Monday, October 29, 2012

Stitching stays for no weather!

Blogistas who are unaware of my location -- I'm in central NJ right in the path of the hurricane which is going to meet up with a nor'easter about over my head this evening, winds and heavy rain already here -- I've been getting on with using daylight for stitching and weaving, two lots of stitching, two weavings. 

This is in case we lose power and I can't see well enough in the evening to do it.  It's also to just have a fairly normal day despite the nervewracking news.  I'm tuned to a classical music station which has promised to keep breaking away to anything vitally important for us to know, but meanwhile Dvorak and I will see this through, with the help of Mozart and various other guys.

So, here's where I am!  works in progress all around me.
This is being worked on the potholder loom, still on the loom till I secure the backing and then organize the boundaries as I take it off the loom. The cityscape theme is one I like a lot, and this will be one of the paired pieces, as soon as I decide what other medium to render it in.

And here's that little fish, a bit ahead of where you last saw her. She will come to rest in that open area, appliqued on using those wild strands, which will disappear into the back of the piece. I think the main stitch in the water and sand background is Oriental, which is lovely once you get it going, and amazingly easy to slip a gear on and have to take out a whole column of it when you realize you were one tiny mesh over from where you shoulda been.
The pillow goes on apace, and that great big blocky stitch you see at the outside is what Jane S. calls a mystery stitch, since she had seen it in a completed piece, but not in any book of stitches. Not my fave of the stitches in this project, though some of them are lovely to work, such as the scotch stitch and the longarm cross stitch.
Here's that tiny embroidery I showed you a while back, the Cluny unicorn tapestry, and at its left an image transfer of the same thing, just to confuse the issue. I like this pairing very much. Ancient and modern meet.

Meanwhile, two floors up, the floss tapestry goes on, too, and it's turning out okay. This, with the image behind it, will be another pairing, except that the real image is a photo assemblage I made. So, send up good wishes for people at the eastern shore, whose situation is worse than ours, though a few leftover wishes wouldn't go amiss when the winds get here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paired pieces, red group

This is the next in the series of paired artworks, where I take a concept and render it in two different media, so as to be led by what the medium needs to do with the concept.  Here it's a pastel painting paired with a miniature tapestry. 
with a closeup of the tapestry. As you see, different things happen in the narrative of each one, largely because the medium wants a different thing!  the dark streak running down the left of the tapestry, an echo of the dark streak in the pastel, is in fact fur from my kitty Duncan, spun and woven into the piece.  He points out that cats are an artist's best friend, great studio company,and now even donating materials to the work in progress.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A new papermaker emerges!

Great afternoon of intense artmaking, with young papermaker and his father learning the processes of the ancient art of paper.  His father obligingly took pix of the proceedings just to give you a flavor of what a good time we had.  After we'd made the pulp, then gone through the papermaking process all the way from blending the torn sheets of cotton linters,  to slapping off papers onto the patio door (they took home a dishpan of paper in felts to do this for themselves at home), the visitors took a tour of the house to spot artworks made in paper, and to see the current state of affairs in the studio.  Ken, the young artist, is a serious student who listens and does, very adept, and really fun to work with.

They left all set to do more of this at home, now they know how to make their own molds and deckles -- embroidery hoops, picture frames, screening material -- their own vat -- dishpan --and felts -- dressmaker's interlining.  And how to take the pulp from sheet all the way to pulp ready to use.  Great fun, and I got a few sheets of paper of my own, to use up the rest of the bucket of pulp.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Dollivers set up the papermaking studio for K.B.

Tomorrow a young artist is coming to visit, bringing his parents, to see handmade paper and to learn to do it for himself.  So today we're busy setting up what he needs, collected from the studio two floors up.  Blondie Firstborn brought her doll, and Bette Davis said she was always in the newspapers years ago, and would like to be there again.  I had to explain we're going to make original true paper, not newspaper, but that did not deter her from barging taking part.

