Heading to summer break

It has been a really crazy week, not only is it finals week, I have also been teaching a workshop at a local elementary school. Today I gave my final exam of the semester and my sculpture students presented their final portfolios. Most of them are graduating so we had a pizza celebration and talked about their future plans. I’m excited that it is almost time to disappear into my studio for the summer. I decided to take a bit of a break from marking this afternoon and play with some kozo scraps instead. 

Not exactly sure where I am going, but I have been thinking about the ghostly leaves of beech trees that hang on through the winter, the fine kozo I sew on reminds me of those leaves. 

Can’t wait to finish up my grades and dig in!

Advertisements

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

image

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.

image

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

image

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

image

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.

image

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.

image

Here’s the sewing finished.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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?!

image

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!