Monday, July 24, 2017

Paper finale for now

The abaca laminated papers, the ones with daylily stems embedded, are now in the process of becoming an artwork, with metallic paints, to simulate beaten metal.  

 They might be separated a bit in the final presentation, not decided yet.  Two of them might also end up being book covers.

Then there's the array of local fiber papers, about a dozen of each in a post, and local means gathered within about ten feet of my house.

 Seen here, top left red onion skin, iris with abaca, next row left yellow onion skin, oriental lily, bottom row left iris with cotton linters, daylily flower.

These are all the natural colors of the paper, no coloring added, and you can see that there's an array.  I still have a bag of dried iris foliage to use, but that can wait a bit, since it's already dry enough to be inert and not urgent to use quickly.  So I have quite an output.  The one that smells a bit strong is the yellow onion paper, so on a dry day I may put it out to air a bit.

And that's the current adventure more or less complete.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

The last of the onions, and a new adventure suddenly happens

So I used up the last of the yellow onions, plus the liquid they cooked in.  

It made a baker's dozen of sheets, 

now drying on the patio, with the interference of starlings running about on them, but if they leave footprints, that will be good.

And in the middle of various other things, this happened:

no, not Marigold, she's a permanent happening, I mean the wedding sari. Which she approved to the point of wanting to sleep on it.  A friend moving away is downsizing, and entrusted it to me, can't keep it, and  she generously said okay to cut it, remove embroidery, whatever.  But I instantly decided on a different idea, and said, no, I wouldn't cut it, too precious.  And to see what happened to it, you need to consult Field and Fen.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lily flower paper, red onionskin paper

This morning's output is red onionskin paper, with a bit of cotton linter, which I'd left overnight in the vat with the onionskins and liquid from their cooking.  I wanted to have a pinkish rather than a whiter paper, but needed the cotton linter to give body to the paper in case the onionskins didn't have enough.  

In the course of tidying up in the part of the kitchen where I keep my dyeing utensils, I found a bunch of red onion skins and an even bigger bunch of yellow onionskins.  So I cooked them a couple of hours last night, as if for making dye.  

Except that here I can use the pulp for paper and the liquid for dye.  Big vat of yellow skins, smaller one of red.  As I couched today's paper, I noticed that the onionskins were shreds, but not really pulped, which may be their nature, but anyway, I cooked the yellow skins a couple hours more today while I worked on the other paper.
Next batch will be the yellow skins, because you either have to use them or freeze them, otherwise you have an ecological development in the form of mold.

The laminated paper dried and surprisingly, the twigs are very evident still.  I may laminate one more layer onto them, not sure yet.  Or spray them with a metallic.  Still thinking about this. Pix later if anything interesting happens with them.

Here's the post of lily flower paper, a couple of pieces of which were wonderfully lacy. This paper is tougher than it looks.


It looks very much like wood in some ways. And when I tried to photograph it fanned out, the pages blended into each other so well you couldn't see where one ended and the next began.  This might be something to capitalize on. So I ended up stacking them for a pic for now.

A young friend stopped in last night and kept on saying why do you work so hard? why??  which sort of baffled me, but I think it was just a figure of speech.  She can't imagine working like this under any circumstances.  She's an accountant, moseys through her day getting enough done with no great expenditure of physical effort, and that's what amazes her, I think. 

I was a bit down for a moment, though, thinking, hm, is she saying there's no point?  then I decided she just meant don't wear yourself out. Take it easy, whatever that is..I think she also wondered how come a person might work hard without being paid for certain for it, but that's another frame of reference.  Payment isn't always in the form of  legal tender.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Paper Lamination

This morning, I committed three pieces of laminated paper, as planned.  Lamination, in case you're unfamiliar, just means layering. No, it has nothing to do with plastic! A lot of antique furniture is laminated, fine layers of wood glued and pressed and bent together.  And laminated handmade paper is two or more sheets couched (made) one after the other and layered with interesting shapes between them.

