Friday, June 27, 2014

White Oakleaf and acorns finished

Here's the finished white oakleaf and acorns.  This piece shown is approximately 7 inches square.  The linen support is in fact bright white, but it didn't want to show up that way here.

If you're interested in technical details:  I used two gold threads at once on the leaf area, couching with red silk thread then with a single ply of embroidery floss to create some shading.  

The acorns each have a different form of basketwork in the cup part, string attached under the thread,  then stitched over, using different gold threads.

The twig part is two threads worked together in the needle, one fine gold thread, one brown silk one, and I switched them over as I worked, to create the textured effect.  And on the twig I used green silk thread, hardly visible but it does have a shading effect on the nearby gold threads.  You'll notice that I left an open area at the base of the twig, just to lighten up the whole piece, so it didn't look like  a wall o' stitches, not my favorite effect. I like this, since it seems to balance gently on those two points. What do you think?

And now I have a whole bunch of ideas jostling to get to the forefront of my attention: my sister has been making Dorset buttons, which I'd never heard of, and when I looked them up, I thought, self, there's a nice thing to do, and they can be incorporated into embroidered I have ideas from the goldwork class of motifs to try in gold threads.  And then there's sculptured stitching, where I can do a form of or nue with a padded shape underneath, been wanting to do that since friend Florence showed me her stumpwork faces...who knows maybe they'll all come together into a series...anyway, nice thinking about just now.  This is the easiest part of making art!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stick weaving at the Library's Summer Program

Today the summer program opened with a bang: the stick weaving workshop I devised for the kids' program.  On the theme of It's All Greek to Me, the whole summer is about things Greek. 

So I decided I would offer a weaving workshop using the Greek flag colors of royal blue and white, so our program participants could make a weaving, about the size of a bookmark.  I ordered the kind of yarn you use to knit sports sweaters in team colors. 

Here's the toolkit: book on Weaving without a Loom, bag I wove without a loom, including strap created on weaving sticks, sample rainbow bookmark created on straws, weaving sticks next to straws, skewers to help the yarn through the straws to get started, masking tape to hold them together for small hands. The book is just general interest so kids can see there are other possibilities beyond what we did today, in case they may be interested.

Volunteers learning the technique before the kids arrive


Now the students are plunging in fearlessly


An early finisher showing off his project and looking modest.

After an afternoon of learning the method, they know how to make a belt, or various other items more ambitious than we could fit into our short afternoon.  I opened it to 20 kids age seven and up, and they did a great job.  To my surprise many of them did complete the whole weaving, and I could show them how to finish it off.

I did the drinking straw method, simple enough for kids to get, but it still makes a very nice weaving, and much cheaper than using  lovely expensive handcrafted weaving sticks.  I showed them my  weaving sticks, and a bag whose handle I created on them, and explained that  with their straws they could make something just as good. And they did.  I had made a sample weaving for them, on the straws, to prove it.

Three teen volunteers showed up early to learn the technique so they could help teach it, and it really went very well.  We'd put kits together ahead of time, so when they left, the kids took home their lunchbags with their completed project, spare yarn, and their straws so they can make their straw loom any time they want to.

I say we assembled kits, but what I did was create the model kit, and Donna and a crew of hardy volunteers measured yarn and packed the bags with the right stuff, which helped a whole lot.

This was good. Now I'm having a nice glass of sangria and waiting for a visit from Handsome Son this evening.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Goldwork white oakleaf in progress

I'm pretty sure that this is a white oak leaf, from the rounded lobes, but I'm open to correction from better botanists among our blogistas. Anyway, here's where it is to date, and I'll be working more on it today, sunny day, great light, perfect for this work.

Happy Summer Solstice, northerners!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Goldwork acorn and foliage

This is one of the designs I brought home from our goldwork class, and I'm doing it strictly for practice, since it's not my design.  I'm paying attention to shading in couching work, using four different shades of the same color family to stitch down the gold thread, a Jap thread I'm holding double, two threads at once.

And there's an acorn in here, so the acorn I did first will serve as a good indicator of how I might do this.  I won't use plate this time, I think. I love to see the threads and tools in waiting to be used. The sight of teacher Carol's box of threads and tools was a big part of my enthusiasm for goldwork, aside from the wonder of the works she'd created.  The two pairs of scissors you see here, one is a good pair, for cutting silk thread, the other a cheapie for cutting gold thread.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Artist in Residence Tapestry all finished, done

I went in to the library to do the final finishing rows on the tapestry, this being the knotted stitches across the top which will be turned under during the finishing after it comes off the loom.  

I'm showing you a pic of the completed tapestry and a closeup of the finishing area -- you'll see the difference between the regular weave and the two rows of knotting stitches, one in each direction.

Finally measured!  the unfinished size is height 37 and width a shade over 19, inches that is.  Once finished, it will be nearer 35 by 19, not quite a golden rectangle (that ratio would be 1:1.6) but close enough, at 1:1.8 to be pleasing to the eye.

Local blogistas, please note that as part of the library's summer program, I plan to take the tapestry off the loom while you can watch, and I will do the finishing.  That will be 1.30 p.m. on July 14th, an unusual way to celebrate Bastille Day!  Come to the libe and get directions on where to find me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Goldwork acorns done

The acorn motif I started in class I finished up today.  The total size of this piece is 2.25 x 2.5 inches.  And I learned a thing or two from it.  

This motif will recur in a bigger piece, and I will probably not use plate (that's the broad flat thread you see in the top part of the acorn) because I don't much like it.  

