Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Today studio time was broken up between frantic tidying and sorting and returning many many items from bags full of confusion to their real home, and getting my mind reorganized about all the moving parts in many bags.  Llama wool background, butterfly makings, Dorset button makings, and that was only a few.  Now sorted, feels much better. All my scissors are now found, and my three needlebooks. The thing is that each project feeds the others, and in some cases is part of the others, hence the many parts.

And some of the real work of art took place, today, too.  Here are a few shots of the weaving with the circular piece temporarily showing where I'm weaving as I work down.

The saw blade is 12 tooth to tooth tip, which makes the weaving about an inch smaller.  In order to estimate the placement of the round piece on the tapestry, I cut out a paper template of the sawblade, and wove it in  as you see.

Then testing the placement here.  

And a longer view of it, still with the paper template in place.  This is where it gets to be very much fun!  The circular weaving is now back on the wall out of harm's way, the paper stays in place as a guideline, and who knows what might transpire.

You'll see that I am starting at the top.  Usually you start at the bottom and weave up, but I didn't see why I shouldn't reverse the procedure for this piece. 

The bias tape you see across the top, the yellow part, will not be visible in the finished work. That will be folded back and stitched down to create a rod pocket for the dowel on which the piece will hang.  

The next section, the green tape, is the couple of establishing rows.  After this, the width now being more stable, weaving being a moving target at times, planning becomes much less a factor.  Except that at the end I'll repeat the yellow tape idea so that I can slide a dowel through the bottom of the piece, too.

I have a lot of materials in mind to add into this work, involving sequined fabric, dyed linen strips, yarn and various other bright ideas.  And other inserts, too, just thinking about that. That's why I had to tidy, so that other works and ideas didn't get buried in the doings for this one. That way madness lies.

To work around the circular motif, I'll do short rows, where the weft thread turns back on itself instead of continuing across the work.  And the c. m. will be attached in place at the end.

I mentioned earlier that this is a tapestry: that's a weaving in which the warp threads, the ones you start out with, are covered by the weft threads, the horizontal ones, as you go, unless you deliberately leave some open areas, which I probably will. It's why I chose a color for the warp instead of a white or neutral.

This sounds as if I do a lot of thinking, but most of it is plunging in, really!  and the nice part about the loom holder upper is that I can unclamp and reverse the weaving when I want to, top to bottom, or even side to side.  So that I can be standing to weave the bottom part, too, easier than crouching about.  Much more flexible than your classical, engineered loom.

And I must remember to change the date on my watermark, as well as when I write checks in a couple of days' time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Next step: stretchers warped

Today I warped up artist stretchers as you see here, using, for the first time, the Loom Holder Upper my friend Michael designed and made for me. This right after making that circular weaving on the sawblade he gave me.  He's having an impact.  High time I used the LHU, it's ages since he made it, but other art got in the way.

 Two views, not so easy to see the warp thread.

This is warped up with cotton thread, perle, I think, size two.  The circular piece will end up near the top of this new work, along with various other ideas yet to be had.  I will probably paint this warp at some point, too.  The thing is that weaving is fabric, exactly as painter's canvas is, and you can paint if you choose.

I also plan a bit of handmade papermaking soon, using the saw blade as a mold for another  piece to be part of the same exhibit.

Back to the weaving: I warped it side to side, then turned it right side up to do the work.  The gauge is two warps to the inch, pretty generous. You can see why I had to warp side to side: when you clamp it in place, you can't pass warp thread around the frame at the bottom.  So side to side allows you to do that, and then, having duct taped the warp threads in place -- no engineering at all on this loom!-- I could turn it through a quarter turn and clamp it in place.

The piece will measure about 40 x 24, if I remember correctly. Nice wall hanging length.  It's possible that some Dorset buttons will end up on here, too.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Circular weaving segment of bigger work, done

Sawblade weaving now off the loom and on the wall, for the moment until it finds a home in a bigger piece.  I still have to work on the copper areas, after the paint I used to disguise the white warp ends, matching the fuzzy yarn area, has safely dried

I did include wire in the outer area, and as you see, it holds up well with a single pushpin in place, doesn't droop down.  If you wonder how I got it off the blade, since neither the blade nor the warp would flex, I cut the first half circle of the loops and tied them back, then was able to slide the whole thing off the rest of the blade.  This has been a good deal!

