Wednesday, September 29, 2021

October dinner, ginger and friend, new figure, and the gummint

Yes I know it's not October yet, but Handsome Son has a lot of evening shifts lately, so we're seizing the day and calling it October. Like celebrating Thanksgiving on whatever day he's free 

Table laid, last few daisies picked. 

Menu set: pumpkin, carrot, lentil soup with hot biscuits, ham with steamed carrots, couscous, Dijon mustard or horseradish, banana bread with hot tea. 

I like the table organized ahead, makes me feel I'll get there.

This morning  seemed to be a good day to bring in the ginger plant and the moringa plant, of which another seedling broke ground here, so all is not lost with the moringa.

And I have embarked on the next Figure. This is a piece of silk organza with one of my woven works printed on it, hooped over a piece of sari silk.

Here's the original work I photographed and printed out

Monotype background, woven wire, beads, roving mounted on it. I painted the frame to suit, echoing the metallics.

And here's the back of the hoop showing you how this works if you're not familiar.

The design is going to be executed trapunto style. That's where you stitch shapes, through two layers of fabric, sculpting them, then insert stuffing, here very fine cotton roving, into the sections, entering the back via tiny cuts you make,  to render the three dimensional shapes you want.  

It's a way to get more complex shapes going than you get by sculpting into the complete head. This section will be appliqued to a head to form the top of the figure.

And the outside edges I think I'll do as stumpwork, the edges tightly stitched in buttonhole stitch, then cut around to stand free. That way there'll be an impression of wild hair.

If little of this means much, just watch this space and you'll see it unfold. I know we have some experienced embroiderers reading here, to whom trapunto and stumpwork are not foreign terms. We also have quite a few interested, but a bit less conversant,  readers, too. 

So, as the French say in their gummint forms, rayez ce qui est inutile. Delete that which is not applicable. 

Speaking of gummint forms, my Homestead Benefit form came today. This is an annual nod to our proud claim of First in the Nation in high real estate taxes. 

You can get a bit back if you can figure out how to apply. Unless the state Treasury says oh sorry, we can't afford it this year. More likely to happen with a Republican governor, Christie, I'm looking at you. 

But even they manage to find a bit for the downtrodden in an election year, which this is.  Current governor is a Dem, though, and has come through for seniors and other homeowners nicely each year. 

You'll notice they're not in a mad rush to part with your money. See the three year interval during which they've had the use of it..

This refund only applies if you owned and continue to own, your residence. Not if you rent it out nor if you're a tenant. 

And despite the old timey name, mules and plows and such don't enter into it, just a refund of some of the exorbitant rates we've paid. I'll take it, despite all my moaning.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Textile and Tea and new thoughts for the next Figure

Textiles and Tea today featured a wonderful mixed media weaving artist, Boisali Biswas, who loves upcycling everything, sari silk, onion netting, wallpaper strips, and painting her warp and weft. 

She's so free and unfettered in her work and life and attitudes, she cheered up what had been a downish day for me, allergy congestion, coughing, poor me.

Here she us surrounded by her work, wearing an outfit she wove and stitched without a pattern(!). The pillows behind her she wove. That fancy looking piece of furniture is a cardboard box covered with her weaving. 

She says she lives her art. Her furniture is garage sale or cardboard, painted and upcycled, covered with woven fabric.  She says that since she grew up in India she always lived in a reusing culture. 

She painted her backyard, too! With help from her daughter, the kind of floor painting done in India (and on local sidewalks where I live) with rice or flour, but in Michigan in acrylic. And the fence, when they moved in, was ugly so rather than replace it, she decided to decorate it. 

She was admitted while still in India to a prestigious university, founded by Rabindranath Tagore, where  all students pursued the arts as well as other subjects and that was where she found a love of textiles as art materials, and an appreciation for art in all the surroundings not just galleries or walls in buildings.

In India there is a huge tradition in textiles but at that time not as an individual art pursuit. It was a commercial world and materials were not available outside the industry at that time, thirty years ago. 

So she was an outlier, building her own frame looms and figuring out how and what to weave, since other looms were unheard of in homes, other than by commercial weavers employed in the industry with a home workshop. She used strips of sari silk and whatever she could figure out and use.

It wasn't till she came to the US that she got access to a floor loom and went mad with joy and learning.

She often makes quite small work, but her installation here keeps growing. 

It will be seen in Grand Rapids next year, and people are invited to walk among the parts and experience them. I love this forest concept. See the shadows working.

She also likes using translucency and shadows and will mount works away from the wall with lighting arranged to cast shadows as part of the work as you see below

She likes to use the tree of life image, and it recurs in her work in various forms.

She uses a cotton warp which she often paints, but her weft fibers can be anything that works! She's a free spirit.

This was such a lift to my spirits, too, that I began to pull out sari pieces and other transparent materials ready to work on my next figure. Ideas teeming around. She really gave me energy, so happy and full of her own ideas, she carries you along. And she has a website with much more work on it.

So here are my next raw materials, some are my paintings printed on silk organza, some Chinese silk, some Indian sari silk.

And these strips of silk pieces are the thing after soon as I know what it is to be.

Art simply never fails. It's not an escape from reality, more of a plunge into it.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Micro seasons, butterfly migration, America's test kitchen,

So we're up to page two, season three, in the microseasons journal.

Just making deliberate observations each day, enough for a few words for the day, is proving to be a great focus, little pressure and a lot of pleasure. This might suit me better than those rambling narrative journals some people love to keep.

