Monday, May 26, 2014

Acanthus now with tiny shiny beads...

This piece is slowly getting to something I like better.  The bottom part will also have either tiny sequins or beads.  Or possibly stitching.  And there are the side parts to consider.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stitching and beading is what happens when you planned otherwise..

So all my plans about taking out some blue and replacing it with white, where did they go...I did add some new small white areas, but the blue stayed and was joined by more and some beading, too, in mixed blues and in metallic beads in gold silver and bronze, in keeping with the Greek theme.

What can I tell you, I only work here..the beading and stitching take over and I just follow their instructions.  There will be more stitching among the beaded areas.  And probably more beading among the stitched areas.

Click to see better.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the hoop..

Greek themed design is coming along, but much more needs to happen before it works as a whole.  Meanwhile, here's where we are:

It's always interesting to see a design on the screen like this, and now I'm thinking of removing a couple of blue areas and replacing them with white, so as to draw less attention to themselves. Click to see better.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Artist in Residence Tapestry close to completed

I put in a session this afternoon on the tapestry, which is getting near completion, and since the Dollivers are in the mood to watch other people work, as readers of Field and Fen are aware, they decided to cross over to Art the Beautiful, to honor the tapestry with their presence and to give me a few tips.

They did think several pounds more beads would be good, but otherwise were happy to perch and watch as I worked. They did wonder why this is Four Sisters, when there are five Dollivers, but I pointed out that everything's not about them, which came as a bit of a surprise.

You see that there's little more to do, but this section is really strenuous, partly because I'm reaching up all the time, partly because near the top of the loom, the tension on the warp is much greater and the threads further apart. 

I took off the cartoon, figuring by this time if I don't know what I'm doing, there's no hope at all. 


Interesting to see it again.  Any number of people have asked me to estimate the number of hours put into this piece, and it's in the neighborhood of 50 to 60.  I finally did the math.  What I forgot to do was measure, so that will be another small task.  And I will not forget to write up all the participants in this work, in various capacities, to exhibit along with it.

The next time the tapestry is on view to the public will be June 8th in the gallery when the library celebrates its 50th birthday, and I'll be doing some final work on it, the tapestry, not the birthday,with a pianist friend improvising on the tapestry's theme.  Should be fun, and it's pretty short, since neither of us wants to go on and on!  but I'll be sure and get pix of the artists there, and the various artworks on display.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

No pix, just musing

Just thought I'd muse a bit and pass on my thinking, in case it's useful.

As you probably know, you don't make art by staying at it hour after hour.  Your eyes lose the capacity to see, your creative energy wanes, and it's better to work in shorter periods with total focus.

I was forgetting this ancient principle in my stitching because it's slow and mesmeric and I find I'm working at it for longer periods than other artforms.  And yesterday I didn't like at all where Acanthus was.  Could only see problems.  Wondered if I should bag it and go on.

Then this morning I looked at it with fresh eyes, and realize I am actually pleased with this progress and now have a better idea how to proceed.  Doh on me for forgetting that basic groundrule!

Because my hands are a greater issue than they used to be, I've tended to work until they didn't want to go on, rather than work till the art told me to take a break.  Not such a good decision.

I hereby pledge to remember this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Acanthus starts to get a critical mass going

The acanthus (someone tell me why I keep calling it amaranth, I've had to correct that all over the place) stitching is getting to a very interesting point.  This is where I diverge from the original design and get into more complex ideas.  This is the course of today's work, which wasn't more than an hour or two, I'm a fairly fast worker on this.

As you see. the complexity is starting.  There are weird little areas where you seem to see faces, but they will vanish into the general stitching as this work proceeds.  

Each of the small areas is different, and they include openwork where I cut out the threads entirely,  pulled work, weaving and various other ideas.  My first ideas about the needleweaving on that leftmost open area didn't look good to me, so I tried various approaches before deciding to just cut the section out completely and stitch across the opening.

Click to see better.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Acanthus continues

This is just a glimpse of the WIP that is the acanthus project.  I've started the design of the small areas to be drawn and stitched, but it's hard to tell my intent here, since there will be a lot more stitching around these areas. Click to see better.

This linen is much finer than the one I used for the Schwalm piece, so I drew threads three and three instead of the two and two I used before.  But the process is the same, and I tried out some needleweaving in blue, but didn't like it, too heavy an effect, so I removed it, and I think I'll use my finest white coton a broder to buttonhole stitch the grid you see here.  I want to have an open effect, because of the suggestion of fishing nets (Greek theme abounds) so I won't do needleweaving after all.  At least that's where my thinking is at the moment.

The hard part about stitching is that it's slow and deliberate, so it's ages before you can tell if your idea is working in practice.  The good thing about stitching is that it's slow and deliberate and there's time to change course as you go!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Acanthus design outlined

So here's the Greek acanthus design, outlined in split stitch, and the next stage is to design the areas where I'll do drawn and pulled threadwork and some needleweaving. This first stage went surprisingly fast.

As you see, the design is free flowing rather than the severely symmetrical acanthus design carved onto Greek columns, because this is stitching, so it needed a looser treatment.  Anyway, it's working so far.  We'll see how the open work areas work out.

Incidentally,since some blogistas are interested in design, just a note on how I proceed:  I pinned the hoop over a lampshade to act as light box, and pinned a sheet of paper over it, so that I could try out drawing various forms and shapes for the openwork on the paper.  I tried and discarded geometrics, which were a bit too severe against the flowing lines, and fought with them, and I think I'll go with various organic shapes, a la Arp, in various parts of the interior of the plant.  

At this point I don't think I'll do anything with the negative space, that's the area around the plant.  But that may change as I go.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New project: acanthus with cutwork and needleweaving

At least, that's the plan!  I will be taking part in an invitational exhibit in July on the theme of It's All Greek to Me.  It's for all members of our artists' association, which means many media, so I can choose fiberart at will.

So I've designed an acanthus, that plant you see carved on Greek temple columns, and I plan to create it in white on white with some drawn threadwork and pulled work, as soon as I figure it out.

So first I found a nice image which I adapted, and drew, then, on my scanner, enlarged significantly to work with the frame I have in mind, and in the house already, a big point, and went from there.

And here I have to acknowledge a Raveler, I'm sorry, I forget who, or I would credit her by name, who introduced me to the brilliant idea of short circuiting the scan, print, copy, enlarge, transfer series of actions. 

I simply put my paper over the enlarged image on the screen, traced it in heavy marker, leaving a few dots on the screen where the ink penetrated, but a swipe of rubbing alcohol took care of that. You'll notice, in the interest of transparency and openness in government, I left in the mistake I corrected. It won't be transferred to the linen.

Then I sorted out my choice of linen from a few selections I forgot I already had, from Dharma Traders, I love them, cut a piece and pressed it, along with the Schwalm whitework piece, or pale blue piece as it now seems.

 Here are the materials, the initial drawing, then the enlarged and traced image, the choice of hoops, ended up going with the bigger one, the linen waiting patiently till I get to it, and the frame which I will use for the finished project, a box frame, I love this for embroidery.

Then I taped the paper and the linen piece onto the laptop screen and used it as a lightbox, whoah, this worked.

I used a fine point Pilot pen for this so that the lines will all be completely covered by the work, and won't need to be washed out, since Pilot is not waterproof.  This is my usual MO and has worked fine up to now.  Famous last words..

Now all I have to do is survey my threads and pick out white ones, and I'm off.  Now to the end of June is not a long time for this kind of work, but I'm up for it.  I'll back the piece with dark blue something or other, so that the Greek colors of white and deep blue will be in there, too, as well as the acanthus motif.

I think I'll use embroidery floss rather than the coton a broder we used for the Schwarm, since I like the idea of a bit of gloss.  And who knows, goldwork might get in there, too..

Friday, May 9, 2014

AIR tapestry Friday

Several interested and interesting visitors today while I worked at the loom, including repeats, checking to see how I was doing. Not long before I'm finished.  This is harder work now that I'm standing, that part is okay, and reaching up all the time, that's a bit taxing.  But not much longer, and much encouragement from visitors all helps.

The Schwalm piece is finished

The Schwalm stitching is finished, and a slight hitch arose when the blue pattern done by someone I don't know, refused to rinse out.  I suspect they may have inadvertently used indelible pencil instead of rinse out pencil.  Anyway, here it is after:

one cool rinse no result
one slightly warmer rinse blue bleeding
two baths in gentle detergent no result
one treatment with stain lifter slight result
two baths with Oxyclean slightly more result

There is a distinct blue tinge, a blue area among the finest stitches. The blue bled a bit but the Oxyclean did lift the bleed and some random blue marks, too.  In person, the blue shows, but I see it seems to vanish in the photo. Click to see better.

At this point I am deciding whether to simply dye the whole thing, or some other thing.  It seems not willing to be the pure white on pure white which was the idea, for me at least.  

The teacher of the project has been very eager to help fix it, and is dismayed, since the kits were created for her and shipped, and I am guessing she also assumed the blue would rinse out.

Meanwhile, I have another design I created, which I will make up for an invitation show in July, and I plan to do Schwalm work on this so I have another shot at it.  I'll buy a wash out pencil to transfer it onto the linen, though.

On the good side, I did learn to do this introductory Schwalm work, and really liked the drawn threadwork and the needleweaving parts. And this is without doubt at this point, the cleanest piece of needlework I ever did!

Onward and upward!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Schwalm work in progress

This piece is great fun, and if you've never tried drawn threadwork or white on white, this is a way of doing both.  And needleweaving, a first for me.  Also following a stamped design, another first for me.

I always like to have work that fits the season, and in the higher light of spring and summer, this is a good project.  I'm on my way to stumpwork, but other things tend to intervene, including this one. Click to see better.


Now I have ideas about designing my own Schwalm...but first I have to finish the gridwork on the two remaining hearts on this one, then do the needleweaving.  And finish off the little flowers in the middle, too.  But after that, well.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Baltimore's Best -- The Kinetic Sculpture Parade

I just had a great visit with a couple who wanted to buy a piece from my recent exhibit, and while they were here, they not only gave me a CD  the husband, a musician, who knew, had produced, but they showed me a series of pix they took today in Baltimore, where they were visiting family.

Wonderful event, an annual race/parade the Kinetic Sculpture event, which you need to know about.  I didn't, and now I'm glad I do.

Go here for more: 

And maybe plan to be there one year!  it sounds like the greatest fun.

Speaking of great productions, Karen has brought out her first book, a series of reflections on conversations she's had in her profession of hospice chaplain, wonderful stuff.  You can find it on Amazon.  Take a look: Encountering the Edge: What People Told me Before They Died, by Karen B. Kaplan.  I just did, and it's on its way to me.

I know from personal experience that Karen is a gifted chaplain, and now she's a writer, too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

AIR Four Sisters Tapestry getting close to there

The tapestry on the earthloom is getting closer to finished. Click to see better. Today I added a section that red area top right, and the variegated pink area top left, and I've brought home the figure on the top left to adapt it better to the space before I weave it in next week.

There's still a lot to do after the main weaving is complete, though, since there will be finishing touches with beads, braid, maybe other ideas on the front, and a ton of weaving in of ends on the back!

Surprising that it's getting to an end, since it's such a big undertaking I wondered how many weeks of steady work it might take to get there! At this point I'm doing all the work standing, with my arms raised, because it's getting taller than me.  Art is an aerobic activity.