Monday, October 16, 2017

Some other bits

I'm finishing a bad cold that involved a lot of coughing. Fine intricate sewing is difficult with a heaving chest and watering eyes. Instead, I focused on things that supported the studio and a new sketch book course with Jane LaFazio. http://janeville.blogspot.ca/

I'm not sure I love this course. It has very specific outcomes, which is pretty contrary to Karen Ruane's way of teaching. I've been spoiled by her lack of banging us over the head about an outcome.

I spent a good hour talking with a dear friend about being artists, having a huge stack of work in the closet and few opportunities for exhibiting work. She has two very close artist friends, one of whom has won Governor General Awards for his art, and they have sheds and supply rooms filled with art that hasn't seen the light of day since created. I wasn't so concerned about the exhibiting piece, I had made up my mind several years ago that those kind of opportunities would be like parties where I get to wear a ball gown. They happen, or they don't, but either way, I have a "ball gown" closet filled with choice items.


I was more concerned with how to stay focused. If work isn't exhibited beyond a show and tell of fellow artists, how do I (or you) know if it's any good. There is the most important benchmark that I, or you, know that it is expressing what I had intended, it is well executed and it is good in my own terms. It's not about the medium, or the gestures or the colours, or even the message. It's about what thrills an artist when they sit down and get to work. I was having some struggles with my thrill factor.


Usually fabric, thread, colour and a gesture towards a garden or flower or water is enough to keep me interested. I know I don't like to include text and I know I don't like to include a discernible image. If the work is about foxes, there isn't a fox to be seen. No, it was more that little voice that was saying, "What the fuck?" Not terribly articulate but pretty accurate.


My friend, who really knows her art history, her contemporary art scene from Germany to Spain and the US, has a motto. "Paint (work) like you have a dick."


A light bulb went off. Of course, that was the problem, I was looking to the future work as if I had no spine, as if, somehow, I needed to worry about what I wanted to say. I was looking for affirmation. "Sucks to you, Piggy." I decided. I am going to just go for it and not worry that I love, and am besotted with gardens and flowers and streams and their colours. So what if no one else likes it? Bah to them, I'm going to have a riot of thread surrounding me and love it.




Monday, October 2, 2017

Bingo & Damp stretching

I managed to do all the things in one week that I want to get done in one week. Does that make a routine or a lucky week? So bingo to me.


Writing and studio time were a major factor last week. In the world of writing, I had some research to do on Canadian life-styles 1900-1925, fireflies, fly-fishing, and radio. That was fun. For instance, did you know that the female firefly lights her bioluminescence lights at ground level, while the males light theirs higher up in the grass and bushes. There are South Asian fireflies that can coordinate their lights so that the entire group flash at the same time. What a sight that must be. Ka-flash-hold-and-out. I also learned that the first radios, while able to find hardly any sound because there were few radio stations, still cost as much as a car. The other cool fact was that an earlier radio had multiple earphone jacks for the entire family. The family sat around the dining table listening to the same program, but each person heard something slightly different because the tuning was so imprecise. I wonder what an I-phone family event would look like if we all plugged into the same jacks?

On the studio side of things,


I damp stretched my two 3 foot long pillow case edges. I am creeping up on joining them with the handmade lace you saw last week.


Each piece tends to curve gently in one direction or another, none are straight.


I think I will have to do a lot of basting to make sure each piece lies flat against the other.


I like to do clothes sewing on the weekend when possible.

I like to add a splash of colour on the inside of the collar. It is a lovely brushed cotton.

Phoebe and I don't like cuffs much. I shortened the sleeve slightly and added a lining to the inside of the sleeve. It has a very small peek out when folded flat, but when turned back, the accent colour shows again.

A small colour hit on the back of the shirt where the back is slightly pleated.

A little bit of yellow button sewing and this shirt is finished for Phoebe. It is the Sewaholic Pattern 1501 by Granville. I really like the outcome but the instructions are not great. I made a slight modification to the shirt. It should have a flare out over the hips, but the previous shirt flared out too much for Phoebe's taste and I straightened it. It won't be until the end of October until I know if it fits. (Insert nail biting here)

Last winter I wanted a simple black wool skirt. I bought what I thought was a black wool blend, but it turned out to be a deep brown.


