Friday, January 31, 2014

The goldwork piece is nearing completion now

This piece -- anyone have a title for me?-- is getting there.  There may be a few beads here and there, not sure yet, maybe scattered at the bottom to ground it.  Anyway, this is where we are.

I'm having major computer problems and will have to go shopping very soon.  Files vanishing, dropping off the screen, browser refusing to appear, you name the shenanigans, this old netbook is doing it. It's nearly three years old, and I think that's about the lifetime for a netbook.  But I've been very happy with it, and I'll see if I can get the next nearest to it, if they still exist in the hardware world.   

Meanwhile, I'm seizing the day and getting this blogpost done.  At least that's the plan.  But if I vanish, or throw this thing out the window, since it has frozen about a dozen times in the course of this post, and reverted to tiny tiny type, you'll know what's up.  Well, it took close to half an hour to load two pix, so I guess shopping's really on!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Goldwork piece is starting to make embroidery sense

This goldwork piece is starting to make embroidery sense, now that it's under way.  I always feel better once the draft lines start to be  covered with thread, because the original sense I had of it becomes clear again.

Odd thing is that even if I don't particularly feel like stitching, once I pick up this piece I want to go on almost indefinitely.  And I found out a source for one of the threads I'm using, which had no name nor source on it, just a code number. I was beginning to panic as I get to the end of the supply I have.

It was in the guild stash, so I'm not complaining!  but I've ordered up my own supply now, and another color of the same thing, from Needle in a Haystack.  Nobody else yielded the item, so I guess Needle really do have hard to find threads, as they say.

Anyway, it's at the stage where you have to work different areas as you go, like painting, to keep the balance and that suggests the next thing to do, thread to use, color to employ, all that.  I have half a dozen shades of gold and shiny yellow.

I've talked before about synaesthesia, and just wanted to comment that the dark shiny yellow of the rayon floss you see in this design is the color and texture I see in my mind when I hear the name Elizabeth. Seems appropriate!  and oddly, the word gold doesn't summon up anything gold, more of a grainy texture in a hollow shape than anything.  

I just ran through a few color names, and find that some of them summon up the color, some don't but are about shape and texture and movement instead.  This isn't picturing it, or imagining it, nothing like that.  It's an actual image in the brain that comes up unbidden.  And it makes life a lot of fun.

Always interested to hear from blogistas with synaesthesia, so please let us know, if you'd like to.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Goldwork returns

Finally, after a week of heavy cold, complete with hacking cough that made it practically impossible to stitch without stabbing myself, and sore throat that demanded much self pity and hot tea and moaning, I am well again and stitching up a storm playing catchup.

I had recently transferred one of my own drawings to green linen (a companion pair to another two I did a while back) and I'm stitching the results, designing as I go.  That's the other thing about designing rather than following instructions: you can't do it indefinitely. I need to stop and set it aside and come back later to see again what is to happen next, to avoid having a kind of by-the-book piece of work.

Nothing wrong with following instructions, though I find it really hard to do (!) but my natural bent is to design, make as I go, paint gold with the needle.  And taking breaks is part of the work. Like resting between sets.

This, up to now, is a combo of gold cord, iridescent narrow ribbon and fine gold flat thread whose name I do not know, laid down two threads at a time and couched with very fine variegated sewing thread. 

It flows and that's one reason to take breaks: to see how it should flow, and avoid weird jerkiness.  The other thing to avoid is great neatness, that sort of disciplined orderliness and perfection-being-the-enemy-of-the-good, that destroys the movement within the piece.  If a static effect is wanted, that's fine.  But that's rarely the case for my work.

The outer edges are a mixture of the fine gold cord and a the flat shiny ribbony stuff that looks like beads when you couch it, an optical illusion I like a lot.  I did a pic of the whole and of a detail.  Light not  very good, and it's too cold to take my camera outdoors, so bear with me.

Anyway, that's where we are right now. And at some point I may need help with a title for this piece.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Community Saori Weaving ready to hang

Today I finally got to finish the saori, freeform,tapestry that we made as a community last September at the Festival of the Arts, with people of all ages taking part. We used plarn, yarn, ribbons, daylily stems, pompons, and sequined fabric.

 I did the finishing rows of half hitches today, then we were ready to remove the work from the Earthloom.  The first picture shows it with the leashes still in place, then what it looked like once they were removed. I was very happy to see that the weaving held its shape nicely without leashes on.

Gallery director Donna obligingly did some warp cutting and some warp tying so I could get pictures of the process, and to help me get the piece cut at the top, before I cut the bottom warp ends, then I turned back all the warp ends top and bottom, and stitched them down at the back. 

 Now the weaving is ready to slide in a dowel, and quite soon, to be exhibited on the library wall for all the participants to admire, and for everyone else to just enjoy.

Now that the loom's empty, I can plan my own weaving on it, and this will not be participatory, but be a work of my own, to be done as an artist in residence, so that people can come in on weaving days and observe and chat and ask whatever they would like.

I have yet to design this, and create a cartoon to attach to the back, and figure out yarns to use, probably my own handspun, and maybe unspun roving, too.

I'll also probably do some beadweaving and other small stuff as a demo, just to show that homemade simple cardboard looms can work fine.

And one of the sessions will be an event, with an old friend, pianist Bill Bauer, improvising on the piano as I work, a new idea, which came from him recently, and we still have to figure it all out!

I will have a solo exhibit in the gallery in the vicinity of all this frantic activity, so there'll be a context.  All good. And the work for the exhibit is coming along, too.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Picture the artist in a state of wild surmise

So here's where I am, with the woven beads, one completed strip, one on the loom, this one being an experiment in doubling and tripling beads on each segment,  and in the background, the unfinished woven floss work that they're supposed to be part of when I figure it out.

Meanwhile, a friend stopped by yesterday and saw the strip, instantly put it on her wrist and said, oh, this is gorgeous, it's a bracelet, put a clasp on it! make more! and this sort of took me aback, since I'm still seeing it as part of the woven piece. But maybe I will change my approach a bit, and actually weave beads onto the tapestry, and set the extra bits aside for now.

And, to see her point, it really is a nice bracelet, fits nicely around the wrist, really accommodates the shape well.  Hm.  Just shows.

anyway, here's where I am:  would you like to weigh in, and say

whether you like this as freestanding jewelry (which I can make and sell, I guess)

or just forge on with  my original intent of beaded sections applied to a woven tapestry 

or maybe even start over completely and weave a complete bead tapestry 

or create an artwork with detachable parts which can be worn as pins or bracelets

this beading adventure goes with a photograph which I doubled and mounted together, of electrical junction  boxes on the street, at least I think that's what they are.

Anyway, let the crowd sourcing begin!

While I was waiting for photo uploading I went in search of the photographs, was unable to find them. In the frantic, cursing search I found the image transfers I'd made of them and of another cable junction box, and altogether a much better artwork, transferred onto very good paper, and definitely a better candidate for exhibiting.  

Also the third image on the sheet has a lot to do with trailing wires (translation: threads) much more interesting visually and I concluded this is one of those art things where a frustrated search turns out to be another door opening to a much better artwork.

Oh, and in the course of the search, crawling around the studio under my worktop to open portfolios stored down there,  I found another abstract drawing, great candidate for a goldwork piece.  I'd forgotten I'd done it, and seen now much later, I find I like it, good balance, interesting shapes, would lend itself to goldwork.  Or maybe beading..

Chance favors the prepared mind.  And the artist willing to paw through a lot of stuff on the floor.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Just sayin, that's all

I realized that the beadweaving idea actually goes along with an unfinished work that's destined for the April exhibit anyway, so with this rationalization, I warped up a homemade cardboard loom and tried it out.  It is the greatest fun, and I highly recommend it as silly play.  And it turns out that it's not such a sidetrack after all. More like my subconscious directing events.

I did try another way of doing this, using a tin lid and beading filament, exercise in frustration, as the filament didn't want to cooperate, and I had terrible trouble persuading it to warp, no matter how many clips and tapes I used. 

Then I tried my potholder loom, but the slots were too far apart to work for beads. and the filament still wasn't happy.  

So I changed to a crochet thread for the warp and one of those cardboard looms I made a few years ago and find that this is working nicely.  You'll notice that it gets narrower, but the narrow part is the finished size I want, so when it comes off the loom, the ends will shrink a bit to fit.  

The warp thread never penetrates the beads, so it doesn't matter if it is too thick to do that, since the weft thread is a very fine one I've been using for bead embroidery, quite strong,very pretty changing color, and even if visible, will work with the changing colors of the beads.  The visible warp isn't a problem, since it will work with the piece this weaving is going to be mounted on.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Butterfly read to take off to new home

Here's the butterfly, ready to leave:

That was fun. Now I have to buckle down to other artwork ready for the April exhibit.  This involves finding what I already completed, finishing the presentation of some pieces, and um, creating others that I only have in mind right now.

It's unfortunate that I seem to have got sidetracked into learning beadweaving..but that's my inner contrarian at work.  Maybe if I pretend I really have to get on with beadweaving, I'll instantly go off and tackle the other work.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Butterfly is getting ready to flit

My beaded and stitched butterfly is developing nicely, and not much further to go.  I don't plan on filling all the fabric, because I want the lightness of open spaces, since a butterfly needs to look light, as if it could actually fly,  not weighed down under a lot of stuff.  It's also slightly angled, left to right, so that there's a suggestion of flight rather than of a specimen in a case.

