Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ruffles and Flourishes

That's the trumpet fanfare that goes before Hail to the Chief and various other ceremonial appearances.

Elton thought it was a good idea today, as we unveiled the Needlepointed Thing!  and the Dollivers are campaigning to have it as a rug in their clubhouse.  But I think, though it was originally designed as a pillow top, it will most probably be the side of a fancy totebag.  I'm thinking of weaving the other side on my teeny potholder loom, using more of the same yarn.

This was a huge undertaking in terms of the hours spent.  Yesterday I did little else but the basketweave border while I  listened to Boomerang, my current book club selection, on CD. Multiply that out by the rest of the piece, and it comes to I dunamany hours. Nice day. 

The project was a new adventure for me:  following someone else's instructions to the letter, well, almost, except for choosing the colors.  It was meant to be a different sort of brain exercise, totally the opposite of my usual approach where I create all the stuff that goes on.  It was meditative and irritating and all kinds of things, like the time I took a workshop in botanical illustration, again, the opposite of my usual approach.  That was similarly meditative, agonizingly slow, six hours on one flowerhead, but in the end I was glad I did it.  Like climbing a long slow mountain!

The up side of it is that you really improve your skills, here stitching skills, good tension, evenness, all that. And that I now can go back to my freeform piece with a clear mind and better stitching skills.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Green's the Word

With teaching workshops all done, and my time to myself again, I've been doing Cute Stuff. Now and then I just want to do something that doesn't matter at all, involving stitching or handsewing.

While waiting for a friend to show up for tea, I set up a couple of Ds., who insist they qualify as Cute Stuff and noticed that the tea napkins were ones I'd hand stitched years ago, and the woven potholder was the first thing I made on my tiny loom.

Then the book Sewing Green by Betz White came swimming into my ken, and the next thing I'd ordered up my own copy, and set to work.
See the book here, amid a sea of denim -- great freecycle score, much more of that, for making bags of all nations. And here's the first result: an apron, which I embroidered a bit, made from an old shirt which didn't suit me but was in very good condition.
One of those things you hang in the wardrobe and keep thinking you'll wear one day. This was more or less along the lines of one of Betz' great recycling ideas, but I did change to suit myself.

This is the back of the shirt, the waistband being what was the yoke, and the ties were cut from the sleeves. The pocket I cut off the shirt and appliqued onto the apron. I'd stitched the motif before I attached it, though, but that was still quite tricky, since I preserved the whole pocket, back too,so I had to sort of stitch inside a little bag, trying not to stitch back and front together.

Right after this photo, I put it on for its maiden voyage in the kitchen,and made a nice stirfry, onion, garlic, red and green diced peppers, leftover mashed potatoes, couple of eggs, cumin, turmeric, kosher salt.

Here it's open. And here it's flipped to finish cooking.
After I put it on the plate I thought briefly about another pic,but decided you'd had enough stirfry for the moment. I have to keep on making soups and other things if I'm to use the last of the farmshare before the next one starts. And the denim I'm processing to get what I need to make bags, preserving pockets where I can. These might be shopping bags, or sewing project bags, who knows. I don't have a machine, prefer hand sewing, even for denim. It can be done, if you think it out ahead. So that's me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Disregard strange emails!

My account was hacked, and I thank all the many people who let me know. Evidently, judging from the number of calls and emails I got this morning, my entire address book received a scam email involving Cyprus and wandering about wringing my hands over it or something! I am quite safe, in the usual place, just annoyed that all these nice people were bothered by a scam and some were quite concerned in case there might be something to it. Nope. But now that I've done the usual remedies,I have to rebuild my entire email contact listings, huge, which were all wiped, along with saved emails in the first half of the alphabet. Soooooo, be aware that unless you email me, I might not be able to be in touch. The Dollivers point out smugly that yarn don't crash, so I'm ignoring them.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Workshop, Voice and Faces of Plainsboro

Today,after much planning and organizing, I taught the Voices and Faces of Plainsboro art journal workshop,and it went off well, participants very bravely trying everything I suggested, creating their own xbook then designing the contents to reflect their own lives and their part in the town. It was a long time in the creating, my idea being that participants make a book, which will then be shown with all the other books, quilt style, on a backing, so that they are seen as individuals and as part of the community.

