Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nameless piece appliques dyed

So, just to prove I do, too, work in the studio still, I dyed those goldwork applique pieces and here's the results.  A kind of soft green, and as hoped the gold threads shine right through.

Not sure whether to do other parts of this work first then the applique, or whether the appliques in place will help determine the rest of the piece.  I'm leaning toward the second.

Friday, December 5, 2014

About that big plan for taking time off from making art..

About that plan to take a bit of time to let new ideas soon as I made that decision, I had a great urge to search through my very small stash of threads and fabrics, and suddenly found a new idea demanding to be heard.  I just can't take orders, even from myself.

I found a remnant of what I think is handblocked Japanese fabric, black design on grey background.  I used another piece of this in an earlier exhibit piece, using the front of the fabric, but looking back at that, now found it okay, but much more timid than what I propose here.

I've stretched this, and plan to use the back of the fabric, and work on the top of the frame, artist style, not the back of the frame, stitcher style, so that the piece will be ready to hang as is, once completed.

You see the chalked-on design, nice curved shapes, and this reminded me of some goldwork samples I made when I was first learning goldwork, teaching myself, and here would be a place to applique them and they'll work.  

I backed them with stick-on plastic, to preserve the edges from fraying, then cut them from their original fabric, and here you see them placed temporarily in what might not be their eventual home.  The white edges will support additional stitching. I might still dye the pieces, too, because the gold threads will shine through well. It would have been good to think of dyeing it before I cut it out, but oh well.

And I've put out a selection of gold and silver threads, including some real gold threads, finally using them, the ones you see on the cardboard tubes, already rolled and ready for action.

So this is what happens when you don't plan to make art. This piece is currently known as No Name, until it develops to where I know what it's about.

I also finally did some moving of lights, so that the table can be useful as a workplace, and the sofa as a nonwork spot.  

I just moved the dining table lamp and switched it with the tasklight I had set up over the sofa.  I think I'll have less competition from cats if I work at a table.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Third Wilderness Piece done, I think

Last part of the wilderness series is now complete.  In my title I say I think it's complete.  Can't tell exactly, but it's framed and I'll get some input before I decide whether to leave it where it is. I like many things about it, but I'm a bit too close to know.

At this point I plan to take a little thinking break about next works to come. Don't know yet what they are, but that's why I need the bit of time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Joy of Art, the Agony of Framing

Or, as wise friend Stefi has been known to say, if you want the pleasure of framing, first you have to go through the boredom and misery of making art...

Anyway, today after framing three pieces, I ran out of strength and patience and all that framing entails, and have not quite finished framing up the rest of my work.  One more wilderness piece and a couple of goldwork pieces to go.

Working in 3D i.e. stumpwork and other similar techniques, creates a particularly shall we say challenging situation for framing, since you can't put the work face down in order to mount the fabric on to the backing, the usual procedure.  

You have to preserve the surface and work sight unseen at the back pulling and adjusting the tapes and getting the artwork properly centered and taut without crushing the fragile embroidery or shoving it out of place.  My nerves were not centered, but definitely taut.  Remembering how many hours go into making this work in the first place, you really don't want things to go all pear shaped in the framing.

And I can only keep up this level of tension, meaning the physical kind, for so long before my hands start to whine and complain.  So I made the pix, for once remembering, I'm very proud to say, to leave the glass off for the pix, insert it after them, so that only had to be done once.  Then I decided that the night wilderness scene and a couple of goldwork pieces had to wait till tomorrow.  And now I'm having a cup of tea and gloating over my progress to date.

 Here's that wheat design I did, rayon thread, gah, with beads and other things on white linen, 8 x 8 inches -- it's a dark and stormy day, so the white doesn't show well here.

And here's the daytime wilderness pieces, with the glasswing insect now in place, along with the or nue sun and the blue and purple stumpwork butterfly.  The second picture is to indicate the frame a bit for you to see the boundaries of the piece.  It's 12 x 12.

The reason I want this framing done is that Sunday is the annual holiday bash of the Embroiderers' Guild, with a show and tell of this year's work, so I wanted to put my best stitch forward.

You may remember that I had planned to add all kinds of stuff into the wilderness pieces, but having made the small one, which was quite busy, decided I'd rather be spare with the other two, plenty of air around the insects is better than a crowd.  I still promise myself a goldwork bee in stumpwork, though, but he'll have another context.

