Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The chrysanthemum is progressing nicely

Here's the current State of the Mum.  

Since the petals are very filled in and flat (there will be stumpwork petals in the midst of these, though, which you see still on the little hoop to the left) I'm thinking of lightening up on the leaves, and just indicating shapes and shading, not filling them in completely, which will look really opaque and defeat the purpose of this translucent silk.

I've had to devise methods of getting the thread to travel without showing, though, with the split stitch outline: I whipped the thread down the back to a good place to emerge on the front again, so it's invisible from the front, but the thread is where it needs to be for the next part.  This was easy to do, since split stitch leaves a line of stitches on the back that you can easily whip around.

I have two shades of green to work on after the outline is done, and I have to think about the best way to do that.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Boud takes an art expedition

The expedition was partly to get the thyme and oregano I forgot when I was last at the nursery, partly to find a place for a bit of plein air drawing, or at least looking. I took pix. Click to see them better.

It was too hot to sit, and not conducive since they were busy doing business.  But it was so full of life and color you just wanted to gaze and gaze.

I admired the artwork on this lady, who moved so elegantly -- see the graceful way she's holding that plant to study it -- that she really could wear tats, and I then went off to the nearby county park in search of a bench and a bit of shade, maybe by the water.  And found half a dozen big events going, crowds, not right for my purposes.

So I ended up back home on the patio, using that as a plein air venue!  drawing and looking. This was one of those art dates that Julia Cameron talks about in her book , The Artist's Way. I've been doing this all my life, quietly, not mentioning it, and was amused to see that she has a name for it, and suggestions for how to go about it.   Nice to share the idea.  Not much drawing today, just a simple contour study of the basil plant.  

It's the looking that matters. Once you draw an object as intensely as this, watching the thing more than your pen, you remember it forever.  It's the experience of really seeing just for a little while.  It takes massive energy to do this, which is why you can't do it for long, and one drawing was about as much as I could handle at this sitting.

It's also a great pleasure of the summer, to be out in the late afternoon early evening when the shadows are interesting, to draw whatever's there. I recommend it!

I was using a fine point Pilot pen, black, on a moderately heavyweight journal paper.  I also took out a few little sheets of watercolor paper, which I tore to give them deckled edges, and will probably use one of these days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dorset button the First

I made my first Dorset button, a little wobbly, but done. I still haven't got a big enough ring to work on -- this was one inch across, a bit small to learn on -- but anyway, it sort of worked.

I used a nice white linen yarn, from that thriftie haul a few days back, and a tapestry needle, and more or less following youtube studies, most of which were only marginally helpful, the bits where I wanted them to show me much better being rushed past, oh well, did manage to make one.

Anyway, here she is. Dorset Button Mark One.   A lot of fun doing it, but I'd like to do more weaving on a bigger one.  Or with finer thread on this size button.  Linen is good to work with because it stays where you put it, doesn't slip around, and since there are a couple of points where you need three hands, this is a plus for a beginner.

I fancy using gold thread for a few of these, to add to the Big Doorway piece, what a surprise, me using gold, I mean..and I'm sure there are other things that can happen with them.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Plastic Canvas Adventure chapter is now closed...

Until I get another urge, that is.  Here's the second box, in Bucilla cream tapestry yarn, which is probably going to be a present. I like very much how it looks a bit transparent.  The thing I don't like about needlepoint is how totally opaque it often looks, not my taste at all.  But stitching on transparent canvas in cream colored yarn, I liked that. This was stitching to watch DVDs by.

However, my rings for the Dorset buttons are on the way -- the first lot arrived, will work, but are small, and I have larger ones on the way.  Now I have great ideas about inserting a small ring inside a larger ring, but meanwhile I would like to get my other stitchings done.  

I already have ideas about how to create the Dorset buttons using my own pattern, or rather my own freeform path! I'm thinking planets and moons revolving or something.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stitching at both ends of the spectrum, in various ways

Three projects at work simultaneously, each worked on daily where I can.  The Big Doorway is shaping up, very free form, designing as I go

The yellow stitch painting of the flower, very exact and fine and satisfying work, I love to angle the stitches to try to show the movement of the petals and their irregularities

And totally following orders, here's another tissue box, using the tapestry yarn I scored at the thriftie this week.  Probably to be a gift for someone.  

