A Winter Diversion

February 18th, 2021

As a break from all the cold and snow of February, I’m taking an online workshop with Australian artist, India Flint. Titled “February Project 2021” it’s basically making folded books from found materials, dyeing them, adding pages and just generally having fun with people all over the world. Her gentle way of explaining things warms up the coldest day.

Here are a few of my early books.

Image of handmade book Image of handmade book

The first red book used a mixed media experiment I had done on watercolor paper. The paper was much too thick to fold as shown so it turned into an accordion book with added fabric to reinforce the folds. It has been put aside for now.

In the second picture, the top left book was also a bit thick for the suggested folding but I was able to open it up and expand the spine. Pages of color have had extra blank pages sewn in creating a small journal/sketchbook. The remaining books are similar but without the need to increase the spine. Some additional pages are in signatures, some fold out to make larger areas to work with. The small bundle includes the books shown in the video below.


These have been dried and are waiting to be finished.

Other artists have stitched fabric to their pages before dyeing them or have added pages from previous dye experiments resulting in a most wonderful range of books —all so different, interesting, and inspiring.

This simple structure is addictive to the point that a solicitation that arrived in the mail yesterday is currently being pressed into a small book. Best use I can think of for junk mail!

And… there are still lectures and video, unavailable until the scheduled week, but listed as a tease of things to come.

A wonderful winter break from all that’s going on. Thank you, India!

Onward!

January 25th, 2021

Well 2020 is finished with and 2021 has been off to a rocky start although the inauguration is hopeful—feels as though adults are back in the room. December was a rough month, couldn’t get into a holiday spirit, although I did put lights in our windows, one batch of cookies, and made our card.

Image of Christmas card
My previous Christmas cards can be seen HERE.

Wasn’t in a mood for a fancy tree and came up with this.
Image of Christmas tree
Started as a joke but we kind of liked it so, tree it was!

Missed our family and friends. Did several zoom gatherings—one with “The Garden Gals” and one with “The Rudes”—two groups of friends that mean the world to me. And Facetime with Kevan, Erin and the boys. Great to touch base, but I can’t wait to give and get real hugs! The pandemic has gotten old… and I know I’m one of the lucky ones, fairly healthy, can work from home, family grown so I’m not worried about virtual school, food delivered, etc.

Hard to get into my studio. I so envy artists who have been able to keep painting and get their work out there. I try but the results are forced. I have been sketching and reading, some fiber work, and designed a shop page for my site but even that doesn’t have my heart in it.

But today for the first time in months I’m feeling like painting. So, this is good!

and now it’s November

November 1st, 2020

Still haven’t been much of anywhere—oh, a visit to the dentist and to get a flu shot, and one day “down the shore”, and one afternoon to Chanticleer, another to Lancaster to buy pumpkins—which the squirrels have eaten right off my porch… and one more evening to my friends deck, bringing my own wine to sit spaced out. That’s 6 events for September and October… we are probably more cautious than many but we‘re both susceptible to infections… We do live in an area where the vast majority of people wear masks and it’s easy to get food delivered etc., so, that’s good.

And I voted, by mail—very relieved when I got back the email acknowledging its receipt. Crazy Times!!!

So, what have I been doing? Still not painting but have been working on a series of 12 drawings/watercolors of images from Scotland.

Here are 4 of the 12 images.
Drawing of Scotland Drawing of Scotland
Drawing of Scotland Drawing of Scotland

I also worked on several books.
One, an accordion book with rusty dye as a base for sketching in my garden.
Accordion Book

and another influenced by this whole lockdown, mask wearing, distancing, covid life.
Each page flips up to reveal the inside of dealing with 2020!
Image of Lockdown 2020 Book Image of Lockdown Book 2020d
When things get crazy, I make books…

And since my exhibition was canceled—at least it hasn’t happened, I decided to create an online ecommerce shop—of works on paper, not the images from the defunct exhibition. First it took a while to photograph images, improve my filing system and organize things in general. Then, there was new software to learn and to learn how to customize the site as I want. That part if pretty much finished. Now to hook up the financial/tax/shipping bit, but… in the middle of all this we had to have a soil stack replaced—the joys of an old house—but it means there are holes in the ceiling of my studio and in a wall in a powder room, paneling ripped out on the stair landing and total mess of one bathroom—and workmen (wearing masks) in and out… almost finished so now to get back to work.

What Summer?

September 11th, 2020

Well that was June, and this is Sept. Haven’t been anywhere—3 times to a friend’s—outside— brought our own wine—and 2 normal Dr’s visits—since March!!! Hard to paint but I have done some. Images of places where I wish I was. And one lockdown portrait!

Image of Mask
Vision of 2020

I did finish the long, dyed piece with hand twisted silk cordage – added some slow seed stitching.(10.5 x71 inches)
See detail on Fiber Page.

