Monday, August 26, 2013

Now for something completely different..

Different from rusty metal, anyway.  Here's my latest setup, tape binding the hoop courtesy of Judy T., whose Big Box of Stitching Delights is being shared around here and there.  You need to bind a hoop if you're going to use something as fragile as silk, though some people always do it, to avoid a permanent ring on the fabric.  I think it can be pressed out or stretched out, so I'm not so conscientious about that.  It takes a lot of seam binding to do a hoop, and nowadays it's expensive, so The Box was very handy to go to.

But here, with a piece of unbleached muslin backing one layer of silk organza and one layer of silk chiffon, with  images printed on both from two of my Tyvek paintings, it's an issue.  

Can't tell you how long I fiddled at this to get all the pieces of fabric in the right orientation to each other, and in the hoop, and happy together,with the images falling on one another the way I wanted.

Next I have to figure out how to work on this.  Must study ideas.
And right there on the patio in the sunshine, wild cherries on my doughty cherry tree, what's left of her after Irene and Sandy, still blooming away for the birds.  I got a bit carried away thinking about the designs they suggest.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The other shoe drops!

Here's the companion piece to the embroidered sunflower piece! It's from several years ago, when I was deep into black gesso and copper wire and metals of all kinds.   


Quite small, it's the top of a wooden cigar box, upturned, covered with black gesso, and with a sawblade I found in the street, natural twigs and a piece of shiny paper for the center,  attached with copper wire, and with a copper ink drawing, creating a sunflower.  Quite a contrast in approach from the stitched and dyed piece.  Thought you'd enjoy seeing this.

This and the embroidered and dyed sunflower will appear together.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Sunflower is done. and so's the stitcher

Here's the sunflower on silk piece, unframed, still with the basting around the edges, out of the picture, securing the cotton lawn to the silk,and still with the indentation of the hoop, before it was stretched

and here, stretched and  in a box frame, which is transparent on the sides, too, so you see the wraparound effect of the silk. 


This is probably how it will be framed permanently.  I need to put a backing on after I'm sure I like the positioning, which actually looks okay to me. 

It's on the wall, so I can see it better and decide if any adjustments are asking to be made.  Interesting to see that the eastern light shows up blues and purples, and the western light, evening pic, shows up the reds!  this is actually truer to the dyes.
This was great fun, wonderful mixture of working with silk, using metallic threads and beads and floss, and various stitches.

Now that moment of anxiety sets in, wondering what comes next...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Dollivers Send in the Plarn Troops

Two brave Dollivers were volunteered by their peers to come cut up plastic bags to create plastic yarn aka plarn. 

Here they are wielding scissors with enthusiasm.  Note the broomhandles, I mean knitting needles, in that pic,too. Then we cast on about eight giant stitches and proceeded to knit garter stitch for a few rows before exhaustion overtook their yarny arms.

Closeup of their feat.  It takes a lot of room to do this kind of knitting, what with swinging the needles around.  I think it's more of a spectator sport for the Festival, than an actual participatory one...I can see it now, people being swept off their feet by the knitter changing rows.

Elton the musician commented that this reminded him of those Swiss horn players in the mountains.

But, as you see, there's practically nothing you can't knit with.  And no idea that's too far out to consider for our Festival.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Meanwhile, there's Plarn!

Out in the world of larger art, we're getting ready for the September 20th Plainsboro Festival of the Arts, which I helped found about 18 years ago, and which has grown and grown, so I guess it's partly my fault...

One thing I'll be doing this year, aside from helping to person the embroiderers' guild area, is to work the Earthloom, a giant affair, for community participation, since that's the name of the festival doings.

So I thought hm, recycling and having fun and making a 21st century tapestry, hm, plarn is called for.  This is yarn created from cutting up plastic bags of all colors.  The art curator, Donna S., was unfamiliar with it, but courteously refrained from rolling her eyes, and we got together this afternoon, scissors and bags at the ready, and cut a few samples to put onto the ready warped loom. 

I packed down a previous iteration of weaving, as a nice base for the upcoming one, and did a sample weaving.  The yellow strip you see is the results of one grocery bag cut up.  And I've started putting leashes on, you see them at the sides, to keep the work rectangular as it progresses.