Here it's two layers of mixed abaca and cotton linters pulp, laminated with pieces of daylily stems between.  

You can see them clearly here, because the pulp is still soaking wet and translucent. When it dries, only the shape will remain.  So it will be interesting in that it will cast its own shadows.  The reason for the mixture of pulps is that abaca takes shapes very well, since it's soft when dry, and the cotton linters is a bright white, so I'm hoping for the best of both. We'll see.

These are really intended for framing, rather than for use in books or collage work.  So we'll see how they come out.  One little challenge is to couch the second sheet as close as possible to the edges of the first one.  A big like registering prints in a way.

While I was draining and laying these out to dry, the bluejays were shouting angrily at me to get done so they could come back to the feeder.  The woodpeckers and chickadees don't wait, just dive in and feed.  They pretty much look on me as part of the patio furniture. 

Next on the list is to cook the dried iris leaves and see how they go.  The lily flower paper is interesting, in that the shreds of flower are distributed among the pulp, but they don't make an amorphous mass like the cooked leaves.  So I'll try cooking flowers, too and see what happens there.  Depends if you want a paper with a lot of its own color interest or if you want a paper that has a uniform color that can be used differently.  The lily flower is too busy to decorate or draw on, really.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More paper experiments

Next door, there's a giant lily, which has come into its own this year, become practically a landmark, spectacular blooms.  This pic is way past its best, now that petals have started to fall.

And I've been collecting the spent petals as they fall, partly to make it look nicer, partly, true confessions, to collect them for papermaking.

I made a post of paper today using them, most I'd had drying  in the studio, but when I ran out, I ran out, if you follow me, and picked up some more and used them as is.  Mixed with a bit of cotton linter, to make sure the paper has some body.

My neighbor's going to be a bit amazed when he sees the result of my tidying up for him.  They're out now, drying in the really hot sun, and I'll show them off soon. 

This might make an artist's book, and then again, I don't know. 

Meanwhile, in other news, I made an artist's book out of that paper with the local flowers embedded

That top image looks quite monumental.  Standing on page edges. Very simple assembly, white-glued the left edges.  This kind of paper takes happily to white glue, doesn't stain it, and works well.

And created a collage with older handmade papers

The gold drawing of birds in a tree is one I did some time ago, and embedded onto this round paper.  Waterproof metallic ink, on tissue paper, just rested it on the mold as I was lifting it out of the vat.  Tissue paper sinks in, dries attached.
Messing about in the studio on hot days when I really can't get out for more than a brief time, is the art equivalent of rolling socks or alphabetizing spices.  I cannot tell a lie, I did alpha my spices yesterday.. 

Tomorrow even hotter, so another papermaking day. I collected some dried up daylily stems, lovely shapes, to use as laminating material.  So we'll see how that goes.  I had to stop making paper today, partly because I was a bit spent, partly because I was running out of felts, and mainly because I was running out of drying space on the patio.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Painting and gardening in collision, or partnership

One of the bonuses of following Twitter (thank you, Quinn, for encouraging me to get into it a couple of years back, very good addition to my life) is the amount of incidental learning that happens.

Today, in the course of following some French language timelines, partly because the material's interesting, partly to try to revive my reading French, I found a great post about moss paint.

I've vaguely heard about this, usually for purposes of clarting up flowerpots, not my taste, really, but this was really interesting, in that I have a section of fence which needs something to happen.

It's where the climbing rose canes go all bare as the rose climbs and flowers at the top all the time, very nice, but there's a kind of desolate effect against the fence, while the roses are posing against the sky.  Can't put in another shrub, too much competition for the roots, and a danger of cutting down the light anyway.

But, here's the notion: painting with a solution that will enable moss to grow, in the design of my choosing, now that might work. A lovely mossy green background to the canes would be much better than what's there, anyway, that's the idea.  The mixture enables the mosses to live and grow on the surface they're painted on.

