Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some tidbits

The showcard is off to the printers--will be so excited to see it in hand.  We are all working like crazy to get things done.  I know I have much to do yet and less than a month left!  In fact I need to get back to the sewing machine right now.  I've just started following the Illinois SDA blog--see the link in the sidebar.  If you are an Illinois SDA member I hope you'll start following it as well.  We want to spread the word.  The National SDA buzz has posted information and a link to Innovations 2011 too.  The ball is rolling...  (BTW, Missouri has a SDA blog too, but nary a mention of Innovations.  Boo hoo.) 

On another note:  I got a pleasant surprise the other day when a friend from the Netherlands shared with me ARTeries: Rust Never Sleeps on Mr. Stitch,  a contemporary embroidery and needlecraft blog.  The author is Canadian artist and blogger Arlee Barr who also writes her own blog.  Arlee penned some very nice comments about my art with rust and featured some images as well.  I'm in good company with the other artists mentioned, two I know--Lois Jarvis and Kimberly Baxter Packwood  were in a quilt show I curated a few years ago at Greenville College.  There are some spectacular things being done with oxidation.  Thank you Arlee--nice rusty work you do too!

Now it's back to the grindstone for me!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Like the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night

Well, not really.  I'd rather sleep in if I had my druthers.
But I took one look at this new piece--detail shown below, and knew I was looking at night and day.  It is so different from the other pieces I unwrapped this morning. Expected a mirror image-not disappointed.

Shibori rust on silk dupioni (detail)

shibori rust on silk habotai
Freshly unwrapped. 
Looks like a perfect mirror image--from a distance.

shibori rust on CDC

Detail of a long narrow piece.  That's a sun flare on the upper right.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Doc Martin Saga

Tonight I saw Elizabeth Adams Marks  at the JAC Juried show--where two of Elizabeth's beautiful Cornwall inspired paper pieces are displayed.  She handed me a little surprise carried back from a recent trip to England.

I won't repeat any of the story here because Elizabeth tells it so well on her blog.  Suffice it to say, she made my day with a gift of some beach rocks from Port Isaac which stands in for Port Wenn on the British TV series Doc Martin that airs here on PBS, AND, a precious autograph from a character in the series.

Read all about it on Elizabeth's blog 2nd Hand Paper here for Doc Martin Part 1 and here for part 2.

Elizabeth is a talented illustrator, papermaker, book artist, full time middle school art teacher-currently working on her 2nd masters degree, wife, mother, avid gardener, and all around wonder woman (she remodeled her kitchen too for God's sake!).    Explore her blog 2ndhandpaper, where in addition to Doc Martin and other Cornish delights, she has offered some of her middle school lessons on indigo dyeing and handmade paper.

Photo by Peter Marks
Ian McNeice, sporting Elizabeth's scarf that I made.  Ian plays Bert Large in the Doc Martin series.  The colors of the rocks Elizabeth collected for me match the scarf quite well.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What I won't tell you

I've spent a lot of my time in my basement studio over the last several months-- staring at block printed seersucker fabric, handmade paper, cooked and manipulated leaves, curly wool roving and a weaving I finally cut into three parts -- all the original property of my partners in collaboration for an upcoming show that is part of Innovations 2011.  You can see an explanatory post on that here and a preview of another piece here.

Notice I said staring.  I was basically paralyzed at first, not sure what I wanted to do with the materials I had chosen from my colleague's studios, nor how I would incorporate them into my own work.  But work is progressing now (which is very good as the show is only 42 days away!) and I wanted to give you a peek at a piece I'm working on right now. 

Shibori rust silk and this work will being combined to create a large wall piece.  I shot this detail while it was on the table with a light from the side so you could see the 3-D qualities I've achieved with my needle felting machine.  For those of you who saw Innovations 2009, this weaving might seem vaguely familiar.  That's all I'll say for now.  You'll have to come see the show to know how this will turn out.  Stay tuned!  (Of course I'll post about this and the other works after the exhibition is up for those of you in far flung areas.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Work by my classmates--India Flint part 4

We came from all over the place--representing 9 states--converging on Craft Alliance / Grand Center in St. Loiuis for four wonderful days of Fieldwork with India Flint.  We didn't actually go far afield -- the greenery and flowers came to us, but that only gave us more time to bundle and brew, which I think we did with great success as seen below.  I've only heard from a few people so far to identify their work, but I wanted to get this post up as soon as possible.  If you recognize your samples, drop me a line and I will be glad to post your name.