So today's observation is of a flurry of activity in the butterfly bush, many small cabbage butterflies, tiny brown ones, several species of bees,  and, spectacularly, two monarchs dancing and feeding all day. 

Since they will be migrating in a few days, I expect they're fuelling up before the thousands of miles they fly south. They fly high up in the air for migrating, like flocks of birds. 

The first time we went to Cape May, in early October about fifteen years ago, we were in a seafront hotel, four floors up, and there were thousands of monarchs flying over the sea,  resting all over the building facades as far as you could see, all over our balcony. It was a rare, unforgettable experience. Total silence, just movement, a moving blanket of orange and cream and black.

Cape May is a good resting place for migratory butterflies and birds, both before they take on the open ocean south and when they return in spring. 

They follow the coastline south for a long way before heading inland toward their south American destination. On the trip north in spring, it's a sheltered and  food rich environment, with both salt and fresh water marshes, plants and insect life.

We don't get the enormous flocks we used to, so we treasure the sightings we get.

Swallows, swifts, hummingbirds, left weeks ago. 

Closer to home, America's test kitchen book is proving to be a mixed blessing. There are some good food ideas and tips, a useful section on equipment, see, someone invented a tea machine!

And sources for tools and foods. Including the notorious cinnamon..

But, big but, it's too big. Very heavy to handle. The type size so tiny I really can't read it, and the printing ink they used, no doubt very ecological, smells so bad I don't want it near the kitchen. 

Open a page and there's a waft of something between rotten eggs and boiled cabbage. It's truly awful. If you owned this book perhaps you'd leave it in sunlight to deodorize.  

I did get a few ideas as you see, then it's back to the libe. A good idea that didn't work for me. I wish it had come in a couple of volumes, to be more manageable and readable, but I expect there were production and shipping considerations in the way of that.

So there's the House of Boud today.

The skirt reveal

The skirt, except for pockets which I'll add as soon as I design and make them, is done. Plenty of fabric left to experiment with.

Measuring before I cut at the hem

Here the hem is only pinned which is why it looks a bit wobbly, testing for length.

Here's the finished, properly hemmed skirt. 

Very pleased with it and it might get an outing today, weather not too cool. I like how the two tier gathering makes the waist less bunchy, and makes the skirt drape well.

Speaking of the stories we wear! This one is a declaration of independence in a way. From other designers, paper patterns, machines, mass fabric marketers. Firecracker Fabrics, the source,  is pretty small, a family affair, in fact they're not shipping at the moment, family issues. 

I'm not saying anyone else has to do this. It's my choice, personal design, hand sewing,no electric machinery,  great pleasure in feeling the process literally in my hands.  

It's also a tiny blow against fast fashion and how it enslaves people in sweatshops on the other side of the planet. We're all connected.

Not  wanting to get too solemn about this, because it's also fun to please myself and show my friends what I'm doing!


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Textile Museum presentation

Yesterday the Textile Museum presented a program about the Stories We Wear, the current Philadelphia Museum of anthro exhibit, which opened yesterday.

The presenter, Dr Anne Tiballi, was an advisor on selection and presentation, from the museum collection.

Ranging all over the place, and including many ethnic groups and cultures, it was respectful of the materials and the garments' significance in their cultures.

Here's the underlying focus of the approach

And the location and context of the exhibit, and the presenter

Work and Play, Battle, Perform, Ceremony and Rule, are the divisions of examination. The sad choice of font is not the fault of the presenter. She's not a curator. She did make a point of reading them aloud.

Moving along

These are not strictly textiles, the one above being beaten gold, but samples of the high art of people we may not know much about.

Starting in Mongolia, here's the clothing signifying the married nomad woman, pieced and voluminous, designed for horseback riding and with many pockets to accommodate the items that travel with her.

The hairstyle shows her married status, and the  style of her coat designates her group. Each tribal or family group has a distinct style of detail.

Now to South America, to the messenger, courier runner, who carried vital information long distances across the Inca empire, in relay fashion, blowing his horn to announce his arrival at the next stage, to alert his replacement

He carried a sling for self defense and I wonder if he did a bit of small game food hunting, too, with it. She didn't say.

Here's the knotted string calculator message device. Numbers are recorded by means of the position of the knots, understood by the recipient they're going to, and very secure and portable

And here's a messenger blowing his horn as he runs on a road like this one. Then, to the southwest US

The groom's family were responsible for weaving the white garments for the bride, from scratch, as part of the wedding ceremony, while the bride's people provided food for the guests. 

Hence the several days of the ceremony, to finish the weaving and present the clothes to the bride to take to her married home, in a special case. 

The significance of fringes is rain, all important in that dry region, while the colors in the clothes reflect fertility, the red meaning the placenta. Corn husks are also incorporated as fertility symbols.

Then we swerve across to an area of atolls in the Pacific, spread over enormous ocean areas, to meet the Kiribati Warrior

The armor is made from coconut fiber, lightweight and available. A lot of the battles are more ceremonial than deadly, killing being a big mistake. Wounding to satisfy honor is the tradition.

These knots in the coir are tough and I wonder if they're like weaver's knots. Please let us know, weavers, if so 

Puffer fish helmets, which were effective in keeping off the opposition since the spikes can catch on and tear the coconut fiber armor, also tangle the aggressor.

Here are modern anthropologists creating facsimiles and testing them in use. The originals are too fragile to handle.

A dizzying trip around the planet, but I learned quite a bit. The Textile Museum unfailingly has professional production and preparation. 

They're talking about continuing online events even after in-person comes back. Since they routinely get hundreds of participants on Zoom, yesterday 42 countries, I hope they'll continue.