Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ears of Wheat in progress

I'm in the process of working the ear of wheat design I adapted from a pattern I saw recently.  I cut felt shapes to match the parts of the wheatear, stitched them down, then using rayon shiny thread, split stitched around, and satin stitched up and down, the segments.

You'll see how the light affects this thread. It's lovely to see how it's bright one side, darker the other, depending on the angle at which you see it. It's the same thread, transformed by the light. This is why I persevere with this thread.

The rayon thread is nice to see, rotten to use -- it frays and splits and you need to hold it firmly at the back all the time so as to set the stitches.  I'll be doing some goldwork in this piece and probably some beading, too.  We'll see how it goes as it goes.


About the molded paper and stitching piece: that awaits the arrival of a stencil I ordered which has hex (honeycomb) shapes I can use to mold paper, so as to have a suggestion of a honeycomb around the bees I plan to include in goldwork.  Yet to be figured out.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Off the glass and on its way to the studio

Here's today's paper output, fragile, lacelike, lovely!  it took some doing to get it off the glass because it's so fine,but it came off and I have a nice supply to do molding with and see how it works.  You can see how transparent it is.  And the lovely natural ragged edges.

Perfect day for this today, mid 70s, low humidity, just what the papermaker likes.  Next I press the paper with weights, to make it flat enough to work with me. Then I'll be able to do the molding adventures.  I'm in search of small honeycomb structures to mold over.  Chicken wire.  Tiles.  Who knows.

Post of Paper Drying on the Windows

Here comes the post (that is stack) of paper, currently drying on the outside of my patio window.  This gives it a glassy side, the side on the glass, and a matte side, the one open to the air, once it's dry.  And it won't fall off.  I will peel it off after it's totally dry.  The white items on the chaise are the felts on which I made the paper, drying in the sun, too. You can see the reflection of some of them in the glass, too, interesting touch.

This paper is a mix of abaca and cotton linters (that is second cut after harvesting the cotton, very pure, very bright white), which I repulped from paper I made previously and which didn't get used in earlier projects.

This is the paper I plan to use to mold the animal shapes over.After it's completely dry and taken off the window, I can do the molding by resting the dry paper over the tile, then spraying it with plain water until it takes on the shape. Then I wait again till it dries enough to be removed without collapsing.

 By the way, I didn't credit the potter of those tiles earlier because I had not been in touch with him, didn't know if he wanted to be in this context.  So yesterday I emailed explaining what I'd like to do and asking if he minded my using his tiles as molds.  

He got back right away very generously, no, use them, that's fine, people have all kinds of uses for them, I make a lot of them. No prob, glad you like them!  so, if you want to know more about his work, check on Hjalmarson Pottery in Phoenix AZ.  Go here.  He's very good, and generous, too, true artist.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Molded Paper experiment and tiles

The weather cooperated and dried the paper off pretty well, so I was able to unmold the pieces I put on the tiles and the shell.  Some of them were too fragile to hold up, so they will be repulped for the next paper I make.  However a couple worked out quite well, and showed me the next step to take.

Here you see the molded pieces and the tiles they came from, plus the shell core I used for a shape.  They worked okay for starters, but are not the finished product I hope to get. 

When I make my paper, I'll make it  sturdy, to keep the shape clearly when unmolded.  I took pix from two angles so you can see how important the fall of the light is for white on white molded paper.

And here's a sheet of rough ideas for insects to be worked possibly in goldwork.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the meantime, research turned up this lovely blog

I was looking for ideas for a goldwork or other embroidered bee and other insects for my upcoming mixed media piece, and on my travels came across this very nice blog:

I don't know the writer at all, but her work is so appealing I wanted to share.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Newsflash: Thrift store find leads to new artwork

So today, staying out of the house to let the cleaners have elbow room to work, I decided that it was a good day for the thriftie.  Very hot and humid and stormy, so playing among the racks of clothes and other fun stuff beckoned.

And on the wall where there are loads of plastic bags of vaguely related small items grouped, I found a bunch of little round clay tiles, with desert animals in relief on them, nicely glazed, too, clearly not the best of the pottery's  product overall, but very charming, and instantly gave me a great idea for combining handmade paper molded over these forms, with stitched versions of similar hanimals.