Materials, some of them, ready for action! not shown are the tables of other items, papers, maps, stamps, handmade papers.

Participants getting ready to work, excited!

Most people needed to take home the book to finish, this being a lot to complete in one session of two and a bit hours also a lot for their artistic stamina  to handle, most of them not being artists.  And, as always in this sort of community workshop, new connections were made, as people found they knew each other, or had mutual friends, some caught up after years of not seeing one another, one person commented that she'd seen another acquaintance on Antiques Roadshow recently! this is really one of the values of this kind of undertaking, this one funded by the county Cultural and Heritage Commission.   The culture of the township is changed and improved, and this is a Good Thing.   Old friendship renewed, new friendships started.

This is a significant day for me, too, since it would have marked my Golden wedding anniversary, if Handsome Partner had not left us a bit early. When we planned the date, I mentioned that, and Donna S.,the organizer worried in case that would not be a good date, but I decided it would be an excellent time to be busy all day, occupied in my work, and getting on with my own life.

And as the participants worked, I noticed one who was thrilled with the bag of stamps from a collection, which she was selecting for her own use to reflect her travels. And I realized she was getting such a charge out of the collection of Handsome Partner's stamps I had donated to the library after his death, for use as art materials. She closed that circle for me very elegantly. And I think Handsome Partner would have been happy,too.

Donna S. sent me home with a bouquet, however! and one of these days, I'll make my own xbook, to join the collection, and I expect today will feature in it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The other shoe drops

This is the other half of the Pair which goes with the embroidered piece.  This is a cabbage leaf, scanned, then image transferred onto cotton lawn, then a silver monotype of the same cabbage leaf printed over the top.  Sorry abut the distortion -- the surface is shiny and gave a lot of glare at various angles, so this was the best I could manage.

And the little round thing is not a round tuit, but it is a trial of an idea I have, to make .38mm badges for a fundraiser, for the Breton Lifeboat Association.

  They're inviting embroiderers to submit small embroideries of their own design which they will transform, with their little machine, into pinbacks,  to sell at an embroidery festival in France in June.  For more info on this, if you're interested in what looks to me like a very good cause, Brittany being dear to my heart from a lovely summer I spent there long ago, and lifeboat crews being the ultimate in quiet heroes, go here, at least start here with Isabelle's blog, well worth a visit at any time, and follow her links.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stitching in progress

After teaching the freeform embroidery workshop, I urgently needed to get going on some freeform of my own.  This piece is not only stitching, it's also part of the Pairs Project I've been doing, rendering the same content in different art forms.  The companion piece is a transfer image of the original object on cotton lawn.

This one is a monotype, in silver block printing ink, of-- a cabbage leaf!  just inked and used as a plate, then the print taken on another piece of white cotton lawn.  Its resemblance to a spreading tree is one of those lovely echoes in nature, like shells and fungi, and I'm working in a limited color range, with the addition of blending filament, lovely sparkle, to render it as a blossoming tree.  I just began this so there's a large population of stitches waiting to happen here, but I thought I'd let you in on it anyway.

And I just realized that when I made soup this morning from farmshare vegetables in the freezer, squash and cabbage, this is the same cabbage that acted as my model for the artwork! you do know the old joke about why artists paint still life? it's because fruit and veg are cheaper than human models!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Freeform Stitching by Free Women!

Today I conducted a workshop for our chapter of EGA (Embroiderers' Guild of America) which I'd designed on Freeform Stitching on Silk.  I dyed a lot of silk squares, all different, many different techniques and colors, so participants could choose, then we explored how to look at the shapes and colors, how to select contrasting and toning colors to work on, how to proceed with a freeform adventure.

What a great group of friends and stitchers and students.  We had a great afternoon together and now I'm planning on a little glass of wine to end up the day..

I'm hoping to show you finished products one of these fine days, because what shaped up this afternoon promises to be great stuff.

Silk squares set up ready to choose

The flosses set up awaiting the stitchers
Front page of five page tutorial

Padded hoops ready

My camera! No, mine!

Okay, it's yours.

Choosing flosses

Studying design problems

I have a couple of the silk squares available, my choice of color, at $15 US each, let me know if you're interested.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stitch in Public Day!!

For a report on today's Stitch in Public Day, a nationally celebrated day of stitching out there in the public eye, to encourage other people to try embroidery, and see the kind of work we do, go here: