Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blog Triage class


With a commitment to building a more vibrant blog, I signed up for the 4-week Blog Triage class with Cynthia Morris and Alyson Stanfield. Today’s assignment is to describe the people I want to visit and read my blog.


-Other creative and artistic people who are interested in my work and process

-People who are not artists, but are interested in art and learning more about textile art

-People who enjoy creativity and design


So then what do I want to get from writing a blog? Well, that's hard, as it's not at all where I started. I used to write my blog as a journal to document my fitness plans and fitness lifestyle. But that became so boring, and honestly, it felt preachy. I also got a lot of criticism about my fitness and diet choices, and the last thing I want/need/like is criticism (this applies to everything in my life, so should we meet in person, please don't tell me I'm looking chubby or need a new wardrobe...I can't handle it!).


In the past few years I've let my blogging slip as one of the other problems I've come up against is just feeling like all that I posted was too personal, and while when I first started blogging that was fine, it's now unacceptable and unprofessional to share anything personal that isn't positive and uplifting. And that's where I fell off of the posting wagon...I didn't have anything to post along those lines.


I also didn't produce much work in the past two or three years, or at least none that I really wanted to show to anyone. So I didn't feel motivated to post about my process or many completed projects (and I figured it wasn't very exciting to show readers a trashcan full of junk art!).


What I want now is to turn all of this around and start posting about my process, the physical process and the contemplative process. And I want to be able to create posts that someone finds interesting to read. Hopefully this class will help me put all of that together.


And just so this isn't a totally boring post, here's a picture of a lovely Japanese Maple I took in San Jose last month:



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

deColourant discharge


Some of you may be on the Complex Cloth yahoo group and may recall the posts from a couple of weeks ago discussing the new discharge product deColourant. The owner of the company generously offered free samples to those who wanted to try them out. The specific discussion on the list related to the safety of discharge processes (I won't repeat it all here, but you can check the archives of the group for it if you're a member.)

I wrote to the owner of the company, Dave Riba. He wrote me back and sent me 2 little samples to try. One was the plain color remover and the other was mustard, which removes color and adds color in one step (in this case, mustard).

I thought I would post my little review here for anybody who is considering trying the product but isn't sure yet.

Here are my two samples, done on silk broadcloth, which I'd dyed and overdyed a few times last month. It had turned into a rather unattractive piece, just sitting on my table, which made it perfect for this experiment!


The top piece, with the dragonflies, is a small scrap. I first tested out screening the color remover and then the color adder. I screened the dragonflies and let it dry. I then ironed, using steam.

The discussion on the list was about safety and discharge, and my concern with this product, and any other, is that I have asthma, recently diagnosed, which has caused me problems in the past with discharge agents. Wheezing and coughing. I wanted to know how awful and chemical this product was.

I've used another brand's paste and the smell is awful and ironing it out is worse, much worse, and can't be overcome with even just open windows or a fan. It causes me irritation and the whole upstairs work area stinks of it.

So deColourant has a citrus scent, which is not terribly noticeable and I felt no irritation just screening it. When I ironed it I stood next to a fully open window, had cross windows and doors to the porch open, and the overhead fan on. I noticed nothing. This was just a few motifs that I was ironing and I felt no irritation, nor did I notice any smell.

What I did next was to immediately wash the piece. I didn't see any instruction to wait any amount of time (I may have missed this, as I've since seen someone write to say that you're supposed to wait 24 hours after setting before washing), so I washed it and brought it back to the board to iron while damp.

I had a lot of the mustard come off, at which point I realized in my next test I'd wait before washing. But I was still pleased with the results. As you can see in the following picture, part of the mustard did wash out, but it had removed color underneath which left the motif with a distressed, grungy look. I like that effect and will try to work with it in the future.



The second piece was larger and I stamped it with the color remover and with mustard. I used an awesome little trivet made of silicone I found at Target, if you're curious about the pattern.



When I ironed out this piece I did notice a smell and I felt slightly irritated, though I had all of the same windows open and fan on. I had to step out of the room for something and when I came back I didn't notice any lingering smell, though, which is different from the other paste I've used previously.

So, next time I use this product I will be using a respirator. Especially as I would likely be using more of it as I did on the bigger piece. But I think having all the windows open and fan going was probably enough to get the remaining fumes out.

The color removal isn't total, I don't think I'll ever be able to get a piece to go back to white, but that's not much different from any other discharge agent. I like the effect I was able to get, where it's lighter in the places I used the product, but you can still see a slight ghosting of the pattern that has previously been there.