So when it got cool enough this evening to venture to the third floor, I dug out a few bits of my handmade paper, various kinds, as an experiment. If they work out, I'll make a new post of paper, any excuse you know, and summer is best for this, because of all the water involved, and the need to be outdoors.

Here they are, paper in place, sprayed down with plain water to accept the forms.  Bear with me, the lighting's terrible, just the lamps at my disposal, and I can't carry this tray until it dries.  I notice the water droplets came out nicely, though, how typical.  Not portable for days yet.  Way over on the right in the top pic is a lovely column which is the interior of a conch shell all the outside of which was weathered away by the ocean. Click to see marginally better.

And now comes the annoying part, waiting for them to dry completely before attempting to remove the paper from the tiles. Too soon and the shape, which is very fragile and hollow, will collapse. But the weather is so hot, especially up in the studio, where the AC only sort of works, that it might not be too long.

Meanwhile I'm figuring out how to relate the pieces to stitching, and think goldwork bees and lizards might be just the ticket.  I vaguely remember there are other colors in the spectrum, but I'm blinded by gold at the moment.  Then I have to figure out the logistics of the stitching probably on linen, paper way too fragile for this purpose.

So now I can improve the shining hour, like the busy bee, by seeking out bee ideas in stitching. Or by checking whether any of our embroidery blogistas know of a great source for goldwork bee and lizard and turtle and beetle shapes? 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Artist in Residency Four Sisters Tapestry is complete

So today, as part of the summer program at the library, I took the finished tapestry off the loom, 

did the finishing top and bottom, inserted dowels, and temporarily hung it back on the loom pending a more permanent location. 

There was a small but mesmerized audience for this process, and plenty of help from library staffers, Director Carol and gallery manager Donna. Donna obligingly stood by the downed tapestry to give you a notion of its dimensions against a human figure.  And friend Ruth Levy stopped by to admire the tapestry lying on the floor, after the dowels were inserted, and before it was hung.

Once off the loom, the tension needed to be adjusted, in the places where the inclusions had been put in, the sisters' faces, to be exact.  so I did a capital crime -- I CUT the warp at the back in just those areas, and tied it off in several places to release the work while not letting it unravel.  And it worked out just fine. Quite exciting, since nobody but me knew this was a form of emergency surgery.


We also set up a display table with two previous works created on the Earthloom, and I brought in two small weavings I'd done, one on a cardboard loom I created, one on an empty picture frame. And there were some very good reference books.

I will be letting the library have Four Sisters on loan as long as they'd like to, once they can hit on a place to hang it.  This is not an easy task in a library with massive glass walls, and open spaces, and very few solid walls on which art can be hung!  but the ingenuity of curator Donna is inexhaustible.

Here's the flyer of acknowledgment, which we had on display for people to pick up as they watched:

The Four Sisters tapestry weaving, created and worked on to completion this year on the Earthloom, by artist Liz Adams, is the first Artist in Residence project of the Library.
The theme of the intertwining and interweaving of the lives of four sisters, is a lifelong recurring meme of the artist, herself the youngest of four sisters.  The work itself, from conception, drawing of the cartoon design, warping and working, took approximately 60 hours, many of them on public view at the library, as a way to show the visiting patrons how a tapestry is created and the steps it takes to complete it.  The material preparation, from fleece to dyed yarn, much of which constitutes the work you see, took an entire summer several years ago!
Since Liz documented the work's progress on her blog, Art, the Beautiful Metaphor, as well as on her page on Stitchinfingers, an international website owned by Mary Corbet, a leading embroiderer, the piece has been seen at all stages by followers in many countries, some of whom wanted to take part, even at a distance. 
So it's appropriate to thank, first of all, all the blogistas, many, who commented and emailed with helpful comments and observations, much appreciated, since they are all textile artists in some form.
Then there are individuals to whom Liz owes a debt of thanks:

Maggi Johnson, who spent an afternoon observing the solo exhibit Liz had while the tapestry was in process, and who gave very helpful critique, Asha Francis, weaver and knitter, who donated beautiful silk and bamboo handspun yarn which is used in the detailed work, Judy Thompson, who gave beads from her basketmaking stash, for decorative additions, Paula Levy, who gave the original fleece from which much of the yarn was combed, carded, spun and dyed, then woven into this artwork, Girija Jain, who set relatives shopping in Mumbai for gold and glass beads which you see in this piece, and which were delivered by hand to the artist via Rajiv Jain.  Then there are the Ravelry website friends who donated the KoolAid in colors not obtainable in this region, when the dyeing was in process!
This has been a community piece, though it's the work of a single artist,  created by the community of artists.
And, since art needs an audience in order to complete the experience, thanks are due to the patrons who came to watch as the work progressed in the library. 
Donna Senopoulos, the gallery director,  has done a lot of unseen work to keep this work on track, and is much appreciated.
July 14 2014

