Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You know you're getting better when...

When, that is, you feel like actually creating a new artwork, complete with trials, and adventuring with the materials, taking sightings and range finding, all the mental and emotional preliminaries to an actual design, which is quite different from the nice little things I've made lately. 

I like them a lot, was pleased with how they came out, but they were not creative in the sense of emerging from one of those mental places that are neither picture nor words.  Anyway, I find I've embarked on what might be a very interesting mixed media piece.

It's about sea-wrack, and it's started off with freeform crochet.  Again, it's all recycled:  Helen H. donated the thread from a project she gave me unfinished, it's DMC cotton perle, in color number 644, a light dusty sage,which doesn't show up in the pic.  The hook is size 5 or F, depending on how you count, part of a care package from Judy T.  The hook gives you a sense of the current size of the crochet.

These techy details are for the fiber and textile artists, and recyclers, who like to dip in here now and then to read, and whose participation is valuable to this bloglady. Speaking of recycling, the crochet is displayed on top of an oak Mission style coffee table, with two drawers, each with ceramic pull handle, which I rescued from the dumpster many years ago. 

The picture here is the initial stage.  If you note the little end sticking out, that tells you where I started. It will be secured invisibly later.  If you're a crocheter, you will see that it's a combo of floating single chain and double crochet in  shell shapes, great fun to do,and appropriate to the meaning of the piece.  

This is being designed in mid air, as I go, and once this first part is complete, I'll stretch it on probably linen, in a frame or hoop, and go on with beads and goldwork (this is no surprise, I guess).  I feel so much better physically, now that I've started on this.  Or that it's started on me, it works both ways. 

One of the difficulties I've been dealing with since I got sick is that it also hit my hands, which have been feeling very gnarly.  I can't crochet for very long, but I think that's okay, since it forces me to stop and look rather than blaze away.

Creating art, as opposed to preplanned stitching, takes a lot of mental and emotional energy,and that stamina has not been available for a while.  I trod water, doing nice small stuff, and doing a bit of framing of completed pieces, but wasn't able to really create anything new.  So this is great.  We'll see how it goes. When you're up for it, art both spends and replaces your energy, but that balance is not always there if you're under the weather.

A while ago I did a little piece, which a viewer suggested I name Tidepool,and I think SeaWrack might be a companion piece in some way.  I think pearls might get into it, and beads simulating sea glass in greens and blues, and gold thread and, well, who knows where it will go after that.

It will probably be in my 2014 exhibit, if it goes as well as it feels right now.  I now have one more thing to be thankful for when Handsome Son comes over on Thursday to cook and assemble along with me, for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy Tday, US blogistas, and Happy Thursday readers in many other places!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Final appearance of the needlecase, and first appearance of the felt scraps at work

So a couple of the felt scraps became pages in my beaded needlecase, because they matched the original cover pretty well, and I was able to retire the counted cross stitch fabric I'd put in temporarily, and which can now become practice stuff.

Of course, I had to put in a bit more gold thread...and a couple more beads. And here's the case, front, inside and back. I have to stop now before I need to hire an assistant to lift the needlecase and open it for me, pounds of beads involved.  Funny how I've never liked red, but find myself working with it anyway.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The other reason to have a nice glass of wine with dinner

After I finished the Tyvek bag, I thought hm, I could do some fun stamping on that.  Any amount of it.  

I was opening the evening wine (Yellowtail Shiraz, if you wondered!) and noticed the plastic cork.  And in no time at all, I was pawing through my linocutting tools two floors up for a good knife for carving, and I'd found my good handle inserted a new blade, after fumbling through my blade collection, and was at work on a couple of corks.

I recommend these plastic corks for great carving.  The "real" corks, made of cork, are a lot harder to manage.  But these cut sweetly, and I found two corks, resolved never to chuck them out again.

And you can carve both ends, which you see I did, happily.  Then I did stamping with all of them on the Tyvek bag, using my archival ink pads.  And felt so much better in every way, after doing that bit of carving.

Then I went on with dinner -- croquettes of squash, rolled in redhot Indian crumbs, and a glass of the aforementioned Shiraz.

