Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Art happening all the time

Making art is not a  job, exactly, more like a way of living. That's why it's hard to answer questions about it. There's no perceptible ladder of advancement, and no reliable measure of success (no, it's not about selling frequently, that can be a sign of catering to other people's taste, and can be given more importance than it warrants). I am in no danger of falling into that category! And it's not about shopping for art materials, though that's a temptation.

It is about seizing whatever happens as material.  This morning, aneighbor stopped in with two houseplants to show me for various bits of suggestions about what to do next for them.  

One was a bromeliad, actually in nice shape, with nice little offshoots developing. It's related to the pineapple, and reminded me that I've been meaning for years to get a fresh pineapple and try a start from it. Which I may still do.

But it had a totally dead and dry bloom in the main cup.  So I removed that to show him how to water the plant, no, not in the soil, you fill the natural cups, just like rain in nature. Anyway, I confiscated the dead flower, because it's beautiful, and he said I bet you'll do something with that.  I showed him the completely severed stub end, which shows it was already off the plant, just resting in place in the cup, so he wouldn't fear I'd done it in.

True!  It's a great model of shapes, light, shade, hard edges, just beautiful.  And against glass pieces, interesting contrast.  And, with the new doodles from last night, might be a good printed out image on silk.  

 Take a look and see what you think.  Do you have any faves of which images to put over which? remembering that the silk is transparent.

And, since a friend dropped in unexpectedly, hadn't seen her in ages, I lost a couple of hours studio time, so that will reshape my evening plans.  Not going to stitch, need to catch up in the studio.

 This is the primo place, pole position, you might say, in the local newspaper.  The pic is from an arts festival a couple of years ago, and I look a bit demented, but other people say, no, it looks so happy!  so I go with it.  And the other pic is of sample artist books. I'm working on the artist book series, AIR 2017

Next Thursday, the first week, I'm showing books created from a single sheet of paper, and I have some already done, to show in a post early next week, and some materials for anyone to try making one for themselves.  All the Thursdays in April, Plainsboro Public Library, do come.

And, it being vital to be well ahead of the game,  today I'm creating and assembling giant portfolios to store artworks in accessible and interesting ways. That involves sorting artworks into categories, since onlookers like categories -- currently watercolors, transfer images,  monotypes, then drawings, so there's four portfolios needed right there.  This is for a later week. Pix later.  Each week a different book form, all accessible to beginning makers.

Meanwhile I may end up with an array of portfolios.  They're fun to make, and you can use them for all sorts of storage, patterns, newspaper clippings, pix for ideas, etc. There are still a lot of people who like physical images as much as electronic ones.  Though I have to admit to a little Pinterest guilty pleasure..

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Old images, new ideas

Still thinking about artist books, and about the silk transparency work, and I was playing about with my ancient Ipod, the one that's too old to upgrade, but the doodle function works, and I can email from it.

So I did, after creating a few new images, and picking out some older ones from the library on the Ipod.  Emailed, that is, then uploaded to here. These will be maybe parts of artist books, maybe parts of transparency layers, yet to decide. Maybe both, in fact.  Just thought I'd show you my current very unfinished thinking around these ideas.  I can use a non watermarked version of them when I want to apply them to transparency on silk, but I watermarked them here to show original ownership.

 These might be layered on one another, or might go with other artwork pix, still a question. Or I might  use them as stitching designs.  Or all the above.  I rarely do human images n this sort of work, not liking the literal feeling of them so much, but once in a while, I try one just in case. The face images I did in the silk series have been very well received. I think it's because people like something recognizable to hang onto when they see an artwork.

I like very much the way you can get transparent effects with this function, and it reminded me of the silk pieces.  Transparency has always been a great interest to me, done many artworks featuring it or referring to it as a concept. 

And as always, I welcome your input and thoughts on all this mass of ideas, heaving and swirling about in my poor old brain!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another Artist Book is almost done

One of the things about making artist books is that you can use them to house a lot of stray art which has not yet found a home, and it's a good way to let people browse through.  