The silver (it's silver, take my word for it) frame with the schwalm whitework in it amused me hugely because the design on the frame reflects in an updated sort of way the general design of the whitework. Just a little sight gag there.  I starched the whitework, too, figuring why not, the original stitchers probably did, too.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

All Fail, All the Time!

Some time ago I rescued from the dumpster a very sturdy little rubber tire from a small bicycle, and thought, aha, this will make a lervly wreath. 

And I have all kinds of everlasting flowers that I'm tired of seeing in a vase and they'd go just fine attached around this wreath. So time passed, as it does, then today I thought now I'm tired of seeing that tire lying around, I'll see about making my wreath, it now being the season and all that.

So I wrapped it first in a nice bright green embroidered sort of satiny remnant, then with a sparkly narrow ribbon. So far so good, bit ropy, but when it was covered, the flaws wouldn't stand out.

Then  I attempted to attach the everlastings.  And they shed mercilessly all over me, the wreath, the table, the cat helpfully hovering about, and it became clear that if I got them attached, there would be a big shower every time the front door on which the wreath was to live, was opened.  And I realized further as the lawyers say, that the chances are great that my season of sneezin' is the result of these critters. 

So now the wouldbe wreath which looks exactly like a bicycle tire wrapped in green satin, is balanced on a high shelf in case I ever think it's worth doing.  The everlastings now live outdoors.  And at least I know I tried.  

But it looked terrible, as a matter of fact.  Not a bit what I'd envisioned. The thing is that I'm so deadly allergic to real greenery, particularly once it starts to dry, that it would do me in having a wreath of it on my front door and having to pass it several times a day. So that's not an option. That's why I came up with the dried flowers instead.

Then I thought, ah dolls, maybe, but they put up such a concerted scream of protest, even the new ones, that I didn't have the heart.
So this is a Big Art Fail!  Full disclosure.  Which does not lead as far as putting up pix of the big mess...

Reminds me of a wonderful interlude years ago at work when a couple of other artists (we were largely artists with day jobs) decided we'd have an In House Bad Art Show.  With really rotten works we'd made, and like all artists we had plenty to choose from.

Mine was a big red paper deal, supposed to be shaped and puffed out to look like a Japanese fighting fish, a solid paper sculpture hanging from the ceiling, but ending up looking rather like a stuffed red suitcase hanging in the lost property area.  

Then, irony abounded, another staffer, not an artist, a sports type, fell in love with my fish and demanded to have it hanging from the ceiling of her office.  I gave it to her on condition she never mention my name in connection with it.

What I learned today (been reading Robert Fulghum, can you tell?)

1.  it's worth trying because even if you fail you learn something. In this case that I should never have started this project.

2.  the best plans in my hands often change dramatically in the execution

3. I did make bad art, but I had a good laugh.

4. The circular form is not my metier.

5. A wreath is not an item you can hang with irony. 
However, my two latest little dolls having heard the Dollivers wittering on, have caught on and want their picture in here, now.

 Bigger doll points out her hand tatted blouse, (Judy, I didn't cut it, just wound and pinned it)  and her gold lame sweater, and smaller doll not to be outdone, sports her white mohair sweater and silver lame skirt.  And she explains she had not been drinking at all, just having a bit of trouble balancing there.  Take that, Ds!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wilderness silver moon and new notebook

I got the silver disk or nue done, and here you see it on the original fabric 

and cut out and sitting in place ready to be appliqued there, with rays of silver probably shining out from it before I'm done.

This was difficult because with the cold weather and despite major hand care, my fingertips and thumbs are rough and dry and they snag the silk thread sumfink awful, which snags my temper, too. But we survived.

Then since I needed to be making something, I created a little notebook from the giveaway postcard I picked up at the Morven sampler show I blogged about a while back.  

Simple saddle stitching, and my corner punch rounds off the corners nicely.  I still like little notebooks, have made and given away a ton of them, despite keeping a lot of notes on my Ipod.

By the way, this is a great way to spiff up a greeting card -- just insert pages you've cut to match, stitch in place, and you have a nice little notebook with a great cover.  

I've done this to send to people who warranted more than just a card but who aren't big on gifts, figuring this was half way between.  

Incidentally, there are several good books on book making, but for me the most appealing and useful is this one:  

Great step by step and photos, and you see the pages containing some of the steps I used in the stitching

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Or nue silver disk in progress

 A lot depends on how the light falls on this kind of silverwork, where the shadows move.  It looks different from different directions.  I'm hoping to get the disk finished at this evening's stitch-in.

I'll decide which way up is best to applique it to the night time wilderness piece once it's ready.   My couching skills are improving, the edges of this disk better than the gold one.  The silver is a bit easier to pinch and redirect from the side, too.

After this is done and appliqued, I'll finish up the glasswing insect whose wings are done, and whose body will be beads stitched directly onto the wilderness piece, probably the night one.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Goldwork or nue in its place

The wilderness pieces continue, with the hope of finishing the three in the next few days, well, we'll see.

Here you see the or nue gold disk in place as a "sun" figure in the daytime wilderness piece.  


Still to come is one more critter to complete the piece. And there's a "moon" in silver and blue upcoming to go into the night time piece.  

At this point it's felt pieces stitched in place, waiting for the or nue, which I supposed, since it's silver, would be argent nue, but I don't think that's what they say.  

And again, that piece needs another critter to complete it.  I think both might benefit from a couple of random butterfly wing shapes, too, but we'll see how they work with the last critters in place.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

EarthStarBox watch this space....

My friend and one of the most creative people I ever knew, Mare Johnston, is cooking up a little something to introduce to us soon.

And just so's you know I am finding myself totally into this surprise thing that you will know more about eftsoons, I just wanted to show you some thinking that's happening in this studio, on the other side of the continent from hers!

Also I did want to state that I have not deserted my studio, stitching adventures notwithstanding.

I should add that she's a Sagittarian, too.  Just sayin'.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Or nue in progress

Or nue, aka shaded goldwork, is rapidly becoming my raison d'etre! here's a small piece, which might either become a piece of jewelry or form a component in one of my wilderness pieces, which are still out there waiting for me!

This piece is 1.5 inches across, and the shapes I cut from felt which I designed and applied before covering them with goldwork, using the tacking down stitches to create the sense of shape and shade.  Great fun, and a lot of learning in this little work.

And since a dear friend spent the afternoon replacing my old broken hall light with a new LED fixture, a learning curve all around, I now have brilliant shadeless light in the hall, which I love, and I tried the photo in this new light, just to see how well it worked. Better than with my older dimmer lights, anyway.

And he gave me some bits of cactus which fell off a plant he was bringing home, to try out, since he has great faith in my ability to take cuttings and make practically anything grow (this is his faith, rather than a statement of fact).

So, a day of experiment all around. And another  friend just showed up with a banquet of food from her pujah, religious afternoon with many friends and food in attendance, because she wanted to include me.   

Wonderful items, none of which I can identify, but she put them in order of what goes with what, as a guide!  So tomorrow is another day of experiments, edible ones.  And there is an art component, too, since she made one of her fruit landscapes for the puja, and will send me pix when she remembers.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pins on Parade

So the pins are done.  The stitched bar pin is not quite ready for primetime, the gorilla having been a bit enthusiastic in the glue department, but it's all good learning.  See how transparent I am in my full disclosure?  Take that, Congress! not to mention State House..

However, all the others are up to par and ready for new homes, and I show them on different fabric backgrounds so you can see how they work -- on dark blue velvet, on cream boiled wool, and on multicolored knitted coat.

If you're interested, the triangular goldwork pin is $15 US plus $5 s. and h. to North America, have to advise on s. and h. further away than that, but I'd be glad to check.  

The round wooden pins actually are nicer in person than seen here, since they're dimensionally painted.  About  1.5 inches in diameter. They're each $12 plus $3 s. and h. same deal as above wrt other countries than North America. And no, sorry, don't do Paypal, my sales being too intermittent to get involved in anything other than a check made out to me!

All these pins, like everything else I do,  are one of a kind.

So there we have this latest adventure.  Oh, the Ganesh pin is still drying, pin newly applied, can't show you that in action just yet.

Follow up on the Upcycling of Goldwork

Here's the project I was eager to get on with while I was doing the hacks and upcycling yesterday.  

It's a shaded piece, which I designed as I went.  Felt stitched down in  a circle, about 1.5 inches in diameter, on fabric.  The idea is that the stitching down will be invisible, so that the gold shading will take over and you'll see an interesting series of contours, with light and shade.  You'll note that the stitching stops short of the outer edge. That's to allow for a circle of gold thread to finish the edge.  Then the completed stitching will be mounted on a wood disk so as to attach a pinback. At least that's the plan right now...

