Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Plain and Fancy

Aside from being requirements for young women's needle skills at an earlier stage in US history, it's also the title of an excellent book on the history of American needlework by Susan Swan, of Wintherthur, well worth reading.

I thought of it yesterday, as I did a bit of "plain" sewing -- reducing an unused bath towel to four hand towels, much more useful.  I buttonhole stitched around the raw edges I created by cutting.

And noticed that my latest adventure in teaching myself new stuff, hardanger,  "fancy" to be exact, had employed buttonhole, at least my version of it did. 
I couldn't get hardanger cloth, so tried out an even weave linen, which was very tricky, because linen's alive and moving as you work, making counting a challenge.  But I managed to get around the diamond pretty well considering, and figured out how to do the cutting, then decided I would do what I wanted from then,with the resulting network in the middle.  I just whipped some of the lines, buttonholed others, and for a first try, it's not too bad.  Stands to improve, and when my hardanger comes, I plan on taking another run at it.

The little piece of scrap fabric was my initial test of how to do the squares, and how to cut, before I ventured in cutting the linen.  Since my usual approach to art is very loose and spontaneous, it's good now and then to go to the other end, and do a geometric piece of work which needs care and slowness and counting and all the things that I normally whip by.  It also helped me cope with the events of the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vita brevis, ars longa

Roughly this means that no matter what this short and hard life throws at you, there's always art.

Very difficult week here,  serious illness of close relative in the UK, got the news a few days back.  Then this morning the news that he died during the night.

And amid this, someone collided with my car, nobody injured, car not so good, dealings with insurance and police, so nerves are not so good either. 

Please do whatever you do when there's a death.  Vibes, prayers, good thoughts, especially for his widow.  I walk the labyrinth and have done this week, will do it again.

Meanwhile, taking my mind off for a few minutes, my son came over to give me some company today, and seized the moment to take pix of me in the studio working on a big paper piece which may be exhibited in September if I like it enough

Hard to see ahead that far at the moment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Deer noses and summer workshop fun

My current stitching is a design I created, on a lawn handkerchief, for use with black mercerized thread, small crewel needle, using a rubber stamp I carved.  I stamped lightly with archival ink, onto the handkerchief, setting up the motif in a rough circle, not intended to be geometrically accurate, and the motif is, well what do you guess?  It's the inside architecture of a deer's nose that I mentioned earlier.

This is a great chance for me not only to explore further my design, using other art approaches, and to do some cutwork. The circles in the design are to be cut out, so this whole thing is a learning experience. I like linking different art approaches, here carving and stamping and stitching,  so that the art is fluid, not all boxed into its own little separate compartments like those typesetter's drawers for their type.

Speaking of learning opportunities, too, yesterday I taught a free community workshop in my local library's huge summer program, as the kickoff of the art presentations.  We made an Xbook, a book created from one sheet of paper, and since the participants ranged from three up, with assisting moms in tow, and a wonderful team of teen volunteers to help demo, it was amazing what we all accomplished in less than an hour.  Some kids didn't want to leave, including one lady who steadfastly kept on making her books and writing in them even while cleanup was in full swing!

I was a founder of this big summer program, now attracting hundreds of participants from our little town, to all the events.  Some of the art will be used to publicize the Fall Festival of the Arts, a big indoor and outdoor event with visual art, crafts, music, poetry, performances, make it and take it art opportunities, great fun, and I am happy to say I helped found this, too!  it's wonderful to see how it all grows and moves on year to year.
For some photojournalism of the event (!), go here

Saturday, July 7, 2012

EveryDay Matters July 7, axons and dendrites

One of my perennial interests is the functioning and research into the workings of the human brain, for various reasons too long to go into here, and my latest reading, Connectome by Sebastian Seung, is a great journey into new findings on the connectivity within the brain, and its plasticity.  He has a great background in the history of brain research, too, as well as other sciences.

So, since I love images of bacteria, viruses, microscopic elements of the brain, I just had to make an ink drawing of this, pilot pen on Arches hotpress,
reproduced in his book: Cross Sections of Axons and Dendrites imaged by an electron microscope.  To know what these actually are, you need to read his book, unless you're already a biologist all versed in them.

Over the years, I've done a number of drawings, and carvings for stamps, from biological phenomena.  One of my favorite is a stamp I carved, all sinuous and interlocking lines and curves, which people are hugely amused to find is in fact a representation of the internal architecture of a deer's nose!  some of them are from textbooks where the electron microscope was the only way to get the image, some are the opposite, such as the stamps I made, drawing directly onto the block, from photos taken from space of the Mississippi Delta.

What they all have in common is that amazing complexity and balance at the same time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

EverydayMatters July 2, drawing to stitching

I've been working in parallel in a couple of artforms, one the line and wash drawings I've been showing you, the other in the stitching world, also shown here.

So this is where I combine the two. 
This is a possible entry in a September invitational exhibit, and I thought it would be fun to combine drawing with my new interest in blackwork.

Blackwork, traditionally speaking, uses black thread (some modern stitches have introduced color) on a counted thread background.  I like the black on white very much, but have little interest in counted thread at this point, nor in the filler stitches you see in trad. blackwork.  So I decided that one of my line drawings would be a great idea for a blackwork stitching.

Here I'm under way, using a heavyweight sewing cotton in black mercerized thread, size 8 crewel needle, and a lawn handkerchief.  Same materials as I used to make the bird in the tree recently.
I think both these works will be presented together, as a kind of partnership of stitching and line drawing. At least that's the current thinking.  The drawing is pilot pen, black, on mulberry paper.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Joy! art pickup!

Today the first of the pieces sold at my recent exhibit left home for a new owner.  Since it's a local friend, we had an official settling day, and I provided tea and lime squares to seal the deal.  Lovely chat, and the Dollivers oversaw the whole thing, curating the piece ahead of time,

then arranging catering,
and having the guard dogs from next door on high alert so that nothing should go wrong in the transfer.
Great fun all around!  I love it when my work goes to a good new home.  The thing with selling art is that it always goes to people who really need to have it in their lives, and will love it.

Elton played musical accompaniment to the ceremony, with help from dolls, ranging from We're in the Money, which the Dollivers immediately shushed telling him, no, that's crass! This is ART, not BUSINESS! so he growled and went on with Summertime, and a  neat rendition of Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, which baffled the Ds., who love diamonds with the best of them but couldn't see how they came into the picture.  Then in honor of our Canadian doll, he belted out O Canada for Canada Day, and segued into Star Spangled Banner before swerving into America the Beautiful, at Boud's request, she thinking this is a better anthem.

All in all, a Good Time Had By All!  thanks Carol Q.