Bringing in a new year

I don’t usually make resolutions in January, the start of the academic year in September always feels like a more natural time to change things for me, but as the year turns and we travel back into the light this year I feel I need to set my life back in order. But what order?

The winter break is a time to hunker down for me. I don’t really enjoy winter except for the beauty of the cool north light, so it’s a good time for me to buckle down and get to work in the studio. So far this has mostly involved clearing the decks from last year, like these two books which had been partially finished on my bench since spring.

But as that weight clears I am making mental space for some new work for two back to back solo shows at the end of summer. What was I thinking? Well actually I know, I was afraid if I said no I would miss an opportunity, fear, fear answered for me. I am genuinely excited about both shows and both venues. They will each demand something different of me and give me a chance to show unique bodies of work, but seriously two shows in 9 months time, gah!

Okay, so you know there will be sewing, and I was really happy to get this book from my hubby for Christmas

And I have been slowly working my way through it using her techniques but on paper

I have been sucked into her orbit and also ordered her book of clothing designs (because I am going to have time to sew too?!)

I’m also back to my daily blackout meditations, I need to get grounded if I am going to pull this year off, so here are a couple for those who don’t see them on my Instagram feed

Im hoping to blog at least once a week about each project, mostly because that will hold my feet to the fire and hopefully keep me on track. So here’s to a brighter shiny new year.

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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!

working with paper

I have work in a new exhibit which opens this Friday (Working with paper, Center Gallery in Olean, NY, 6-8pm). Regular readers have been sharing my struggle to get this work completed, so I thought I would share this moment of resolution with you too.

This is that monigami scroll which almost ended up in the bin

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And here are all those little tea bags I saved obsessively and then printed on

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It would be wonderful to see some of you at the opening, but I will also try to post some better pictures once the show is finished and properly lighted.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me through the dark days and helped me reach this moment.

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.

Summer, day 5.

I had a hard time getting started today, the general anxiety of family worries hung over me. Eventually I sewed the binding for half a dozen more little brown lunch bag journals before starting the project I really wanted to work on, the finished incarnation of the Berehinia binding.
It took most of the afternoon to very carefully punch all the holes, and more time to set the tension with a double row of kettles at each end of the book block – slow going. I was using some beautiful antique Irish linen thread, but it had been wound tightly for a long time, so sewing with 4 needles involved several tangles!
By dinner time I was ready to start the fun part, sewing the exposed embroidered design. I designed the pattern and sewed the model 2 years ago, so even deciphering my decisions has been slow going. By late evening I am about a third of the way through the pattern.
Hopefully I will finish it up tomorrow.

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