Later I'm off to the studio to take pix of the pins started yesterday, and you'll see how they came out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Goldwork hacks and makeovers

So I worked on the or nue dragonfly for a while, before deciding that a. the design wasn't right for the technique,  b.  wondered if I should just unpick and repair, and then c. after unpicking, which took ages, decided I didn't want to spend precious time disguising a repair, time that could be spent on a new work.  And I had a new idea for stitching that I might as well get onto. More about that later.

Soooooo, I beaded around the edge of the stitched area, inserted a little feature of blue beads, cut out the whole area, as you see above, then backed it with card stock.  Now it's attached to the card with gorilla glue. Seen here drying under a heavy glass sheet.
Once dried, I can trim card and fabric together close to the beading before applying a pin to the back.  And it will be a nice little bar pin.

Then there were several other painted wood pins I did ages ago and had not yet put the pin mechanism on the back.  So I did that, while the gorilla was on the clock.

On a roll now, you know how it goes, I realized that one of the motifs on the trial piece I made when I was teaching myself goldwork would also make a nice pin, triangle about two inches on a side, nice dramatic pin.  So that's now cut out, gorilla'ed to card, and it's drying.  The glue seeping through around the sides will be all cut away in the finishing.

And I remembered the Lord Ganesh little figure off the gift box from Diwali, gorilla'ed him to a metallic blue painted wood disk.  At that point I ran out of wood disks!

So there you have it.  When an embroidery doesn't work, call in the wild animals and the tools and make it into something different!  I'll show you the results once the glue is dry.  If I like the results, every pin is one of a kind, I'll offer them on here at  nice modest prices for holiday planning.  

Ganesh is mine, though. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

An art trip, to Winterthur with stitching friends

To follow our adventure yesterday, go here

and if you'd like to know more about Winterthur, and to see some of its exhibits on line go here 

Enjoy it all!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Great Monday, with a present!

Constant Reader, Great Commenter and Generous Friend, Ash, sent me a surprise package, a trove of threads, hoop and frame, evenweave fabrics, threads and even  note the lovely Barbadian stamps.  The two on the right commemorate the 100th annie of the Panama Canal, I remember it well...

and a beautiful sunflower greeting to go with!  It's a two sided card, now on my fridge with a magnet that makes me think of a butterfly, must be in butterfly mode...

thank you so much Ash.  Yes, they will all find good homes, either in my work or  in work by my friends.  What a wonderful addition to my choices to work with.

Such a treat on a Monday morning!  I was just struggling with the setup for an upcoming stumpwork lacewing moth's wings -- two layers of hand dyed silk, tautened at 45 degrees to each other in the hoop, now firmly in place, wings drawn, two for each side, pix later when there's something to see. Using Jane Nicholas, great Aussie stitcher, the book of.   So it was great to take a break and look at presents!  And to reflect on the marvels of international sharing and learning.

Barbados! Panama Canal!  Australia!  My living room!  all together in here, yay.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wilderness night scene in progress

I've now attached the luna moth and the other night moth to our night scene.  I need at least one more critter here, and a couple more for the crocheted daytime scene one, since all the critters I made have migrated to the other two locations.  I'm just a helpless prawn in the face of this tide...

As you see, I refrained from stitching a body for the luna moth, since I'm making a suggestion of a moth, rather than a botanically exact representation, which would be a bit too literal for the purpose of this piece.  I did similarly with the blue butterfly on the daytime scene, and she looks light and interesting, so I continue to like that decision.

Monday, October 20, 2014

One Wilderness Tamed, more or less

I have managed to get the dragonfly and the lizard rounded up and the stitched grasses done, and some cutouts with brocade behind (and a dull gold colored silk for the backing, just so's to make it a bit solid), and here it is.  Framed, phew. 

 To say that the stumpwork wires were my friends is to state a total big fib.  Actually stitching the stumpwork pales in comparison to the difficulty of getting the wires to sit in the back where you want them, so the wings don't turn backward when you stop looking, and so they come out in the right order.

Anyway, here's my first stumpwork presentation, and the first of the three wilderness pieces.  The others are on silk and satin, so the stitching will be a different issue.  But they're competing with two pieces of goldwork for my attention at the moment.

And I right away see a couple of tiny things to fix, but taking it out of the frame and doing that isn't a big deal.  It's just not for today!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Art the Beautiful Salutes Bygone Stitchers, very young ones

I went over to Princeton, to visit Morven this afternoon, and see the place in general, and in particular visit a huge exhibit of New Jersey samplers created by young girls at school in the late eighteenth to mid nineteenth centuries. The reason for the quirky title of the exhibit is that it's from a poem stitched into one of the samplers about the joys and skills of stitching.