So this latest book is a group of stitchings on handmade paper, together with other handmade paper pieces, some molded, and it uses second cut cotton linters fiber, abaca (that's banana tree) fiber, and daylily paper.  The whitest looking, crisp paper is the cotton, the softer, more ivory color is the abaca, and the daylily paper is a rich golden brown.  I made all the paper, and will soon be making more, but I need to be more outdoors to do it without flooding the studio.  These pages have been exhibited, but are home now.

Here are the fronts and backs of the pages, both adhered to a piece of foamcore for stability. You'll see stencils and stampings.  I handcarved the stamps, from giant erasers, great fun, and the stencils were given to me years ago. One paper is black, mulberry paper, I didn't make that one! not having access to mulberry raw materials.

 I'll be explaining all the techniques that went into this one the week I bring it in, since a lot of them are very accessible to anyone once you realize it's possible.  Such as molding the paper, which gives great results, and is easier than you might think.

Then, so that people can see both sides, and protect the art at the same time, I put the pages into page protectors.

And I improved (!) a three ring binder to hold them and to work with them in concept.

When all the decorations are dry on the cover, I'll install the pages.  If you look at the cover you'll see a great effect. That lacy stuff is in fact the glue holding the paper on the other side, organized to be another art element. It will dry clear, but will still look interesting.

I'm hoping that, aside from enjoying the art, participants will get new ideas they can try at home, without years of training! The week I talk about handmade paper, I'll bring in enough equipment for people to see what it consists of, and raw sheet fiber, which they can send away for if they get excited about this process.  We can't make paper at the residency session, but I can explain the process.

I'll try to alert you here about what's coming up which week, in case you're local and there's something you really want to see. But I hope you'll show up anyway!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Artist Book Residency Prep under way

April is going to be a busy month around here.  My Artist in Residence stint is to be four Thursdays in April, 2-4 p.m. in Plainsboro Public Library, please stop in and watch or try your hand.  

It's a drop in, no charge, event, you can watch, chat, try, at will.  It's for adult participation only this time around, but kids welcome to watch.  I'll bring in materials so if you want to try, there will be enough to get started on while you're there.  Most people can't stay the whole time, but stop in when they can.

It takes a lot of background work to make this look easy and flowing!  so here's what was up yesterday, at least some of it:

And I'll be showing with Creative Collective in two exhibits both starting April.  One is in West Windsor Library, for the month of April, and here's what I'm bringing to that exhibit:

Then, April to early July, at Chambers' Walk Cafe in Lawrenceville NJ, and here's what I'll be showing there

These are all artworks which are now printed on transparent silk and layered. They look different from different angles, and in different lights, interesting effects of having separate images overlaid on one another.

Aside from what I'm showing, Creative Collective shows are really good, plenty of award winning and exciting art is the norm there, well worth seeking out.

Did I mention that at some point amidst all this, all my windows at home are due to be replaced?  don't know yet when, still waiting for the contractor to get them...we shall survive all this.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stitching to transparency

The most recent stitching adventure at the embroiderers' guild was an introduction to shashiko, the Japanese art form, a running stitch which can be elaborated to the extent of the stitcher's expertise and design ability.

What I wanted to do, was a bit different, why are you not so surprised to hear this...and I did a white on indigo stitching, a kind of wave formation, pre-stamped on the fabric I was given. I left parts of it unstitched.  And Ginny, the member-instructor,  gave us brocade already folded into the form of a frame for the stitching.

You'll notice these are different ways up, part of the deciding process. Then I photographed it on silk as one layer of a new transparency artwork.

Meanwhile, I had noticed when I parked at the library, a very interesting tree with variegated and peeling bark, right in front of my car.  So I jumped out, took a couple of close ups, with the idea of seeing how they worked with the stitching idea.

And after a lot of fun, printing out the images onto silk chiffon, and layering them in different ways, I came out with a couple of artworks I'm okay with.  

They are now matted, and presented portfolio style, that's with a mat and a backing, protected by a transparent envelope, and will go with me to the stitch in this evening to show the people. I am hoping Ginny will be there, since she will be interested to see what I ended up doing. 