So I followed the recipe in French, nice how it's all coming back, and ran out to collect moss locally. Meaning  within a fifty yard radius of here.  Under trees, outside my back gate.  So from the viewpoint of greenness, not disturbing the mosses destructively. It also gave the mosquitoes a chance at a good breakfast.

Then rinsed them, took a while to get all the little pebbles and earth off the roots, and found a couple of lovely tiny wildflower specimens which I have to identify, one now planted in with a houseplant.  

Then mixed with water, yogurt, spot of honey in the absence of corn syrup, and a little bit of cornstarch, can't hurt. Here's the mixture

and here's the paint

This afternoon, once the sun's off the fence, and I have time to find a bit of charcoal, I'll draw a design there and paint it with moss paint.  And hope we don't have a massive downpour right away that washes it off again.  The sugar content will probably ensure a visitation of ants, but they're harmless.

Good adventure, this, no harm done at all to the environment, and if it doesn't work, nothing lost anyway.

Other good news:  I'm invited to do a display of my artist books at West Windsor Library, in November this year.  They have glass cases, so I'm getting a couple of them, the only way really to safely display handmade books.  So if you're in the neighborhood, do stop in to the lobby and enjoy them. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Same stuff, different looks

Haven't been doing much painting and drawing lately, busy with the papermaking, but I often notice interesting effects to store in memory.

Here's one from today:  the Adirondack chair, with sunflower type flowers growing around it.  Cloudy, little contrast. The colors show up well, the shapes not so much.  I cropped the picture to make a composition, not just a shot of something. If you painted this, chances are you'd have a fairly dull painting, full of mid range tones, little contrast.

And here's the same scene, later, sun out, very high contrast.  Cropped a bit differently, to accommodate the shadow patterns.

For a painter this is probably the more interesting scene, since the shadows create another composition right on top of the scene itself.  And they create negative shapes on their background. You would paint the shapes of the shadows as they fall, not worrying about whether they fit inside the objects or not. They are their own composition.   And you'd have lightest, darkest, and mid range all in the composition, interestingly.  You would edit this as you go, since too many shapes and contrasts look chaotic rather than interesting.

You do know how to paint shadows, yes?  you make shadow, in most media, by mixing the color of the item not in shadow with a bit of the color opposite it on the spectrum. This gives you the shade effect without deadening the area with gray or black.  So a yellow flower needs a touch of purple to give its shadow. And green leaves  use red in their shadows.  Seems counterintuitive till you try it out.

I was just thinking about how often people ask me what's the destination of a given art project, and what an item will look like when it's finished.  But that's not part of creating it.  That comes later.  First you work on it, just see what happens.  And not worry about knowing the final appearance.

I have to give major props for this to dogonart, who used to be nice enough to work with me a bit when I was a little kid, making stuff and amusing me, probably because I was so sick so often, I needed some amusement!  She was a good bit older, so I considered her an adult, and took careful note of what she said. 

One time she found a couple of matchboxes, and some beads, and then announced that she had no idea what we were going to make, let's just start!  Exactly the right note.

And I remember we ended up making a little chest of drawers of the tiny stacked matchboxes, and somehow or other attaching the beads as drawer pulls.  But, no doubt she forgot this years ago, I never ever did.  I was about maybe five doing this, maybe a bit older.

It's prime concept for an artist, not to worry about knowing what you're going to do, otherwise perhaps it will never happen.  You can't plan and execute all your art, just have to let the materials work with you until you see some sort of pathway. You often don't know what you're making until the making is under way.

This is about fine art, rather than about portraiture or building renderings, though, where your subject is right there and likely commissioned.  I never accept commissions, because I can't tolerate knowing what the outcome is supposed to be! but that's me.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Papermaking update and new batch out in the sun

Today being even more infernally hot, apt metaphor there, it was a good day for more papermaking.  I raided the freezer last night to extract some little packets of flower petals donated by a friend last year, for whatever use I wanted. I was thinking of them for dyeing, or maybe hammering onto linen, but thought maybe paper would be good, too.

