Thursday, February 25, 2010

New digs, part 2

My new outdoor studio was finished in June 09 and christened in the midst of the heat wave of the year.  It was miserable being slathered with both sunscreen AND mosquito repellent.  A little mist from the hose occasionally was a life saver.

Moving the workplace away from the house meant also moving the rust collection.  It took several days to clean out the shed and organize some sort of system for storing and easily retrieving items for use.  I bought a garden cart which is capable of holding 1000 pounds.  Absolutely great going downhill from house to shed!  Quite a task going uphill again as I discovered when I began other summer projects such as my first vegetable garden and collecting all the piles of bricks I had under various trees left behind from when I was doing mostly composting with my silk.  Bricks were used to weigh down the cocoon of plastic around the fabric.

In the studio I placed the utility sink and another small work table alongside it on the west wall making it handy to the long hose that I stretched down the slope from the house.  The studio was designed with a walk through area.  I can pull my garden cart in from the west in case rust items are too heavy to carry.  My neighbor installed a step on the east so I can access the yard or walk to the clothesline.

Near the end of October my husband visited the studio in late afternoon to shoot some pics of me at work.  In the photo above, in the foreground is a table with several shibori wrapped pieces bundled in plastic.  The large rectangular contraption is a decorative slab of iron with other heavy items being used to weigh down a pair of tights I'm attempting to rust with flat pattern objects.  The other table is being prepped to lay out another scarf.  I can walk completely around the big tables which makes it very easy to work.  My neighbor attached PVC pipe to the legs to raise the height of each which has saved my back from considerable stress. 

When the humidity is low as it was on this day, the wet silk must be covered so that  rusting can proceed before the fabric dries.  I use large ziplock bags for scarves wrapped on short poles.

As I write this, I have a portable heater on in the office and I feel like I'm freezing.  But here I am in shirtsleeves on a breezy 60 degree day handling wet silk.  I dont' recall minding the chill.  Go figure.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New digs!

Last spring after a neighbor cleared a large pile of brush away in order to re-roof and paint my garden shed for me, I began eyeing the bare spot of ground behind the shed as a potential place to work.  At the time I had work tables and a utility sink on the patio and buckets, boxes and piles of rusty items laying all over the yard behind the house.  The view out my sliding door from the dining room looked embarrassingly like a junk yard.  I consulted the handyman neighbor with my ideas.

One thing led to another as they say.  Three tons of dirt (to level the playing field) and two tons of lake gravel later, along with 100+ feet of railroad ties, five posts, 32 running feet of lattice fencing and a dent in my wallet, I had myself a beautiful 16 square foot outdoor studio with an airy privacy fence.  Follow the progress below.

I decided on a gravel floor rather than a deck for the studio as the whole process of rusting is messy and wet.  I can spill anything here without fear.  Landscape cloth was laid down first before the gravel went in to prevent the possibility of anything growing up through the rock.  The gravel is easy to stand and walk on.  The only drawback is keeping it clear of falling leaves and walnuts.  The rake wouldn't cut it.  Had to use the leaf blower several times as the season wore down.  Walnut trees are the first to lose their leaves starting in late summer!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Long Day

I spent most of the day Monday at the Department of Art & Design at SIUE making visits to several graduate and upper level classes.  As a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Art, I volunteered (along with two of my colleagues) to make presentations on the upcoming art auction that provides the funding for the visiting artist program plus many other projects for art at SIUE.   The goal:  to convince students it is in their best interests to donate art for the auction.  Hope they took the info to heart.

The real treat came at the end of the day when I returned to the fibers studio to visit with my professor and friend Laura Strand and fellow student, teacher and book artist Elizabeth Adams Marks who is working on her masters in art ed now.  Just spending a few minutes with these two gets my juices flowing.  Elizabeth and I used to exhibit side by side at ARTEAST.  I first met her when she was working on her BFA as I was working towards my MFA.  Laura was instrumental in turning me from traditional printmaker to textile artist. 

Oh my, I was so sleepy when I got home, I couldn't keep my eyes open to watch the medal performances for Olympic Ice Dancing.  Dang!  The last pair were in the kiss and cry booth when I woke up.   So I came downstairs to check email and discovered some really great news.  The SDA website has listed my blog on the Member Website list.  Woo Hoo!!  

Future plans for this blog include creating some links to my favorite sites and fellow artists, especially the group I came to know and admire through grad school.  And, I promise the next post will finally debut pics of my outdoor studio.   The pictures were taken last spring and summer so they should provide a nice contrast to the cold, gray days we've been experiencing here in the midwest.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rusty things and Pearls of Wisdom

I grew up on a farm where most of the equipment was held together with bailing wire.  I wish I had some of those old tools and machine parts of my dad's to rust with now.  Still, I have amassed a nice collection of iron.  I've bought, begged for, found and been given some very interesting things.  The lovely twisty thing casting a shadow on my newly painted shed is an auger I bought in Greenville which yielded some great scarf designs last fall.  One of my proudest purchases a few years ago at a local junk yard was six spiral toothy wheels, seen above, that were once part of a rotary hoe.  The kind man at the yard disassembled the machinery so I could buy just the spirals.  I've used them many times as in the photo below.

This shot was taken just after I'd picked up the silk from the work table.  The blue and magenta came from elderberries and poke berries tightly packed and mashed around the hub of each wheel.  The black resulted from the chemical reaction between tea leaves, fermented walnut juice, vinegar and the iron.  Both tea and walnut juice serve as mordants, but even with that protection, this piece was cured in a covered galvanized can for over two months before washing to preserve the wonderful blue.  The finished piece which hangs vertically is called Pearls of Wisdom.  It's over 100 inches long by 45" wide.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hello Darcy!

Darcy is my lone cat.  Her companion Uma, pictured in my profile, is no longer with us.  My husband thought it was unfair that Darcy was not on the blog too, so allow me to introduce her.  Darcy was rescued from a pothole in a parking lot by my niece.  She was so tiny--only about 5 inches long when she was brought to me.  Thirteen years later and thirteen pounds heavy, she is healthy and happy, although missing one eye now.  She does pretty well with out it!  Her favorite napping place in the summer used to be on the screen that covers my utility sink, now moved from my patio to the new studio that I'll show you in an upcoming post.  

As it's been so cold lately, Darcy spends only a few minutes at a time outside and loves to snuggle in any of several places around the house.  Tonight she slept on my lap while I watched episode 2 of LOST.  What a sweetheart she is, drool and all. 
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