This is the sort of stitching you can do while you watch Pie in the Sky which I'm rewatching this week. 

No design work, just happily follow the patterns.  I like very much the way this Bucilla tapestry yarn gives a good stitch definition, and the light and shade that play on it give you a lot more color than just the basic cream.

Up next, when my package arrives, Dorset buttons. I gave up on trying to find curtain rings or any rings that were within a reasonable price, some of them really silly, half a dozen little rings for half the cost of my groceries for a week, I ask you...anyway, while a fellow stitcher is searching her house for her mother's stash of curtain rings, which she will find at some time, I ordered up O rings from a science sort of category.  

Right size, not sure of the texture, but we'll see how they work when they get here, which will be today. And at a couple of dollars for a package of 100, plenty of room for experiment without tears.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Secret's in the Mail

I brought these items in to show my embroidery buds in the course of the workshop yesterday, and got their approval to ship! 

It's a set of four coasters, on no. 7 plastic canvas, which I backed with cork, and worked in doubled full strands of floss, the gold one strictly following the pattern, and the others branching out to the point of no return...not being sure of her color scheme, I figured at least one of these will work!  and I hope they're frivolous enough to enjoy putting them out and entertaining friends as well as all the other things this lady has in her schedule.  These are from that book of  stitch patterns I showed you earlier. I am definitely getting my money's worth out of that book.  And Ash, the variegated thread is part of what you sent me a while back.

So here are Heather's Coasters:

Set out on two different backgrounds, because I don't know what background they'll land on in their new home.  I hope she really enjoys them. I certainly got a lot of pleasure out of working them for her.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Paper Jewelry Rules!

The embroiderers' guild had a good afternoon of beadmaking and paper jewelry assembly today, led by your blogwriter, and we all lived to see another day...it was a lot of fun.  To see more, go here

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Plainsboro Artists' First Plein Air Session, at the Preserve

This morning was the first plein air meeting of the art group, at the Preserve, weather very friendly, cool but bright sunshine, and a nice turnout, who pretty much scattered all over the Preserve in search of subjects before I got them in the frame.  

Left is Art Lee, very established found object sculptor, and all around good guy, right is Donna S. the endlessly working and arranging gallery curator and director of All Things Art at the Libe. And a watercolor painter in her own right.

Been waiting all winter to see these trees again.

I spent a good morning trying to recover my drawing skills, long in abeyance, and do a bit of line and wash. I used pen, conte crayon, watercolor pencil, and  caran d'ache watercolor crayons.  Only moderately happy with results.  

 Some of the group working by the lake

Largely I spent the time remembering how to slow down and look!

Interested walkers peered over to see what was up

here's a little girl being hauled away after watching for a while, and the birds were in evidence: the swallows have returned, diving and zooming.

A handy bench provided an outdoor studio space.  

Note the denim bag, made from upcycled jeans, the pockets very useful for small items. 

So I need to draw more, but this return was fun.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Not exactly art, more like therapy, but fun anyway

The last week I've been laid low by yet another coughing sneezing shivering no good very bad cold, so, along with a marathon viewing of the original Forsyte Saga series, the old black and white one with Eric Porter, I got most of a kleenex box holder thing created.

This was strictly taken from the recipe in the needlepoint book I posted about, and was about right for my need to use my hands without involving too much brain power, since I only needed to follow instructions, not create the design, not always easy for me to follow orders, but anyway. Brain only partly operating, but I worked on it.

So here it is, the four sides joined and flat and the top, before I get around to attaching sides to top.

And here's the top balanced on the four sides. Not yet attached, just showing you the goal.  I still have to finish all the outside edges, great practice in that cross stitch that travels back and forth weaving style, and attach the top to the sides before it goes into use. As you see, it's fairly transparent in the sunlight, because I used the clear plastic sheet, so that it would be less visible in the finished product.

Very appropriate considering the kleenex use I've had this week..that's probably why I chose this one.  Seriously, this is a lot of fun, and you learn a ton of new stitches, at least I did, so there was learning to be done.  

I don't like working in yarn, and might make other items using silk or embroidery floss, just to see how it goes.  But for them as does like yarn, this really is a nice fast and portable project idea for future beach sitting, or patio sitting in a shady hat with a tall glass at the side.  