One observer sees it as a mandala, which I admit hadn't occurred to me.  But fine anyway!  and I now see the copper insert as a kind of head and shoulders. This shape seems to recur in my work nowadays, seems to have replaced the Yorkshire hills line. 

In the course of working with this one, I've been retraining so as to use my left arm less, since that's the overworked and sore one, so this has been good practice at being aware as I work instead of realizing later that I was frozen into one set of repetitious movements, not so good.

So this is where we are for now.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Warped up saw blade weaving continues

I've started to introduce hair-fine copper wire into this now, and you see that it's going to be a part of the shape, not traveling all around. More interesting composition that way. I'll get into it with a big needle to fluff up the fibers. Then there will be  more yarns of varying kinds.

If you're wondering about all the ends sticking out: this is the back! after it's done and I remove it from the blade/loom, I'll see how it looks.  There will be weaving in, probably. 

What's hard to detect in the picture is that there are a couple of different shades of yellow going on here, and some handspun and dyed yarn in there, too, and some sparkly yarn.

And I think the extreme outer edge I'll weave with copper wire, 26 gauge,  to keep its shape after it's off the loom, since it will be mounted on a bigger weaving.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Warping up a sawblade, sounds like a dance

Once I decide definitely to take time off from art for a few days, that seems to trigger an equal and opposite reaction in the brain somewhere which insists that this idea just has to happen NOW.  Which it did, and I remembered the saw blade that contractor/artist/friend Mike E. gave me some time ago figuring I would use it somehow.

I warped it up this morning, using perle cotton. I originally got the cotton to do card weaving, but my wonky arm has put a hold on that after all my plans, so I figured it would work just as well as a warping yarn, not too stretchy, strong enough not to snap under tension.

This is a part of a bigger piece, which will be created on one of my big artist-stretcher looms.  The warp sits over the teeth, and will be slipped off when the weaving is completed.  Nice regular pattern.

The work you see is as much as my arm allowed before it started to protest, but oh well.  The initial part is where you have to pull the most firmly, to establish the shape, so it was more demanding than the rest of it will be.  At least that's the hope.

The materials involve some beautiful hair-fine copper wire salvaged from a washing machine by the husband of a stitcher friend, who figured, correctly, that I would find a use for it.  Also roving possibly, some handspun (by me) lumpy yarn, and some more civilized yarns. Some of that llama yarn might get into the picture at some point, too.

And this morning I confirmed that I will be doing another Artist in Residence stint at the local public library, probably starting late Feb, early March, working on pieces that will be in my June exhibit.  I'll do as I did for the tapestry: show up at scheduled times, and people can come in, sit, ask questions, get demos, tell me their family's stitching history, all that.

A lot of this work will be stitching and beading, and maybe some weaving and knitting and crocheting...whatever's up for doing at the time.  People do like to see work in progress, and now that I do the sort of work you can actually work on in public without a massive arrangements of materials and so on, it's fun to do it.

So stay tuned for more info and pix on this as it transpires.  And if you're local, it will be Plainsboro Public Library, location TBA, times and dates TBA.

So much for taking time off art, I guess.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Large Butterfly Done, and so is the artist

So here's the large butterfly, finished, cut out and awaiting placement.  She's about six inches in both directions. 

 I painted the back with a mix of metallic emerald green and white glue, to reinforce as well as color it, and let color bleed through, which I'm very pleased about.  You  see how the blue stitching gives the impression of blue hindwings, and the green stitching on the forewings gives the impression of overall green? optical illusion.  Really, it's all green at the back.  And I really like that this worked the way it did.

This is the time of year when the light levels are low, this artist has too much sugar in the house, and energy is at a premium.  Uphill work, so it's better to give it a little rest, I think, and let ideas mull.