So I made a batch of abaca fiber, and as I lifted up each page from the vat, sprinkled flower petals on it.  Then, so that they don't just fall right back off when the paper dries, I sluiced a bit more liquid from the vat over them.  This means some abaca fibers will hold them onto the page. 

So I did the minimum of draining, then laid them out straight onto the deck to dry.  Here they're still soaking wet and translucent, but as they dry, the paper will become opaque, and with any luck, the flowers will show.  I noticed that some of the colors are starting to bleed, which is nice, since I didn't want just petal shapes.

This sort of paper's much more delicate in handling than the other types you've seen here, and you can't stack and press it the same way, since the petals are likely to come off and stick to the felt above in the process.  You can't really mix the petals directly into the vat, or they'll probably disappear into the paper, with only an outline showing.

Which reminds me of another lovely technique I've used -- laminating.  This is where you make a page, lay an object on it, then lay another page directly on top.  As it dries, the object is seen in outline, and the two pages bond as one page.  

I've done it with all kinds of plants and pods.  You can gently draw out the plant later if you like, but don't have to.  It's one of those things that are very easy and look impressive, always a good thing.  I must do more of this. Best with abaca or a mix of abaca and cotton linter.  I don't think it would be so successful with plant material like iris or daylily, which tend to dry crisp and not amenable to molding. But it's worth a try, come to think of it. 

We'll see how today's try works out, and hope the curious birds don't get involved with it.

And in the studio, the post of daylily flower paper is almost dry, and here it is.  The darker areas are damp, but it will all be a kind of gold color when it's done. 

They're on a glass top, not flying in mid air.

The iris leaves I was drying up there are now bone dry, and ready to use, but not today. One post of paper a day is plenty of carrying water and slinging stuff about.  And the lavender is fully dry now, and may or may not end up in paper, no rush; now that it's dry, it's inert.

It's really a favorite summer thing to do, letting the sun do part of the work for me, while the garden provides raw material. And then blogging about it to a receptive and interested audience, while the act of writing suggests more and more ideas to me.  Raw material everywhere.

Next idea: while waiting for paper to dry, read a Barbara Pym, currently Some Tame Gazelle, leaf through a few magazines donated by a neighbor, drink iced tea, doze off.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Daylily flower paper

Since it's too hot for me to get out and about, it was a good day to try out the daylily flowers I'd dried in the studio, for paper.  Added in a few bits of abaca fiber to give a bit of body and softness, and here's a post of paper in the making.  This is a couple of handfuls of dead flowers I'd picked off the daylilies.  And it was quite a short session, just to use them up and see what happens.
Paper made from the foliage of daylilies, which I made last year, comes out bronzy and crackling.  The addition of abaca is to avoid the crackling which I didn't want on this occasion.  I liked it for the book I made of the foliage, though.  The paper from the flowers will probably be a different color, but you can't tell ahead.

Here's the makings

and a sheet newly made, resting on the side of the vat to drain

and here's the post, that's the whole output, drying in the sun. 

 I saw a blue jay eyeing it a bit ago, and hope they don't get involved pecking.  But in fact if they walk on it, that could be very nice, bird footprints. The vertiginous (see Milton Avery, sorry, in-joke) angle is to get the whole post in one shot.

This will dry pretty quickly in today's high heat, and if I'm up to it tomorrow, I'll make more, using other fibers.  All out of daylily flowers now.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Presents, papermaking, dyeing

Musing about the iris foliage from this year, drying in a bag in the outside storage, now joined by daylily flowers and harvested lavender, all for future papermaking raw material.  I noticed that the iris foliage started to develop a bit of mold, so the paper bag was not quite doing the job.  And I suddenly remembered the fullsize screen door up in the studio, which belongs to the front door. I never use it, preferring to keep the storm door in place so that I can have the ac on in summer without shutting the door and making the place dark.

