Engaging at Last (hopefully…)

IMG_0577It is Sunday.  Since the last time I tried to post an entry of any meaningful content, a lot has changed…(apparently, also including the software to edit and upload any photos, as I just found out)!!!  We will see how it goes.

Even though it must seem that not much has been going on blog-wise here at danglingthreads (given that entries have been spotty, at best), as often is the case, much has been going on behind the screen.  Not exactly one to relish the effects of “new update available”, I didn’t update my computer’s software for years…literally.  Well, Apple got its revenge.  Then, wordpress decided to get in on the fun.  White screen; no content.  “Error” this, and “Error” that.   Luckily I have kids who are beyond generous with their time and expertise…so, though I may be running as fast as I can to catch up (and, cope) with all of the new nits and bits, maybe, now finally, posting might become a regular thing once again.

That said, the sound of running, dripping water at 11:30 last night, reminded me that I am not queen of my empire.  A broken feed to the toilet on the second floor “failed”…meaning that water flooded the bathroom, dripped down through the ceiling lights on the first floor, bubbled up the walls and ceiling on my newly finished paint job and then continued on its merry way into the basement.  Only a few drips managed to hit the kayak stored just below there…the rest, did its best to soak all in its path…On the bright side…we were home, and since the Olympics are going on, we were awake.

Enough of the rant.  Creative work has truly been happening all along.  Much of it has been “pick-up work”, done in the very early morning hours, or, savored after finishing a daily stint of painting…At the moment, my version of the Passacaglia, the paper-pieced wonder by Willyne Hammerstein, is starring… (photos to come, I promise…)   That said, although my intentions are ALWAYS good, the work routine that used to happen, just doesn’t anymore.  For years, I could count on blocks of time every day…mornings for creative, new work; afternoons, for quietly hand- stitching, or quilting…or, whatever else suited my fancy…(a luxury, I know).  These days, I no longer have “weeks and then, weekends” (those important Sunday afternoons for blogging, especially)…the days simply wend out one after another, with surprises nearly everyday.  “Plans” seem to exist only to be abandoned!  Those (the surprises) have added a true richness to my daily life, but have wrought havoc with any kind of steady progress to be shared in these pages.  SO, there is now a subscribe button up there on the right…it lets me off the hook a bit…I do intend to try to post regularly (but am looking forward to not feeling so guilty when I just can’t).  And, it seems far more respectful of you and your time…if you are game, click on it.  You will get an email anytime there is a new post.  Nothing else.

ps:  a footnote about the photo at the top…(edited with that new, pesky software, if you are thinking it falls short):  In a bit of a hissy fit over my seemingly unending paint job, and just to get that big (guilt-inducing) maniIa envelope off the counter, I tossed out the ton of dried-up zinnia flower heads saved from last year onto the bare dirt outside my window…VERY late in the season.  They should have ended up as gourmet bird food.  But, a few days later…green sprouts!  Then, stems, leaves, and, buds!…and they grew!  Flowers…hundreds and hundreds of flowers!   And, then…THEY came: the butterflies!  BIG. Beautiful.  All kinds!  So many!  Everyday!  A gift…once again reminding me that not everything has to be hard.

post ps:  A free afternoon yesterday…could have read a book, but instead, I played in the basement…Citra-Solv and National Geographic magazines…collage fodder!

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Take care.

 

Sunday…

It would be far easier for me to just “let the day go by” with no “wise words”… (Sunday, traditionally being my day to “post”).  But it seems disingenuous, somehow.  Even though few ever comment, I know by the graph that word.press “oh so kindly” provides me that unknown readers do take the time to check for an update more often than I have managed to do for far too long.  And, I feel accountable for that, somehow.

Seven windows left to paint.  Doesn’t sound earth-shaking.  In the beginning, that would have been nothing…easy… after three years…not so sure.  Sometime in the next few days, all will be done.  But what I am not quite sure of is how one picks up the pieces at that point.  Think about it.  It has been three years since time in the studio has been a “given”…a way of life.  Projects were always in the works…on paper, on the table, on the wall.  So much has happened in the interim. (and not much of that “ART”).    Most of the “work” that has gotten done has happened more in spite of the state of things, rather than because it was “work”.  Art has definitely taken the back seat to “life”.   This is uncharted territory.  The things that used to drive any progress in the studio seem uninteresting, or just plain GONE…

There are two ways of looking at this.  The easiest…simply picking up the pieces…truly, no longer seems to be an option.   The harder thing will be to make new choices…can one abandon things in which so much time and energy has already been invested?  Not clear.  No one ever tells you that when opportunity knocks, hard choices have to be made…and, that clock is ticking…

Just Because it is Sunday…

Sunday has traditionally been my “blog day”…back in the good old days, it was the perfect day to share my treasures from the flea market…who could wait?  Not me.  The past month or so has been hard, mostly because I am just SO tired of the mess:  windows still to paint, in spite of extreme diligence on my part.  We took a trip south to meet up with Jame and Christina in Nashville.  That was good.  It felt like something a “normal” person might do.  Just get on the road for a bit; pick a few intriguing places to explore…drive for miles and stop wherever.  But the “price” for such a “fling” had to be paid at the other end.  Four foot tall weeds!  Everywhere.  Invading all previously civilized spaces…nature run amuck…or more than likely, just keeping us sure who is really in charge.  We have been fighting back since we got home.  No windows have gotten painted…which means the mess remains.

Unexpected consequences from not upgrading my software as I should have (for years) then resulted in not being able to access this page AT ALL…for weeks.  All has been fixed by my savvy (and ever-helpful) children.  Hence, this (once again) apologetic post.  I am working when I can…but, just staying “even” is the best I can do at the moment.  This is not an abandoned blog.  I am actually making progress every day on the Passacaglia…”pick-up” work…but, still…Feeling more like the turtle than the hare, at the moment.  Stay tuned.  There is good stuff coming…just not today.

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

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Still(!!!) Putting Pen to Paper

A few more patterns…am finding some “familiar” elements…not giving up though.

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Again ( maybe, still…) no sun, no “great” photos.   But, trying to be accountable, here…so maybe that is “partial credit”?

 

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.