I'm trying again, but this fabric still reads brown to me, although multiple people walking past the sewing machine assure me it is black. The pattern is Selene by Colette Patterns, 1035.


On the horizon is a shirt of this lovely cream/green flannel for Steve.OK, today is Monday. Upstairs vacuumed, check; blog done, check; bathroom cleaned, no check; gym? On my way.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Watercolour stash

Many little items are almost complete.


I love that tulip motif. Now I have to figure out if it can be used anywhere logically.


 This last one needs better photography.It is full of little details. I am smitten with it.



It is time to build up a bit of a stash of items I use. I went to Michael's and picked up some paper I can't get at the Japanese Paper Place.


A nice floral and leaf combination on top and a spiral leaf below.


These are embossed and add lovely detail without having to be stitched. It is always possible, but I haven't found the need yet.


This is a semi-opaque almost vinyl feeling paper. I haven't fooled around with it yet. I don't think it will tear well. It might be interesting as inserts behind holes.


I thought a bit of fake marble might be fun somewhere, someday.


I have been stitching this piece of machine free embroidery forever. It is meant for a specific piece, and will look fabulous once added. I have watched many TV shows while doing this. Sometimes I felt guilty, but my brain needs some sort of engagement while stitching. Documentaries would be better. The latest offerings are about murderers and rock stars. A co-incidence I am sure but neither interests me, and a person can only watch so many baby wild animals in a day.


The real fun has been with the watercolour.


I started this at the camp, but as frequently happens when I'm not in my studio, I forget what my intentions are. The paper is pretty large and I wanted to make sweeping swaps of watercolour, have them bleed into one another and be a masterpiece of spiraling colour. I forgot all about that and started making huge flowers. Boo...hiss.


I also made a huge mistake thinking the red was red like coke red but it isn't. It's more like a terra cotta red. I let it dry and brought it home. I don't mind that there are folds, because it will be torn up and the folds act as pools for colour collection.

This time, I wet the entire sheet before I began.


Then I slopped watercolours that I knew I liked over it, avoided the reds and lifted edges and corners to get some bleeding happen.


I ended up doing this in sections so that the bleeds ran only part way across the page. I decided to this mostly because the sheets are so large that the bleeds began to turn muddy and I wanted crisp colours.

The last piece of paper is a product called Swedish tracing paper.


Only a first layer of wet colour is on here.

Super duper expensive and it has to be shipped in from somewhere, not Canada. (add taxes and shipping and lately taxes on shipping but try to get that fixed, hahha) I can't imagine that this is a good product for sewing with. It tears super easy, folds just as easily and if it is used to trace a pattern, the marker bleeds all over the place. Therefore, it is perfect for an artist's needs. Enter the bleeds of colour. Again, water up the sections, add colour and water soluble markers and kaching. Because it tears so wonderfully, it can make odd shapes, be folded any which way and the only caution is in the final attachment. If it is the last item to be attached to work, a bit of stabilizer at the point of attachment might be in order, otherwise the thread might cut through. But if it is part of a background collage, no problems. Other bits will anchor it down. I am going to go over the tracing paper again with more water and strong coloured water soluble markers to liven it up a bit. The stash is ready. Ready for what you ask. Don't ask, I haven't figured that out yet.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Almost there

Composure nearly reigns. I can see, I can smell, I can almost taste my routine. It would help if the cat stopped pacing. She is a very little cat but manages to thump around quite disgracefully when she is irritated about something. No one will take her outside for a morning glare at the birds, she has to do it through an open window. Not good enough apparently.

She has chosen the best lace and finished items to express her ire.
But onwards.

Last Friday I was invited to join a group of fellow textile artists for the day. They work mostly with quilting techniques, while I have stopped. We ooohed and aahhhed over each others work, as is half the point of meeting up. 



We also had an artists talk by one in the group, Regina Marzlin. Regina has a solo show, exploring line, form and colour at the Antigonish Public Library and not only is it very well presented, but the work is really enjoyable.


Regina has been fooling around with ovals lately.


She uses a combination of machine stitching and hand stitching as well as various surface markings. It was a real treat.

(oops, this is sidewise, sorry Regina)

Regina gave us the artist's talk that she had presented at the library earlier this month. We gave her a critique on it, helping her to shape it into two talks, one for a general public, one for fellow textile artists or other artists. It was fun.