Darcy Ritzau from California made this piece.  It's wool challis with some incredible eucalyptus.

Ellen Flachmann of St. Louis did this group of samplers.

Suzy Farren of Missouri removes onion skins from fabric that she eco printed.  Thanks to Theresa Goetz for supplying the photo.

These 4 samples were made by Theresa Goetz of Missouri

Carolyn Lesser of St. Louis made these samplers.

Judy Newland of Arizona did some ice flower dyeing with hollyhocks to create the lavender strips before she came to the workshop. 

These samples were already turned into a mini patchwork by the last day.  Made by Peggy Cox of Pennsylvania.

I've heard from one person that she's been bundling and brewing up eco prints every day since the workshop.  Sorry to say, I haven't been able to indulge myself yet but I do have the copper cauldron and am itching to try out some larger fabric.

If you are visiting for the first time, scroll down to see parts 1, 2 and 3 about the India Flint workshop.  I had the time of my life and learned so much.  Now I'm waiting delivery of Second Skin, India's new book hot off the presses. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We interrupt this programming...

I've promised another post about the workshop, but that has been preempted by breaking news--
I'm now the proud owner / mother of this:

Found at an antique store in Alton, IL last week.  Actually I found 2 copper vessels.  One was labeled brass, but I believe I know copper when I see it.  I had it in my hand when I found the cauldron. 

Don't like the shiny bit...that coating needs to be removed so that I can cook with it.  Inside is a beautiful patina.  Not too keen on the brass feet.  Trying to figure out whether I might need to set it inside a pan with water to get the heat up around the bottom if I use it on the burner.  Don't have a fire pit yet.

The other copper thing was about 15" in diameter and about 6 or 7 inches high with a large opening.  Very unusual.  Reminded me of a squat basket shape.  About an inch or so down the side from the large opening was a round hole about 1.25" diameter.  It had two handles made of rolled copper.    Nice patina inside and out.  Not sure how it came to be labeled brass.  I debated which would be more practical and the depth of this one won out over the other.

Can't wait to start using this for bundles.

I also found a nice sized aluminum dutch oven complete with lid.  Will work a little better than the big dishpan I bought last year.  I already have 2 or 3 iron pots so I am all set for trying my hand at more bundle cooking-just as soon as I get my current show obligations met.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lucky enough--India Flint Part 3

Fascinating demo and a detail of the finished cloth
After twenty years of experience one just automatically knows how to take full advantage of a process.  Believe me, India knows.  Hundreds of people around the globe have been lucky enough to see India in action in person. I am one of them.  Hundreds more, if not thousands have been pouring over her book Eco Colour in hopes of gaining insight into this very simple, and yet paradoxically complex method of dyeing cloth.  I'm one of those too. 

I marveled at India's folding process for this large piece of fabric to make best use of the power of the leaf and the fact that most times (except for eucalyptus) only the back side or veined side of a leaf will print.  It's not as simple as it might appear.

The demonstration was done on a piece of light golden drapery silk she bought at a thrift store up north (at least that's what stuck in my memory).   What gave me particular pleasure is that India accepted my offer to borrow a flat piece of rusted metal I brought from home to bundle the fabric around.

India's groovy addition to pants
I revel in arty clothes.  These pants
were adorned with eco printed patches,
but India had to hike up the apron
to show them off.

My first samples were bundled around twigs but were simmered with pieces that did have iron in them.  The upper left piece which is nearly cropped out of the picture was an old linen hanky with crocheted lace edging.  It was wrapped around copper and simmered in the copper only pot.  It has some bright yellow color.  

Iron bundles on the left and copper bundles on the right.  We also tried wrapping around rocks.  I had great results with one big flat rock, and a big nothing with a rounder one.  (Center top in the pic below.  Boo Hoo.)

These were my samples unwrapped on the last day.  A large sheet of paper was unrolled the length of the workshop room for us all to show off what we'd done.  On the tables we had spread out some of the samples stitched together...what can I say...I'm a very slow stitcher so didn't get much done in that department.

These were wet when photographed.  The piece on the upper left can be seen here.   The orange of course comes from eucalyptus, but I did get a very nice amber/orange color from sweet gum leaves that India calls liquid amber.  See the piece on the lower left.

