Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Caution: humans at work

Yesterday I decided to make a field trip to Princeton Art Museum to see the Newcomb Pottery exhibit, very exciting stuff to aficionadas, of whom I am one, of American art pottery.  A couple of my treasured possessions are Rookwood pieces, same concepts, same period.

And got there and remembered too late, the museum is closed on Mondays.  Oh.  Well, nothing daunted and at least it wasn't raining, I went next door to Prospect Gardens 

lovely formal garden area in the backyard of Prospect House, where Woodrow Wilson lived when he was president of Princeton, before he moved down a step to become POTUS...

Anyway, for once I saw the gardeners at work. Usually they're an invisible army, always keeping the place looking wonderful, but unseen.  So I had a nice chat and thanked them, discussed the tulips they were taking out, they use them as annuals, and the younger man gave me a handful of the petals he was adding to what will be compost I guess.  

I was wondering if they would make good dye material, bright colors and that.

And found on trying it out at home, with silk squares, that the bright color is about optics rather than about pigment. Almost no color transfer at all.  So, nothing daunted again, I went outside and picked a few sprigs of rose leaves, and cherry leaves, and a few begonia leaves, and rolled and steamed the lot, and here are the results.

 I rolled them together, same leaves working differently on each, interestingly. I may stitch into them maybe not, but I'll show them to my stitcher buds tomorrow evening.  At the moment I have no stitching to take in with me, the only unfinished piece I'm interested in pursuing right now being on the floor stand.  But there's no harm in chatting.

I think I'm a bit stitched out, after the push of getting everything up to speed for late May, and making it with a bit of time to spare. 

And when I manage to get to the Newcomb Pottery exhibit on a day when it's open, I'll report back. Meanwhile, here's  a link to remind you what this lovely stuff looks like. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Eye candy, old and new

One of the Guild stitchers, Maureen C., brought in a few great buys she'd made at Etsy, including a wonderful piece of Tenerife lace, and I thought you'd like to see

Then there's probably the final series I'm exhibiting in June, newly finished, a Linen and Metal series of three: 

                                silverwork on silk on linen

                                         goldwork on linen

                         copper and metallic indigo on muslin

all dyed with various natural dyes and methods, all dowelled to hang. What you might call traditional, the Etsy finds, and new, the latest series.

I now have thirty works completed and I think I'm declaring the exhibit full!  a lot of work over two years.  But it will give me an inventory aside from this show, of items to send out to exhibit elsewhere too.  And who knows, some pieces may get a new home. I have a nibble on one of the Planet Suite series already..

When all's done, I'll put the complete catalog up in here, pix and prices and all that. 

And now I'm off for a pot of tea and a browse through whatever's on the Kindle.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The embroidery stand, more adaptations!

I really love this toy!  to date I've taken it apart and reconfigured it about four times, to suit what's happening, and it's great. No tools required except my gnarly old hands do need a bit of help from the slipjoint pliers.

So here are two successful configurations to date:


The light is the stand light from my music stand, a neat little LED job, with a flexible neck, so I can aim it exactly where I'm working and with the shadow on the other side.

I found that I sometimes like to use the slanted way, as below,  but that my back likes it better when I use the flat version, seen above.  But so easy to change as needed.  I also made a new pair of front legs, 22 inches, so I can sit on the sofa and work. The 25 inch legs work for a higher chair.  As you see, no end of playtime with this.  

And I have yet another configuration, where I dispense with all but the three way joiner things at the top, and can put it either upside down or downside up, depending on the size of the canvas I'm working on. No picture of that, since I imagine you're waiting for me to stop banging on about this latest Boud the Builder craze. 

I must say, though, that for less than $15 dollars, I'm getting my money's worth in entertainment as well as usefulness.  Already wondering if I can build a nice summer canopy for the patio, using pipe and clamps and canvas, to make up for the lack of shade with the loss of most of my tree..it would fold down easily at the end of the season...I could use more of that striped material I made the curtain out front with last year..hm.

Creative Collective and the Artists of Homefront exhibit at West Windsor Library

Creative Collective and the artists of Homefront just hung a really strong show, thirty two works in media ranging from cast metal to glass to oils to acrylics, to pastels, to watercolor, to pen and ink to collage, and ceramics, in an explosion of color and style and meaning. This exhibit is worth a trip to see.