Afterwards, we stopped in the little chocolate shop, Peace by Chocolate, run by a Syrian refugee family. Their web page is here (here) They sell online, and the maple leaf dark and milk chocolate combination is wonderful. Just this weekend they opened their factory. Kudos to them. The chocolate is delicious.

I have been stitching between major clean through events. Pictures next time. A return to routine involves getting to the gym at least twice a week. I have my gym clothes on and am ready to go lift weights.  The cat has stomped off, o bliss.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mid September

Somewhere I read that most people don't get back into a routine until mid-September. I certainly am not. Today, I did not get to the gym, clean the upstairs, paint some baseboard trim or even get breakfast before lunch.

I look at the world right now and can't even think how many millions of people are seriously out of whack with life, routines, and even decent lives and all I can think about is my kitchen.


Every once in a while I think stress is a choice. The kitchen mess hovers over my head and I can't breathe.


I walk into the same kind of mess in the studio, and I relax. Same kind of breathing, same kind of mess, different responses.

I've written this paragraph several times and have no idea what message I want to send out. I firmly believe that to be peaceful in the world, you have to be peaceful inside yourself, then with the people and circumstances right in front of you. Looking outside at the world in important. The old ostrich with her head in the sand is irresponsible. But what on earth am I trying to process right now, I don't know. So let's call this a failed blog post. I wave hello to you all, hope you are strong and in love with someone or something and that next week, I'll know what I am doing again.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer stitching

Besides squishing the heck out of unsuspecting plant matter, i am also stitching on pieces that have been assembled over the winter. Following is a selection of nearly completed pieces, all requiring some stitchwork.

Oops, forgot to rotate. This is a collage that looks so much better in real life. The back ground is a warm pumpkin. There are some XXX's in orange along the bottom edge of the paper. It is larger than all the other bits and I am struggling to make the stitches in fear that I will wreck this. I think I should have done a bunch of stitching before attaching the cut out bit, so that the stitches rested in the back ground. It is set aside for a long movie so I can tease it apart and start again.

I like this one. I have used a product called Swedish Tracing Paper. Super expensive and really useless. I do sewing and this paper product would make a terrible pattern piece. It tears so easily. But, it does do marvelous things when water colour, or other thinned out paints are applied. I then cut free hand flowers out and added some stamping lines to make stems. I think I'll add some floral details and maybe some leaf gestures.


These two are from Carla Sonehiems Flower Power Two course. Lots of messing about. I'll add some fun sort of stitching to make the flowers a bit madder and some in the bottom to weight the images.


I feel these two are done. I haven't added any stitching, but whenever I consider them, I can't see a clear opportunity that isn't just adding stitch for the sake of adding stitch.

As well, I have torn collage pieces that really need stitching to complete them. These are bits torn and glued (not using conventional glue but a wheat paste) that are then meant to be sewn into assemblages. The white on white images aren't very good, but it allows you to see that stitching is need to lift the lines and emphasize the intriguing areas.


I do love tossing things around. I was cleaning up the small bits from the above photo and dropped one piece on top of another and blimey, if I didn't love what happened. Things come together when I work this way. Carefully laying one item on top of another sometimes works, but more often, a gentle tossing of things works better for me. That's why I often leave work on the ground and literally walk over them. The breeze of footsteps, the cat charging through, moving things aside to make room for something else lets lots of opportunities for serendipity to enter in.

I place these two bits together and they don't marry up as nicely as the one above. See, too planned. But, If I pin it together, because it almost works, then something else will enter in eventually.

So I am looking at the images to include in this post and forgot to rotate this one as well. As a result, I see a really funny flying chicken in the top collage. Do you? This is a combination of a green dot Japanese paper I love and a torn bit of an unsuccessful watercolour of a cemetery in Port Medway that I tore up.

I tried laying the two parts together and I can live with it, but the flying chicken has captured my imagination.

You can see the process, but the flying chicken idea won't leave me.

This is the Swedish Tracing paper, painted and the circles torn, rather than cut. I lined them up and with a sewing machine, sewed the centres with free motion stitching. I will add centres of stitch to these before I find a home for them with something else. I want the edges to remain unfettered when I join it up to whatever.

And finally,

Cleo Belle finds it hard to leave me alone, especially if I am trying to use the camera, lay one thing on top of another. It is so hard to make a human understand how to really do things properly.

It can cause despair.


and exhaustion.