I have decided on a great background, a large embroidered piece dyed irregularly, and now I see that some of the dyed areas suggest butterflies, so this will work. And I found the right size stretcher bars to mount it on.  So this is in fact a big step forward in this piece, and it's better not to push the idea, but let it simmer a while.
Sometimes the work ethic gets in the way and presents activity, any activity, as forward movement when really it's just displacement activity.  It usually takes me till mid January to remember this, so perhaps I'm a little ahead of the game!

Of course, all that's needed to precipitate really  good new ideas is to decide to lay off entirely for a few days.  So we'll see what happens here!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Butterfly, nearly there now, and looking for her home

So here's the almost completed butterfly, the big one, that is, wired and when finished, to be cut out and posed, using the wiring to create a realistic effect.  

The hindwings are still to be done, and I'm resisting going on and on with more goldwork, this being a favorite thing to do, and there will be beads and other things, I think.  Thinking about using purl, too, meaning that fine spiral thread that you cut and use like beads, but make small hoop shapes as you go.  I have some of that in a wonderful color.

And I'm still foofling with the background, possibly using the llama yarn knit/crochet piece, but not as a solid background, more of a curtain drawn aside as the butterflies emerge -- Escaping the Net, is the idea here.  I have another big embroidered piece which I think I'll press into service as the solid background.  It has been exhibited as is, but now I think would benefit from more happening around it.

Sudden expedition yesterday to Princeton Art Museum, in search of these items, which they officially assured me were in the lower gallery.  Son came along, giving himself a couple of hours off from the job hunt, and had a great time playing hooky at the museum. We looked over the whole place, it being a while since he was there, and despite all our efforts, failed to find the items I originally went in search of.

But he loved the Book of Kings, and the von Rydingsvard sculpture, as well as the great African piece, the metal fabric, and looked over the Impressionist collection.  We both got a lot out of the Caves of the Silk Road exhibit, more here, which I hadn't seen before. This is a constantly changing place, worth repeated visits.

The weather was torrentially wet, so I didn't take any camera or tablet with me, not wanting to risk getting them wet, so you need to take my word on all this! and the Any Body Oddly Propped giant installation outside the front door looked very sad and forlorn and unimpressive in the rain.  It's very dependent on a high light, just goes dormant in wet weather.

The Dollivers are agitating for attention to their festive gear and decorating and so on, so that's the next item on the agenda chez Liz.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Field and Fen is really in our territory, what's that about?

So Field and Fen went all out of bounds today, doing art and all sorts of stuff, well,  fight back.  Go here and read!

This is known as a cross reference. Or a downright annoyed reference.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

LLama yarn in action

So fun to work with this -- the last person who handled it this closely was the Bolivian spinner, using the fleece from the cooperative's llama herd.

It's working up very softly, and I think in order to open out the design I will probably stretch it on a canvas or possibly just stretchers, with dyed fabric behind it, and perch butterflies and whatever else happens on it here and there.  We'll see.  I can only knit for a few minutes at a time before my arm starts to whine, so this is as far as I got to date.  Note the change of color toward the bottom. This is the right way up, the needle at the top acting the part of a dowel for picture purposes, which is why it passes through at intervals, using the holes I designed there for that purpose.

It's about yarnovers and k2togs and that kind of stitch.  I like this very much for knitted hangings.  This one may not have any crochet happening, though, a bit bulky for the bubbles I was making on the other one which is still in progress on the crochet hook, freeing up the needles for this one.  I probably won't do short rows on this piece, either, since the yarn is bulky and soft and might not do the drape well.

There may be two hangings, one the finer one with alpaca, the other the llama, but I'll see how I like it as it goes.  I need a couple of big pieces to offset the smallness of the embroidered framed items, and this might be just the right thing.  Or maybe it will end up being three pieces, remembering the rule of three..

One great advantage to alpaca and' I now find, llama, is that I don't sneeze or get any skin irritation when I work with it, unlike some sheep wools.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Five Minute Sculpture, the Birthday Caper Continues

Thought you'd enjoy a bit of clickbait! Your third birthday present coming up.

Today, I want to share with you an adventure I've often led my drawing students on, and invite you to join in.  This is literally a five minute sculpture journey.  Cat not included.

