getting a little off topic

So there are plenty of things I SHOULD be working on, but there was a dying leaf on one of my orchids, which started this train of thought, beginning at Paper and Book Intensive with that embroidered vellum manuscript from Uppsala

which led me to create my own attempt

a close up of my attempt

a close up of my attempt

in response to which people kept sending me images of embroidered or knitted leaves like this one

which is why the dead orchid leaf has been distracting me, so I did this.

linen embroidery on orchid leaf

linen embroidery on orchid leaf

I love how the cellular structure of the leaf is exposed as it is dying, especially in the circle I cut out which I stitched above the hole. Well that was fun – now I guess I had better get back to work.

its here!!

DSCI0753Yea! How exciting to get fun post instead of bills! I haven’t opened the envelope yet, I want to savor the experience, so I will post a picture later when I have chance to look over my treasures, greedy me, I want to savor them all by myself first! * So once class was finally over I opened up my letter and here is the picture above… I don’t know what I’m going to do with all this fabulous stuff!

On a completely unrelated note when I was feeling down and defeated a few weeks ago, Karin made a reading suggestion that I leapt on, and then discovered I had tried reading the same book once before, and set it aside because it just wasn’t speaking to me, the book, Sacred Contracts is by Caroline Myss and I, of course, had to make a new journal to accompany my journey. This is just an altered book journal, made my gluing pages together, and removing part of the contents, it was a book on geraniums, (I kid you not a whole book devoted to geraniums), it had some nice book plates so I left them, but otherwise I painted out the type blocks to create “blank” pages. Here is my first journal entry, about being worn to a raveling, a feeling I’ve discussed before on this blog, the image on the right is an old shawl I bought in Turkey when I was about 16 and it has been repaired many times, and now is entirely too fragile to be worn at all, on the left, there were some irregular bumps in the paper that began to form themselves into some kind of crazy knitted object (?), some of the text was peeking through the paint so I picked it out, then I added in new text, trying to match the font… I imagine the page will change on the journey, but here is where I am right now, fragile, hanging together by a thread and really looking forward to some time off of work later this week


TGIF for sure!

So Paula left me a comment about yesterday’s post, so I’m going to try and explain the process behind that work, so here goes, hold on it will probably be a twisted ride!! So lets follow a white rabbit and try not to get lost in my mind! This is the Richardson Building in Buffalo NY. Designed by H H Richardson it is on the historic register, and it’s beautiful grounds were landscaped by Olmstead. It was once the state asylum, before it started falling apart! It is an incredible Gothic edifice… (well Richardson Romanesque if you want to be technical about style!)

Through this building I got to be really interested in women and madness… I created a series of calling cards for women who had been institutionalised in the 1800’s and left them on cars all around the area, I wanted people to remember that real people suffered inside this amazing architecture.

So then I became pretty obsessed with these women and their stories, two women in particular, Adriana Brinckle and Adeline P. Lunt who published eloquent accounts of their stays in the asylum. Adriana used this incredible language full of laundry metaphors, like being smoothed out with a flat iron and cut to a pattern, Adeline spent 28 years in an asylum over a piano, (her father had her declared insane to not pay the bill for the piano, then died, leaving her stranded inside the walls.) Adeline was the inspiration behind the work from yesterday’s post, she was allowed books to read and so tore a letter a day from a page so it would be inconspicuous, then sewed the letters into the seams of clothes she created as part of her therapy. A dressmaker eventually let out a seam on one of these dresses and petitioned for her release. The tenacity of her behaviour over 28 years still gives me goosebumps. It appealed to my sense of humour to take the letters to restore their voices from these really pompous old psychiatric textbooks. It was this REALLY time consuming thing that totally appealed to my way of working, I like intensive and meticulous, repetitive work it turns out (who knows why that is?) The end result became an installation that eventually carried me back to England to write my Master’s dissertation on the link between mad women and immoral wallpaper, (which is a whole other story, and what I am making work about now)

Any how what I was trying to show is how one thing just led to another, and that it’s really just replicating someone else’s process, certainly not anything terribly original…

This is really how I work, I read A LOT, things go into my head, then they all wrap around each other, and jumble up, and then stuff comes out the other side. Maybe my view is occasionally indosyncratic but its not particularly original or unusual. I’m certainly not smart enough for a good original idea! If I learned anything during the tortuous process of writing (?) my master’s  – it was that I don’t know very much, and that I have a really hard time thinking linearly, so while I think every now and then about a PhD, right now I am happy to make art that goes around in circles…

OK shutting up now… have to go to get hair wax to muss up Nan’s coat and fabric dye to make her less white… back to life.

Let’s let the mad girls have the last word today… This is from Adriana’s broadside about her experience in the institution (although obviously I painted them on this banner and hung it at the site!)


When I started this blog I had hoped it would be a place to talk about my creative process, but it seems my thoughts are such a soupy jumble that there is no way to make them into the neat linear thing that writing a blog requires, instead I seem to post these shallow flip little glimpses into my crazy life that are surprisingly disingenuous. It is very hard to talk honestly about what I am thinking about, partly because I am thinking about so many things at once much of the time, and partly because I am quite afraid I will seem a little bonkers!! But if this blog is to be what I had hoped it would be, a place to let people behind the process I will have to try and get over those fears, go ahead and think me crazy.

Tonight I was talking to a past student about creativity and journaling and encouraging her to start keeping a better sketchbook as a place to think out loud and herd ideas and inspiration together until things start to make sense, or common themes emerge. I let her look at my sketchbooks, and she observed how many projects were crammed in there, many waiting to be brought to life… we started talking about how a sketchbook becomes like a safety deposit box, keeping your ideas safe and warm till you can come back for them. On the way home from class I was trying to figure out how ideas get out of that book, how they percolate up and become art instead of lying there waiting. What is their escape velocity? I can’t really answer, I have no idea why some things just are right at this moment.

I do know that many of the ideas I am playing with have been treading water in my unconscious for a really long time, like the moths, and I still don’t quite know what they are saying to me… my whole summer has been filled with nocturnal visits from these splendid winged things, I swear I have never seen so many big beautiful moths inside my home ever (see crazy, told ya!) I am taking them as a divine sign that I am heading in the right direction, after all the universe is just providing so many models for my little drawings. There were clippings in my sketchbooks of the Starn brothers moth series that have to be at least five years old, although at the time I clipped them I was working on the love/moth print/poem cycle, nothing to do with mad women at all… except crazy in love

who even knows why I am having this recuring moth thing going on? although the starns obviously share it too. As does Joeseph Scheer in this amazing book, which I guarantee will make you do a double take at every flying insect you see… I guess right now these are a few of my favorite things…