I've lived about fifteen minutes from Morven, a national historic house, with occupants over the years including signers of the Declaration, several Governors of the State, and various movers and shakers.  Now it's a national site, open to the public as a historic destination.

And you know how it is, when something's in your back yard you tend not to get there and see it.  This has been the case with me and Morven since 1965, so I thought, well I'd better go.  And since people are coming in loads from all over the country, I really can't complain it's too far to drive.

So I did, go here and you can see around the place as well while you're there.  I took pix in the grounds, cameras not allowed  indoors, and had a fine old time wandering about.  

When I arrived there was a very jolly group who told me they were from the Sampler Guild of Loudoun, Virginia, always off somewhere to see stitchery, and "we love our trips!"  Well, yes, that was evident.

After they departed the place was very quiet, easy to see everything, at least I wished to be a few inches taller.  Everything was hung just a little high for me to see without craning, and I blessed the curators who also put some of these priceless samplers, from collectors all over the place, on tabletops with glass boxing them in, easy to see and study.  

Room after room of them on the walls of this old house, not the original house, that burned down a long time ago, but a pretty old rebuilding of it, all the same.  And a lot of great old furniture and dishes to admire.  And samplers hung as they might have been when they were first stitched.  Much better than a museum setting.

The history itself, aside from the amazement of seeing samplers created by ten year olds, just the sheer stitching, they didn't design them, is wonderful to see and study.  And so many of the names of the girls still exist in families living around here.  The Stocktons, whose house it was but who didn't make any samplers, are still around.  The Brittons whose name does appear in samplers, too, and Buckelews, and various other familiar ones to anyone who's been around these parts a while.

The exhibit was meticulously researched, and there's a catalog which you can get online at the Morven site I linked for you earlier,  if you're a sampler fiend and can't get to see these.  Plenty of historical notes and comments on the design.

What I found missing, though, was an appreciation of the sorts of stitches used, the techniques of stitching and where they got their materials, how they were spun and dyed,  and all that aspect that as a stitcher I'd have liked. But I expect my embroidery friends and I can deconstruct quite happily.  Most of the samplers are silk thread on linen fabric, beautiful stuff, very fine, and anyone who has worked in silk will tell you it's not for wimps.

I liked a lot of the outdoor features: the sundial,  maybe you can read the inscription, 

and the notice board with a bit of history and a page of Annis Stockton's recipe book.  While her husband was away fighting the Brits and being slung in gaol, and later signing the Declaration, she was keeping things going at home, as all the women did.  

Here we can see her recipes for French Rolls, Syllabub and Floating Island.

And I liked very much the old brick garden wall with the door in it. 

There still is a kitchen garden as well as a sitting garden, 

and the oldest tree on the property, probably dating back to the eighteenth century, it's pretty much had it now, except that it's hollow and would make a great habitat...I'm so tempted to go over secretly and put a couple of little modeled animals there, but that might be a federal crime.  Latter-day attempt at a Brit takeover by stealth art.. 

I thought you'd like to see what you see when you come up on foot to the house and around the grounds and if you sit on the porch looking out

All in all, a good time was had by me!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Art at MCCC in honor of a faculty member

Long time since I took studio courses, and exhibited at this gallery, and I don't know the faculty any more, but this potter, Lyn Ports-Lopez, died very young, in August this year, and was truly talented.  Go here to learn more.

So I went today to honor her, really, and see the other faculty members' exhibits.  Not the strongest show, so I signed the visitors' book, and took only a couple of pix, including ceramics by the featured artist.  

Paul Mordetsky had a lovely charcoal drawing and a very good watercolor.  So I enjoyed what I could, had a couple of nibbles from the food table, and went for a stroll around the campus.

Some nice architectural design on this windswept campus, which really needs hundreds of people to bring it to life, but I never saw more than a handful at any one time, in the years I was there. 

 The Gallery's in that building on the left.

 But, for some celebratory reason, these balloons were waving about, in a what were they thinking sort of way

Little gazebos here and there.

And there's some great landscape design, too, since that's a specialty of the course offerings.  People come to have wedding pictures taken at various nooks around the campus.

And on the same property, producing renewable energy for the campus, are acres and acres of solar panels, which look oddly like lowslung greenhouses from a distance.

Interesting afternoon.