Take a piece of paper, copy or printer paper is fine.  Make two tears as shown, without separating the paper into separate pieces.  I show tears on the long side, since this becomes more stable, but you can tear down the short side if you prefer to.  Duncan shows you what I mean, he doesn't trust me to make it clear.

Now manipulate the sheet with your hands, no scissors, no tweezers, no steak knives, until you've achieved a small three dimensional sculpture that will stand up without support.  Remember this is to be seen from all sides, as sculpture is, so turn it as you work just to see that it doesn't just have a back and a front, but has interest all the way around.  Just play!  try not to crush it, since that will make it harder to support itself.

Stand it up now.  You can crease, fold, tear little openings to slot paper through itself or notches to slide together, whatever works physically.

And now you have a lovely piece of sculpture, maybe your first. Shine light on one side to get the benefit of the light and shade and see how many planes you've created.  And finally draw it. The drawing is not part of the five minutes, you can take your time and get your breath first.

Why two tears? because that gives you a three part piece of raw material to work on.  Three works well in art, being visually and physically stable, in drawing, painting, all the art forms, including theater and sport!  The three act play, the three set tennis match, are not all about having an easy to way to see the winner!  they also have a satisfying structure.

The reason I introduced this into a drawing class was that I noticed that people were able to draw objects they'd handled and were familiar with, so I figured if you create the object, you'll draw it well.  And they did, much to their surprise!  

I haven't done a drawing, not wanting to have that neurological connection made which forces the viewer to draw similarly to what they've seen. I'd rather you experience that for yourself, let your brain decide on your drawing.  And enjoy it!

By the end of this natal month, you will be experienced doll knitters, sculptors, meditators, and little do you (or I, come to that) know what else might happen in the next little while.  And I will be so happy to know that all the presents are happening thanks to my shoving   I mean encouragement.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Llama yarn and silk samples

This is the lovely handspun fair trade llama yarn I ordered from Bolivia via Dharma Trading, and a collection of colored silk squares, beautiful colors.  

The yarn will be part of the knitted and crocheted jungly background for the butterflies and other creatures to perch on, and the silk is going to be incorporated into the butterfly motif.

Can't tell you how lovely it is to handle the yarn, made by Bolivian women spinning from their own llamas, natural colors, their hands were on this yarn, as mine are now.  The Trades Union of Women at work!  

The silk colors are delicious, as silk takes dye so well, and for once I'm not dyeing my own, just wanted some different solid colors for the work.

All's well on the art front. I'm finding that my arm can cope better when I switch back and forward between fine stitching and freeform crochet and knitting with big needles and hooks.  

I have noticed a technical hitch though: if I stitch after crocheting or knitting, the stitching is much wilder than usual, so I have to think myself back into a state of mind where tiny stitches are happening. Or remember to stitch first, do the other later.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Butterfly, net and silverpoint capers

The enforced cutting back of stitching hours to pamper my arm has resulted in a few great ideas, rushing in the fill the space.  The crocheted background for the butterfly piece is now shaping up as a net, so the butterflies are escaping the net.  This concept only just came clear to me as I was about to talk about it, so you never know what you have to say until you start saying it.

It also became knitted alternating with crocheted, so as to make varying sizes of holes in the fabric.  I used a large pair of well used wooden knitting needles courtesy of Mittens.

It's seen here draped on a lampshade, tres artistique, but in fact because the cats are not interested in playing with it if it's there. Much more of this to come. I pulled out the first part, because as it progressed, it needed to be different.

Then the second butterfly acquired a beaded back, tiny silver beads too small to thread, I put in a kind of bed of glue on the back of the butterfly, after I painted it with metallic acrylic paint.

top side


And the bigger one,

 now drawn out on the silk I plan to work it on.  It's hand dyed silk and I lined it with an ecru lacy piece of fabric, once a blouse or something, which will blend well with the crocheted net.

I'll wire the wings again, with copper wire.  I chose the colors I think I'll work in.  As I set out choices of threads, I found a lovely purl thread in a blueish turquoise, an Indian gift, and that will be part of it, too.  Purl, you remember, is like a fine coiled spring, which you cut and apply like beads, stretching slightly first to make them curve over into little arcs.