And here's Donna busily, and gallantly,  producing more plarn, with supplies of bags in the foreground. This is someone who is running a lot of major programs, all at once, while moving house, and getting offspring back to college.  A halo ought by rights to appear in this pic.

I also broke it to her today that you can knit with this stuff, and I have an idea about making a performance art piece using broomsticks for knitting needles and having several people knit!  I'll create the plarn, find the broomsticks and cast on a few stitches for starters, and we'll go from there.  I'm just sayin'.  

So the Festival will be a heavily fibrous day for some of us.   I will be indoors, since I can't manage to be out in the weather all afternoon.  But the loom will be in a window visible from the plaza outside so people can join us at will.  The event goes on all over the place, indoors and out, all the time.

And looking ahead a bit, there's loose talk about an Artist in Residence, that would be me, probably in the winter, creating a big tapestry of my own on this loom with people able to stop by and chat and ask and all that. Not using plarn, though, probably my own hand spun chunky yarn.
Fun abounds. Not much danger of boredom, I'd say.

The Sunflower bursts out

Here's the current State of the Sunflower piece. It's become a piece about late summer fruits and flowers -- the dark little areas are seed beads and resemble fruit -- and I'm rethinking trapunto in favor of more couching, because there are going to be competing textures if I use trapunto. So I'll save that for another piece.

I pictured the piece straight on, and at an angle so that you can see the textures better.  The stitching that looks like chain isn't -- it's split stitch, using four strands of floss so that I could split each stitch evenly.  Lot of fun, doing that.  And the long and short on the petals is different each time, since petals are, too.

This is nearing the finish line, I think.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

the silk design starts to emerge

This is an exciting point, where the design idea starts to express itself.  Several ideas came together this afternoon and I realized that the center of this piece is going to be a sunflower head. This was after a while spent couching dark green and anchoring it with yellow, my subconscious at work, I guess.

 I drew a couple of them as design references, from my flowers growing out front and back, and will be penciling the design onto the silk -- can't use my favorite Pilot pen for this, since it will probably bleed -- and then that's where the trapunto will happen, and some beading. And maybe some French knots to simulate beads and seeds in the seed head.  We'll see.  

The full face sunflower is probably my choice for this work, the other, more shaggy one, a back view of an older flower, is a bit "busy" for this piece,but might frame up as a nice little drawing.

Techy stuff for people who like it:  drawing paper, lightweight, fine black Pilot pen, Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons to sketch in the color areas.

And there'll be beading here and there elsewhere, and some small trapunto areas, to balance out the design.  At least that's the current plan.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Silk piece under way

I've made a start on my dyed silk piece here.  I basted a cotton lawn piece behind it before I hooped it, so that I could couch onto the silk without overwhelming it with weight, and it's really a good feeling to work through the two layers.  

Here I've established the basic contours of the piece, partly following the dyed shapes, partly departing from them, in couching with gold thread, and a kind of shiny translucent thread and floss,and a lot more will happen before it gets away from here. 

 I'm thinking of beading (why are you not surprised) and some trapunto work, but not in the same areas.  Adding in the cotton backing is what makes the trapunto possible, so I'm capitalizing on it.

About the colors: these are not my favorite part of the spectrum, but I dyed pieces when I taught the silk workshop to appeal to all tastes since we had about 15 different people attending.  This one wasn't chosen, and it's good to depart from your favorite colors now and then and see what happens.  Art's not about doing the same old thing and expecting different results!

I've been dying to get to this piece, but I have a neurotic need to finish things as I go, so I had to do all the other projects that had priority for various reasons.

You'll notice I've added a badge to this blog (I will have to redo it in a less explosive color, but it looked calmer at the site of origin) and have been having a great time with responses and discussion of all these embroidered bits over there, with much encouragement from highly decorated embroiderers, including goldworkers.  But I will be faithfully in here, too, never fear.  

Oh, nearly forgot: that piece with the pearls and couching and all sorts of items that I couldn't figure out how to name?  I was thinking it was like the inside of a geode, but that would be a dorky title.  Well, Faye, one of my new friends over at Stitchinfingers suggested Tide Pool! Yes!! just right.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Phoenix flies off northward and the next project is in sight

The Phoenix Rising book is now complete and packed ready to take flight northwest.  I attached the needlepoint with a margin of canvas colored, to a book cover I made of mulberry paper over card stock.  It's saddle stitched, with two signatures inside, easily detached if she wants to, and easy to replace if she wants to do that, too. 

And if she decides she wants to frame the cover rather than use it as a book, it's hers and she can do that too!The red yarn stitching you see on the outside cover is part of a yarn gift she made me ages ago, and I thought she'd like to have a souvenir of that lovely present.

So this is a participatory gift in several ways!

Then the next piece, a dyed silk one, which I'm backing with cotton lawn because I want to use metallic thread and the silk is too fine to support it alone. I've hooped it on a ten inch hoop, and I'll probably baste the two materials together to keep them from drifting as I work.  This is one of the series of silk pieces I dyed for my embroidery class to work on.


I'm looking at a design from a card embroiderer friend Carol P. showed me after a recent trip to Europe, showing a detail from an old Venetian coronation robe, as a wonderful example of goldwork stitching.

This is where I'm at right now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A little commission

This new pocket doll was commissioned by a Ravelry friend, and the planets came into the right configuration, meaning I found the pattern, years since I made any of these, found the yarn, found the right tiny needles, and found a piece of time.  So here he is.

Marigold is deeply suspicious of this whole enterprise since it involved being shoved off my lap several times while I was working on it.  She came in useful to show his relative size, though.

The Dollivers lent their rocker for the photo opp, on condition that the doll leaves soon, but they are consoled that he won't be getting any of their special gear, since he comes fully dressed. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Shell has Landed

The future owner of this piece came visiting about five minutes after I got home, after a day out you can read about here and turns out she's in for surgery this week, is in a lot of pain, so without further ado, I gave her the beaded piece I made for her, instead of waiting to show it to embroidery buds.  She really needed it, got all teary, and loved it.  So I think it served its purpose!

Anyway, this is how it was just before she seized it and ran home with it.She wants to get it framed, no need for me to do it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Midst Shot and Shell

Well, seashell in fact.  I'm beading and goldworking this little shell and would like a bit of input from you embroidering blogistas.  You see the section across the top which in an actual shell would be a sort of lip? I think of beading in there, too.  Or would you leave it open?  I've been looking at this for hours and have lost the ability to see it properly, you know how that goes.  So please chime in with your advice, which will be greatly appreciated and maybe even listened to!

The colors didn't come out true:  that upper section which looks like white beading, is in fact lovely pink beads with a white cast on them, very like the interior of one of these shells, and the fabric is a piece of tobacco brown linen or maybe rayon, or moygashel or something, nice to work through, but frays a bit, because I was so excited about getting into it that I forgot to tape the edges.

The other beads are taken from the necklace I thrifted the other day, nice range of browns and ambers and mixed, and the blue ones at the bottom I bought ages ago as beads, amazing, at retail.

This is a small piece, maybe 4 x 4 total.  It's probably going to be a gift to the person who gave me a ton of kits recently after she was searching for her blender, remember that funny sequence?  This was one of the kits, except it was supposed to be crewel, but I thought beads and goldwork would be better for the subject. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Phoenix has finished rising.


Subtitle: But Wait, there's More!

This approx 4 x 4 canvas, 24 count,executed in three strands of floss, with all the background in various mixtures of threads, I love to mix  colors with a needle, is now waiting for its final home. The phoenix itself was taken from a Monica Ferris chart, but the background is my own  design. It's a collaborative piece.

I think this is going to be on the cover of an artist's book, very special gig, special person.  But as to how it will look, how the book is to be constructed, well, I'm working on that.

Friday, August 2, 2013

New Book, Destination Undisclosed

The recipient doesn't know this is on its way, but I thought it would be good to show it before it leaves me.

It's an artist's book, the cover unbleached muslin, painted, cut and quilted together, with drawings, the inside cover mulberry paper, a double signature inside, saddle stitched, but you can easily remove the sections to put in more pages if wanted.  Handmade beads from my own paper, wax finished.

Since the recipient's a poet, I'm hoping this will fit her current requirements...and that she won't send me a rejection slip.