Friday, November 30, 2012

Artist books keep coming...

This is this afternoon's haul.  Saddle stitched, rounded corners and covers, nice little notebooks.  I like to give this kind of thing, not an elaborate present, but more than a card.  And there's a memory of HP in the covers, which I will explain to the recipients in due course.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Artist's books

Part of my holiday prep is to make a few artist books for gifts. Here are the three latest:  using knitted wire, computer parts, stamping from my handcarved stamps, binding with fabric, and stitching.  Making art helps me get through this, my least favorite, time of year!

Sent also to: 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blink! my part of the Traveling Art Journal

Remember the art journal I built, for our local artists' association to pass around and contribute to? 
here my kitty Duncan plays happily with the ties before I wrap it to send to the next destination.

My own page in the journal is named Blink!
  -- it's four strips of landscape fixed onto the page sequentially as if the viewer is seeing a strip at a time.  Which is just about what we do in real life, only glancing rather than looking.

And in another part of the journal I inserted a little painting, not pictured here, since the recipient doesn't know about it yet.  She'll get to see it next time the journal's in her hands.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Looking back a few years

For several years, I had art adventures with Stefi Mandelbaum, using the nom d'art Unified Field. We were accepted into juried shows, had our own exhibits, Liz, Stefi and Unified, like three artists, while continuing with our own individual art lives. If you're interested in seeing a few of the works we made in those years -- others were sold and live in collections now -- go here Same copyright restrictions apply to Unified Field as to both the artists.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Dollivers conduct an art workshop

This afternoon was a private session of drawing from nature, and the Dollivers were all over it, complete with special Art Hats.

Packing all the equipment for the art safari

And meeting FB, one of the adult students

After many drawings in a number of media, ready for home

But not before admiring six year old KBs charcoal drawing.

This was a wonderful afternoon partly of reminding, partly of teaching, a family about the approaches to drawing in general, drawing in nature particularly.  We spent the first part of the session indoors working on using a viewfinder, holding the pencil for drawing rather than writing, learning to start seeing.  Then we moved out and worked from nature (or from the house exterior steps, preferred by the six year old artist).  Everyone used charcoal, various pencils including carpenters', and graphite sticks, and papers ranging from very good to scratch,   And learned the use of the kneaded eraser, and why you work on a  vertical surface when you draw.  And why standing to draw is better than sitting.  And how it's fine to saw off pencils to suit your own hand, and cut up the drawing paper for your own purposes, and break the charcoal stick to suit yourself.

All in all, a good time was had by all.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the stitching...

The Fish is Finished!  the oriental stitch that forms the background is 1.  very lovely when it works and 2. very difficult for people with astigmatism who have great trouble perceiving exact diagonals.  I'm just sayin. But it's worth working through, all the same. The fish was stitched separately, appliqued, then stuffed, trapunto style before final attachment. 
This piece will probably be framed at some point.

And the pillow goes on apace, now in full swing with long armed cross stitch, which has become my favorite stitch of all time, even getting ahead of flystitch and feather.

In the studio, dyeing for the upcoming needlearts workshop started today.  I'll be making quite a few of these squares, lovely China habotai silk, handrolled and stitched hems, very lucky to get these, since nowadays these squares are usually machine hemmed, the hand stitchers either aging out or refusing to do it any more!
Here's the dyeing area of the studio set up ready to fire off.

And some of the squares I'll be working on. These will probably be overdyed, too.

The paper, you ask? that was on this clothesline?  it's ironed flat (I iron only in the studio, my clothes never experience a hot iron), and pressed under weights to stay flat till needed. It's under the glass table top under the silk on the line.  Art marches on, and I needed to get on with the dyeing.

Drawing workshop for a family on Sunday, so that prep is done now, too.  Great nostalgia value for me, teaching drawing again.

Aside from that, Mrs Lincoln, nothing happening at all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Papermaking Part the Next

Today I decided it was time to experiment with sizing my handmade paper.  Up to now I've always made it waterleaf, i.e. totally porous, not suitable for marking on, because it was art material of a different kind, that I used in my artworks but didn't mark on.  So I figured my handy book on papermaking from plant material was a good guide.

I decided to test it on a couple of the pages of the daylily paper I made (the rest, about a dozen sheets of 8x5 paper, is being pressed under a heavy weight) as well as some abaca and cotton linters paper sheets I'd made at other times.

This was a gelatin mixture, one box of four envelopes of plain gelatin (at the supermarket) to one quart of water.After softening the gelatin in cold water,

then bringing it to the boil, I poured it into my papermaking vat,
and dipped the pages in, one at a time,leaving them to soak through, then lifting them up to drain.  I made several discoveries in the course of this adventure, one that only the sturdiest of my pages could handle the gelatin sizing, and two, that the cotton linters was especially fragile.  The daylily papers stood up fine, though, so we'll see how it works once dry.  They may become covers for handmade books.

The pages had to be hung on a clothesline in the studio to dry completely, hence the washday aspect of the pix here. 