It's open all the hours the library is open, and you see it right where you enter. Hung alongside the artworks is a catalog of prices, titles and artist bios.  For directions, and opening hours, go here

It will be up to late May, so seize the day. It's  a great antidote to a wet cool Spring.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Artist in Residence Week Nine AIR 2016 WIPS

Last week of the current series of Artist in Residence sessions, and it was definitely worth doing.  A lot of good conversation, ideas for people to take away, many interesting questions, and the opportunity for me to show many forms of textile arts, all accessible without much equipment or expenditure.

Today it was Works in Progress, and I brought in several works in progress, three or four of them barely designed, and ready for me to do designs on them, one under way, one almost completed.  In between chatting about art, design, higher education, the political scene, literature and various other topics that came up as the afternoon went on, that is.

As usual, I brought a box of materials, threads of all kinds, plus reference books. Since today's emphasis was on design and working on it, the book of drawings is one of the best places a designer can start, both to study and to draw, to get your eye and hand in.  Then the book of geological photographs, natural shapes and forms, wonderful ideas.  And my own looseleaf notebook of drawings, most of them done not as ideas but as fully developed drawing.

And for color, nothing beats the sheer intelligence of Albers.  He was the twentieth century master, taught at Black Mountain College many other artists, composers and wild talents.  One of his students, Maggi Johnson, was my mentor until her death in her mid nineties last year.  So I have an unbroken succession to one of the greats! well, two of them, in fact.
I found a wonderful motif on Twitter the other day, one of those stylized initial letters in illuminated medieval manuscripts.  So I swiped the shape as a design element, repeated it five times, meeting in the middle, to form a kind of mandala effect, on a piece of dyed linen, and will stitch into that.  Maybe with silver, maybe gold, maybe colors, maybe all of the above.

The series of graduated hoops I'd set up with dyed silk will probably not be drawn on again, though I did break down and draw a rose motif on the smallest one.  The silk and muslin and linen all started life as plain white, and I dyed and printed and generally made changes on them as a support for stitching.

Then I started the printed piece, a formless sort of group of metallic imprints I'd put on muslin, and began to form a mountain landscape, drawing from shape to shape and starting to couch copper metallic thread onto the contours. There will be an indigo metallic in what is to be the horizon line of the mountain range.

These will all be either framed or dowelled wall hanging pieces.

I learned quite a bit in the course of this residence, one being to stay calm in public long enough to stitch peacefully and to concentrate on designing.  Before this I would have had to be at home to design happily. 

But now I feel as if I can do it anywhere! this bodes well for the good weather, if we ever get any.  I can definitely see working out of doors.  The light is very favorable from now on, too. Plein air stitching!

And all this is leading up to the June exhibit, for which I hope to have enough work to make a show.  The title of the exhibit: Leap and the Net Will Appear! and the next few weeks will feature quite a bit of leaping!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Just an amused post about how frugality gets everywhere.  

A simple bag of onions on sale has yielded plenty of onions in the freezer, a bag of skins in the dyebag, a poem, and a line drawing.  You can read the poem here
The line drawing is a pilot pen one on hot press paper, and now I want to do more

 I'd say those onions don't owe me anything. Talk about freighted.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Artist in Residence, AIR 2016, last week, WIPS

This week is the last of the AIR series, and though I initially thought I might just bring out what I planned for last week, I've decided it would be interesting instead to bring out WIPS, works in progress, some planned, some designed, some under way, as an insight into the ongoing work of a person like me.

So here's the picture of what will happen.  I've hooped up a series of silk pieces in graduated sizes, all steam-dyed using leaves and flowers, and a piece of linen, dyed likewise, plus a piece of cotton, printed with metallic acrylic paint. 

None of these is stitched yet, so I will be drawing designs on them, or possibly following the lines created by the dyes.  They tend to look like landscapes, so choosing where to hoop was part of the design process.

And there will be threads, and silk blanks to see the starting point of the dyed pieces. The blanks just arrived today, very timely. I put out gold threads for this photo, but I might work the graduated series using silver.  We'll see.