Nice in every way.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

In the bag

So here's my version of the Tyvek envelope bag.  A lot of fun, especially making the square bottom corners.  I learned quite a bit from making this.  Tyvek, as I expected, is tough to stitch by hand, but I managed it, using a number 5 white Perle cotton. 

I used ribbon from stash for the handles, just plunging it through and knotting inside.  This avoided more stitching, which the original design used to turn down the hem inside.  The handles hold it fine.

and I can continue painting it as the spirit moves me, if I think it needs more. This might be a good bag for roving and spindles, to encourage myself to get back into spinning.  Lightweight stuff, that is.

Friday, November 22, 2013

One thing leads to another

As in:  offer on Freecycle of a bag of red felt scraps, from a person who offers exactly what she promises, and who promised it to me. 

So I went off there today, finding that half the roads are being rebuilt between here and there before the winter, this being an area containing an entrance to the NJ Turnpike (main artery north south in the region, for people in other hemispheres) in the state which has more cars per square mile than any other state in the union.  Which makes us number one in one thing, anyway, aside from highest property taxes, where was I, so it was a mad scramble of police officers confusing everyone, and those orange barrel things that you can't tell which side of them to drive, and flashing blue lights,and totally lost out of state drivers thinking they've landed in some horror movie, and come to think of it, I didn't see any actual road work being done.

Anyway, home again, and I love the felt, instantly decide I must make something right away

 so I consulted my Sewing Green book, a nice work by Betz White, and on the way to thinking about trivets and placemats and coasters, I noticed a Tyvek bag.. Oh,oh. 

Calling for Tyvek envelopes which,you will remember, I happen to have, since I used some for stitching adventures a while back and have some left.

The work of a moment, the felt set aside, I banged some circles in metallic acrylic on four envelopes, inside out.  All have one copper side, one turquoise side, and I have to wait impatiently for the paint to dry before I can get onto the stitching part.

See her result:

Mine will be different (smaller envelopes, different approach to painting) but will basically be like this.  For containing stitching projects maybe. We'll see. Tyvek is pretty much indestructible, so strength won't be an issue.

And after THAT, I will use that felt.  Oh.  Maybe a felt bag...painted, stitched..we'll see.

This Green  book is fun to read, though some of the ideas are, well, perhaps I'm past the age when I could make a skirt out of a pillowcase and wear it with a straight face.  

But I did make an apron from a nice freecycled shirt, from her instructions, and that was fun, useful, too. I even embroidered ironic flowers on the pocket.

The trouble with irony is that you have to have a black arrow with "look, irony" pointing to it, at least in my world you do.  Not unlike a joke alert, I guess.  Irony alert. Maybe I should have stitched Ironic Flowers on the pocket, too.

Irony aside, this is a really nice book to own and browse through and get ideas from and get ideas that seem totally unrelated to what you were looking for originally, but that's how these books work.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Word of the Year -- Selfie

The Oxford Dictionary has declared the Word of the Year to be, drumrollllllll:  selfie!

This is the taking of a self pic via phone or digital camera, and is now a fairly contentious issue, public radio fueled, as to whether it's narcissism or art.  Whereupon people who actually know anything about art point out that it's an ancient art form. And that nobody turned round and called Rembrandt a narcissist!  a lot of other things perhaps, but narcissist, no.

So I thought I may as well be in the swim on this selfie tide, and did a few.  I had to delete the ones that almost completely missed my face on account of my inexperience of looking into the camera backwards. 

Then I kept on cracking up saying cheese and fromage and other such words, hence the slightly demented image you get here. One I more or less took accidentally while I was trying to push the right button. The cats firmly declined to be a part of this nonsense, and got on with their naps after pushing their paws into my face a few times.

In fact tomorrow I'm submitting a self portrait for an exhibit of local artists (we were ASKED to do the portrait, we're not narcissists, we're not.  We're just not.) so this fits in fine.  In fact  gallery director Donna might make capital out of promoting the selfie before  the Ox. validated it.

So here's me. 

 And, well, Rembrandt was no oil painting, either!