If you're interested in this process, and several people who've been to the house and taken a look, and played with the layers, have got really interested, you can get the silk from Dharma Trading. It' s paper with the silk sort of bonded onto it.  You put it through an inkjet printer (not a laser, that would probably melt the silk terminally inside your printer), and then peel off the silk layer.  The image also goes through to the backing paper, which you can use in another transparency setup, anyway, I do.

One of the great things about this is that you keep the images, and can reuse on other pieces of silk, with new and different layers. And your original art is unchanged, if you photograph your own work, so that is still available to you.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Advent of Charlie, at least his fur

Charlie is a cat with a luxuriant coat, who sheds mightily a couple of times a year, and Judy, his tame person, sent me a bag of it recently to experiment with on the spindle.  They live several hundred miles north of here, so his scent has never been in our house. Read on!

So I carded some of the fur, to release the mats, and organize the fiber direction, and found that the electrostatic charge on cat fur is massive!  much greater than that of any other fiber I've carded. 

And that once I took a handful of a lovely cloud of fur, it promptly resumed its mats. Ah.  I need to see how to deal with this.  I did spin some up, just to see, but it was not very willing to draft.  

You see the fluffy grey fiber on the spindle, added onto another experiment that was already on there.  And you'll see that the mats are right back there in the fiber waiting to be spun. I think this is the right weight of spindle for this fiber, though.  And, in case you wondered, it smells perfectly clean and good.

I think the next stage is to card it with another fiber, and have a mixed yarn result, both to cut down the electricity and to enable better drafting.  And it will be a chance to blend colors, too.

Meanwhile, Duncan and Marigold were deeply suspicious of this strange fur that suddenly appeared on Their Table.  Duncan shot me the look of the greatest accusation: you cheated, you've been seeing Another Cat!   in fact I had bi level accusations going at one point, Marigold down on the floor, glaring at me.

They are not at all sure I should be continuing with this new fiber, but I will anyway.  Stealthily.  But I think I'll put it high up when I'm not working on it, to avoid an ambush from the residents.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Mobius Cowl emerges

So, half of the returning yarn is now knitted up, into a Mobius cowl.  As you see, red and the camera are at odds again, so the color you see in action, in artificial light, is way too orange for the real yarn

and the one you see against wood, in daylight, is way too gray for the real yarn

It's about halfway between. Very warm red to pink, hand dyed, variegation. It's full of shades and shadows and shapes, so the camera has its work cut out.  I arranged it two different ways here, too, just because I could.  You can turn the turnover part to the side, too.  I haven't blocked nor pressed it at this point, just wanted to see if I like it more curly.  I do, but I think I'll still do a bit more finishing, just for the sake of knowing.

It's a Mobius cowl, and if you want to make one, here's the deets:  I didn't use a pattern, just figured it out as I went.  Not sure what the weight of yarn is, but the gauge in this stitch is approximately 4 sts to the inch in both directions.

I used size 8 needles, cast on 51 stitches and proceeded in Shaker stitch for 24 inches.  You need an odd number of stitches for this stitch, in multiple of 2.  Since it turns over at the end of the making up, you could just do plain old garter stitch for this, since the Shaker part is only half visible.  I think it's interesting, but not vital.

Then I turned the starting end over, and cast off the finishing end by picking up from the left needle and the starting edge at the same time, knitting together, then casting off.  Worked across both ends at the same time that way.  So both ends are cast off together, no stitching involved.  You really don't need a pattern for a lot of nice knits, just a willingness to experiment.

This cowl is very warm, partly because it's wonderful yarn, from Shepherd Susie, partly of the openwork stitch which traps warm air, and partly because the Mobius shape gives endless folds.  It's also fun to arrange around your neck in various formations. And it can pull high on the back of your head if, like me, you'll do anything not to wear a hat. Or pull up over your mouth to breathe through when the wind is cutting.  It is also a kitty magnet, works just like a warm nest for them, ask me how I know this.

The Mobius strip is one of those mysteries, where you take a two sided object, fold it over once, attach the two ends and it's now a one sided object.  Endlessly entertaining, as well as a nice cowl to wear.  You can try this with a strip of paper, prepare to be mystified.

And now that it's done, the warm weather has obligingly gone away, so I get to use the cowl right away.