Tuesday, February 22, 2011


A chance remark by a Ravelry friend about happiness in tapestry clicked in my artmind, and before I knew it I was sorting a basket of the yarn I spun from the fleece I washed and combed and carded and dyed, plus some interesting ribbons, for an upcoming tapestry.

The work of a moment to climb to the third floor and fumble about in the studio for a frame and a ball of parcel twine, the frame being a set of stretchers donated some time ago by friend and fellow Unified Fielder, Stefi M., and the twine is to warp the frame. With tapestry, the warp vanishes into the work so it needs to be strong and smooth, but doesn't have to be fancy. Parcel twine is fine. Why they still call it that when twine has been outlawed from the parcel biz for years is one of those mysteries of the universe.

But at this point all is anticipation. It's perhaps the most exciting and dangerous moment of an artwork, when it's all to come and you don't know exactly what will happen, just have amorphous ideas in the part of the brain that's between words and pictures, neither one nor the other, and you know what texture you feel like using and what approximate color range will work but other than that, it's another mystery of the universe.

So I thought you'd like a picture of the first beginnings of a new work.

Then, while the cleaning people were here and I had to stay out from underfoot while they had one of those hilarious conversations with HP, in the course of cleaning the living room, I figured why not now, and I stayed in the studio and warped the frame.

It was marked up in small measurements from a previous work so that bit was done. Warping is not the most exciting thing, more the laundry folding of the life of art in a way, or maybe the rubbing of the ink block part of the work,but while you warp, your mind ranges over all kinds of thoughts and images and adventures to come on the frame.

And I found a ruler to thread through to lift the back warp bits to the front, to tighten the caboodle before I put in some establishing rows that will blend with, but not be part of, the design.

That Calvin and Hobbes New Year strip, where they are looking at the year and the new snow and all the adventures waiting for them -- that joy is where I am right now with this piece! at this point the work can be done in the living room, where HP will have my company.

I have worked very little in the studio since he's been totally dependent, but he loves to see me working on color and fiber. In fact that's one of the reasons I moved more into the fiber arts -- no fumes that could be a problem for an invalid, no stuff that could get knocked over tragically in an emergency, ability to stop and start for sudden needs of his, without materially affecting the progress of the work, these all filled my requirements.

I did the fleece combing and carding on the patio in sight of him, and the spinning in the living room. Dyeing (using very benign materials, Kool Aid, to be exact) in the kitchen where he can see me through the pass-through.

So that's the context. I'll let you see it as it moves along, or drags me along after it, as the case may be.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Food, nature's artform

I was cutting and chopping and slicing vegetables for salad today, and just had to stop and take pictures of the beautiful red cabbage, so like a precious stone when you see it in cross section, resting on a bed of celery slices, against the white of the colander and the steely color of the sink. Art by accident.

Cooking is an artform, and the colors and smells and textures of the food never fail us.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Out of ice, art, for you, Tarang!

I noticed a few minutes ago, after our ice storm, that the downspout in front of the house had a major chunk of ice stopping the draining, so I knocked it off, it fell into two parts, and I realized I had two lovely ice sculptures, courtesy of nature, in my hands. Environmental art, at its best, spontaneous, balanced, harmonious, fleeting.

So I took pictures

here, you can see the shapes, one like a crouching dog, one like a robed figure, on a weathered old bench

And here, a little adjustment introduces negative space into the composition.

So then, thinking, these are the gems of winter, I brought them indoors, and arranged them on red felt, like the jewels they are

Context is everything! and the pressure of getting this done outdoors before the camera froze, then indoors before the ice melted, is all part of the process of art. Life, too, when you think about it.

Already the subjects of the pictures are melting rapidly out there on the bench outside the front door, but they still exist, in these photographs, for us all to continue to see.

This is art that is kind to the earth and to us, too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Artist's books

This is a whole area of fun for the artist. I've made many books, usually very flowing, loose kinds of approach, not the bookbinding world at all, but a more flexible kind of work.

I've learned a number of stitching techniques, and I just wanted to show you a bunch that have not been seen before, because they are still awaiting the finishing and putting in of the pages. But the covers are nice to see, and range from paintings on muslin

inside, see the handmade paper additions

outside covers

which I then stretched over cardboard and adhered, to paintings directly on cardboard

or canvas

or paper

I've given away many little notebooks which I created, and want to let you in on a neat notion I came across: you know when people get those lovely art cards with reproductions of famous paintings and you keep them and keep them and never get around to sending them as cards?

Just learn a simple stitching technique, then cut plain old white paper, insert it into the card, stitch it and you have a really nice little notebook which is better than sending a card, but not too elaborate to send as a casual gift. If you have a corner punch that will round off the corners, all the better.

When I first got a corner punch, I went mad with it, rounding off the corners of everything that didn't move. The cats steered very clear of me at this period, hiding their ears.

Another supposedly office-intended appliance is my little shredder, which I originally got as a shredder then realized it would make wonderful strips for paper weaving.

So I sliced up a lot of old photos that were surplus to requirements, and wove the results, glued the piece down on card, and they are awaiting their pages and a destination.

I've made some books with my own handmade paper, too, lovely soft and irregular stuff, great to handle and play with.

outside showing plant material embedded in the paper

Inside cover

outside cover

Most of the drawings you saw in my other entries are stored in these portfolios.

One was a giant book made for another purpose, in an exhibit, and once home

adapted to being a drawing portfolio. In this one, I did the Japanese stitching using brass chain.

Several of these pieces were originally exhibited as paintings, and now will be happy as book covers, big ones.