here's the show and the artist modeling one of her hats as well as posing in front of a couple of her works. 






And here's  Carol, Library Director, with one of her faves in the show




And  other artworks. 








One of the best openings in years, interesting guests, these pix don't show the crowd, art well worth going to see. 

If you are in the Plainsboro area and want a treat, stop in at the Library, go to the Gallery, and enjoy.  And marvel at gallery manager Donna S's skills at hanging a show.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Adventures in Card Weaving

This series of adventures includes mishaps, such as finding that yarn won't work for this beginner, resulting in snarls, from the yarn and the weaver, and various other tangles and ending in taking all the painstakingly threaded cards, unthreading them and finding a better thread.  

Which turns out to be crochet thread.  Glossing kindly over the beginner bonehead events, such as tying myself firmly onto the warp, one end on the doorknob, the other on a string hitched through my belt loops, perfectly positioned to start, then remembering my shuttle is in the other room...

Or finding as I slide the cards up and down tentatively, that the one with the dancing chefs has thrown off a thread and is trying to operate on three.  No idea how to fix this before I'm too old to care, so I decided to jettison the chefs, cut out the three remaining strings, and gently set them aside along with the shuttle now within reach.




It took most of an evening to thread a mere 13 cards, all I have at the moment, and half the morning to accomplish a couple of inches of weaving, but I can now say I know how to do this. 

You will notice my sample, lumpy little effort of which I'm very proud, is plain.  No pattern. I figured learning the skills was enough without patterns which involve threading in a certain way, turning cards in correct order, well, that comes next.

And I notice that the cards seem to have taken on a life of their own.  When I was trying the yarn, Mother Jones card totally went on strike, got herself hopelessly tangled in the warp threads, set up a picket line, in fact.  The Chartres labyrinth was a model citizen, in contrast.  So you might want to watch out what you use on your cards if you make your own.  The Alberta beeve was just fine, no excitement, just peacefully turning as pushed.  Good old Buttercup.

There is a special hot place booked for people who give "Card Weaving for Beginners" on youtube and insist that 19 cards and a turning pattern are ideal for someone who doesn't even know how to hold a card yet.  Nooooooo.  And another reservation for the lady who, when she was showing how the cards look, so you can make your own, held them too far away to see, and just waved her hand vaguely instead of showing how they are marked a b c and d when you make them.  

All in all one of the best videos was in some language, possibly Polish or Lithuanian where the setup was very visible, the worker moved slowly and kindly, and though I couldn't understand nor read a word, still learned quite a bit.  Her own work was exquisite.

She used wooden, obviously well used, tablets (card weaving and tablet weaving are the same thing, they used to use wood or other substances for what we now can use cards for).  

I'm also very happy I found this website:  http://www.stringpage.com because she gives the only real explanation I could find about the Z and the S threading, also known as up and down, or maybe it's down and up.  She acknowledges that this is one place that caused a flurry of emails asking her to explain it better!  so she did.  She's a saint.

So I am tired but triumphant, having accomplished my goal of learning the principles of card weaving, and maybe when I finish this piece, I'll have a bookmark to show for it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Vilene Experiment Seems to have Worked

This is one of the motifs I'm going to attach to the dyed wallhanging, and today I finished the stitching and washed out the Vilene fabric.  
 
I had it sandwiched between two layers of net, in the hoop, and as I stitched had to be careful to take up the strands of the net as I worked so that it would hold together when the fabric was washed out.  This is hard to see as you work, and you have the impression of stitching through fabric, but have to remember it will vanish.

So here's the completed stitching, from a contour drawing of sedum in my yard, but simplified to allow for linen thread and split stitch, done over net, all of which don't work in very small details.





And here's the stitching after the Vilene is washed out!  and it seems to have worked nicely.  


The drawing washed away with the Vilene, and the stitching is all holding up just fine, net backing in place as hoped.  I just submerged it all in cool water and rubbed gently to release the dissolving Vilene fabric.  Worked a treat. Now I feel safe doing more.  Especially since the hand dyed thread didn't lose any color in the washing.

People usually do machine embroidery with this sort of thing, using just the Vilene and doing enough stitches that they become a lacy fabric, but it suited my purpose better as a hand embroiderer to use the net.  I'll cut away all the excess net before I mount the stitching on the hanging.  I love transparency and this was a way to get it.

The black background is a cardigan, which I wear and use often when a small matt black background is called for in pix.  Technical point there..

And thank you everyone who commented and emailed and generally offered very helpful thoughts and observations on the Big Doorway piece, all of which I'm seriously thinking about.  This is a new departure for me, to actually ask for input, usually I plunge ahead and don't much listen until something is actually exhibited.  But it doesn't hurt to learn a new skill, and this is a very new one.  

I've found in the past that other artists just stared at my work with nothing to say, never knew whether this meant loved it, hated it, thought it was awful, wished they'd made it, so I gave up years ago on looking for input on works in progress. But that was that group, probably not the best context for me.  

However, this is a new group and a new outlook, so thank you.  And I see I've found here people who are generous and willing to make suggestions. Much appreciated.  Now I can see the work differently and I can make a better approach to it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jury, please be sworn in

Here's the Big Doorway piece, possibly finished.  But I would very much like your take on this.  



Does it need more work, and if so, where?  the Dorset buttons are removable, by the way, but they were in innumerable configurations before I finally decided this was good.  I'm just not sure yet if this is finished, but I wish it were!  I've looked at it so much I've lost the capacity to see it for the moment.

And here's the Vilene piece, started in split stitch, in hand dyed threads, that linen thread I've got so much mileage out of again. 



And, to show that there's a great value in letting yourself be a helpless prawn of art, I've realized that these little Vilene pieces, which I fervently hope will work, the three little line drawings translated into stitching, well, you know that dyed wallhanging I showed you yesterday?  

Yes, I realized that the lower part of that is where these pieces will probably belong, yay.  These are the pieces that will be rinsed to make the Vilene vanish, leaving only two layers of netting stitched together.  Very transparent and needing a context.

Been wondering all along if all these moving parts would eventually settle into a relationship. But this can only happen if you plunge in, forsaking all other activities, long enough to let it transpire, if you follow me.  And I have other obligations and tend to try to fit everything in, not always a wise move.

So some things are on hold for now and I'm glad to see the results starting to come in.  A friend stopped by last night, admired the doorway piece in rather a puzzled way (!) and said, how passionate you are!  and how focused.  I think a lot of people have lost that ability.  We get so quickly bored.  Well, maybe.  But yes, I do tend to go off the charts with enthusiasm. To think it is to do it.  For better or worse.

And since the local artists' group show in September will be on the theme of local color, this wallhanging, if it's done in time, might be a good entry, since the dyes were all from very local materials! literally local color, from local maple trees.

But I also have friends to thank for help they've given even if they didn't realize it at the time. Case in point: a while back at a stitch in, a comment from Carol P., in the course of a conversation about setting aside a block of time to read a huge and important book, as I did the week before Handsome Son was born, sat under a tree for a week and read War and Peace.  Wonderful week, and just the right way to read W and P.

When I commented that I thought that might be the last week I would ever have where I could just do one thing! Carol pointed out that I could do that now, couldn't I?  whereupon I said, oh no, I have obligations.  

But later I thought, wait, I think she has a point.  I can indeed set aside all others and make art in a block of time.  None of my current obligations is a matter of life and death, unlike all the years of caregiving.  I had got so used to thinking in those dramatic terms without realizing it.  

So I did make a block, this summer, in fact, of time for what I need to do.  And thank you, Carol!  I don't think she reads this blog, but maybe word will get to her...thank you for suggesting I quietly attend to one thing for a while!  the sun will still rise, and the world will wag just fine even if I'm absent from some groups for a while.

Reason number 12,356 why I'm glad I joined EGA! the embroiderers' guild.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Linen on stretchers and tablet weaving prep

I stretched the dyed linen, so that I can work on it, but after it's done, it will be hung on dowels, free of the frame.  




I have some plans for this piece, since it is in the form of a dyed landscape, with stars.  Real possibilities there, and ideas for future dyeing exploits,too.
 
Meanwhile, I figured it won't hurt to learn a new skill while pursuing old ones, and I made a set of cards for tablet weaving.  I used the carton from a box of coffee, I knew there was a reason I got the good stuff, must have been in it for the box.  And I decided to make the cards more than just functional.  They're 3.5 inches square, a recommended size.

One thing I like to go for is not only recycling and upcycling and being frugal, but of installing meaning beyond that, into the work.



 So, thanks to a lovely collection of cards and greetings over the years from HGD Heather, I selected a few  to give them a whole new life.  There's Mother Jones, and a burlesque dancer, and the labyrinth at Chartres, and an architectural feature, and a group of cooks doing their early morning exercises.  And a great Alberta beast!

All of them have interest and meaning beyond just being little cards -- note that my corner punch came into play here -- and when the hole punch arrives, since, after all, I didn't have one in the studio, I'm ready for action.  Already selecting yarn to cut.   So the content of the cards, as well as being a constant reminder of Heather, will be there as I work this new skill.  And I have more material for making future cards, since tablet weaving can involve a lot more than my initial few.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dyeing and other musing

I retrieved two quarts of Japanese maple dyebath from the freezer, and used them to dye this shibori wrapped piece of linen for a big new wallhanging.  I used various shaped beads for the tying, and did a fanfold for the striped section.  




And, as you see, two views here, one with sun shining through it, one from the other side, dyed linen thread to match, for use as probably Dorset buttons on this piece, but we'll see about that.

I notice now that the photographer has got into one of the pix!  heh, the Hitchcock effect.  Except I was in pajamas, too excited about getting the stuff out and photographed to stop and get dressed.

The reason, well, one of many reasons, textile art is difficult for an artist like me is that you have to sort of plan your spontaneity, not a strong point around here, but I'm getting a bit more able to be patient and do that, rather than just plunging in.  The work on the tshirts and other test items is paying off.

This is unmordanted dye made from Japanese maple leaves, simmered for an hour originally, then after freezing, brought back to the simmer, for the linen to be put in.  I simmered for about an hour, then turned off the heat, put a glass lid small enough to weight down the fabric in the dye, but see-through, and left the thread and the linen all night, to be rinsed and untied this morning.

The rinsing removed scarcely any dye at all, a good sign. Really happy about this one.  It seems that freezing is okay. I can see a lot more of this sort of idea, where the shibori work is a rough draft of the needlework to follow.  And dyeing and freezing for future use will be good, given that the season is a good one for collecting material.  The remaining dye, only a few ounces were taken up by the fabric, goes back to the freezer for now.

One of my friends who vowed to save onionskins for me did so, and came over the other day to report sadly that her ferrets had found the bag, emptied it and scattered their new toys all over the house. A side effect of keeping a tribe of beloved ferrets. And a test of friendship, since she's still speaking to me.
 
And of course, since dyeing involves lengthy waiting times, while I waited for the simmering, I browsed through Freecycle.  And saw an offer of an inkle loom, complete with picture.  It wasn't an inkle, but was some sort of homemade band loom, but I still requested it.  

No answer, probably many people ahead of me, but I went and fell into the rabbit hole of youtube tutorials on inkle weaving, many, many of them, most of them so poor you couldn't learn a thing --- weaver's back in front of the camera, no view of the loom, weaver's hand covering the vital movements, loom completely out of camera range, I think all symptoms of the lone videotaper.   

And the guy whose language use was sort of hopeless, saying rotate for alternate, looming for weaving, and various other wrong words, making it really hard to know what he was driving at, while working off camera.  Very skilled at the weaving not so much at the teaching and taping and talking.

Better are the ones like Serena's where while she's learning from a teacher, there's a friend running the camera and reminding her to move her hand! and where she fast forwards through tedious repetitions, while still showing you what happened.  And where, blessedly, she has a lovely sense of humor about it all.  Those earnest and boring old woodsmen are, oh well, dressed like Davy Crockett with a solemn Facebook presence, you know.

I liked very much the number of presenters whose dogs and cats were involved in helping!  One big ginger tom, sitting right on the diagrams the presenter was about to hold up. And two labs flying round and round Serena and licking her face now and then.  And the woodsman's calm old dog checking out his progress.

Then of course watching these videos  led to tablet weaving on the inkle. More videos, and final realization that it's easier to do it with a belt setup, forget the inkle altogether, and that I can make my own cards...oh dear, this may be another rabbit hole...but it's amazing how you can change the design just by turning cards.  

If there's a way to fit it into my current work plans, I'm thinking of doing it. Especially if I can make my cards from scrap cardboard, or playing cards, and not buy commercial ones.  I have a nice corner punch thing, and I expect I can rustle up a hole punch in the studio somewhere. 

Once again I ran up against my reluctance to get involved with even simple machines and the tedium of warping and all that.  I've made some nice stuff with cardboard looms I made myself, and with weaving sticks, using drinking straws to teach kids. 

Just watching people endlessly warping the inkle loom had me nodding off, let alone doing it.  Someone offered me an inkle years ago, and I declined, since I didn't want to feel obliged to use it against the grain, so I hope she gave it to a more deserving person.

But tablet weaving, using homemade cards, hm.  And I can dye my own yarns, hm.  Having an exhibit date gives me a great destination and raison d'etre for some of these otherwise undirected endeavors...or, to quote good old Gilbert: to enliven an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative..which is how an honest artist so often sees her own work, regardless of what other people may say.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Chrysanthemum stitching is done!

I originally thought I'd use the stumpwork yellow petals I created, for the center of the flower, but now I may change the plan.  I think it's pretty much complete already




 Now to press out the hoop ridge, and decide where this goes next. And where the stumpwork petals might belong.
 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Exhibit 2016

I have a definite date for a solo exhibit at the Library gallery for June 20l6, which is not as far in the future as you might think, considering how much there is to do between now and then.

But as usual, the definite deadline has unleashed a ton of new ideas, mostly about dyeing and stitching and generally exciting sorts of work I haven't done before, in addition to the doorway series, which has to be finished, and the transparency series which has to be started...and so on, and more!

But I have the great luxury of prioritizing  commitments and postponing obligations in order to keep the flow in the studio and avoid  disturbing that process. Once a concept is established, your mind is freer to roam, but at this point, not so. 

And the summer weather is the best for the dyeing process, by a long shot, for gathering materials and for making the dyebaths.

So today I did more work on the chrysanthemum piece, which might end up being a giant applique on another bigger work, see what happens when your mind gets revved up,  and backed two of the doorway pieces with dyed linen.  

I'm showing you one of them, two views, the first lying on the floor to get the whole thing in one frame, the other closer up so you can see a bit better how the chains hang down nicely when it's on the wall, click to see a bit better. I like very much the way the chains cast their own shadow on the linen. The linen backing is not as pale as in the pix, and does work really well with the general feel of the woven, stitched, beaded, chained, trapunto, goldworked, image transferred, pollyputaketlon piece...






-- and made a gallon, literally, of Japanese red maple dye and a quart of yellow onionskin dye.  This had the excellent effect of removing all the bags of dried material littering up the kitchen, and reducing them to a liquid most of which is now in the freezer.
 
I had the epiphany, not unlike when I started to cut my own hair, decades ago, that you don't have to do everything at once!  I can make the dye and store it till I'm ready to use it, what a concept. 
 
The same way I realized I could cut just bits of my hair as needed, no need to work on the whole thing.  I had just gone along at first with the hairdressing model where they have to do it all, shampoo, style, cut and ruin your hair all in one appointment, all the while complaining about how difficult curly hair is and how they didn't train for this...

And the books on dyeing talk of a headlong rush to make the dye and use it without taking a breath, mainly because of the exigencies of producing a complete book!  

This gives me time to plan and study Dharma Traders' offerings of silk and linen fabrics and look in the studio for stretchers that will be big enough to accommodate bigger piecesand generally proceed in a more sane and orderly fashion than I usually do.

And hope that everyone in my rl will understand and remember I'm a working artist, not a retired lady!  I taught two workshops this summer, one small private one to come, and they are so far removed from my own work that it takes time to come back to what I need to be doing. 

Great fun, and I loved doing it, but I must do what the radio journalists would call drill down, heh.  Well, at least it's an oil metaphor, not a sports one.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dyeing again, it's always something

I pressed the beet-dyed linen and mounted the copper Doorway piece on it, the color working pretty well.  

However, another issue came up: the linen has lost its strength, to my surprise, very good linen, not subject to more than reasonable stresses, and as I pressed, the tip of the iron snagged right through it.  It's in a place that doesn't show, and I can fix it, but I'm sort of betwattled as Georgette Heyer would say, as to how it came about. And I hope the rest of it doesn't just fall off the wall! I wonder if the mordant did it.  Hm.  

Anyway, there's plenty of time to have it hung at home before anyone needs see it on exhibit, to determine if it's not too fragile to hang.  Ironic considering I made the linen backing  with the idea of making these three pieces less fragile to hang...

But, for the moment, this is where we are:





 Instead of a dowel, I slid a big wooden knitting needle through the pocket at the top, looks very finished.

 I have other pieces of linen ready to back two other doorway pieces, so that's next on the art agenda, at least for this series.  I'm still working on Big Doorway, and made another Dorset button last evening while I listened to Christopher Buckley's But Enough about You, very funny stuff.

And there's the chrysanthemum piece still progressing and another piece ready on the hoop to start.  And now that the dyeing is under way, I have more ideas about creating dyed fabric to stitch into...so many ideas, so few hands..



 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Beet dyed linen, avoiding cheap puns here!

So after leaving the linen piece all folded and wrapped overnight, I rinsed and unfurled it this morning, and here it is:  a nice rusty shade in a checkerboard, which if it holds the color once dry, will be just about what I need for that copper woven and stitched piece.

 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Chop wood, carry water, forage for dye materials

Out walking yesterday, and there's a bunch of dead red Japanese maple branches cut and tossed outside someone's fence.  So I figured since live J. maple leaves make a good dye, why not drag them home and test if dead ones will work, too.  They still had a lot of color.



So here is the foraging result on my patio, paper bag ready to receive the leaves.  My kitchen now has various paper bags pegged up to the front of my shelves as my growing foraging finds mount up.  And the fridge has several jars of dyes made from their results.

In the kitchen, there's also cooking, and today being a day to cook beets from my farmshare, I saved the steaming water and the skins and made a dyebath, in the hope that it would work.  



Beets usually require the whole root, I think, but anyway, I tried out a piece of linen, shibori-wrapped in a sort of brick shape, used cream of tartar as a mordant and alum, and simmered the fabric, after soaking in water for an hour, in the dyebath complete with mordant.  I'll leave it in overnight, probably, just to give the color a chance.



But  since I took the picture,  when the dyebath was reddish, I notice it's already, after half an hour, turning a rusty brown. 

I know beet color is very fugitive in air, but if it gives me a warm rust brown that will work fine for one of my doorway pieces. We'll see!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Finally, I'm getting the linen dyed for my stitching project!

The original reason for the dyeing caper was that I needed pieces of linen to hang behind my doorway stitching series, to exhibit better.  And finally I'm getting to where I have the expertise to actually get them done.

Here is the latest shibori tied linen piece, which will certainly be used!  I made another which is much paler, but still usable.  You'll see how it looked all tied up after rinsing




 then  opened up showing the beads and the rubber bands I used.  



Then drying on the line, very pleasing. I wanted the irregular effect of using beads other than just globes, to avoid that ghastly bullseye effect of sixties tie-dyeing we managed to live through.



This was red cabbage, mordanted with alum and cream of tartar, and with a big addition of salt to the final bath, to increase the blue side of the spectrum.  I brought the bath to a simmer with the piece in it last evening, then switched off the heat and left it in all night. Linen is not an easy customer to accept color! 

I have been conscientiously keeping notes of all these processes, most unlike me, but there you are, I'm a born again artist, and if anyone's interested in knowing more about any of the pieces I've shown you here lately, just email me.  

I don't want to bore on about process for general readers who are not up for doing it themselves, just interested in the general idea, but I'm glad to share anything I've discovered, usually by getting it wrong first (!) with anyone interested in asking.

And now I need to figure out what color will work best behind that copper piece you saw ages ago in Art the B. I'm wondering about green, maybe a spinach dye.  Or even an orange. Hm. Your input gladly listened to, as always, dear blogistas.

So funny for someone who doesn't consider herself a colorist, to be so engrossed in issues of color this summer.