Here is all you need for great papermaking. 
It's what I use for all my stuff, somewhat simplified since the visiting artist is six, but basically all there.  To wit: second run cotton linters, pulp sheets, bag of my own cotton paper to be repulped and reused, molds and deckles -- as you see, made from embroidery hoops and picture frames, with screening, the kind you use on screen doors, stapled or pinched on -- blender (this kind of paper is clean enough you can in fact return the blender to the kitchen,though it is hard on the blender to make pulp), vat (dishpan in this case) and felts, those sheets of dressmaker's interfacing Blondie's reclining on, and a bucket.

The other Ds bustled about curating the living room so that the visiting artists can see some examples of art made from artist made paper, just for understanding how the paper itself is the art, rather than something to write or draw on.  All this work was done with the same basic tools you saw above, plus I did some molding after the original sheets were dried, and stitching, and other processes.

Tomorrow morning I'll make up a bucket of pulp and we'll be all set to go in the afternoon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New loom weaves clean...

I was engrossed in the new small tapestry I'm making, fine warp, and embroidery floss weft (embroidery meets weaving) and decided I needed a small loom for finer tapestry work that I have in mind. And it would involve sitting down to weave, a nice thought, according to my neck and shoulders.  And that though I could make one -- I have a range of them, in cardboard, stretchers, retooled wood frames and so on-- it would be nice to have a predesigned one. 

So I sent away for this dear little potholder loom -- Harrisville, old family company in New England, loom made in metal, very well finished with no snags, and made in the USA, all great points in its favor. 
It arrived with the speed of light, and turned out to include not only the loom, but a hook thing and a fat crochet hook, and  a bunch of loop things for making potholders.

So, though, no, I haven't been away to Girl Scout camp recently, I figured I really ought to use up the loops anyway, to get the feel of the little loom, and see how I liked the general dimensions.  Turns out I like them a lot, and since the potholder (ages 6 and up, so if you go far enough up, you get to me) has hooks on all four sides, that gives me other ideas, too,about tapestry weaving and design.  So that's in the queue for my attention very soon.  My inner little kid is all excited about this.

Possibility has arisen for an exhibit locally, via various friends having a word with one another, and I think the small tapestries might work into that very well, along with bigger ones already made.  As they say, it's all go!

So currently, there's this tapestry in progress

in the studio on a bigger loom, several items of needlework in the living room, the potholder loom reigning there, too, and in a couple of days' time a little guy is bringing his parents to visit, haven't seen them in ages, to learn how to make paper. So I had to organize some paper artworks in the living room so they can see what you might just do once you get the hang of it.  More pictures of that in action, with any luck.

And with time out for helping my honorary granddaughter with her college app. marathon, today has been pretty full, and it's only lunchtime now...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Prayer Flag Project exhibit has opened

I received a group of pix of the newly mounted Prayer Flag exhibit at OMA (Oceanside Museum of Art, Ca) today, and found a blog much easier to direct you to (moving the attachments of my email into my blog having temporarily stalled my inventive faculties).  So, if you'd like to see the opening, and who knows,may even see my flag in there somewhere, go to  

Oh, and here, too:

It doesn't really matter where my flag is, though, since it's a prayer, and as long as it is up there and flying in such good company, all is well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

When in doubt, do everything

This has been a lifelong policy for me, not always a wise one, but usually ending in a lot of fun.

The current "do everything" involves two pieces of needlepoint and a newly warped tapestry and a photograph and newly dyed threads from a canvas.

To explain:  the fish, Jane Sweeney's design,

has a fish motif separately stitched, to be appliqued to the bigger canvas which represents water and sand, so the excess threads of its canvas are removed to enable it to move in on the water area.  Then there will be a bit of trapunto stuffing to make the fish 3D.

However, once I'd removed the white threads, I figured it would be good to save them, and dye them for future use in a tapestry, possibly the one you see further down.  I used one package of Hawaiian Punch, one of Lemon Lime, Koolaid, if you're interested in the techy details of the dye job.  Done in the microwave in a ziplock bag, resting in a container.