That will be IT for the series! And I think it's been worth while all around. 

On Saturday, our stitching guild has a joint program with the Historical Society of Princeton in a historic farmhouse, where a few of us will be stitching in public for the afternoon and demonstrating, and I think this series plus silver threads, will be among the items I take with me.  If they let me do pix there, I will share the event with you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Score: virus 1, Boud 0 more or less, but one thing got finished

This week has been quiet on the art front, and more exciting than I like on the health side.  A gut virus felled me on Sunday, and I am still not acquainted with solid food, but I think it's abating now, leaving total tiredness. Anyway, that's why there's no AIR session this afternoon, sorry, but I will be back next week.  The libe staff is all aware and will explain if anyone is looking and asking.

The only small thing I've been able to accomplish is, once the parts for the floor embroidery frame arrived, to complete the assembly, and install a sample piece of dyed linen on it, just to show how it works.  The clamps which grip the fabric are great, easy to tighten by turning them to the back of the frame.

If you downloaded the pdf you will have seen that it calls for four two inch segments of half inch pvc piping, for a table model.  In order to adapt that to a floor model, I substituted two 25 inch pieces, to raise it up to the level I need.  Incidentally, if you are concerned about the originator of the plans, she does suggest various adaptations, and I doubt she'd object to this one.

The photograph distorts the relative size of the top and the base -- they're much nearer in size than they appear here.  And I'm pleased with the result, pretty sturdy, lightweight, and can be taken apart and put together easily.

I am going to dye some silk pieces, once they arrive, the way I did the last dye lot, and I'll be able to use my new frame to stitch on them.  Very pleased with all this.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Eco dyeing, or what I did while I was waiting for parts to arrive

So yesterday I picked up the pvc pieces for the embroidery frame, but found that two items, the three way connectors and the clamps, were not available locally.  

So I sent away for them, and did all the cutting in the meantime and assembled the parts I can, except that the long piece needs to be cut into two parts, once I determine the exact height needed to raise the frame up to be a floor standing frame.  If you have downloaded the pdf of instructions, you'll see a place where you use two inch pieces to create the table top model. That's where I'm putting in much longer pieces, to raise it up as a floor standing frame. So here's where that project is:

It will be only a couple of minutes' work once the parts arrive, the three way and the clamps, then I'll show it.  Such a cool idea.

Soooo this left me Saturday evening, my Donna Leon current reading done, casting about for what to do...and I noticed a blog about eco dyeing, and thought, oh look, a bird..

This is not the kind I did last year where I extracted the dyes from plants then used them to dye fabric.  This is the other one, where you wrap actual plant material, tie and steam it.  Better if you have tin cans or metal pipes to wrap the fabric around, but I don't use much in the way of canned goods, and my pipe bits are pvc,  so I had to improvise. And rusty items, and I could only find one or two of these, rust not evidently being an issue around here. You need the rusty stuff, since the iron offshoot is a good mordant

So, it being late on Saturday night, and even I draw the line at foraging in the pitch dark, I went with indoor houseplant and veg material

Boston fern, begonia leaves, sanseveria and a handful of onionskins.  I soaked three fabric pieces, one linen, two silk, in a solution of one to four white vinegar to water, wrung it out,  then arranged plant material on the wet fabric, folded it over, 

then rolled and wrapped it tightly, using string. 

Then steamed it for two hours.  Then I left it overnight, and unwrapped it this morning 

and pressed the wet fabric to see what it had wrought.

One of the scarves had some silk dye already, but one was plain white, and the linen piece had pale turmeric dyes on it already.  So this also compared overdyeing with original dyeing.  And found it was all pretty much fun.  Once the frame is done, I can mount the linen square on it for stitching purposes.  Once the parts have arrived..it will all converge at some point.

Friday, April 15, 2016

AIR 2016 Week Seven Lemons and Lemonade

Here's the setup for AIR Week Seven, including beaded knitting which uses a crochet hook, stitching on net, and designing ideas.

We were up against a beautiful Spring day, which kept people away in droves, so, since few people got the benefit of this setup, I plan to repeat it next week.  That's the lemon part.

However, the lemonade part is that for the first time, I got to work during the session, not needing to stop and explain and show. So here's the lemonade, a finished phone purse, started as a demo. 

In fact it wasn't wasted, since I showed a couple of stitchers the crochet hook beading idea the evening before, at our meeting, and then a couple of neighbors who dropped in at home the evening after.

You will see that I now have three beaded phone purses.  They seem to fall in seasons, the latest one, in string and blue glass beads, being a summer idea, the white with the blue wooden beads and gold strap a winter one, and the dark rust with I think agates, or some such precious stone, and silver strap, a fall one.  This was not planned, but it occurred to me just now that it's what I seem to have done.

Since I plan to learn a bit of Ukrainian embroidery, and have a kit and instructions ready to go, and Ukrainian embroidery features flowers, perhaps I can stitch a Spring phone purse..all a bit quirky, but if some people, who shall remain nameless, create pillow covers for the season, well, I can do phone purses.  Neener!

And tomorrow I plan to shop for the piping and connectors to build myself a standing embroidery frame. The original wonderful plans, found on Magpie's blog, go here , are for a freestanding or tabletop frame. 

This link takes you to a nice post on Magpie's blog, always fun to read, and you will see the joke in the previous para as well as a link to the plans for the frame, created by Kathy Shaw, so you get a twofer.  Or a threefer, really.  I think Kathy deserves some sort of citation for this idea, and you will too, once you take a look at the plans.

I plan to adapt them to make a floor frame, and my stitching buds are eager to see how it comes out, after they saw the pvc niddy noddy in action!  They asked me for the link to the original ideas, which I sent, but I will show them my finished product, with any luck, soon.

And while I was musing about this, and thinking, what a pity, I seem to be weaving rather than stitching more than anything at the moment, that it struck me with a blow like a meteor to the head, that this can also be a weaving loom!  And it would be easy to remove the weaving at the end by sliding the members aside rather than cutting and tying the warp ends. Exactly like removing yarn from the niddy noddy.  And it's at an angle all the better to save my stiff neck.  Now I really can't wait to get on with this.

I can use up the rest of the piping left over from the niddy noddy, plus buy more piping (I guess it will be like the hot dogs and rolls, never coming out exactly even, there will always be leftover pipe), and various connectors.And I'll report back in due course.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Why the Artist in Residence notion is labor intensive!

The AIR 2016 is labor intensive partly because as gallery manager and general art director of the libe Donna rightly said, I decided to do it big, how typical of me, too true, and partly because I only include fiber arts in which I already have experience and have either exhibited or taught.

However, that's a range, and it means every week I usually have to refresh my knowledge and skill!  can't claim to show  something if I can't remember exactly how it goes, after all...

So this week, among other things, for Week Seven of nine, this is all your doing, Quinn, I'm refreshing my old skills with beaded knitting where you use a crochet hook to insert the beads.  It's mesmeric and you just don't want to stop once under way. 

I decided to embark on a new small piece, a phone purse, similar to a couple of others I'm bringing, just to demo the concept and to encourage visitors to try a small item for themselves at home.  I find new knitters tend to think in terms of large things like scarves and sweaters and can get a bit daunted when the finish line recedes like mountains in the distance.

And I'm using fine string and glass beads, a nice and unusual combo of materials. Another reminder that you can use anything you want as a yarn.

Anyway, now I have to hold back from finishing the thing too soon!  I need to have some left to show.  The pic here I took this morning, right after I got under way, but the item's nearly done now, oh dear. Note the extreme fineness of the hook -- the hook end is barely visible.  This is because you need a hook small enough to thread the bead onto it over the hook, and to draw it back out with two thicknesses of your yarn on it.  Which means you have to have beads with a bore (the hole in the middle) large enough to allow this.

In addition to this technique, I'll be showing books and ideas about doing your own designing, too, to encourage that, and will be showing a stitching on net still on the hoop, the design taken from my own drawing. 

The technique of using Vilene and net, which I might have invented, at least I never saw it anywhere,  is part of this, too.  A lot of textile arts are really not difficult, at least to embark on, but they seem mysterious until you see them happening.

Varied and interesting session, at least that's always the hope.