And now I'm home, ahead of a big thunderstorm, yet another, with a nice glass of sangria and a Poirot to watch this evening, if the power stays on.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Moving right along, beaded knitting learning and new goldwork design

This is a transition moment, the last of the three beaded knitted doodahs, and  a new goldwork design.

If anyone is interested in owning one of these teeny purses, good for small phones or change, or whatever you think up, I'm planning a little giveaway.  Not today, I  want to finish the latest before I do it.  Just issuing a heads-up here!  

The white yarn is practically antique, from I think the 80s, when did you last  see that kind of wrapper, Orlon?  It's from Karen's stash, in her honor, not great yarn, but just a nice memory of her.  There's more to friendship than natural yarns..and I experimented with different beads, getting different results, a kind of sampler that can be used.

Then last night at stitch in, I had a great time demo'ing the crochet technique of attaching beads to an intrigued audience who'd done beaded knitting the hard way -- endless planning and counting and threading on yarn and feeding up to the needles.  They liked this, thought it much easier and more spontaneous.  

I think in the end it's probably not faster, since the time saved in preparation is probably used up in the actual knitting, since each crocheted bead takes a bit more time than feeding up and knitting the same stitch.

After that I went on to the real purpose of the evening, to draw a new goldwork design, which you see here along with the knitting in progress.  

These wheatsheaf ideas I got from a bunch of instructions from Carol, our goldwork teacher, whose main interest is ecclesiastical embroidery.  Things like wheat and grapes feature in it, but have interesting secular uses too, and here's an adaptation.  I drew it with a fine Pilot Pen.

The original design was of a single stem of wheat, which I repeated once then put in a third, abbreviated, version to populate the space nicely.  The background will be the lovely white linen given by Carol, and I'll use gold threads, yet to be decided which, and I want to use felt to pad them, and satin stitch over or something yet to be decided.  I think I've got my goldwork mojo back.  The knitting helped with the frame of mind.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Art Pilgrimages Part Two

After the local exhibit, on to the Art Museum in Princeton, to experience drawings and a sculpture of Lee Bontecou, a powerful but emotionally draining artist.  She works a lot with soot and graphite on muslin as well as on paper.  The richest deepest black you ever saw.  

The quality of my pix leaves a lot to be desired, between the low exhibit light and the sheer size of the works. For a much better pic and more info, go here.

Her inspiration for openings and mystery has to do with ancient structures in Italy, and as I strolled around the Woodrow Wilson gardens after I was all wrung out with Bontecou, I noticed a couple of wellheads from Italy, which I saw in quite a different way after the exhibit.

In fact one of the wonderful things about really great art is that your vision is permanently affected by it.  You perceive differently and better and with more meaning.  

 Here, after the wellhead, I noticed all the different forms of structure at the bike rack outside the museum, with an outdoor sculpture in the background and the white summer umbrellas in place. 

I always make a point of walking the Woodrow Wilson gardens on a museum trip, since they change seasonally, and so do the people there.  This is the house and gardens of Wilson when he was President of Princeton, before he was demoted to POTUS.  Joke alert there.

Home worn out in every way, in a good way, to a cup of tea and a rest to think about the afternoon.

Art Pilgrimages Part One

Yesterday was hot but a great day to go out and experience some art.  First I went local, that is, to the Artists'  Group Invitational at the Gallery, and you'll recognize one of the items here.  

Wildly varied show, since our principle is that anyone may join our group if they're creating art, so we have many different levels of experience and execution.  It's all good.  This kind of show taxes the skills of curator Donna S. to the max.  And she always nails it.

This is our Summer Invitational and next Sunday is the reception, probably more pix of happy artists then.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

What the well-dressed phone is wearing

Well, that was fun. Here are the two phone cosies complete with beading, I created over the last couple of days.  The idea of the phone cosy (my phone has a lot of purses for the same reason) is to make something useful while experimenting with a new learning. If I were knitting a swatch for a bigger project, I'd probably create one that would work as a  phone cosy!

Here it was beading using a crochet hook from a great thriftie find, and yarns from Asha F.  The left one is beaded in a regular pattern, the right one beaded more freestyle.  I left a long tail when I cast off, which I used to stitch the cosies.  And I moved the seam back a little when I stitched up the bottom, so that it wasn't sticking out at one side, giving a better shape. Click to see better.

The blue beads on the white were from Judy T., the agate beads on the dark with copper were from a great freecycle.  I promised the giver I'd make good use of them. Simple garter stitch throughout, no need to get fancy when the yarn is fancy without any help. I do like a bit of glitter, and glitter with beads even more, and useful items yet more.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July new learning amid sleeping and tv watching on a rainy day

Nothing much going on today, rainy, cool, sleepy day, so I wove a little purse on straws and finished it with crochet.  This needs to be stretched and pressed before I can see it better. Right now it's not worth looking at!

Meanwhile I thought it would be fun to learn something new.  In the toolbox of sewing supplies I acquired a few days ago, there was a minute crochet hook, the kind I've been wanting for a while. I needed it to learn how to do beaded knitting using a crochet hook to apply beads rather than doing the tedious task of threading them on the yarn, which involves counting and planning.  The crochet hook method suits my random nature, since you can place beads wherever it suddenly occurs to you.

So here's my new learning, white sparkly homespun yarn courtesy of Ash, wood beads courtesy of Judy T., thank you both.  

Note the little crochet hook, along with the size 2 bamboo needles. Click to see better.

If you want to try your hand at this skill, which is fun to do, go here for a verbal explanation, very clear, easy to follow, with still pix to illustrate.

It occurs to me that today I wove, crocheted and knitted. Interesting on a  day where I officially did nothing but watch Campion on a DVD and sleep on the sofa.

What I Make Between Projects Part the Second

So all the Dollivers got theirs, hats, that is, and now here's the Fourth, rainy cool day, good for being indoors. So I thought I needed a little project, and my phone needed a new little purse for carrying about (so as not to forget it) purposes, and here it is in progress.

Stick weaving on straws, using white yarn from dear Karen's stash, and turquoise homespun from the Ash Stash!  thank you both. The ends you see sticking out will be woven in when I'm doing the finishing up.  I doubled the warp yarn in each straw and when it comes off the straws we'll see if that was a good idea.

Happy Fourth to feller Murcans, and Happy Friday to everyone else.  Too bad our fourth, falling on a Friday, whee, long weekend, also fell on the first hurricane of the season. I'm surrounded by flood warnings and flickering power and rainy coolness. Very glad I'm not in charge of a big firework display today, and whether or not to go for it, and if not, when, etc.

I have removed the semi working widget which claimed you could get blogposts automatically by signing up.  This was a big fib on Blogger's part, since it works only now and then. So I've removed it and created a mailing list of my own, and if you would like to be on it, just lemme know and I'll add you.  It's an opt-in, a pleasant change from the opt-out world today.  If the widget was already working for you, it should continue to do so.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Play with your food meets miniature people!

As longtime blogistas know, I get into playing with food to make art, mostly funny, now and then, and eat my models later. So I have a lot of respect for people who do this well.  Here's the concept taken to wonderful extremes:

I'm leaving the address in full rather than a simple link,  in order to credit the makers.  They rule!

Friday, June 27, 2014

White Oakleaf and acorns finished

Here's the finished white oakleaf and acorns.  This piece shown is approximately 7 inches square.  The linen support is in fact bright white, but it didn't want to show up that way here.

If you're interested in technical details:  I used two gold threads at once on the leaf area, couching with red silk thread then with a single ply of embroidery floss to create some shading.  

The acorns each have a different form of basketwork in the cup part, string attached under the thread,  then stitched over, using different gold threads.

The twig part is two threads worked together in the needle, one fine gold thread, one brown silk one, and I switched them over as I worked, to create the textured effect.  And on the twig I used green silk thread, hardly visible but it does have a shading effect on the nearby gold threads.  You'll notice that I left an open area at the base of the twig, just to lighten up the whole piece, so it didn't look like  a wall o' stitches, not my favorite effect. I like this, since it seems to balance gently on those two points. What do you think?