And thanks go to Liz M. a fellow guild stitcher who brought in her book and samples of her work to show us last week and set me off on this path.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Not art, but fun on a day with a cold

Coughing endlessly and really not able to do anything fine in the stitching line, sneezing, all that, so I started on a little thing I just fancied, having seen a fellow stitcher at stitch in with this book 

and some samples of her own work.  I promptly sent away for the book and some plastic canvas.  It's dead simple, great fun, 7 mesh plastic canvas, and I'm just blindly following the stitches on the diagram, most unusual for me, very restful in fact.  Big needle, big yarn, big meshes, quite a change.  I have to force myself to stop, though, before I'm completely spent. But it does involve counting, which is a good brain exercise for me, since hardly anything I make involves counting anything literally.  So this is good, using parts of the brain that have been lying idle, while the rest of it has been galloping all over on hobbyhorses.

And it's also using up some yarns that have been lying around waiting for a job to do.  Last time I used plastic canvas was waaaaay back, when I used it to teach little kids to make miniature furniture.

Of course, once done, this tissue box will probably acquire beads and other items...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The embroidery goes on, in lovely light now that the season's turned

The yellow embroidery is continuing nicely, big change from the other much more demanding work I'm doing on Big Doorway, and it feels pretty good. 

I'm working with a single strand of floss, using whatever needle it fits through.  The silk fabric is pretty forgiving so I don't have to worry about making holes in it with the needle.  I had planned on doing this work in spring and summer, because of the light levels being friendly, and because I might be able to work outside on it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Netsukes, a post script to our kumihimo workshop

At our recent kumihimo, Japanese braiding, workshop, for the embroiderers' guild, our instructor Charlene Marietti mentioned that  braiding was used among many other things, for securing netsukes to the owner's belt. 

Netsukes  were originally ivory, now not so much, ivory being outlawed for sale, often bone now I believe, small beautifully carved animal forms, little works of sculpture only a couple of inches across. A rich man's toy, in a way.

Since I have a collection (!) of three of these, I thought it would be interesting to show you what these are, some of our members not being familiar with this artform.

So here they are, showing you the upside and the underside so you can see the holes through which the braid passed, and the completion of the work on all sides of the netsukes.  They're lovely to handle and play with, like worry beads, and beautiful to see all the time.      

I'm taking this group in to our stitch in this evening, so people can play with them!                                                                                  


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Studio Transformed

Transformed. that is, from a printmaking and painting area into a textile arts place, where all the surfaces are clean and you can safely put stitching down and I can now see from the middle of the room where everything is, a huge new deal.

It finally happened when I was working downstairs this morning and realized that I needed stuff from the third floor yet again, this was ridiculous, so it only took two trips to get both current works up there complete with threads and beads.  

So now I have an actual worktop for stitching at, where I can spread out, and have two works going at once, with room for both, under the window, good light.  I have a high sort of barstool type chair, and the edge of the worktop supports the frame nicely.

I decided to take pix before the disorganization gets under way again.  This feels very strange to me, a neat and clean studio, a contradiction in terms from my previous art lives.

It's good, though, to have a work area that is a workplace, that I can leave as is and go off and do other things, without having it in sight when I'm not working on it. That gets you mentally tired more than actually doing it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thank you, Florence K! paper artists unite!

This post is in the nature of a thank you to Florence K., who in the course of the workshop we were both in yesterday, gave me a present of a bracelet made from paper and glass beads, by women in Uganda, who make them and all kinds of jewelry and decorative items as an earning stream.  

She'd found it at a craft show where women who go to Uganda to buy the pieces in order to resell them to US customers, were presenting a display.  Florence was impressed with the idea of both doing a good thing by contributing, and giving me a paper bead bracelet, since I'll be teaching paper jewelry to our embroidery guild next month.  Just so's you know, it was Florence who introduced me to beading...I think she has something to answer for there! just sayin'   She's a wonderful stitcher and beader and has been working on it since she was a little girl, which is, oh well, quite a few decades ago..

The bracelet's threaded on memory wire, which wraps comfortably around your wrist, making it one size fits practically everyone, even me, with my big hands!  Florence, I love it, and I'm not taking it off.  I'm out playing music this afternoon, so I will get it admired there, too!   being paper, it's light in weight, doesn't drag your wrist down though it's big enough for drama.

If you're interested in knowing more about this worthy cause, and browsing in their shop area, where there are a lot of other wonderful pieces,  take a look here

Friday, April 10, 2015

Play with your kitchen stuff...

Just a bit of  fun at the expense of cookbook authors and famous artists, and people who heart setting up still lifes with reflections and cleverly draped backcloths, and geometric references...go here

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Big Doorway grows a little, and the universe expands!

The art life has been interrupted by the work in the studio and the furniture moving and organization and the painting of the walls and the reorganization, and now finally I get to work on art.  

Here's Big Doorway, now with added dark blue serpentine threads, straight from India, curling around like vines.  There will be more of these, and beads in the openings.  And I'm introducing a thread of iridescence to the archway itself. There will be a lot more to this archway, not solid, but some kind of tracery, not sure yet.  It's good to be back.

And, since I like to exercise other brain functions, too, I've been studying yet another book on math!  

this one claims to teach the reader how to study math, but in fact, though she sprinkles math terms through the text, it's really about how to think constructively and lay down memory stores for future use, all very good stuff.  It's a great antidote to the intuitive leaping I do a lot of, provides a grounding that itself suggests other ideas.

Of course,  she casually talks about the quadratic formula, as if we all knew what that was, I googled on it, and next found quadratic equations, which were quite a revelation. Math was not a strong subject in my schooling, so I do like to find out stuff like this. Most of what I know I learned as an adult just because I was interested.

However, plunging into math on the internet led me very soon to my favorite of all, Leonardo of Pisa, aka The Other Leonardo, aka Fibonacci, whose sequence is not only easy to grasp, but is huge in its implications.  You start, some people with zero, some with one, and go one, two, add two to one, three, add three to two, five, add five to three, eight, and so on ad infinitum or until you are tired. 

This wonderful concept can be shown as a series of ever increasing boxes, and if you scribe an arc joining the corners of the boxes, you find you have a spiral.  Same spiral as the growth pattern of pinecones, sunflowers, the Milky Way, in fact the universe itself.  Tell me that doesn't excite you!   and go here  to see what I mean.

And the reason it's important in an art blog is that Fibonacci was also really examining the ancient concept of the golden section, known by several other names.  If he had been able to stretch out his calculations -- he lived in the 12th century, limited computation then -- he would have arrived at the magical golden ratio: one to one point six.  This is the proportion of many natural phenomena. The human body incorporates a lot of it.  Early architecture did, too.  And it's somehow pleasing to us even if we don't know why.

When I teach drawing I always like to give out 3x5 and 5x8 index cards for people to practice setting up drawings, using the whole surface, treating the edge of the card as the edge of the drawing. Then I point out the ratio.  Yes, it's from the Fibonacci sequence, see back there a bit at the numbers.  The cards are in the one to one point six ratio. Divide 5 by 3 and divide 8 by 5 and you'll see. Doesn't matter what orientation the piece is in, the ratio still works.

Whenever I make a piece of art, I check afterwards to see how close it is to the golden ratio, because I can be pretty sure that it will be harmonic and pleasing the nearer it is.

Just sayin!  blogistas who love zentangles might enjoy trying this out on index cards, too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Painting, plain and fancy

In Field and Fen, my other blog, I wrote yesterday about cooking plain and fancy.  Today we're two floors up, and it's painting plain and fancy.

The work in the studio now finished by handyman and genius Mike, it's ready to paint, particularly the doors, which are raw wood and need to be protected.  He also replaced the broad sill with MDF, which he rounded at the front end, very posh, and which I painted today, couldn't wait to do that, such an improvement.

So, since I found a gallon of paint at the dumpster, which turns out to be a warm sort of beigy color, inoffensive anyway, I started by painting the doors today, and finished up what was in the tray doing most of an end wall.  

The plan was to set up a tray of paint and go till it's finished. Longer than that and I'm inclined to get a bit sloppy, from boredom.  I could paint much longer but oh well, always onto something else.

The purplish thing you see behind the door below is a brilliant invention by Mike, namely rigid foam insulation, cut to fit, with handles he installed, to pull into the cavity behind each door and seal off the open roof, as much better insulation than I had before.  Then the door shuts over it, and you have a double seal.  

If I have any paint left I'll paint the panels to match, but for the moment I want to see how far it will go on the walls. They're very thirsty, never painted since the builders skimmed them with builders' white, 22 years ago. And he trimmed up the bits of insulation left over, and presented them to me for art purposes, yay.  They're standing to the left of the open door.

Then, fancy painting comes in, since it's time for the Easter Eggs. Which are actually Spring Eggs, and have been received happily by people for whom the Christian observance is not relevant.  Here's this year's clutch:

 Since they're blown, and washed, and the paint is acrylic, they're pretty much indestructible at this point, and I usually make one for my collection, others to give away. Handsome Son always gets one, and whoever I really want to give to this year gets the others. 

I make them different every year, painted or dabbed, or covered in handmade paper, or scrunched to give a frosted appearance. This year it's copper with gold drawing, and blue and red dots here and there.

A whole range of people have received them, ranging from HPs helpers in his later years, to neighbors, to friends, to library folk, to stitching buds, anyone who seems particularly significant right now.  So we'll see who gets the other two.

And they've joined the collection that stays with me, which is now officially out for the season, along with Bon Hiver, or Bon Printemps I guess he is now the season's changed, and various other spring celebrants. The Bonnes Paques crowd.  Or Paschal Rascals.  Sounds like a seminary rock band.

At the top right, about two o'clock, is a tiny Wedgwood cup and saucer, with eggs from my dear late cockatiel Emily, painted and kept forever.  No need to blow them, though, since they're so tiny the contents desiccate very fast.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Big Doorway Emerges

If you've been idly wondering how those floating motifs work with the doorway theme, since you can't read my mind which is where all the art planning takes place, I thought I'd post this.

This is the first outline of the first part of the doorway. The motifs will float across it as they're developed -- one already does, as you see -- and there will be more lines to reinforce the shape visually as I go.  You see pins holding the couching thread in place here, so as not to lose the shape as I go, since markings wear off the fabric very fast.

The usual problem with scribing an arch is to get the curve working, and rather than resort to endless math computation ending in a wobbly result, I look around for an object already the size and curve I want. This can be a lengthy search, but this time it wasn't.

The  round metal dish I've been keeping my supplies for the project in, is just the ticket.  So I drew around it without emptying it, living dangerously with all those little containers of beads, and you see a nice result.  I reset the pins a couple of times to get the straight part straight and the curved part reasonably symmetrical.  

Unusual for me to be particular about a shape to the point of not freehanding it, but for this piece, the archway needs to be a firm readable contour, against which the freeform shapes can play and work better.  Just sayin'.

There's another work going on, too, but the progress is so slow that there's not much to show you yet.  It's the portable piece, the stitching on white silk with stumpwork one, a flower with leaves, maybe a waterlily, maybe a chrysanthemum, jury still out, not my design, or I'd know!   I can take it in to stitch-in evenings, unlike the Big Doorway, which is definitely not portable, what with the size and the different threads and the beads and different needles and all that.

I found today that I need to stand to work on this, just like old times, never sat in the studio.  I have it on a wooden cabinet with the edge sticking out far enough for me to work from underneath, and a good height for me to work at.  One big reason never to sit to make art is that you have to see it straight in order to understand it.  No use sitting and looking across the work as you go, since though we hardly notice it, that gives us a warped image.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Update on three pieces at once

The experiment with the goldwork initials is about done, and I think ready to frame.  

It's a combo of hand dyeing, goldwork, beads and painted dots.  I have a nice Japanese frame ready for it when I get to it.

And here's the Big Doorway Piece, more work done on it.  The trailing couched gold thread, of which there will be much more, around the other two motifs,  will enclose drifts of beads and  stitching.  

I can only do this for a short time, because the size is very tiring for my ribcage, oddly enough.  Reaching forward and back and guiding the thread front and back is more strenuous than you might think.  So a short period at a time works.

This is the interior petals of the flower, which will be done partly in stumpwork like this, partly with surface embroidery. 

 In the interests of transparency, very appropriate since I'm working on organza, the two open areas are you might say abandoned.  I tried them but the thread didn't work out, tried another thread, still wasn't right, so I switched to a floss which is working much better.

I've also moved on from drawing the petals and keeping the wire in the boundary, the usual stumpwork technique, to doing it more freehand, shaping the wire as I go, and it's better for my style than doggedly following a pattern. Why are you not surprised at this.

And this morning I found a gallon of white semi gloss enamel at the dumpster, so it's now up in the studio, and I think my paint requirements for the room have been met.  I need a bit of spackle and after that I can get under way.