This is a swallowtail -- we see tiger swallowtails and dusky swallowtails, around here, and this one is only slightly larger than the real thing.  But though I've stayed with the actual proportions and shapes, I've made my own choices about colors and the contents.  Plenty of sparkle, not seen in real life, but metaphorically butterflies bring sparkle to life in the summer.   

More pearls, this time oval ones, are planned for the hindwings, where you see the marks.  Also probably more amber for the body, but I may remove the tiny black beads, a bit visually heavy. I'll see.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Joy of Beading

Since I got my beads organized into little bins easy to see and play with, I've found one of the unexpected and lovely side effects of this artform: the beauty of the raw materials.  Just seeing them in the dish as I try out different combinations of colors and types for the next part of the work is a pleasure in itself.

This is exciting to me since, as a mixed media artist, I'm used to taking unpromising looking material , even unrecognizable stuff, and making it work as artwork with meaning,but rarely have I handled items that are already lovely to see, and need very little help from me.

I suddenly got slowed down when I noticed this dish of ideas, and I'm showing you the current stage of the butterfly, to see where some of the beads went.

Size of the butterfly is 6.5 inches on each side, it's a square.
I had a reader's question about needles: I don't use a beading needle for this work, since I need a very short needle to get around the small areas, but I find that I often use a number 8 (i.e. very tiny) crewel needle, which I used to use for miniature embroidery, and a couple of other slightly larger ones with longer eyes, no idea where I got them. 

The number 8s are difficult to find in quantities of fewer than 1,000.  I have some from the supply I had to buy decades ago for my miniature needlework club kits, since my members couldn't get the needles (or the tiny canvas, for that matter) and I supplied a new needle with each monthly kit.  I also gave several to each of the participants in the freeform workshop I taught last year.

Beading needs an eye large enough to get the thread through and small enough to slide through the beads. Many of mine are size 11 beads, some smaller.

I notice the same thing here as when I used to stitch miniatures: you get your eye in, and the work starts to look quite normal in size, then you look up after a while and everything around you looks gigantic.  Massive cats, huge trees of houseplants.  I guess everything's relative.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Upcycled bead bins take a bow

As promised, here's a picture of my drawer of beads, opened to show the bead bins at work.  As you see, they're just the little clear containers that tea lights come in, which now have a new life.  Waste not, want not.  And, since it's a shallow drawer, and is closed when I'm not selecting beads, no danger of dear little cats' playing kitty hockey with the contents.

Compared to some stashes, this is tiny, but for me it seems very impressive!

the little dish over to the left, Rosenthal china with sterling rim, remnant of my antique days, holds the current selection of beads for the butterfly project.  Some of them are the amber I mentioned earlier.  

My goldwork threads are in another place, well, honesty compels me to mention that they're all stuffed in plastic bags, very bad, any old how, awaiting organization. My current small work was resting on top of the beads,but I moved it for the picture.  Another handy way of putting it safely away.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Butterfly's progress

I needed a portable project ready to take with me to stitchers' meetings, and I also needed to make a little surprise for a friend, who may read this blog, so I won't reveal the destination.

So, since I think I've finished with the Big Stitch, and need a rest from it before I remove it from the current backing and tack it to its permanent stretchers and put a backing on it, hated tasks, glad to postpone them briefly, I thought now is the time to go to the next small thing.

So here's my butterfly:  it's going to be couched, with metal threads of various colors, beaded, and it will have real amber in it, beads from a necklace I had many years ago,which never really suited my coloring, and which has now been broken up, pieces appearing in various artworks. And pearls, not real, just beads, and all kinds of cool stuff.  I think the recipient will like this.

I swiped a public domain drawing (please note,I don't swipe other people's copyright drawings, just sayin') and transferred it this morning to a piece of nice Belgian linen, then got going.  

It's really fun to be able to stab through again, after days and days of working with a piece already on a backing. This is almost the last of the Belgian linen I harvested (!) from a blouse from the thrift store, lovely stuff, beautifully constructed, and very very badly cut in such a way that it didn't fit anyone.  Sleeves for a size 2, top of bodice for maybe a 16, lower bodice for maybe a 6, who knows what committee designed this.  So I had no compunction in upcycling it.

And since we have a major snowfall and extreme low temps, while my friends are out digging out my car and moving it to let the bobcat finish the digging in my spot, this is a good day to cheer them on and stay indoors stitching and beading. 

I really like my tealight bead bins, now fully in action, very useful.  Easy to see my beads without pawing through little bags, and a friend who saw them said, ah, I'll find more of those for you!  Sounds good to me.