Monday, March 12, 2018

Its Slippery out there!

I can feel it! I can feel new energy and inspiration that often comes my way each Spring. It sure doesn't look like Spring today - the little tapestry here is pretty much what it does look like - except the lake is solid white, covered with a snowy layer on top of the ice. Just like my road. The new layer of snow gave me enough confidence to take my dog for a walk. It seemed fine until Lucy slipped and fell. I thanked her for the warning, and proceeded a little more carefully, only to fall on my bum ten steps later.  Twenty steps past that I fell again - and then gave up on the idea of a good long workout.

March! This is the month that confuses me the most. I am feeling Spring - I can hear the birds singing about it. Now and then we enjoy a warm, sunny day, and I start the hunt for green sprouts, or buds on trees. And then, sure enough, another blizzard or ice storm. It can try one's patience.

Anyway, I am inspired enough to update my blog today - I added several weaving to the tapestries page, and updated my teaching schedule. I hope you will visit the Tapestry Page to see what I have been working on - the ones closer to the bottom are the newest pieces. I have entered 3 of them in to Experience Art Rapids - which is this big, beautiful two week show in June. Art Rapids takes over the town of Elk Rapids, while many businesses give us space for wall art or sculpture. Last year was the first, and the response was fantastic. There are awards - both peoples choice and professionally juried. My work won't be eligible to win any award, but I will be thrilled just to be part of the show.

One source of my new creative energy may be from a cooking class G and I took last Saturday at The Cooks House in Traverse City. We made Bo Ssam. Actually, we watched while they made bo spam, and then we ate bo ssam. So tasty. Such an explosion of flavor, texture and color. I am confident that we can do this at home - and we will!

Experiences like that help to inspire my artwork, and boost my creativity, just by exposing me to something new. If you are feeling a case of the Winter Blues - challenge yourself to do something completely different sometime in your day tomorrow. And then you can pour your self your favorite warming beverage and curl up under the quilt.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 was, well, the prelude to 2018. Maybe we learned something.

I live and work in a magical place. This is my studio, from the outside. Inside I have a tapestry, and a Theo Moorman, and some screen print experiments in process. Rib are in the oven, and my butt hurts from snowshoeing earlier today. Who could ask for anything more?

I found 2017 to be stressful. Mainly from politics. As you all know - Trump took office, and proceeded to scare the daylights out of me (hello North Korea!) or piss me off royally (good bye Paris Agreement). Following this daily mess has been bad for my mood and bad for my health.

Other aspects of 2017 were just jolly! Art Rapids! launched an exciting new event called Experience Art Rapids! I was able to teach more, and enjoy my family a lot - especially over the last week. I took a surface design class from Shanna Robinson at NCMC, and picked up some fun new tricks, and some fun new friends.

2018 is in two days - an artificial turning point - but I will hang my hat on it anyway. I don't really buy into the whole New Years resolution thing. Too much pressure and potential for feeling guilty. I prefer to enumerate intentions - things I would like to see happen in 2018.  I won't share the whole list with you - but here are a few:

To be represented by a new gallery in my region
Teach more people
Teach at Blackbird Arts
Make more and better art
Participate in Experience Art Rapids! as an artist.
Participate in "Spaces Uncharted" at JRAC
(note - as I am part of the organizing committee for both of the above, this should be a shoe in.)
Sell some art work
Gain a commission
Weigh Less
Draw way more
Play guitar more
Be good to my friends
Do something spectacular with screen printing, stamping and other surface design tricks
Take a class at Blackbird
Laugh a lot
Visit Tucson - maybe do something with rust while I am there
Take great  care of my health. More yoga, more miles. More fruits and veggies. More mindful of alcohol. Wine is not water.
Continue the volunteer work I am already doing
Be a good wife, partner, companion, and cheerleader for Gary
Attend church a little more often, and become involved with a committee - for real this year.
Grow a regional (national?) reputation as an accomplished and relevant fiber artist
Do my part to help build NW Michigan as an Arts destination
Snow shoe again
Get enough rest,
and best for last; Back away from Facebook, and instead knit more and read more.

Did I mention I live in a magical place? Here is my parting gift to you this year.

Lucky shot.

I live and work in a magical place.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Always Learning

Process - it will come together somehow!

It is near the end of the semester at NCMC. I enjoyed returning as an adult student!  Even though I am auditing this class, and am not motivated by a grade,  I still care to complete assignments, and do my best at them. And I really enjoy the other students. Most are also returning adult students. One is a painting professor. Another is a doctor, another a business consultant. Following and completing the assignments is great for  trying  a new way, and discovering  a different direction. Seeing how my fellow students address the same assignments has been  a great broadening experience. No matter how restricted an assignment, a group of 10 art students will come up with 10 different results. It is magic.

I did a little printing in my home studio. I made all the mistakes. I used a Thermofax screen, made at NMMC, of this drawing of a swan. I attached the Thermo fax to a silk screen, one that is stretched on a frame. 
I opened up the container of black procion dye, and mixed it into the release paste (alginate and chemical water). It looked brown. Yet I proceeded. The first couple of pulls went really well, even though they were a nice rusty brown instead of the black I intended. Then things started to get sloppy. I kept going, because - well sloppy is part of life, and sometimes it gets better. Not this time. I realized ink was getting trapped between the Thermofax and the silk. Pooh. I let the 6 towels I had printed "cure" for a couple of days.  Next step is washing out all the soda ( I prepared the fabric with a soda soak previous to printing), by tossing them into the washing machine. 

All the color washed out. Almost all - there was a pale yellow line left.  Now I really wonder about that dye? Was it something else in the wrong container? Was it actually Lanaset instead of Procion? The good news is that the towels were like new, so I started over. 

I pulled the Thermofax away from the framed silk screen.  This time, instead of soaking the fabric in soda ash, I decided to add the soda directly to my black ink paste. I also tested my black, visually - and yes, THIS jar looks black.  I pulled another series of prints. They were clean, sharp and black. I put them on a rack over a heater to batch. 
After two days, I thought they must be "done", so , as a test, I decided to dry some dishes with one. Black ink everywhere! Big Mistake. Huge.  I threw them all in the washer once again, hoping that the color didn't all go away. And it didn't


Final picture, below, some stamping fun:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It's another class day!

Leaves on silk
Today is picture day at school. Here are a smattering of projects and process photos from my Surface Design Textile Class at NCMC with Shanna Robinson, professor of art. 

She assigns homework! 

Research homework! I couldn't be happier. Not that I have written my report, but I have started on the research. And not that I have made a final project plan - but it is going to be really really cool. 

This week we will be painting on a soy wax resisted piece of cloth with natural dyes, and also experimenting with repeat stamps. So, more picture later!
Turmeric and Beet Greens after
Tumeric and beet greens before
maple leaves, hydrangea and rust

Thursday, September 28, 2017

water and inspiration

Take a deep breath. Can you find the petoskey stone? Feel better yet?

This week in Shanna's Textile Surface Design Class we worked with mono printing and design exercises. This photo is of everyone's work put together. Unexpected inspiration!

Using a square viewfinder to help find a design that could make sense, repeated. I like this one, but I think I will keep looking - mostly because - fun!

Next week we will be working with resists - such as soy wax batiks, potato dextrin textures, and more. I will be missing class, to instead teach weaving at NMC in Traverse City for two weeks. So, instead, I will take the opportunity to pull out my old "Surface Design for Fabric" by Proctor and Lew. I have so many books on my shelf that contain treasures of information.

It's the weather. It's the water. It's a return to the class room - on both sides of that equation. All these are working together for me now, filling my with new inspiration and a craving for work.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Getting Rusty

I am going back to school, and I am enrolled in a Textile Design Class at NCMC. Rather than getting rusty myself, I actually feel I am kicking any rustiness to the curb. Shanna's design exercises are great brain teasers. And the studio work is just a blast. Here are some images from this past week:

Rusty Bike Parts on a vinegar soaked piece of cotton.

We folded the fabric, compressed and waited a week, and this: 

hmmmmm. I love it - but it's not done yet. What else do I do to this piece? 

We also got to open our silk scarves. We soaked the scarves in a vinegar solution, placed leaves and plants - in my case smoke busk leaves and marigolds - inside, rolled it up super tight on a stick, and boiled it for hours in water with a bit of iron and many walnuts. Just before wrapping up, I stuck in a few bicycle spokes. Because they were there. On the table right next to me. 
Above is a close up of what it looked like after unwrapping, and before picking all the leaves out. Below is the final product. See those great dark horizontal stripes? Bike spokes. Turns things dark.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Practicing the Darker Arts, under pressure

Still loving being a college student again. Here are some photos of things we have are working on in Textiles 221 at NCMC.

Assigment - bring rusted metal to class.  I happen to have a box of small bike parts from Kristin in Tucson. I did a bit of research and found that you can MAKE RUST! Dunk the rust in some salty vinegar, leave for a bit, and then let it out to breathe - or oxidize. and Voila! Rusty bits.

Careful arranged on a vinegar infused cotton, above.

The next step in our case was to soak cotton rectangles in a vinegar and water solution, arrange the rust on top, and then put it all under pressure. Above you can see several student boards, and one old sewing machine. We don't get to see how it turns out until next week.

We also did a little bit of eco-printing. This time on vinegar soaked silk scarves. We placed plant materials - in my case marigolds, smoke bush leaves, oak leaves and rusty bike spokes, onto half the scarf. Folded it over, rolled it up super tight on a stick. Then we put it all in a pot with water and WALNUTS, and let it boil. for a long time. We also don't get to see these until next week. The walnuts do two amazing things. The tannin in walnuts acts like a mordant. A mordant is the thing that binds color to fiber. So walnuts help the silk retain fiber from the marigolds. For instance. Walnuts also are a powerful source of the color brown. Dark Brown.
Here are everybody's silk wrapped sticks, filled with leaves and simmering away in walnut juice.

I tied another couple of scarves for more indigo. I want a full set of 8 indigo shibori napkins to delight my dinner guests. Fair warning - if I invite you for dinner, use these napkins and you are not delighted by them - well, it could be awhile.

Last, here are a couple of pictures of next week's homework:

Still with me? On a different topic, my favorite Caribbean Island tok the brunt of Irma. They could really use some help.
I won't show you pictures of the devastated town, because I just can't look anymore. 
But here is a picture of their internet, for the whole island. A router on a ladder on a rooftop. 

And here is a way to help: