Total Disarray

Since the contractors showed up (unexpectedly…two weeks early!!) on the first of April (looking for a fool, no doubt), all of my “lives” have been in disarray.  As promised, they cut and pried the stucco off of the entire exterior of our house (all apparently incorrectly applied in our part of the country, leading to extreme water infiltration and rot).  That process created a whirlwind of dust (once again) that settled into every nook and cranny.   It is STILL “settling” on every flat surface inside the house (just visualize the impact of that). Once that mess was made, they pulled out and replaced almost all of the windows and some of the doors.  The results of that created untold consequences on the inside of nearly every room in the house.  My oh-so-nicely restored trim was pried off with the exact results that you can probably see in your “mind’s eye”…you can’t imagine what it did to mine, up close and, very personally…And then, John’s mom got sick; she re-bounded for a bit, but then, not.

I think we are on the up side of the curve now.  More things outside the house are back together than are not.  The contractors should be done and GONE by the end of the week. My recovery will be longer.  I will begin re-painting this week; putting things back together; DUSTING…  Kids are coming home soon to spend a bit of time remembering and honoring their grandmother.  I WILL get back on track art-wise, and blog-wise…but, for a bit longer, things will be unsettled.  Check back in a few weeks…but, thanks so much for stopping by…

Moving on…

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IMG_5986I filled my book with patterns…but think I am done.  (Above are a few of my favorites in the final 20 or so.)   I enjoyed it to the end, but truly have no interest in pulling out another sketchbook and continuing.  Part of it may be seasonal. It was a warm and cozy way to start my day before the light appeared on the horizon…click on the fireplace, snuggle under the quilt, and draw whatever came to mind.   All is not abandoned, though.  Am thinking to try carving stamps to create patterns…haven’t quite figured out how to make that a “habit” in my day, though…

Waltzing with the Passacaglia

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As a crew of men chip the stucco off my house, piece by piece, I have retreated to the relative quiet(?) of my bedroom on the far end of the “project”.  Every window in the house is sporting blue plastic.   (Haven’t seen the sunset for days…)  Every thing in close proximity to a window or door has been moved away.  And, once again, plastic or drop cloths cover ALL.  Homesteading once again, I think.  This is the last big thing in our “house adventure(?)”.  We knew it had to be done going in…and am so glad it is underway…but, maybe wishing we did it first????    A total distraction.IMG_5960The bright spot in this whole thing (besides the fact that I am not out there chipping off stucco myself) is that it has opened up an opportunity to focus on just one thing.  There is a SINGLE clear flat space in the entire house: the dining room table.  So, I have settled into the Passacaglia.IMG_5962The proper name of the quilt is actually, The Passacaglia with Mr. Penrose.  It was designed by Willyne Hammerstein, a Dutch lawyer, and is one of many gorgeous quilts in her book “Millefiore Quilts”.  Though she did not do so, most who have taken on the challenge of making one are using English Paper Piecing.  A “passacaglia” is a musical term for a series of variations on the underlying bass of a melody, in slow triple time; Mr. Penrose was a mathematician.  The quilt is intricate (an understatement)) and totally engaging.  Google it.  You will see what I mean.IMG_5965I have never done any paper piecing.  Maybe making this quilt be my first shot at it will be a disaster.  But, so far…it is all good.  I am taking a slightly different approach than most. Using fabrics with repeated motifs is key (again, check the quilts others have made on Pinterest), but I also wanted to use many of the very special fabrics in my stash that I have been saving for years…ikats, hand-marbled cuts, batiks, hand-dyed (mostly vintage, mostly my own)…treasures which for a long time have seemed “too good” to use.   (Sounds a bit silly, right?  That is what I have decided too.  If not now, when?)IMG_5968This is quiet work.  Hand-stitching.  One can pick up a piece and make a bit of progress.  But, it is all adding up…IMG_5971

IMG_5970To be continued…

A Slight Detour…

IMG_5858Sometimes, totally unexpected things get done.  A few days ago I wandered into my studio, looking for a large piece of cardboard.  I found one; two, actually.  And, that was the moment my day took a “turn”.  Nestled inside the cardboard were 10 sheets of Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper that I had ordered way back in the early days of settling in here.  At the time, no art was getting done, but I was “feeding the beast” by looking at a lot of things online…especially the handmade, and very inspiring journals of the wonderfully creative Teesha Moore.

I pulled the papers out.  (Totally ignored that cardboard!)  It was a snowy miserable day outside…one of those that is beyond depressing.  I hemmed,  I “hmmmmed”… and then,  I decided to play.  I went back and reviewed her You Tube videos once again, set up my paints on the kitchen counter (did I mention that John was “out of town”?), and got to “work”!  Can’t say I would recommend cutting, binding, and painting ten journals in one day…but that is exactly what I did.

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I haven’t done anything except admire them…because… I got distracted once again! (update to follow…I am almost hoping this miserably cold weather just keeps on coming…)

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One Day…Two Posts!

It seems if one goes weeks without posting, one could (once in a while) compensate with two in one day?  So-o-o, since I have the time…AND some photos…here is how the patterns are wending out…

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I really don’t have any rules.  Simply, put pen to paper.  Draw a shape…draw some more of the same…see where it goes.  Still fun.  Have a great day!

 

 

 

As Promised…the Snow-Dyes

Gave up waiting for a sunny day…these photos tell most of the story…

All of the shirts below are from thrift stores; they rarely cost more than a few dollars.  For me, that means that I can take some chances.  This shirt is one my sister added to the pile. What happened here is that the embroidered strings of dots are stitched with polyester threads…which don’t take the dye!  Gives a bit of pizzazz to the look, don’t you think?

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A similar thing happened with my shirt below…one can pretty much count on this when using the Procion dyes.

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Another thing I might search out is a shirt that has some texture in the weave of its fabric.

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The shirt below is made of rayon.  I like the effects that happen when the dye hits its finer weave.  Often the “fracturing effects” of the dye are more detailed, as well.

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The four scarves below were over-dyed (duds from a past dyeing session).  They were pretty dull going into the bucket.  The dark purple scarf in the back is rayon velvet devore. Always get interesting results with that fabric.  The three scarves in the foreground are silk of one kind or another.  I especially like working with silk charmeuse (center); the chiffon scarf on the right is nice and breezy-looking (the clear beads along its edge did not hold any dye, but still add sparkle)…and notice the scarf on the left.  See how its texture adds to the richness of the dye on its surface?

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I also like to dye old (and damaged) damask tablecloths…see why?  (I cut or rip them into manageable pieces…and to get variety among a related set of fabric.)

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And this time, I tried throwing in a set of linen napkins…they were originally a Pepto-Bismol pink…now, they are just fun…each one different, but still, a set.  They were in my linen drawer for years!  I have used (washed…and, ironed) them twice already!  Proper, but not too “prim”!

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What else?

These are the “keepers”…

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If you look closely, you can see that I dye over prints, textures…embroidery…whatever…

These are the rejects.  They will go back into the “to be dyed” pile and will get their chance to be lovely in another bucket…

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The surprise bonus in the very bottom of the dye-pot…all these small silk samples…They just got randomly thrown into the buckets…some real potential here…maybe a chance to try some improvisational piecing?  There are hundreds!!! of them…

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This was my first pass at snow-dyeing (versus ice-dyeing).  If I did it again, I would not put so many pieces into each bucket.  I WOULD put in a single layer of things to be dyed…with a HUGE pile of snow on top, rather than the layered version that I used this time.  The snow melts much faster than the ice.  In many cases, this resulted in colors that were too intense for my liking.  Most often, the dye did not have enough time to “fracture” as the snow melted, before it hit the fabric.  This was an experiment.  I learned quite a bit.  Fabrics get ever more interesting each time they are thrown into the dye-bath…so maybe, this is just Chapter One of my story.  And, THAT is why this process is so engaging.

A New Venture

IMG_5765I am not particularly one for new year’s resolutions.  I find failing at them beyond depressing.  So, I am not going to call my “new” intention a resolution, but rather more of an “effort”…of the on-going variety…How is that for some rationalization?

For a while now I have been reading of others’ “daily journaling” activities.  I have been especially interested in experiencing for myself the value of a daily practice.   My handwriting has deteriorated to nearly illegible.  And, whenever I attempt to sketch out a random idea, my head and my hand respond like totally independent entities.  To describe my drawing style as “loose” would be “kind”.    Plus, my designs always look the same…boring.

And so, I have begun.  I found an old spiral bound book containing black card stock.  Choosing to “draw” with a white pen gave the idea some panache.  I decided to play with patterns…for two reasons.  One, I figured by forcing myself to repeat motifs I could re-train my hand and my head to work together.  And two, I like repeated shapes, and have often used them in my work.  Maybe the play could inform the work?  To keep myself honest, I have been writing the date on the page…

IMG_5766I am thinking that the most compelling reason why this has been working (so far) is that I have set aside a time to do it every day:  every morning, early, as I sit here by the fire with my coffee and my pen.  I have read that if one does something for three weeks, it becomes a habit.  Not sure if that will prove to be true.  But, I am totally enjoying the daily mind-stretch…and, as the pages accumulate, the sense of accomplishment is real.  Perhaps if I keep going, something fresh will show up in my work. Still, I am not going to jinx the thing by calling it a “resolution”…

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Making Lemonade…

IMG_5761The blizzard is gone.  The sun is out.

Yesterday it was a totally different story.  The wind howled and the snow fell… all night, all day…and then, all night once again! Keeping a long-held promise to myself, I hauled my bins of “things to dye” (stashed since the move) out of the basement.  I was thinking that this might be a prime time to try some snow-dyeing…and to (finally) sort through the random piles of “this and that”…to toss, to keep…to dye!   Such an industrious activity on a “stay-in-bed-and-read-a-book” kind of day…

But, actually, it was kind of fun.  I felt so virtuous…After about an hour of sorting, tossing and folding, I had three bins of neatly organized fabric ready for some future work…and four piles of stuff for my snow-dyeing venture.  I had vaguely assigned a “color” for each pile: pink, green, blue, and purple.  This morning BEFORE engaging in any other snow-related activity (like shoveling), I actually followed through!  I dumped my bag of soda ash (about three cups) into the washing machine and filled it about halfway with very hot water.  I tossed in pile number one–the blue pile and let it soak while I had my breakfast.

I kept it simple.  As I pulled each piece out of the washer, I twisted it as I wrung out the soda solution back into the washer tub (I was hoping to re-use it for each of the piles…SO efficient!!!), and put it in the awaiting bin.  When the washer was empty of fabric, I tossed in the “green” pile!  I carried the “blues” down into the basement (note, the door in the above photo…the mother lode of snow, right?)  I set up a bucket with an upside-down plastic bowl and a perforated plastic plate (they elevate the fabrics up out of the spent dye solution once the snow has melted).  Then I put in a layer of my twisted and scrunched stuff…it was pretty random…old linen napkins, a shirt or two, previously but unsuccessful dye experiments…found fabrics from the flea market.  And, then, I opened the door and shoveled enough snow into the bucket to cover it all completely (sure beats hauling bags of ice from the grocery store!).  I sprinkled a random selection of “blue” dyes…cobalt, navy, teal…over the ice.  Since I still had room in my bucket, I repeated the whole process…this time choosing several different blue dyes…And then just because I could, I topped it all off with another big fat pile of snow…goes to show, there is more than one way to shovel snow…some much more fun than others!

IMG_5759I repeated the process…until all my piles were gone…Look at those lovely buckets full of promise…tomorrow is going to be a very colorful day!  Can’t wait!

JUST PLAIN FUN!

IMG_5744It has been one of the joys of unpacking…the re-discovery of a treasure (previously stashed so deep in my pile that it would have never seen the light of day, except for “the move”), and re-visiting that old idea with a fresh point of view…maybe, leading to a possible path to new work?    (These are also the very things that are currently creating a log-jam in the “studio”–the place where no work gets done.)  STILL.

Why?

I don’t have a straight-forward answer.  Most of the boxes are unpacked.  I have re-discovered so many treasures, each one fraught with inspiration never acted upon.  I sort and I stack…but I don’t “stash”…not yet, and maybe, never again.   At this point it IS very tempting to just put the stuff away…somewhere, anywhere to finally have a clear, flat space to work.

But, instead, I have found that it is far more engaging to just pick something off of the pile and “play” with it.  Hence…the envelopes!

IMG_5734I bought the template years and years ago.  Found the tattered, but oh! so charming children’s books over time.  Got the “ELLE Collection catalog for a quarter at the Goodwill. Took them to the beach a few weeks ago, after all the frenzy of the holidays.  Laid it all out on the table…and, played.  One has to admit, the envelopes could be useful…but really, it was all about the play.  Making them was just plain fun.

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