And I will definitely do a lot more with purl, that coil like stuff, which I used in the lower half of the acorns.  I cut these into very short pieces, and threaded them onto the needle to stitch them down, just like beading.  I like this a lot because of the way it catches the light at every angle.

Now I have to plan the next piece, which you saw in an earlier post, drawn on the linen.  This will involve a lot of couching, and I want to try a great technique I observed at our class: stitching the tacking thread closer and closer to cover more and more of the couched thread to create interesting color changes.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Adventures in Goldwork

To follow our adventures in goldwork, go here 
and if you missed the previous session of this two day workshop, go here, too.

You'll see my own goldworks in progress in the pix there.  Many plans for future goldwork now in my mind.  And we are thinking of a Guild trip back there in the fall, to stay over a couple of nights and really get into the atmosphere of the teacher and the quiet environment, perfect for stitching, cloisters, all that. Nice resident dog and cat, great friends, too.

Nearer home, the tapestry Four Sisters will come off the loom in mid July as part of the Summer program at the libe, with an audience, to see the culmination of the Artist in Residence period.

We're working on finding a display area for it, to show the product of the program, and to give me a chance to acknowledge all the participants from a distance.

Doing this tapestry, rugged as it got as it went on, has given me ideas about the next big piece of work, apart from goldwork.  I liked very much the way you could see through the beaded sections, against the window, at the performance, and would like to capitalize on that idea with the next one, and maybe involve some whitework, too.  We'll see.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

New goldwork adventure

This is a practice piece I started on last week's trip to the convent class in goldwork.  Click to see better. The instructor supplied absolutely everything, even stretcher bars.  She suggested we draw a right angle and a more closed angle, sorry, terminology escapes me, to practice couching.  And that we attach a piece of felt we'd cut into a circle and beveled at the edge and work over it.

I realized that these items could make a nifty monogram for moi, and then I went off in all directions. I wanted to practice my tight corners and my bricking (alternating the fine threads to create a wall-like design), and my working in a circle, too.  I used three different gold threads, and the stitching down threads are all silk, luxury at work here.

I was doing this this morning to keep myself on an even keel, performance anxiety before the library gig this afternoon.

A First for a Fiftieth

Today was the fiftieth birthday celebration for Plainsboro Public Library, scene of so many art and other adventures!  it was a grand reunion of artists, library staff past and present, local dignitaries, and the gallery was transformed into a panorama of the libe's history in art and in the town.

My partner in crime and collaborative art, Bill Bauer and I did our weaving and music collaboration, to an amazingly rapt and large audience.  This was a first for both of us, and for the library.

Dead quiet throughout!  and a nice round of applause when we came to a stop, or rather when the tapestry did.  No recording, and neither of us wanted one, since we both felt this was a kind of zen moment you can never curate nor recapture, just be there, be in it.  We were both quite pleased at how it worked out, Bill doing a great intuitive piece of work at the piano which flowed around the work I was doing very very well, and there were plenty of interested questions afterwards, too.  

There's a distinct danger that we'll do something of this nature again!  Before we rolled away the completed tapestry, I took a picture of the back and actually quite liked it as an artwork.  So you can see it in these pix,too.  

 Here's the Traveling Journal, unfurled, from different angles.

The library staff had work on exhibit here, too.

 And there was cake!  three cakes, one depicting each building the libe has occupied.

 Artist interestedly studying the journal and the community tapestry, also created on the earthloom last year.

 DONE! Finished, finito.  Except for the finishing... Before we rolled away the completed tapestry, I took a picture of the back and actually quite liked it as an artwork.  So you can see it in these pix,too.  

And here's the back, or verso, to put it poshly.

I really like this view. But when I do the finishing work, I may hang a piece of linen as a backing.  I still have to cut the warps, remove the leashes, and secure the warp ends, then put a casing on the back for a dowel top and bottom, to hang it.  That might be another event, probably fun to watch the culmination of the Artist in Residence idea.

But now I'm going to have a nice glass of wine on the patio.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Artist in Residence Tapestry coming to a close and a beginning

This afternoon musician and old friend Bill Bauer and I met for a setup session before our joint performance on Sunday, he improvising on the piano the gesture of the work as I weave on it, finishing off the last little part. I saved this section so as to have some weaving to do on Sunday, and today added in a few bead embellishments, my handmade waxed beads.

The actual removal of the tapestry from the loom and the finishing work is a session unto itself, and might be a nice one to do as a demo a bit later on.

Extra added attraction: artist friend I haven't seen for ages made spontaneous arrangements to drop in, and she and her daughter got a free concert and performance as we set up for Sunday! 

Pictures are of her with daughter examining the tapestry, and of Bill at the piano deciding on his musical approach.  Since he and I are both very intuitive artists, this was a mystery, how it would work.  But I think it will work just fine, judging by our rapport this afternoon.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Art saves us all, acanthus contines

Stitching was interrupted for a few days to give way to helping friends in a difficult situation, but today I was able to stitch a bit, and the peace that comes from doing it was so welcome.

So here's where acanthus is as of today, with the end nearer than the beginning! click on it to see better.

On Wednesday I go with a group to the convent I showed you here some time ago, for a class in goldwork embroidery, been waiting a long time to get this experience.  One class this week, one next.  So after doing a lot of goldwork, I'm going to learn how to really do it! so typical of my Ready!  Fire!  Aim! approach to life.