one step too far?

It’s okay, relax, this is not a political post! Instead it is about the scroll from my last post, the one I didn’t think was quite finished. 

Friday night I decided to revisit it. I had a couple of pieces of dyed and printed paper that I didn’t use, so I thought I would try giving one of them the monigami treatment. One of the things I felt wasn’t working was how stiff and heavy the paper was. So I gently kneaded the test strip with some oil, and it softened up beautifully. Additionally the organic dye (onion skins) moved around a bit creating a mellow background tone, but the monoprint pretty much remained the same. I loved how this piece looked, so I decided to go for it and do the whole scroll.

I’m going to blame my next decision on the fact it was late on a Friday after a really busy week, but truth is I could have made this awful choice any time. I decided not to take the scroll apart. This was crazy thinking. Although the paper was quite stiff and heavy, the areas that had been folded in the dye bath were seriously compromised, add to that the size of the scroll, and disaster number one happened. As I worked the paper it tore badly in many places.

Those of you who know my work will no doubt be saying, but you love torn things you can mend, and this is true, BUT, the oiling also seemed to have obliterated the really delicate monoprinted images. It was ruined. 

Saturday I hung it out on my washing line to see if evaporating some of the oil would help. My poor neighbors never know what they might see hanging out there.

When I brought it back in later that day it still looked awful.

Yesterday I decided I would try one last thing to try and save it. I took the scroll apart, and gently ironed each piece of paper between clean sheets of absorbent paper with a very hot iron to try and pull the excess oil out. It was tedious and now my studio smells like a chip shop, but I think it might have saved the day.

As I removed the oil the printing began to re-emerge! I was afraid the all the extra texture added in the monigami process would still hide the more delicate printed images, but I think enough is still there.

So now all I have to do is repair all the tears caused by being too lazy to take the scroll apart at the beginning and then sew it all back together again. 

Lesson learned. Long thread, lazy girl.

Dyed paper experiment.

Sometime in the last couple of years I tried dyeing some paper using plant materials. I put them under weights, put them in the corner of the office, and forgot about them. By the time I accidentally rediscovered them many of the pages were moldy but I could salvage a few. Then I put them in a basket of other papers and forgot about them again.
Earlier this month I came across a call for work for a 4×6 exchange exhibit. You send a work and get a random work returned. So after rediscovering them for a second time, I pulled out one of those sheets of eco-dyed paper and tore it down to size. I started sewing.

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I thought this was okay, but not really wow, so inspired by the splotchy dye on the leaves I thought I would add some french knots.

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This was an awful decision. They were too much. Having gone too far I decided there was nothing to do but keep going, so I added more stitching using a finer thread almost the color of the paper.

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This was better, but I hated the french knots so a good friend and fellow artist Elena suggested I just take them out. Duh! Brilliant! And that was much better, but still unbalanced. I posted a picture on Facebook and several other art friends weighed in. Sometimes you need another set of eyes. Another artist, Anna, suggested adding more layers to the composition. Again, brilliant.
This paper had a mirror twin from where the leaves were pressed in. So I cut out the main leaf to add on top.

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Already I was feeling happier. So I embroidered around the edges and trimmed a little more with a scalpel. Then sewed through the layers.

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So here is the final composition. Better by committee. And off on its way to the exhibit.
One of the most amazing things about the internet is that it brings other artists into my studio. Sometimes you need fresh eyes and its great to be able to reach out to people you admire and trust.

Snowflake

First time back in the studio really getting down to work. A while ago I started a series of snowflake inspired bindings. Yesterday I finally started another in the series.

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I start out drawing on graph paper. All the snowflakes are being adapted from some illustrations of black work borders.

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Next I copy that design onto a piece of graph paper mounted on some card stock.

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Then I start sewing. As I go I write out the steps. Once I have figured out how to sew the pattern I make a book block. Cutting, folding and punching the signatures always seems to take forever! This design has 21 signatures! I draw a scale pattern of the binding to help punch the right holes in the right signature.

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I bind the top and bottom to hold the tension even as I sew the design. Here I used a french link with a kettle on either side over a translucent ribbon with a little sparkle. Sometimes I use coloured thread for this stage, but I wanted to keep the focus on the snowflake for this one.

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Here’s the sewing finished.

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I have been trying to make bolder choices with my colours and patterns, to make things less “matchy”. The last step is glueing the covers and ribbons down.
About 8 hours later it is all done!
Feels good to add a new pattern to my repertoire. My goal is to draw them all up and publish them for others to use over summer break this year.

Keeping my head above water!

This semester I have a crazy teaching schedule, 5 classes at 3 different schools. It hasn’t left much studio time! I did finally wrap up the Berehinia book, I ended up hand dyeing some paper using tea and rust and making new covers.

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She shipped out this week, along with “maple” and “women’s work” for this exhibit. I am so excited to have work included in this exhibit again! Can’t wait for the opening.

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I am also working on a guest book commission, and a book for a DNA embroidery related exhibit. The binding was pretty easy to work out. But I had a crazy idea to hand stamp a human genome sequence inside. Where do these crazy ideas come from?  Why do they come to me?!

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Thankfully fall break is coming up this week at all 3 colleges, so I might get to play with some new ideas in the next few days.

Happy Birthday to me!!

Today is my birthday – another year gone by – but FINALLY I can say – she is finished – yes! A Woman’s Work is finally done! I finished the sewing earlier this week, but was stumped on the covers – I opted for a textured but plain paper, as there is already a lot going on with this book. I snapped some quick pictures with my phone – she has a date with a real photographer later this week. Really, I can’t believe this two year project has finally ended, (unless I change my mind about those covers – it could happen).

It began with this idea during my residency at TLC.

It began with this idea during my residency at TLC.

and then I started collecting the LISTS

and then I started collecting the LISTS

poor book - still in progress - will I ever finish?

poor book – still in progress – will I ever finish?

the book block ready to sew

the book block ready to sew

and FINALLY all done!

and FINALLY all done!

except - a woman's work is NEVER done

except – a woman’s work is NEVER done

bottom of the block showing all the lovely strings

bottom of the block showing all the lovely strings

and the cover - hmmm still not sure

and the cover – hmmm still not sure

I want to give a huge thank you to Turkey Land Cove for the residency where this project was born, and to all the brave women who shared their to-do lists with me. This project had a LOT of help, and much encouragement from many of my readers & friends – THANK YOU everyone! Next up – snowflake bindings & a serious windfall of maple leaves!

2014 in Review – a tiny bit late

This year has been one of the most active of what now feels like a career as an artist. SO MANY amazing firsts happened this year, and all of them were linked to an amazing group of colleagues and friends, so to ALL OF YOU – thank you so much!

It is hard to know where to begin so I am going to start with collaborations and then go to some personal milestones. I curated or helped put together some exhibitions including the women create biennial with my amazing enabler Jennifer Schlick!

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Then March became April and my hometown was invaded by two waves of British artists in an event we called Colonize, with an exhibition across two galleries, workshops, lectures and lots of community building. None of which would have happened without help from Wendy (SCI) & Bruce (Basement Arts Project) and all the artists involved. Not only did we get to be on the radio – we also became video stars and front page news!

we made the FRONT PAGE of the local newspaper!!

we made the FRONT PAGE of the local newspaper!!

I also put together this exhibit for the Dykeman Young Gallery – and then I was asked to become a part time curator at the 3rd on 3rd Gallery, and created these two shows to round out the year.

FRESH PC show-Poster

I’m looking forward to playing with new artists in the gallery in the coming year!

I was also able to share my work through workshops, here in my own studio and at a few other places, like WNYBAC, The Morgan Conservatory and CBA in NYC. To everyone who signed up to take a class with me – an enormous THANK YOU for giving me the opportunity to travel and share my work and meet such amazing artists!! I REALLY hope next year provides some similar experiences for me!

Of course I did also manage to squeeze in (not enough) work of my own. It seems this year has been a bit bogged down in large slow projects, but of course I made plenty of books, some beautiful commissions, and got to play in my art journal frequently.

just learned this french stitch - so pretty!

just learned this french stitch – so pretty!

back view of the tiny book

my table display at bookfest

my table at WNYBAC’s bookfest

OH and I was completely sidetracked by sewing on all manner of things and learning how to put needlelace on leaves – I am pretty sure there is more of THAT to come

magnolia leaf with needle lace bars

magnolia leaf with needle lace bars

photo by Jennifer Schlick

photo by Jennifer Schlick

I exhibited a bit, and I also managed to fit a small solo show in, along with many trips to hospitals and doctors as members of my immediate family struggled with health problems.

Thank you for indulging my trip down memory lane, here’s to a very happy super healthy art-filled new year for us all!