No sooner said than did.  Here's all the material, up on the big worktop in the studio, drying happily in a dry environment with a fan working above them, and they can be undisturbed as long as it takes. Background iris foliage, left front daylily flowers, right front lavender, but you guessed that. Also the air smells of lavender now.  Under the screen I slid a couple of plastic frames to hold it up off the worktop and get some air circulating under it.  I'll let you know how this goes.  It may be that the daylily flowers will give me dye material as well as paper material.  The lavender I haven't decided about yet.

This worktop is a great favorite. It's a huge piece of pine, finished on one side, which I found at the dumpster many years ago.  It's worked as a headboard, a desk, a dining table, and, for many years now a worktop. Talk about moneysworth.

And I went to wear a rayon top this morning, a favorite, and found a mysterious and huge pale stain on it, no idea where it came from. 

Clearly couldn't wash out, since it was there after laundering.  Sooooo, I thawed out a couple of containers of the liquid from making the iris paper 

and put the soaked top in to simmer for a couple of hours, and now it's sitting till tomorrow, to see if it takes up a bit of color. Just a delicate shade, probably, but it will be interesting to see how this works. 

If the papermaking water can be used again as a dye or ink, that's a bonus. And if I can wear this top in a new delicate color, good too.

Speaking of a bonus, in the mail today came a lovely set of presents from Cynthia, a laser-cut card of a Maine scene, a letter and some birch bark, which could have come from the scene on the card.  Each would have been a complete present, and I got a trifecta. 

Thank you!  I'll enjoy all of them. The card gives me many ideas, as you probably guessed it would.  Involving stenciling on iris paper, among others.  In gold.  I was feeling a bit tired today before the mail came, and now it's all different. Power mail!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Out of boredom, art..more or less

Hot weather of the sort that keeps you from going out walking or getting out and about in general, leads, in my case, anyway, to doing everything you can do at home then running out of stuff to do, and getting bored.

Yesterday, in that frame of mind, all possible gardening and succulent propagating completed, houseplants groomed, reading done, cooking likewise, I was sort of aimlessly scrolling about in Ravelry and found someone asking for help with a soap felting kit she'd finally got around to doing.  Plunging right in to share my total ignorance of this artform, I did join in since it was about roving and I knew a bit about that.

Then one thing led to another, including my wondering what is the point of felting soap.  I'd heard of it, but vaguely wondered why anyone does it.  Turns out it creates a cross between a bar of soap and a face cloth, gentle abrasion, good for your skin, just use as if soap.  Light dawned.  

I also could see a possible use for the rest of the roving ends I had such fun spinning last winter.  To think is to act, and next thing I had studied some of the 356,738, 412 videos on YouTube showing how, and disagreed loudly with several of them, especially the ones that kept the taps RUNNING the whole time they felted, arghghgh. I don't even let the taps run while I'm brushing my teeth, thanks to Jane Goodall. So I'm conditioned to be horrified at wasting water.

Anyway, I assembled what I needed, to wit, bits of roving in various colors, bars of soap, and though you're supposed to have a nylon stocking to enclose the roving covered soap, I didn't but I used a length of nylon net, worked just fine.

Soap wrapped in roving, net ready to wrap over the whole thing

Two bowls of water, one hot, one cold, to alternate, all the better to felt faster, my dear.  And I was off.  Just a few minutes of massaging the little parcel, then removing the net, then massaging further, then put it to dry out once all felted and tight.

First trial, in colors Handsome Son might like, if he wants one

Then the next three, all felted up and wet, drying on the counter

Here's the current collection.  By tomorrow they'll be dry and ready to put in a bowl in the bathroom.  Strongly tempted to make a bowl now....

These are going to be in the downstairs bathroom, as part of the art decor, though I hope they'll be used, too.  While I was doing them, I wondered if the CQteers have ever tried this?  It's really fun to arrange the roving into designs and colors, and they stay put pretty well in the felting process.  Colors didn't run at all.  And not as hard on your hands as you might expect.