Image of Life/Twists and Turns
Life Takes Twists and Turns

When I first did the cordage twisting, I made some using tea bag paper and got the idea of using the paper as a support for designing stamps and printing. The result is a series of 12 works called, collectively, “Tea Bag Tales” More can be seen on my Works on Paper page. This one is titled, “Beach Dreams”.

Image of Tea Bag Tales
“Beach Dreams”

Then there is always a book needing to be done and this one uses tea bag paper – some dyed, some not – and with ink. Bound with cordage made of dandelion stems and a dandelion cordage bookmark. More images of this may be seen on My Books Page.

Image of Tea Bag Book
Tea Bag Book Spread with Book Mark

I had dried the dandelions this spring and finally got around to twisting them. Some I dyed with rusty tea, some were half dyed so the twist is half dyed and half natural. Some the twist loosened a bit up as they dried, and some I weighted as they dried to try and keep their twist, and some stayed tight as they dried on their own. I love the different personalities they have.

Image of dandelion cordage
Twisted Single Dandelion Stem

I’d only picked and dried a few stems, so I’ve used my stash and can’t wait till next spring to dry more. (I’ll probably still be here locked down…)

Each project leads to another and I feel I’m ready to begin painting in earnest (if the world doesn’t get worse and spiral me into a deeper funk.) I’ve been reading a lot and enjoying the many artist interviews appearing on social media. So wonderful to see what people are doing all over the world. As I’m locked up it really helps to see others in the same situation and how they are dealing with canceled exhibitions, workshops, and lack of travel. Don’t feel quite so isolated. A life line.

2020, so much crazy

June 28th, 2020

It’s been a while—said that before but this time—Been really hard to post things—positive things—about my work. My exhibition at Imperfect Gallery was postponed until October— hopefully. So I have piles of framed paintings etc all over—waiting. But many others have much worse interruptions to their lives.
We’ve been thankful that we mainly work from home and for our yard and garden which kept us busy and outside this spring. We are able to get food delivered or have curb side pick up and I made masks, 2 different kinds.

We voted by mail—that was a first but seems to have worked out fine. Let’s hope it’s all ok for Nov as I’m not to excited about standing in lines…And, a very nice thing happened, my photograph, “Haven” won best in Show!

Image of me with mask
On my way to mail ballot!

It’s been hard to get down to painting. I have a canvas started but it sits on my easel and stares at me! I have been able to work in fiber as it seems to be calming and I have completed several projects and have ideas for more.

The long strip of wool shown in my last post has turned into 3 long strips, each about 6.5 feet x 2 in, and each dyed with tea and iron but differently. Each strip has simple hand stitching running its length and the last two are embellished with buttons or beads. The fourth strip, (not shown here) is becoming small individual works.)

Image of long strip
Working title: “On the Surface””
Image of seconf long strip
Working title: “We can Do This”
Image of third long strip
Working Title: “We Can Dream”

I took a small online workshop with India Flint on twisting cordage out of various materials. Took awhile for my fingers to get the hang of it but finally it clicked and I had a ball with this—still am.
I had picked up a stick from the Wissahickon last summer and had soaked it in water to be able to pull the long fibers apart. This turned out to be perfect for making “wooden cordage” Next I needed some silk fabric and having none during lock down, I raided (with permission) my husband’s ties for a red and white one that he never wore and twisted that. Next up was ordering some silk on line and dyeing it with bright dyes. Some of that was twisted with the wood fibers and some just twisted with the joy of playing with the bright colors.

Image of wooden cordage
Cordage made from Wissahickon Stick
Image of cordage from silk tie
Cordage from silk tie
Image of dyed silk
Image of brightly dyed silk cordage

The red and white has been used in a project with a working title of “Life Twists and Turns”. It consists of a long dyed fabric with the cordage “couched” down it’s length as it twists and turns.

Image of process
Cordage laid out on dyed fabric, ready for couching.

I have ideas for other projects using the cordage but I really want to get back to my painting. I have been sketching-trying for every day, (the idea of a daily journal/practice of stitching didn’t work out). And, I’m exploring gouache in some small studies but my plan is get back to my easel and to explore painting places I’d rather be this summer than locked in my house. We’ll see.

Long Wool Strips

March 3rd, 2020

Started a new project with four long strips of felted wool (about 6.5’ x 2″ each) and want to apply dyes and stitches to them. I started by testing small squares with different dyes—mainly tea with iron and madder with alum. So far I’ve dyed one strip with tea and iron and it is currently drying waiting for the next step.

Image of five dye samples Image of dyed strip drying

A second strip has been left un-dyed so far and I am stitching a small area each day this month.

Image of first two days of stitching Image of of rain

The first two were mainly warm ups – getting the feel of the project—a bit of more formal embroidery followed by some straight stitching which I usually use in my work—then today it rained!

I haven’t done a daily practice like this before so it will be fun to see where it goes.