Here's a butterfly posing on a gift: a lovely handmade needle book from Margaret K.  I love it, and I've started populating it already with needles for this project.

Fine art also goes booming on, and here's an experiment I've been thinking about for maybe twenty years and finally got to do today.  No point in rushing these things. It's a silverpoint drawing, very rapid one.  Very faint, read on to see why

I saw a blog recently, sorry, if I remember the source I'll credit her, where the writer had done a silverpoint portrait of her mother, using a silver earring she'd owned.

This reminded me that silverpoint drawing as done by the masters is actually done with a silver wire.  If you are unfamiliar with this art medium, take a look here, and there will be drawings you recognize, I'll bet.  You can get fancy holders and fancy expensive drawing wire, but I wanted to shop in my own stuff.

So I rummaged through my jewelry box for sterling earrings and found a pair I'd given myself as a gift long ago at Peters Valley, handmade crafted design, beautiful, but too long for my taste. So now one of them is in the drawing department, opened up to work as a drawing tool.  

I used an emery board to roughen and remove any polished finish from the decorated end, and it made a nice silvery grey, very subtle line, hard to see in pix, but nonetheless nice.  And will probably darken as the silver tarnishes on the page.  

This is not a properly treated surface, but it was okay for the rapid drawing experiment I was doing today. You have to put down a better ground, so as to enable the silver to make a bolder mark, but even then it's hard to see in pix.

Silverpoint may or may not take its place among the mixed media textiles I'm working on, but I wanted to start developing the skill anyway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The butterfly Banner starts

I started the crochet, freeform as you see, involving various stitches and approaches, and here's the first few inches, with a butterfly tentatively trying it out!  

This will get to be more open as it goes, with darkening colors introduced.  If the light colors at the top become too evident, I'll paint them a bit. 

Right now I'm using my largest crochet hook which you can see down left there.  With the finer threads to come, it means the openwork will be much more airy and open.  But the top needs to be a bit sturdy, as here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Makings of a banner idea

A number of influences suddenly came clear to me about the butterfly piece, and now it's going to be: a backing of dyed shibori patterned fabric, probably linen, and an overlay of crocheted network for the butterflies and other wildlife to attach to.  And I may find homes for some handmade paper beads, streaming from the crochet section.

So here's the makings of the crochet part of the banner!  

you'll see a little ball of alpaca, courtesy of Lily, the alpaca shown in the picture, and some lovely quality cotton thread from the goodwill, some wheat colored lambswool left over from many gifts to friends made from an unraveled lambswool sweater, as well as other selections from the stash.  I put out all my crochet hooks, since I don't know which I'll need at any given time, since this will be a variegated piece, different size patterning, varying approaches depending on the thread in use at the time.  

If anyone would like to donate a little sample of a good yarn, so as to be included in the work, just a token, I mean, please be in touch, and I'll be delighted to accept it.  I did this for the big tapestry I made for the library, for the Artist in Residence season, and it was so cool to know I was weaving friends into the Four Sisters design.

I made a couple of large knitted and crocheted pieces in the past, one of which was exhibited years ago, wire knitted fish swimming on a white knitted network background.  

 I also made this piece, knitted in stints in the surgical waiting room while HP was undergoing major surgery, partly keeping me breathing, partly distracted.  

This was part of a big installation, the Milkweed Project, which, as far as I know is still going the rounds! many artists contributed to it.

So this is a continuation of that idea. And I found a bigger butterfly drawing I've used before, which will make a bigger impact, in addition to the small ones currently in process. I may make very large versions of some of the small stumpwork pieces I've done, too, while I'm at it.

I have a solo exhibit coming up in June next year, so I need a couple of large pieces to balance the small ones, to give more impact, and this may be one of them.  

I had thought of weaving, but decided crochet was better, since I won't be limited by warp threads. And better than knitting since I can adjust width as I go, as needed. Also it's portable, a big issue if I want to take it to stitch-ins with me.

Anyway, all this occurred to me since yesterday, probably the fruit of being quiet all day, stitching a bit, cooking a bit, company in the evening, but no crowds and distraction in the day.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Look out, it's a stampede!

Recently, my art progress has been slowed up a bit by the arm trouble. It's doing better, thank you, more range of movement, less pain as I go along, but I still have to proceed with caution. Including bagging an event today that would have involved being in an unheated barn at a farm festival, demonstrating stamp carving.  

Neither my arm nor my supplies would have worked out well in cold temps, which we have today.  Not safe to cut cold-hardened surfaces with sharp blades and cold hands. But it was pretty informal, no registration or anything like that, not letting anyone down, so I'm staying home in the warm, and doing what I would have  anyway!

And stamping precedes stitching in this studio.  I'm planning on the bigger fabric piece on which the butterflies will eventually land, and have come up with a sort of banner idea, with stamped trees and flowers, from blocks I've carved.  Probably using my hand dyed fabric, too, once the idea gets a bit more thought out.  And maybe some minor stitching to create harmony between butterflies and background.

So here's the worktable of the stitcher at the moment:

All the stamps I carved either from soft cut rubber or from big plastic erasers -- these are a great way to get into it and find out if you like it, cheap, easy to find, pretty easy to cut, you see one drawing and awaiting cutting --and from wine corks.  Sorry I couldn't get to the farm festival event, since a wine tasting is part of the doings, and I thought that would be fun, to show how to make stamps from both ends of a plastic wine cork.

I use archival ink pads, to avoid smearing and fading, in sepia and in black.  You can get them in colors, but I like the color to come from the stitching part of the artwork, with the other images supporting them but not competing.  

And you see the tools -- a nice little set of Japanese carvers, plus my trusty xacto blade, which I use more than any of the others, and a lino knife.  I draw directly onto the block freehand, with sharpie or pilot pen, depending on what's to hand, and go from there.

Sometimes I carve in without a drawing, freehand, or freeblade, I guess you could call it, and that is great fun. Several of the blocks you see were done that way.  You just act as if the blade were a pencil.

It just shows how demanding fine stitching is, physically, when you know that I can carve for about twice as long as stitch, without having to stop for arm seizing up!

In other art news, a couple of days ago, I revisited the Book of Kings exhibit at Princeton Art Museum in the company of friends, one my longtime art partner Stefi, and there was a new exhibit downstairs, too, wonderful massive cedar sculptures, so glad I went back for the B of K, which I also spent time with.  

The sculptor's work is seen here: Ursula von Rydingsvard, amazing vision.  Huge contrast with the Book of Kings, too.  There are other exhibits, too, including a Silk Road one, but I have to go back again for that. I can only take in so much on one trip.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Creative Collective hangs the last show of the season at Terhune Orchard

There will be more exhibits elsewhere this season, watch this space, but this is the last of the season at Terhune, since the barn is unheated and the audience diminishes on the farm in winter.  Back again in March next year.

The show is large and varied, and I can't do justice to it here, just give you a few tastes of some of the artists whose work was hanging. It ranges from mixed media drawing, painting, bronze casting, stonework, stitching, ceramics, amazing range of talents.  So I'll just whip a few, very few compared to the exhibit, pix by you and invite you if you're in the central NJ area to stop by before early December and see for yourself.

Some of us will be there again over the weekend of November 14 and 15, when there will be pie (!) and wine and artists meeting and greeting.  The pie and wine tasting are a big Fall event at the orchard, and we're invited to be there, too.  I plan to demo some block carving on Sunday afternoon.  So that would be a good time to meet, greet, enjoy pie, wine and art!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Second Butterfly and a couple of artworks to be exhibited

Art goes on, with a second butterfly on the hoop, with a color scheme of turquoise, silver and chestnut brown with some dark blue

And tomorrow, these two pieces will go on display at Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville.  Local readers can stop by over the next few weeks -- there is to be an open house and wine and pie event there the weekend of November 14 and 15, and I'll be there on the Sunday, demo'ing a bit of stamp carving and showing the butterflies to date.


Meadow, monotype, image size 3.5 inches by 6, framed at 10 x 12. Price $150US plus $10 s and h, and I can ship.  This one would ship portfolio style (no frame, no glass, for safety).  You frame to suit.

 Tidepool, beading, stitching, tyvek, framed at 8.75 inches square. Can be shipped in this frame, sturdy stuff.  $200 plus $15 s and h. 

Local buyers are asked to wait till the end of the exhibit to pick up, but out of town buyers can have shipping right away, and I can put other works in place so the exhibit doesn't have a hole in it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Butterfly, and fame at last!

Today's blogpost on Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread, includes this blog you're reading in her Big List of Needlework Blogs.  So cool!  and thank you, Mary, much appreciated. 

Meanwhile, back in the studio, the first butterfly has emerged.  She's stitched with goldwork and blue metallic thread, beaded, and lined with a silk butterfly, same image, but reversed so as to fit on the back.  The apparent spaces on her wings are where the walnut stained linen shows through, as part of her coloring.

The lining is needed so that the underwings are finished, and to cover the stitching from the topside.  I wired the beaded front with 28 gauge copper wire, so that the butterfly can be posed with her wings up or at any angle to whatever surface she lands on, when I decide what that is to be.  It's great fun playing with her, and in fact she looks pretty lifelike perched on my hand.  Strange blue effect took place, but my hand is the usual color in real life.

I have several other butterflies, from the same stamp I carved, ready to do likewise.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Beading and goldwork goes on, and butterflies are in movement

The linen portiere already looks as if it's been in place for years!  since it's unchanged, it might even make it onto the Thanksgiving table.

Meanwhile, the stamped butterfly is going on nicely.  This is really fun to stitch and design as I go.  Thinking of several of them, all different in design, but the same general shape.  This is about four inches wingspread.  Anyway, this is where we are.  

Lately I've developed a few little problems, mainly in my left arm, hurt last winter in that dramatic fall, and injured many years ago by an enthusiastic black lab pulling on me.  My body seems to remember, and it's playing up a bit.  Painting the kitchen and installing two backsplashes and an insulation project may possibly be part of it, too.

So I have to remember to let my left arm rest a bit, and that means stitching sessions are a bit shortened.  But, aside from that organ recital, me, I am not complaining, as Andy's Ecuadorian aide used to say.  I am getting the butterfly done bit by bit instead of in one great big swoop.

On future plans for stitching:  when I mentioned I'd never done shisha embroidery -- that's the kind using small mirrors -- my good friend Girija promised instantly to find me some mirrors or metal substitutes when she goes to India in December for a wedding.  So there may be butterflies with it!

She also explained why some shisha uses mirrors and some metal circles instead.  And told me the Hindi name for the items, which I have now forgotten, dang. The mirrors are Gujarati, and clothes with shisha embroidery are washed with reverence for the mirror glass (that's what shisha means, by the way).  But elsewhere laundry is done by beating which is bad for the glass, so metal circles, prestamped with holes around for stitching, are substituted. The stuff I learn from her!  Mirrors would be fine for my butterflies, since they won't be a laundry item.

So look out for that!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Linen cloth, ready for her closeup, and current print

I'm posting a couple more pix of the linen and embroidered tablecloth, in the hope that you can help me identify the type of embroidery.  It's too much to ask if you can see if it's hand done or machine, but experts might know some of the signs they see.

Here are two views.  This is a heavy piece, weighs several pounds because of the weight of the stitching.  This is why I didn't take it in to stitch in last evening, to get expert eyes on it, because I was already carrying a lot and couldn't add this in.

The pinkish tinge is not visible to the eye, but shows up to the camera lens. It's the effect of the wall behind the cloth.

And here's the current print and embroidery combo.  I carved this stamp yesterday morning, you see it in the foreground, using that soft carving material whose name escapes me, but it's much easier on the hands than lino for cutting.  All my stamps are carved on this material, and it lends itself to fine detail if needed.  

Then I stamped it, using an archival sepia inkpad, onto pieces of linen and silk, all dyed by me, to make a flock of butterflies. I plan to wire their wings, giant stumpwork style, so that I can pose them as if flying or landing.  

At least that's the plan, as always, the plan could see the first butterfly on a 6 inch, I think, hoop, stamped on linen dyed with black walnut, and ready for whatever transpires as I work.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stitching gets derailed by printmaking

So musing on that big yellow piece and the possible Dorset buttons and other things, I ended up finding my hand carved stamps and making a meadow on it instead, in archival sepia ink.

