Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Walking two paths at once:TAST Week Five Herringbone and Monotypes

If you'd like to see the latest embroidering adventure, go here

Meanwhile, back in the studio, I ran a few sample monotypes ready to demo this artform next week to a group of local artists. It seemed like a good idea to unearth the equipment, make sure I have enough tools to go around, this seems to be a popular group, and find out if my blockprinting inks are still alive. All seems to be well, and I had a great time playing up there.

Testing, testing! these are quick studies, all done in water based blockprinting ink, on tissue paper, only paper to hand at the time, but it's quite a nice support, all the same.

Monday, January 30, 2012

GrandDog home again, work resumes!

Bennett the GrandDog is home again, visited with his owner this morning to make his bread and butter thank yous, and I can work again.

I'm on the polyester gauze piece, seeing interesting new problems and challenges and all that, and I really like using embroidery as a raw material for the artwork rather than an end in itself. If you're interested, not wanting to inflict it on readers for whom it's not as gripping as it is for me, go here

Aside from that, life without a tv service continues to be interesting, since there's an endless supply of great DVDs at the library, ranging from Dorothy Sayers with excellent actors playing Harriet and Peter, perfect for the part, Hamish MacBeth, puzzling to anyone who didn't hang out with a Scot for a long time, but very well done mysteries, Monk, hilarious detective mixed with pathos. And a long list awaiting my viewing pleasure.

And I'm finding more Muriel Sparks I hadn't read, The Bachelors and the Abbess of Crewe, that's two books, not the adventures of a bunch of bachelors at loose in an abbey. But that does sound like a good premise for a sitcom...

And I'm slowly but surely coming to the top of the list for Downton Abbey, which will be all but forgotten by the time I see it.

Now I have to organize my music stuff ready to play early music with me mates this afternoon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

NotBob, a day in the life of Bennett

Rav readers,no,this is not Bob, this is Bennett, my next door neighbor I'm keeping an eye on while his owner is away for a couple of days on family business.

Hyperactive barely does Bennett justice. The nicest guy in the world,but everything is not only a toy with endless possibilities of chase and capture, but his world proceeds at warp speed. It's like having a visiting firecracker in the house.

Duncan gazes zenlike at him, total acceptance, as in: this is the Shakuhachi effect, it is part of my life not an interruption to it. Marigold stares in horror, conflicted as to whether to attack him or run away and hide in my bed. She compromises by snarling, hissing and then running away to my bed.

This is my granddog -- I get to play with him, feed him, take care of him then hand him back!

A typical walk in the life of B.

Here I am, aren't I fun?

everything is my favorite thing!

look, this is interesting.

Oh no, this corner is better.

Oh I heard a dog bark, where, where?

no, only a squirrel.

What this under these leaves, then, hm,

oh wait, I know there's a cat around here. I know it.

I know it. What about in here?

I'm banging, I'm banging, someone will let me in. Okay, I'm in, but where's that cat.

I know I'm warm, I know it.

Food artist at work!

My friend Girija invited me over to see a couple of artworks in fruit she made for a special event, before the guests devoured them!

a true artist, she said, oh, it's easy, while I was admiring the strawberries carved into roses, and the apple turned into a swan and all the other food marvels. A tree executed in fruit

a landscape of fruit

Art at its best: beautiful, interesting and ephemeral. Play with your food!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

TAST Week Four Cretan Stitch, I think

For my take on the current stitch challenge, which was a puzzling as it was fun, go

The Dollivers in Stitches

To let Boud get on with her embroidery, the Ds gallantly offered to do the taxes for her this year. State and Federal, both for her and for HP, very emotionally difficult for her, so they stepped in, and armed with pens and pencils, studied the forms and books and schedules and came up with a new category: Schedule THFD, Too Hard For Dollivers.

And could they do the production line sweatshop they meant embroidery, again, instead?

Boud took over and finished the drafts, despite conflicting advice from the IRS (the federal tax agency) as to which forms and how and so on, and simply did her best. When she recovers, she will fill the final forms out and send them, in the hope that the $$ owed will come soon.

Meanwhile, while the wannabe accountants were scratching their heads and thinking good thing we kept our workout clothes on, this is a workout in itself, I pressed the green piece

and the new dyed piece, here's a detail

where you can see the metallic gold running stitches curving all around the designs. Here's a bigger version. This is a long narrow piece to be hung vertically.

I decided this was enough over stitching, since there's plenty going on here already. But the brown silk pieces still need a bit more happening. And then there's the other dyed piece waiting patiently to be designed. It's all go! and finally, I'll get to this week's stitch challenge, which doesn't look much different from last week's, but maybe that's just me...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy New Year, Dragon People!

Boud's tigers, in honor of her being born in a year of the Tiger, greet you all

from the shelter of their flower bower!

to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. The amaryllis now renamed Tiger Lily in their honor. If you have ever entered into an argument with two tigers you will know why they won.

eepy usually steps up to render the official Chinese greeting for the New Year, so if you're reading, eeps, kindly do the honors this year, too.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Late Blooming Amaryllis

I think I've discovered a new species. This amaryllis has been officially growing for over two months now, was originally planned as part of the Christmas decor, and finally, after all this time and foofling around, waited for a snowstorm before bursting out this morning to greet it.

I think she may have an identity crisis going, you know, a white flower opening up despite snow, but I haven't the heart to tell her she's not a snowdrop. the entire snowdrop would fit alongside her flower, like a chihuahua and a Great Dane. You see her here amidst all my adopted and rescued plants. Boston fern and spathiphyllum from the dumpster (and a giant dracaena in the kitchen, also from the dumpster), crown of thorns the many times descendant of my original plant of thirty years ago, tradescantia from cuttings from rescued dying plant of neighbor, begonia from cuttings, several species of them, swiped from various locations, larcenous gardener stuff.

But the flowering went down well, as I enjoyed my winter soup -- tomato, chickpea, chicken, with fresh hot biscuits -- while my lovely neighbor shoveled out my car and my newspaper, and brushed off the car in case I need to get out. He already checked that I had everything I needed in case he should dash to the shops.

All in all, things could be a lot woise!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Dollivers Get Fit

So Team Dolliver had observed Boud doing her weight training and other puzzling moves, and thought if she could do it, decrepit old crone, surely lithe young athletic Ds. could, too, and look very cute in their gym outfits, too. And this is an Olympic year, so it's not too soon to get in training if they are to be on the US women's weights team this year.

After a loud discussion about uniforms and no agreement at all on which outfit to go with, they all chose their faves and decided that the headbands would be the unifying element. High time there was a unifying element, come to think of it.

So they emerged from the dressing area, organized themselves to watch Mary Ann Wilson and her weight training DVD, studying correct form and noting that their outfits were much sharper than hers, at least they thought so.

But they envied her socks, and Boud firmly refused to knit five pairs of scrunchy socks for their training sessions.

And with Elton obligingly playing encouraging music in the background

they practiced lifts and presses and realized that some teamwork

was required to work the big weights.

At this point Boud has been delegated to seek out the application blanks for the Olympic trials and be sure and find out what sort of gear the US team will be wearing this year, because if the clothes aren't really cute, what's the point.

Meanwhile they are relaxing back at the clubhouse, sipping cool health drinks while Elton shakes his head and wonders about these women he's found himself dealing with here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

TAST Week Three Feather Stitch

If you're interested in my very casual take on this week's stitch, you might want to check in here .

If not, scroll on by, it's fine!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Skating with geese and dyeing with silk

So today, very cold, but very bright, perfect for skating, if you're a goose

and flying away when you're finished your Yamaguchi routine.

Also perfect for spotting natural leaf formations

which then translated back in the studio, this afternoon, into these dyed pieces

the more muted one a polyester gauze, two views.

the brighter one being silk (thank you, MC and E!) which takes up the dye very well. These will eventually be part of some embroidered piece, I expect. Meanwhile, just fun in the studio.

Just thought you'd like, for once, to see the origin of an idea as well as its execution.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

When the going gets tough, the tough embroider and paint!

Yesterday was of those days when the mail brings a stark reminder of the bad times in my recent past, with the official Medicare accounting of the hospice care for HP, which was substantial, but all covered, thanks to blessed Lyndon Johnson, who forced Medicare legislation through congress in the 60s, nonetheless three pages of terrible reminders.

And the envelope, ah, lovely bureaucrats, sternly insisted that if the receiver was not the patient, they were to send it back unopened. Yeah, the accounting up to the moment of the patient's death. Such logic.

However, after the initial sense of having a grand piano fall on me from a great height, I got into a frenzy of embroidery and had several great new ideas. Once again, art kept me afloat, to mix my metaphors. And it reminded me of some times in the past when I urgently needed to paint or something, anything, and tended to unleash my work on anything that didn't move.

Such as these tshirts, embroidery and painting, great fun to do, and to wear, too. The black tshirts are painted with metallic acrylics, have been washed many times

the white t with regular acrylic.

I don't think I ever made pix of these before. and the strip of fabric is from yesterday, some interesting little experiments related to the dyeing of the big embroidered pieces, one of which is now a bit different from your last view of it.

The black tshirts remind me of the reason artists wear black a lot: it's not to fit in in New York, and not to look mysterious and important, it's because black doesn't show most of the mess you get on yourself in the course of working.

Today's a better day, emotionally speaking, but yesterday was a stellar day in art!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

TAST Week Two, Buttonhole Stitch

If you're interested in following the progress of my embroidery incorporating Pin Tangle's Take a Stitch Tuesday, TAST, challenge, go here.

If not that's fine, too!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Socks ahoy, and signs of spring, too

In among all the other adventures lately, I made a pair of cashmere socks, lovely and warm, from harvested yarn.

One sweater has so far yielded two scarves and one pair of socks, and there are still a few little balls of it to go. This is yet another pair of toe up. I really like this pattern, and I have almost enough socks in it.

Then a sign of spring on the patio: snowdrop stems coming up bravely,no blossoms yet,but they'll be along. And in the kitchen, begonia flowers appearing.

The lengthening days are really obvious to plants, though they're very subtle to humans like me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Friends, Piano Players and posters, lend me your ears

Alternate title: why I love this neighborhood, real and virtual.

The real one: I stepped out of the front door to pick up my mail and there, on the bench outside, is a teddybear playing the piano. Shades and everything.

No note, no explanation. This is how I know it's my neighbor friend who is organizing his house by bringing stuff to me to freecycle and thrift!

So I brought him in to check the battery situation, and he was immediately mobbed by Ds. They screamed with joy, at last, an accompanist! finally Boud has done the right thing for their musical soirees, to complete the close harmony. Boud did get off a sardonic comment to the effect that it was the only kind of harmony she'd seen around here lately, and they flounced away, organized themselves into a group, sniffed when Boud asked did they mean a group of groupies, and demanded a photo opp with their new idol. Which had to include two shots, one with Blondie's reflection in the piano, and one with NameMe's reflec.

I haven't had the heart to break it to them that he's only here on the way to there.

Then there's the usual wonder of dialog on the internet, my virtual neighborhood, where I often find that my comments intended to be funny are read with dead serious literalness by some readers who rush to offer me help with my problems. Yesterday there was a semi-serious discussion of house organization and getting help via email from a website devoted to this stuff, which tended to fill the email box. So I asked if the website had a cure for the clutter of helpful hints they'd created in the email box. Just a funny little remark.

So someone gets back and explains in great detail exactly how she copes with her incoming email inbox. And I sez, oh dear, I was only joking, I wish I had a joke alert icon. Today another kind soul stops in to explain how to bracket my joke with alert info.....I give up. I guess if you're intent on organizing there is no time for humor. Or at least it's one of those things that are Not Funny. to me there isn't anything that isn't funny at least now and then.

As they say, cheerfulness keeps breaking in!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tne Nautilus Effect

After I showed our art journals to the artists the other day, one of them being the Nautilus journal, with the nautilus symbol on the cover, they asked about the significance. I explained that the nautilus, once she has outgrown her current shell segment, moves to the next bigger one, and seals the old door behind her. It's outgrown, she's moved on.

It's a wonderful metaphor for life decisions, too, and I've often found myself at a new phase of life, a nautilus moment,when I have to decide if I've outgrown some part of my life and need to gently move on from it now, to let bigger things come into play, or whether it still fits.

It's such a good idea to remember, when our decision making includes the concept of investment. Like: I've invested five years in this job, better not move and throw all that away. Or I've invested years of my life in this relationship, so it would be a shame to move away from it now. People do this with financial investments too, figuring that if they've kept their stock in buggy whip futures all these years, they really should keep it. But when we think that nothing is ever lost, and that every new move takes all our knowledge and accumulated wisdom, such as it is, with us, we can gently close and seal the door on the investment concept if it's holding us back. What might have been a good idea then might be outgrown now.

Anyway, those are just a few thoughts that occurred to me while admiring your work in the journals.

The embroidered panels are moving along gently and slowly, can't rush stitching, and here's a couple of views of what's up now. I moved the camera around to show the relationship of the current parts in process, to each other.

Many Nautilus moments in the course of making any art.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chop Wood, Carry Water Vol. 29, Chapter 136

So in the course of human events we all sooner or later have to attend to contents of the linen closet before it falls on us and we become history. So after an afternoon of heaving sheets and blankets and pillow cases and what the heck was this for out of the closet, to sort into sizes, I realized this wasn't just a closet. It was domestic history. This is a way of studying your life and times in retrospect that I hadn't thought of.

I couldn't fathom why there were so many sets of big bed linens, until I remembered that I'd put warm flannel sheets on the bed year round, because SO couldn't regulate his body temp., once his disabilities got under way,when he was still able to do stairs and sleep in the regular bed. So that was the flannel sets, three of them.

Before that, though there were knitted sheets, the tshirt type, which I loved, but he eventually couldn't navigate through to get out of bed when he wanted to. You have to have good use of your legs to swing them out of those sheets. So that was the two sets of knitted.

These had replaced the other woven sheets because he thought they were too cold, even in summer. So that was several sets of woven sheets.

And so it goes, working back through all the adjustments I'd had to make to take care of him, ending in the knitted sheets in a nice green color he loved, for his hospital bed. They were warm and soft and worked just fine for the last part of his life.

Anyway, now some of the sheets will go to HS, some to the thrift store, some to freecycle. Finally I have them ordered (sort of) so that I can at least see which are flat and which are fitted. Matchy matchy doesn't matter, but fitty fitty does.

You can write a nice bio on what's in people's cars, and what's on their desks, and for artists what's in the studio, and now I find the linen closet is not just our own domestic timeline, but another rich vein of lit'ry research.

Just wait for the first graduate students to be deconstructing what Henry James had in his linen closet, and giving their papers fancy titles about it. Abstract: A close examination of somnolescent textile influences in the short stories of Henry James. And then the popularized version: Threads! What James slept in and how!

I'm going to have a nice glass of wine with dinner now and rest my arms. This job was the fiber equivalent of hoeing a good sized vegetable garden.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Design Ideas in Nature

If you're interested in a few design ideas suggested by today's wilderness walk, go here

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Embroidery Updates

The mixed media embroidery continues. Now, in addition to working the three silk panels, I've added in another painted piece which appeals to me because it happened almost by accident when I was dyeing silk pieces a while ago. The drips fell into interesting formations, well, they would, it's a law of physics as well as art, and the piece has been waiting patiently till I fathomed its next step. Here are two works in progress.

Detail of one silk panel to date, more to happen on this yet. And here's a closeup

Where you see tiny pinpricks, they're a neat discovery I made, that by stabbing the needle through the heaviest dyed areas (coffee, which makes a tough surface) I was able to make the effect of tiny scattered stars, very pleasing as I went.

Here's the bigger cotton sheet piece, which will be mounted on stretchers for exhibit. This is a detail of part of it.

And this is the context in which that detail belongs.

The whole thing will be worked as I go.

And it occurred to me that I have some nice transfer prints which I unearthed in the course of organizing the studio, which need a little something and now I think it will be embroidery. they're on very good printmaking paper, so this should be a whole new fun thing, which will probably feel exactly like sewing cards in kindergarten. My inner child probably suggested this one, mom, mom, look, look, gimme a needle thing...

One great big thing about art for me is that the process is almost but not quite everything. Just handling your own paper, or stitching using an embroidery frame, or spinning with the hand spindle, or rolling the ink before printmaking, the process itself is an out of body experience that you need to try, everyone needs to try, art isn't for just a few lucky people. Oh oh, here I go..better stop before I find I've launched into my official lecture on Art For All and the crowd arrives with pitchforks and shoves me off the soapbox..