And now I have a whole bunch of ideas jostling to get to the forefront of my attention: my sister has been making Dorset buttons, which I'd never heard of, and when I looked them up, I thought, self, there's a nice thing to do, and they can be incorporated into embroidered I have ideas from the goldwork class of motifs to try in gold threads.  And then there's sculptured stitching, where I can do a form of or nue with a padded shape underneath, been wanting to do that since friend Florence showed me her stumpwork faces...who knows maybe they'll all come together into a series...anyway, nice thinking about just now.  This is the easiest part of making art!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stick weaving at the Library's Summer Program

Today the summer program opened with a bang: the stick weaving workshop I devised for the kids' program.  On the theme of It's All Greek to Me, the whole summer is about things Greek. 

So I decided I would offer a weaving workshop using the Greek flag colors of royal blue and white, so our program participants could make a weaving, about the size of a bookmark.  I ordered the kind of yarn you use to knit sports sweaters in team colors. 

Here's the toolkit: book on Weaving without a Loom, bag I wove without a loom, including strap created on weaving sticks, sample rainbow bookmark created on straws, weaving sticks next to straws, skewers to help the yarn through the straws to get started, masking tape to hold them together for small hands. The book is just general interest so kids can see there are other possibilities beyond what we did today, in case they may be interested.

Volunteers learning the technique before the kids arrive


Now the students are plunging in fearlessly


An early finisher showing off his project and looking modest.

After an afternoon of learning the method, they know how to make a belt, or various other items more ambitious than we could fit into our short afternoon.  I opened it to 20 kids age seven and up, and they did a great job.  To my surprise many of them did complete the whole weaving, and I could show them how to finish it off.

I did the drinking straw method, simple enough for kids to get, but it still makes a very nice weaving, and much cheaper than using  lovely expensive handcrafted weaving sticks.  I showed them my  weaving sticks, and a bag whose handle I created on them, and explained that  with their straws they could make something just as good. And they did.  I had made a sample weaving for them, on the straws, to prove it.

Three teen volunteers showed up early to learn the technique so they could help teach it, and it really went very well.  We'd put kits together ahead of time, so when they left, the kids took home their lunchbags with their completed project, spare yarn, and their straws so they can make their straw loom any time they want to.

I say we assembled kits, but what I did was create the model kit, and Donna and a crew of hardy volunteers measured yarn and packed the bags with the right stuff, which helped a whole lot.

This was good. Now I'm having a nice glass of sangria and waiting for a visit from Handsome Son this evening.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Goldwork white oakleaf in progress

I'm pretty sure that this is a white oak leaf, from the rounded lobes, but I'm open to correction from better botanists among our blogistas. Anyway, here's where it is to date, and I'll be working more on it today, sunny day, great light, perfect for this work.

Happy Summer Solstice, northerners!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Goldwork acorn and foliage

This is one of the designs I brought home from our goldwork class, and I'm doing it strictly for practice, since it's not my design.  I'm paying attention to shading in couching work, using four different shades of the same color family to stitch down the gold thread, a Jap thread I'm holding double, two threads at once.

And there's an acorn in here, so the acorn I did first will serve as a good indicator of how I might do this.  I won't use plate this time, I think. I love to see the threads and tools in waiting to be used. The sight of teacher Carol's box of threads and tools was a big part of my enthusiasm for goldwork, aside from the wonder of the works she'd created.  The two pairs of scissors you see here, one is a good pair, for cutting silk thread, the other a cheapie for cutting gold thread.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Artist in Residence Tapestry all finished, done

I went in to the library to do the final finishing rows on the tapestry, this being the knotted stitches across the top which will be turned under during the finishing after it comes off the loom.  

I'm showing you a pic of the completed tapestry and a closeup of the finishing area -- you'll see the difference between the regular weave and the two rows of knotting stitches, one in each direction.

Finally measured!  the unfinished size is height 37 and width a shade over 19, inches that is.  Once finished, it will be nearer 35 by 19, not quite a golden rectangle (that ratio would be 1:1.6) but close enough, at 1:1.8 to be pleasing to the eye.

Local blogistas, please note that as part of the library's summer program, I plan to take the tapestry off the loom while you can watch, and I will do the finishing.  That will be 1.30 p.m. on July 14th, an unusual way to celebrate Bastille Day!  Come to the libe and get directions on where to find me.