This is partly because I invited a friend to do the dollar tour of the place, including my studio, a very rare event for me, don't ask to come, the planets have to be in the right configuration for me to invite. But anyway, her take on a lot of items was very valuable, and I suddenly as a result of our chat had much better thoughts on how to make that yellow dyed linen piece.  The ingredients will find another home in another artwork once I get to sorting it. Thank you Margaret!  

Stitching may ensue on the yellow piece, but may not.  I have been drawn back into printmaking from the #printoctober activity on Twitter.  And I have plans to carve more prints with subjects I need next.

So here's that yellow piece, 20 x 16, but all different now

And a piece you haven't seen, an 8 x 10 monotype in blue dye on coarse linen overstamped with handcarved images.  There are butterfly like shapes and other natural objects in the blue dyed areas.

Quinn, you have no idea what an impact you had on me back in August when you wrote that blogpost about #drawingaugust!  from drawing more, though I always did, to #paintingseptember, painting again after a hiatus, and now to printmaking again, my lifelong love.  And learning to watermark my work.  

Well, when the student is ready the teacher appears.  Which is just another way of saying that chance favors the prepared mind, come to think of it.

On a less elevated plane, that curving shape that looks a bit like a dancer in the blue and white linen piece is in fact a carving I made based on the architecture inside a deer's nose!  just sayin'. You just never know where great design is to be found.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Healing Power of Walking and Art

After a series of contretemps too boring to go into, what with HOAs and encroaching neighbors and Amazon billing foulups, I was very happy to seize the day and go out this afternoon to Princeton University Art Museum to see the new installation, and the big exhibit of the Book of Kings, the Persian manuscript.

Here are the flyers about them

And a few views of the installation, the piece being designed and created specifically for this location, and to my mind somewhat poorly installed. The reason I'm complaining is that a sculptural installation is usually meant to be seen from all sides, being designed as a 360 experience.  This one can only be seen from three sides, impossible to walk around it and experience it.  However, since the artists, the brothers Starn, no doubt took this into consideration, I suppose they didn't attach as much importance to it as I do.

So I muttered and took a few pix. 

 The bicycles are not part of the installation, but I left them in so as to give you a measure of the size of this piece.  And the landscaper blowing leaves and grass away from the base similarly.  Also I liked the concept of life going on around the artwork anyway. The parts which look like trees propping up the structure are in fact cast metal, brilliantly created to resemble wood, until you realize they have seams where the casting was joined.

I found the whole thing awkward, because too close to the building, difficult to see, because so big, at close quarters, almost impossible to get back far enough to see better because of construction going on a few yards away and fences blocked with temporary coverings.  Let's hope this situation improves before much longer.  I did like the light shining through the glass, though, and the incidental art that happened when the sun made a shadow on the museum wall.

If you want to see a bit more info about the artists and this installation, go here

Then the other item I wanted to see, can't see too much in one visit, need to digest, was the really spectacular Book of Kings exhibit, with original four centuries old manuscripts to peer at, over several galleries,  individual pages, newly restored, framed and being exhibited before they are put back into appropriate bindings by the restorers.  There are many copies of this classic Persian work, but this is the best conserved and restored one in the US.

This was a great idea, a chance to see many pages close up, using magnifying glasses provided, because of the fineness and detail in the manuscript pages, before it vanishes into its permanent rebinding and is accessible mainly to scholars.  

The light was kept a bit dimmed, because the pages are fragile, and no photography was permitted, as usual with collections on loan. But the experience of being up close to see this amazing work, with the beautiful old script, and even additional ancient notes in the margins, was very healing after a few bumps in my own little life!

If you want to know more (and this exhibit is there till January, should you be local enough to visit), go here

And, since it was a weekday, parking at a premium, I had to park way far away, which built in a walk, always a Good Thing!  So I got home in a much better mood, especially since I'd had sunshine all afternoon,  and, shortly after I arrived home, the skies went black and dumped a lot of rain.  I was home by then, and dry.  And smug!