I am going to purchase more of this product. And I'll order some of the color, too, as that's a cool process which has lots of possibilities.

And here's one last picture of this lovely October afternoon, with my dogs lazing about on the porch, watching the neighborhood go by (I will be so glad when we move and they can't see anything outside, they actually will jump up and bark every few minutes while sitting up here as people and cars go by...a tad irritating!)



p.s. to those who've wanted larger images...well, I don't know why, but even with me choosing "large" for my image upload on blogger they are still small. My images are not this small. They are large images. Blogger is shrinking them and I have no control over that. If you know of a setting in blogger to change this (other than the one that says "image size"...doesn't work) please let me know. I tried to make it better, I promise!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Where did September go?


I don't know. I know I was busy, but it flew off so quickly. I went out to San Jose to meet with 11 other members of the Art Cloth Network. It was a nice event, getting to meet the older members and other new members (there were 5 of us new members), and joining in the planning for the future growth of the group as a whole.

After that I did some work, on a piece that is currently on my design wall, but I'm not sure how to finish it. I had plans, big plans, to get it done in time to enter in time for a deadline next week, but as I'm now stumped I probably won't get it done in time.

I've also been working on projects for the mastery class. I should've done all of this months ago, but there was a lot going on this summer, and I wasn't sure this past spring if I was going to continue with anything, so of course nothing got done. But I can do only what I can do, and I have my own challenges to overcome, so I'm just doing the work now.

I have pictures from the show in September where all my hard work was on display! One of the pieces sold earlier that day, which was thrilling. And though the rest are still available, the gallery decided they want to keep them and put them in another area to see if they sell (the show was just for 2 weeks). I was so very happy to hear that they liked my work well enough to keep it a while longer!

Here's how the work looked hung in the beautiful gallery:







There's the little red dot. Sold!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A month



...to do what I thought was impossible. Only, when I took it on, I didn't know or think it was impossible. But towards the end I saw that it nearly was.

I made 8 pieces, start to finish, overdyeing and waxing of fabric included. And they are now mounted and wrapped and waiting to go to a beautiful downtown gallery here in Austin. Here's the event info:

http://www.arton5th.com/events/ArtBuzz2010/Preview/Preview-Buzz.html

I am the only textile artist, which is cool. I heard about this event through a local textile group email, otherwise I'd never have even applied.

It was all a big whirlwind, and the 2 pieces shown on the site under my name were done the week before we went to Santa Fe. The gallery wanted to see some of my work in person, so I did those two and dropped them off. When I got back from our trip I was asked to participate, but had to have at least 10 for the show. They had 2 on hand, so I figured I could do another 8.

I was able to do it, but it took 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past month to get it done. And there were times I thought I'd never get it done. And times when I thought I'd stab myself in the head with my scissors if I had to sit at the sewing machine any longer to sew yet another piece!

I learned so much. So much about myself and my work and where I want it to go and where I don't want it to go. Since this was more work produced than I did all of last year, I think it gave me nearly a year's worth of experience.

But first, heres the photos (taken just yesterday...another something I learned about...I don't like taking pictures of the work. I'm terrible at it, so be warned!)


Circles 7
24x12


Circles 6
20x16


Drift
23x35


BeeBopDot
23x37



Around
20x26


Icee
24x12


Wave
20x20


Pebbles
24x37


Gem
31x36


StraightUpDot
32x21

I can post detail pictures later. I'm so tired of looking at these images I don't have the patience for it right now.

They are all of my own dyed fabrics. Most being of cotton, except for Pebbles which is linen, with reverse applique revealing dyed/painted silk.

The first 2 I did weren't reverse applique, but that's what came to me at I pulled out piece after piece of fabric. I wanted to do something that would incorporate both types of fabric, as I love the contrast of the smooth luscious silk next to the rougher cotton or linen.

I also wanted to do something very very simple. I didn't want too much going on, not a lot of piecing etc. So the reverse applique being a simple technique fit that. However, I will tell you that reverse applique while being a simple concept is not easy, and certainly not quick! It took hours and hours on each piece to plan and quilt the silks (no batting, felt, it lays so nice and flat!!!), and then to position them under the main fabric.

Once in position I stitched the basic shape and then spent more hours very very very carefully cutting away to reveal the silk underneath. This is also a tiny bit stressful as each cut could mean devastation if accidentally you cut the silk below!

After that tedious process I pressed the heck out of it, and then fused/backed with more of the lovely flat felt. Then more stitching to hold it in place and to add more interest, either with contrast or complimentary line.

It became very clear, in a way that I had understood before, but now was really truly a part of my design process, that the stitching is a visual line that holds together the design and theme of each piece. So the lines on the silk underneath make a statement and the lines on the cotton make another. It became something I really did think a lot about.

Some of these pieces you may notice are odd sizes. Only the 4 smaller pieces are mounted onto canvas. The rest were mounted onto artist foam core (an extra strong variety that shouldn't bend or dent) cut by me, with an exacto, and then mounted, by DH with power tools, onto heavy duty 1 1/2" deep stretcher bars. Its a nice effect, making the piece seem to float off the wall. I will do it again because it looks good and allows for odd shapes and sizes that standard stretched canvas doesn't come in. I also think it will be a way for me to move into more shapes and dimensional work.

The most important thing I learned is that less is more. And I love keeping them simple. I think some of my past work is too fussy for me now. Maybe I will pare this down more, but not right now.

Also, I really have 2 things I enjoy very much. The dyeing and overdyeing process with silkscreens etc, that mostly is known as Complex Cloth, as inspired and taught by Jane Dunnewold, is a joy for me to do. But I like smaller pieces, about 1 to 1 1/2 yards that I can easily use later. Using soy wax and tjaps or painting it on is my favorite. Silkscreening is awesome, too!

I also adore silk painting/dyeing. Mostly I love to stretch out the silk and paint out a design with my brushes. Not very planned out, but more organically. And I'm very interested in taking that process further with the Rozome technique (the Circles 6 piece was my first attempt at that several years ago, it's not great as a Rozome example, but it's good piece on it's own). That's more wax, and not gutta. I do love the wax process. And the smell of the little warm pot!

I think in the future I will plan work out to be a combination of these two processes. They can be made to compliment each other, which will be a fun challenge.

Whew. So very much work summed up in one little blog post. Well, I have to scoot. Need to dry my hair and then pack everything into the car and take it to the gallery.

If anybody is in Austin next week, please drop by and see the show. Or if you're interested in one of the pieces, please contact the gallery, Art on 5th.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Santa Fe


...was lovely. Such a beautiful place. My workshop was great and the hotel we stayed at was exquisite. It had courtyards! Here's a few pictures of our room and the courtyards just outside our door







I took pictures of all of the wood carvings (the posts, the tub surround, the closet doors) as well, because they were so beautiful. There was a store in town that sold all of these pieces (they're imported from the far east), so I'm planning to get some similar things to put into the new house. I'm thinking gates, stone for the bathroom, carved posts for a pergola, beautiful hangings for the walls. A touch of the exotic for our new contemporary home (to be built next year...I don't have any exciting details yet, just a basic floor plan and plans for a supersized studio).

My workshop was held in conjunction with SPIN, silk painters international, at an arts school campus south of town. That was an incredibly beautiful place, too. I took some pictures there as well.








The workshop was shibori with Yoshiko Wada. She was wonderful! Such a kind and sweet lady and so generous with valuable information. I was very inspired and have actually done some work with the techniques since coming home (more on that tomorrow).

Here's a picture of Yoshiko teaching:


And here's one of my little experiments (silk organza) after going through the process.


And heres a picture of me holding it so you can see just how small it was still bundled up (and you can see how tired I was...that 12 hour drive was something I wont do again!)

And this is a picture of a Japanese tool that we learned to use. It was invaluable for doing some of the tying work. I've made my own sort of version since getting home, using a fine knitting needle (recommended by Yoshiko).

I was told by someone in class about the local fabric store, which I stopped at (I had the car!). Here's a picture of my goodies in their bag

Yep, all white undyed fabric. Mostly silk. Some handwoven cotton and a silk/linen blend. I couldn't resist. I was in a dyeing mood. This store was fabulous. Santa Fe Fabrics. I will probably be calling her to get more of some of these. She also had some adorable zippers with the tape laser cut to have frilly edges. Very cute. Great store. You must go if you're in town and looking for fabric.

It was a very nice trip. Except for the zero cell phone reception. Our iphones got almost zero reception. Will was very angry. Very. I didn't care, I still thought it was a great town. I will go back with some girlfriends who don't care about cell phone reception.

We only got to see a few galleries, ones I'd made a list of. First stop was Jane Sauer Thirteen Moons. Only a couple of fiber pieces, so I was disappointed. There were other galleries I enjoyed more. And so many I didn't get to see.

Oh, and food was great. I love red chile sauce! The breakfast at our hotel was also superb. Huevos Rancheros, Breakfast Burritos (choice of sauce, mine was red!), french toast...everything you could want to start a lovely day.

That's it for my trip. I got some great news when I came home, but I'll leave that for my next post.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

a bit of work


Thank you to everyone who wrote after my last post. I am finally feeling better. I think it was taking a trip to Houston, where my allergies only bothered me a little bit after the first day there (I also found that being very tired while on some of my other meds can make mereally dizzy and completely spaced out, so I will have to be careful of that in the future), and my mind was focused on the workshop techniques I was learning.

I don't have many pictures from the workshop as I was busy taking notes and
practicing the techniques, but here are a few. The teacher was Kiranada Sterling Benjamin, and she taught us Rozome (a Japanese technique you may know as batik, though the application of dye is totally different).
The first picture just shows some wax on my silk, the second shows part of the class, with Krianada speaking to students at the front, and the last one is of our wax pots being used.

I got some good tips, like using 50% soy, 50% beeswax to create a less soluble wax (good for Rozome, which uses brushes to scrub in dye, with soy being too soft and allowing dye to seep through). Though it does still require dry cleaning (but I found a local dry cleaner this week who will clean my pieces and leave them as soft as fresh silk!).

The other thing I learned was how to use the brushes (you can see pictures here on John Marshall's site) properly to scrub in dye. This was great for me as I'd tried years ago to teach myself this from a book, but it's not possible. I needed to know the details to make it work right, and now I do.

I really enjoyed this class. Taking with Kira is something I've wanted to do for years but wasn't able to make happen. I am hoping to take with her again in Jan. and after that see about applying to be in her independent study program. I really love this technique, the way it looks and the process of working with wax and the brushing on of dyes. It's a very time consuming and meditative process, which has been missing from my other dye work. It fills a need in my creative soul to work in this fashion and I really want to do much more of it.

While I was gone for the workshop I was contacted about bringing in work to a local gallery for consideration of entry into their local artists show this fall. I had nothing completed on hand, but promised to work on 2 pieces and bring them in before going back out of town (we leave tomorrow).

So I worked as hard as I could, shutting off the heinous little critical voice and just going. Here are the 2 pieces I finished:

Circles 6
20x16
Silk, cotton, dye, colored pencil, silkscreened, stitched
Circles 6 closeup


Circles 7
24x12
Cotton, dye, wax, paint, silkscreen, monoprint, hand stitch, machine stitch

Tomorrow Will and I leave for Santa Fe. It will be our first trip/vacation together in 3 years, and only our second in 13 years of marriage. I am going to be taking a 2 day workshop on silk shibori with Yoshiko Wada, while Will is working (programming, emailing, taking calls). Then we'll have one day to see the town and galleries. We're driving so Monday and Friday will be spent in the car. 12 hours. Not something I look forward to, but he got a new car recently and I thought he'd enjoy taking it on a long trip. I hope to have lots of fun and see some new and different things out in New Mexico (and west Texas as we speed by!).


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

hello...goodbye

It's been quite some time since I've made a post. I was quite ill and then I was just non-creative, and now I am unsure of what I plan to continue doing.

I woke up last night very upset, with the words running through my mind "you are not an artist, you are a failure, who are you kidding?". It was 2:45am and that's all I could think until I finally fell asleep again. I am afraid the little voice is right, which is probably why I haven't really produced anything in the past few months and why I have no new ideas and why I haven't put up any posts here.

I have dropped my membership in a couple of groups and I think I may discontinue this blog, get rid of my website (which is an embarrassing mess anyways, with no direction or beauty) and just retire from any sort of online participation. It's not doing anything for me but making me fee worse about being unproductive.

I may also cancel my participation in a series of classes that I started this past spring. We are to meet again in November and through correspondence with the teacher I have realized that I have some personal faults, and that unless I can overcome those, I can't move forward as any sort of creative person. And since I've struggled with these faults my whole life, recognizing their destructive power, but haven't been able to move past the issue, then it's hardly worth me wasting the time of everyone participating in the class, much less the teacher who is a very busy and important person.

You would never know from looking at me as I go about my daily routine that I am feeling very adrift. But inside my little brain there is nothing but disappointment in myself, my poor work ethic, and the feeling that there is nothing creative for me to draw on now. It's disheartening.

But life goes on, and so I will just feed my birds, do a bit of gardening and probably clean out a lot of the junk in my studio. Perhaps I should take up another creative form of expression, as fabric no longer seems to be speaking to or through me.