 This exercise reminds me of those booths you used to go into to shoot a silly series of self pix, or with as many friends could fit into the booth, the picture series would emerge on a long strip, and we thought it was the greatest fun.  It also makes me wonder why people think selfies are new.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Purse, done, both sides

The two denim pockets, upcycled from old jeans, are now a purse, complete with beading, goldwork, gold drawing and a crocheted strap. And ready to go off in the mail, to an undisclosed destination. But I think she'll like it.  And might embellish it a bit more, too!

Seen here, sides A and B,  on a rustic background!  namely, the old deck, with autumn leaves artistically put there by the wind.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Upcycled denim pockets

Upcyclers and stitchers and beaders will like this one:  I was given a bundle of old jeans via Freecycle, ages ago, and have finally done something with one of them.  

Aside from trying out my newly donated cutting wheel to make strips (and learning not to guide the blade from the back, see my bandaid) which I used to make a very shabby if not chic potholder, on my little loom, well, aside from that, I reused the pockets.

I cut them so that the back of the pocket is still there, and stitched both pockets together at the top. 

            Here you see it closed, as it will be when finished.

                              Here you see it opened flat.

This will create a two sided purse, one side for phone, one for Ipod, at least for me it would. I may not be the recipient, though.

The stitching was nice already, so I beaded along, and will probably bead more before I'm done. Using my Indian beads, I should add. Then to stitch front and back pockets around the edges. Then I need to use the cutter to make a strip I'll stitch for a handle, trying not to run over my thumb this time.  

This is a gauge of feeling well enough to try stuff out, bead along, and enjoy it, too.  I think I should call these Hot Pockets, except that I believe that name's taken.   Joke alert, food mfrs, joke alert.

All good stuff.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sometimes art happens in the kitchen with found foodstuffs!

Go here:


and see what I mean!

Beaded and goldwork needlecase done

This was a great learning piece.  I used my Indian gold thread for the stitching, some gold cord for the outlining, and Indian and other beads for the flowers and shading.

I tried out stringing a number of beads at once, then draping them on the shape, and anchoring between each bead.  This worked nicely to get a flow going on the soft felt background, and was good experience in gauging how many beads was enough for the space. 

I liked doing the shading -- several different colors of bead, from greenish gold to amber -- very much like shading with thread.  Because I used gold thread throughout, there was no problem in hiding the thread.  It either sank into the felt or just blended with the beads.

Felt is both difficult and forgiving to work with. Difficult because it tends to shift and change shape as you work, moving the beads unexpectedly, so you have to allow for that.  Forgiving because the needle slides through so sweetly, and you can pass thread at the back under the top layer, to hide it and avoid snagging it in use.

Anyway, this was a good project, small enough not to intimidate me at this point.  And now it's done and I have a handy needle case instead of scrabbling through a cigar box of needles and a pill container which let you see but not retrieve needles, gah.

When I get up for it, I may replace the inner pages with something more like felt, which I didn't have at the time.  Perhaps I'll cut more red felt and use that for pages.  I'm getting over my dislike of red, I see.  Speaking of which, the upper pic is closer to the true red of the felt.  No idea why it turned pink on the second one.

Click to see better.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Beading Edge

I've been looking on getting back into beading as a marker of feeling better, just not up to bothering up to today.  

But now, with the added impetus of a wonderful gift from India of beads and other cool things, I've started beading that little needlecase I made as displacement activity when I was starting to get sick, though I didn't know it at the time.  I knew I made the needlecase, just didn't realize I was heading into not being well for a whole month, dangit.

Anyway, here's my beaded start, and I'm learning as I go. Very much a beginner on this, as you see.  I've started teaching myself to string consecutively, then anchor the beads on the thread, rather than stitching each one.  Mainly this design does lend itself, more than other beading I've been doing.  And beading on felt is very cool.  I'm using what I think is a size 8 needle, which I used to use in miniature needlepoint.  Nice small eye, fine needle, which can pick up almost all seed beads.

So here's Girija's sister's gold thread and several bead colors in action. Great fun, feeling as if I'm getting back. I'm going to ask G. to send the pix to her sister, who did the shopping in India specially and sent it to me via husband-mail.

There's going to be stitching around the beaded areas, for a nice finish, but I couldn't wait to show off my beaded start!