Because the studio is on the third floor, and the cooking area is in the kitchen, this little post of paper cost me many flights of stairs, great aerobic exercise.
It's good to note that this entire papermaking exercise,from gathering the foliage to finishing the sizing, is all nontoxic.  Safe in the kitchen, the gelatin being food grade.  Otherwise I wouldn't mix art and my cooking area.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daylily Paper

My Stella d'Oro daylilies,  from one plant I bought about twenty years ago, have proliferated and I've populated at least ten other gardens with them, plus some stealth gardening, beautifying corners here and there.  You'd think that was plenty from one little ancestor.  But it occurred to me yesterday while cleaning up front yard debris from Sandy, including a lot of late daylily foliage, that it could have yet another life.
Props to this book,
which reminded me that making paper from plants needn't be a major enterprise and can be done with safe materials.  So, a bucket of daylily foliage, patiently cut up into half inch lengths, cooked for several hours with washing soda, then rinsed and drained and beaten by handsful in the ancient Osterizer, two speeds, on and off, and I was able to make a vat of pulp,
for a pretty good post of paper.  First pages on the felts
Draining on the mold, notice the deckle in the background, removed for draining. I made all my molds and deckles, from artist stretchers and screening, and picture frames, and embroidery frames for oval shapes. Here I wanted a series of rectangular pages, so I used a picture frame mold and deckle.
Here it is drying outside,
and if it rains on it, no problem, it will make nice lacy designs, all good.  When it's dry and removed from the felts (actually interfacing from the fabric store, been in use for about thirty years and still good), I'll let you see how it works. 

If it's good stuff, it will probably be part of the pairs of media series I'm working on.  How that will happen is yet to be revealed to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Art Space gallery show

Homefront is our Mercer County NJ organization which assists homeless families, helping with job placement, establishing new homes, and generally supporting people through very difficult lives in this expensive part of the world, where it is possible for an adult to work a full 40 hour week and still not earn enough to pay rent on a modest apartment.  Run with professional staff and a cadre of volunteers, one of their programs is Art Space, where people of all ages can make art, to add a dimension of expression to their lives.  Art is also about squaring up to life, making decisions, and developing the stamina to complete even difficult work.  Vital for people whose everyday life is full of challenges.

I was at the art opening at the Plainsboro Library Gallery this afternoon, met with some of the artists, whose work makes a very strong show, and with Ruthann Traylor, who directs the art activities for Homefront, and volunteer artists who work with the Art Space participants.  Many years ago, I used to teach art workshops to Homefront children, and I've followed the organization with interest ever since, watching the good work they do in the fact of serious odds.  Ruthann knows the value of art for everyone, particularly when life is tough.  It's a core, lifesaving, need.

The artists are serious in their approach, one, E., a poet, talked to me about her notebooks filled with poems, all very personal, and perhaps just for her own eyes, but she's also working currently on a novel, which she hopes will eventually see publication. She also paints, but sees herself as more of a writer.  K. a painter creates powerful images, two of which were on view today.
Here's one


Student Andrew Marfitsin volunteered his services to play excellent classical guitar for the opening. 

This is a teen community volunteer, offering performance as part of his community hours for school. His mom is Tatiana Sougakova, a prolific and exciting artist -- you last saw her at the Festival of the Arts, creating the Clothesline installation of paintings.

Left, Donna S., gallery manager who organized and hung the show,  then in the middle Ruthann T,, both engaging the exhibitors in discussion of their work and plans. 
Homefront can use donations from people no matter where they live, who care about all of our population, and can use volunteer efforts from local artists who want to take part in their work.  To see their own website, and get a sense of the scope of their work,  go here:  

The holidays are coming up.  Nice to remember them when you're thinking gifts.  I'm just sayin' 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Coda. Old and new cityscapes

Old city gives way to new city.   Handwoven old city, high-tech image transferred new city.

Adventures with my Ipod Touch

I inherited an old Ipod Touch from Handsome Son, who is onto a much more modern handheld, and discovered the Doodle app.  This was like a blast from the past, when I was an early adopter of computer generated art, which in those days was a very complex operation -- two separate computers wired in together, one for DOS commands, the other for the menu driven art software, one mouse,one keyboard, and one stylus.  To get pictures, you had to insert your camera into the works and run it to grab images off the screen.  Each image took an entire floppy disk, so I had quite a collection of disks after a few months of frenzied artmaking fun.

But here, on my tiny Ipod,I can draw and paint at will using various tools and colors,just poking at it with my smallest finger, and I had a lot of fun with it.  The little weaving I did recently of the cityscape, ancient art technique, is echoed in a couple of these images, in latest techno form.

What I plan to do with one of the cityscape drawings is to print it out on image transfer paper, then iron the image onto fine cotton lawn for framing, to make the other one of the pair.  Talk about a range of media.  All good.

Friday, November 2, 2012

More work on pairs, Sandy notwithstanding.

The new normal in NJ is a different life from a few days ago.  I  blogged about it here

Meanwhile back in the studio, I'm pushing ahead with my pairs series.  This is very interesting and very labor intensive, since it involves either learning or relearning various different skills in media. Here I'm trying to revive my carving skills, to create the bird on branch motif that I stitched earlier, black thread on white lawn, and showed you a while back. 

My first carving was on lino, and since the block was really too old and dry for good carving, that was good for the round file, so I went on to a softer material someone gave me ages ago to try.  This carves much more easily, so the carver can't blame the block.  I pulled a couple of test prints, and see a lot of things to attend to.  Carving in different blocks is so different, and carving itself is so different from all the other media I work in, counterintuitive for me, really, but so worth doing.  I need to do more.

After I've prepared the drawing workshop I'm teaching in a couple of weeks' time.   And started the pretty intensive needlework prep for the workshop in the winter, which might end up happening in January, depending on weather.  And not done anything yet about the other February workshop, the artist book making and illustrating one, which can just wait till I get to it.

Aside from that, not much happening...I guess.