Really like how this one turned out.  We have lots of sassafras on our property.  I love the many variations of leaves.  Some have two lobes, some one -- they look like a mitten, and some have none.  Got great green.  Looking forward to making more with sassafras.

Here is another example of the beauty of sweet gum leaves.  What is curious is that one lobe printed amber, and other parts picked up pink from some japanese maple leaves. 

I got a surprise on my first eucalyptus experiment.  I had expected orange but got green because I chose the other variety of leaves that had been donated to the workshop.  Turned out for the best as the green goes well with the purple prints.  Don't ask what they are because I can't be sure what I used.  (Maybe rose leaves?)

Part 4 and the final entry about the workshop with India is coming soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stewing and brewing--India Flint part 2

Bundles in the stew, day 1
Day 2 bundles retrieved
First bundles had to be made without benefit of a rod or dowel to roll on.  I had trouble getting my bundle tight and thus the first sample was wimpy.  I plan to redye it later.  This pot became the designated iron pot once we were allowed to incorporate iron pieces into the folds or actually bundle around a piece of iron.  By the last day this water was black as we just kept adding to it.
India demonstrates a loud sharp call used to coax the cows home from the pasture OR get our attention in a pinch.  The buzz of 16 people working and the constant hum of nearby computer servers made it difficult to hear sometimes in this large L-shaped room.  Having grown up on a dairy farm, I was well acquainted with the call, albeit with an Australian twist.

At her feet lays the first day's pile of greenery.  We had no need to take windfall walks because of the generosity of a florist at the Flower Market on LaSalle and several workshop participants who shared bounty from herb and flower gardens, and shrub and tree clippings too. 

India explained the importance of knowing the plants you work with--especially learning the scientific names to avoid the possibility of handling something poisonous or otherwise irritating.  Also good to know what color yield you might expect.  Very practical advice.

On the 2nd day of the workshop India wore a linen dress designed and made by an Australian artist with whom India is contemplating a collaboration. The fabric had an incredibly soft hand.  India eco printed the ready made dress and fashioned pockets from a double layer skirt.  If memory serves, I believe she said the artist grows her own flax.   In future she'll eco print the fabric before construction.  *Correction:  the flax is grown in Latvia, a place India holds dear in her heart.
Show and tell was a treat.  India had an assortment of her beautiful samples to show us, identifying leaves and flower prints.  My camera simply couldn't capture them adequately.

Nikki strolled in after a lunch time one day with a bundle of greenery over her shoulder.  Down the street some landscapers were getting ready to cut out these plants.  She stepped in before they were destroyed and shared them with the class.

Part 3 coming soon!
Nikki Jackson of Louisiana

A glimpse of possibilities with India Flint--part 1

India Flint-eucalyptus sample
It was announced that India Flint's workshop at Craft Alliance in St. Louis was the first week long adult workshop held there.  I was surprised.  Perhaps the people at Craft Alliance were too as participants in the workshop came from all over the country.  There were a handful of people from St. Louis, one from Columbia, MO and two from Illinois--myself and another from the Chicago area.  Joining us were participants from Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

India shows us a St. Louis windfall piece
The evening before the workshop India took a walk collecting windfall along the way.  She bundled and simmered the fabric in her hotel room and unwrapped it in front of us on day one. 

Minneapolis windfall demonstration piece
She explained a few minutes later about the talk she gave at the recent SDA conference where she unwrapped what I can only describe as an astounding piece of eco printed silk.  I'm sure it knocked the socks off of those in attendance at the conference too.  Wow it was beautiful!

The one disappointment in the workshop was trying to fit in time to eat lunch.  Restaurants in the Grand Center area are rather spread out and none are fast food places.  We quickly learned on the first day that India was focused on work rather than nourishment...but in our attempt to go out we did stumble on this incredible and perfectly rusted manhole cover.  In the cover of darkness I might be tempted to borrow it for my collection.  Friend Suzy Farren took an extra shirt she had with her, eagerly sopped up the rain water collected in the crevices of the manhole cover and rubbed some of the rust onto the shirt for instant mordanting and future dyeing.

Along Olive Street, Grand Center

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bear with me...

Redesigning blog so you will see more changes as I work out some kinks.

In case you are curious, the surrounding background is a tiled image of a silk scarf I made last year.  The piece at left is one of my samples from the workshop with India.

I have also created a new page--Farm Girl Landscapes 2010 that features the work of my solo show last year at Kaskaskia College.   See the tabs under the header at top of page.
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