Meanwhile, this pillow is going on apace, also thanks to Jane, and you see her sample pictured left, different color scheme from the one I chose.

Then up in the studio, I've warped up a new tapestry, very fine (for me) warp, on which I'll reproduce the photo image you see slid behind the front of the warp.  This won't stay there, just put there to show the intent.

  The photo image is my own, tricky stuff from way back when I used a film camera -- close up of a junction box or something, down the street, double printed, then I turned them up in relation to each other to make an abstraction.  I did a lot of this a few years ago, and exhibited them, all photographs, no photoshop, no fancy lighting or footwork, just pix, two prints of each, moved in relation to each other, all taken within 200 yards of my house, my time being very limited for leaving HP alone.  This turned out to be a great art adventure, though, all restraints forgotten as I explored.  I sometimes think of this as the Emily Dickinson approach to art!   a.k.a. world travel not included.

Writing this has given me an idea for another small tapestry, with my hands in the image. Must find that photo set and get that warped up, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Art updates Prayer Flag and Mary Walker Designs

I just heard  from the Oceanside Museum of Art, the prayer flag venue, that installation of the flags is almost complete, and they'll send me a link of the resulting pix.  So I'll post that here, really want to see all the other flags.  The few I've seen were great.  So watch this space!

Also,  go to
for a new weekly show and tell of art.  I've put my link to the tapestry in there, hoping I got it right, and there will be other interesting links on current artmaking.

Tapestry is now rested, and ready to be stitched to a dowel for hanging, and the next one is already taking form in my mind.  I went to the hardware store for art materials: dowels.  All dowelled up now and ready to go.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tapestry and painting done

The tapestry has landed.
Here's the tapestry at the last leash -- I tied these with bows for easy removal -- before I took it off the loom. I'd already cut and knotted the warp ends, flat knots, to secure the weft, top and bottom.  

Now it has to rest for a day to see its final shape and size.  It probably won't change much from being off the tension of the loom, since it's a mix of natural and synthetic yarns and roving and string.  But the day's rest is good.  Also good for the weaver, letting my neck get back to normal.  Quite heavy work, standing and working at shoulder height, with repetitive motion, so many short breaks and waving of arms and flexing of neck is also involved.

I framed the little painting in an 8 x 10 box frame, backed onto my handmade paper.   The weaving size is 18 x 16 counting the fringe, 10.5 x 16 not counting fringe.  I have to decide whether to keep the bottom fringes, maybe knot them more, since the warp fits in with the color scheme of the tapestry.  The top ones will probably be turned over and woven and stitched back in to support a dowel for hanging.  Then Pair Two will be complete.  click to see better.

Several ideas are jostling at once for next on the list of pairs, but I think I'll let them simmer a bit while I get on with needlework that needs coordination but is very restful.  It's about sitting down! also this is a Jane Sweeney design, the needlework, that is, lovely to work someone else's design and get an insight into how she works.  She has a joyful approach I like a lot.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The tapestry is getting there

Cheerful sight in the studio -- yarns galore, and the tapestry about three quarters done.  I like to have a great array of yarns in sight to suggest what should come next.  Often it's not what I first thought, so if I organized them too well, I might miss some ideas.  there are handspuns, sequin fabric, unspun merino roving, acrylic, Scottish wool, ribbon yarn, novelty fluffy yarn all in there. 

click to see better
And for nonweavers who wonder: those yarn leashes up the sides are meant to maintain the proper width of the weaving as I go, otherwise it would get narrower and narrower.  Sometimes I want that narrowing, but here I would like to keep the rectangular shape.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The tapestry continues..

So far so good.  I'm using a giant needle to do the weaving -- heading it in eye first, to avoid snags. The frame of this loom is thick enough that it's easy to slide the needle through one way, and not too tricky to pick up the threads on the way back.  I really prefer this method to butterflies or bobbins and using sticks and strings to manipulate the warp.You can probably see dots on the warp higher up to indicate where the sun will be woven in.  click on pic to see better.