Laying low

Can’t type too much – I’m gonna have to lay low on the blogging for a while. Here are some photos from the past week:

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^more pieces for the shirt coverlet

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^cut the denim blanket in half, much easier to finish and lighter to carry.

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^I keep this watercolor sample sheet that my mother kept in her studio in my studio

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^All the same area, same time, taken from different spots – the top of the stairs at the church.

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^garden yields a few field peas, butterbeans, and lots of figs

Mending

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Mood swings. High highs, low lows, and blah in between. Not much liking my brain activity these days except when I’m in the studio. August is historically difficult for me. I’ll get through it. It’s harder when I have tendinitis (currently my right hand) and I know that if I use it I will progressively make it worse, but if I don’t use it I will get closer to the edge of the hole. And I don’t want to go into the hole. Tough decisions.

I felt euphoric at the progress I made with the denim blanket this weekend. My poor cheap little plastic sewing machine was groaning at the weight of the panels. I moved it to a bigger table so I could support the weight of the panels as they became heavier and bulkier. I expected back strain but I’m happy to say that it was temporary.

Next steps, once my carpal tunnel calms down, begin with reinforcing the colorful striped strips of fabric that join the panels with some lightweight fusable interfacing. I love this fabric, which I bought from Yadkin Fiber Room in June. The owner rescued an enormous amount of woven baby wraps that had been imported from Mexico that failed some kind of standard and so was destined for a dumpster. The cotton fabric is gorgeous, but the weave is pretty loose, so I’m worried about its strength. It unravels like crazy. Once I do that, I’ll stitch some heavy fabric over the seams on the back. This is a picnic blanket. I don’t want it to become too precious. I want to throw it on the ground, get it dirty, and toss it in the washing machine with no qualms about it.

Now for the NEXT one, I plan to do something similar, but to use for a coverlet and I will be playing with making it much more complex.

A lot of artists that I follow have been writing about finding that focus that makes them happy or satisfied, or making directional changes that fulfill their current inner needs. That is what I am feeling here. In this place and time, the cloth weaving is patching a place in my soul that is threadbare and in need of mending. I think that is why I become depressed when I have to stop. The repair is not finished yet.

Also, I am feeling the physical absence of kindred art souls to share my journey with, and it makes me lonely. Withdrawal from art retreats with my tribe(s).

Diego, a.k.a. Chunkybutt, claimed this cloth right away when I laid it out on the bed.

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I found a couple more pairs of jeans, and a friend is bringing me a boxful tomorrow. Until then, the next project is replacing the denim panels on the design wall/window. Those denim panels were warm when I took them down so they did help absorb some of that heat coming in.

The next project will consist mostly of Sandy’s old shirts that are worn out or torn and will be more lightweight. The plan is to use panels of his khaki pants in this one. I collected these old clothes for years.

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It’s a mess again. That’s okay.

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More cloth weaving

The next (final?) denim panel woven in a log cabin “color and weave” pattern, and a portable cloth weaving project with Sandy’s old shirts to be sewn into a lightweight blanket later. I was not able to stay out of the church studio so the AC went back on and I was much happier. Even cutting up and ironing the old shirts gives me satisfaction, and I do not even iron my own clothes. I think that I might have enough of the denim panels to sew the denim blanket, but will wait on that until the temperatures drop.

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Weekend report

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The studio window at 10 a.m. – a valiant effort to keep the heat out.

Well, it is hot as Hades here, just like you would expect, except hotter. The church is concerned about me leaving the air conditioner on in the studio when I’m not there, although when I told the secretary that it was too hot to hang around up there if I don’t turn on the AC, leave, and come back, she understood and asked me not to leave it on if I won’t be there for 24 hours. But I’ve found that if I don’t leave the little window unit on low it just can’t catch up to the effect of the sun pounding on my windows all day combined with empty hot rooms around my studio on the third floor, so I’m bringing home some stuff for a while, at least until it gets out of the 90s every day.

Another reason I want to make my escape direction northwest!

I’m doing some kind of mindless stuff up there anyway. Sorting colors of scrap paper for collage, ironing and rolling up fabric scraps, organizing. This weekend I started painting shiny junk papers with gesso to give them a ground with some texture for printing. I collected a lot of book catalogs and calendars from work that have fairly sturdy cover papers and some interesting backgrounds, and I think that they would make a good collection of collage papers. Maybe for a journal.

Since I get drawn into so many directions of what I’d like to do next, I’ve had to give this subject of “what do I want to do” some deep thought since obviously I don’t have the time and energy to do it all. Tapestry is my first love, but I need to do something else sometimes. When I think about the tasks and techniques and art forms I do that give me the most satisfaction, they mostly have one thing in common. They use materials that would probably go to waste or languish in somebody’s closet or attic somewhere.

So, junk mail and fabric scrap collage and cloth strip weaving and fabric piecework it is for a while. Just playing and loving it.

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Many thanks to Jude Hill for her training and inspiration in this area.

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One thing the heat IS good for – drying these papers quickly

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I’ve been participating in Jane Dunnewold’s Creative Strength Training Facebook group this summer. This is from last week’s prompt, which was to take a photo of yourself full-length and turn yourself into a tree. This photo is from my trip when I am high up in the central Oregon hills identifying the mountains on the horizons from the guide at my feet.

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“The Hot Seat” – This is an unfinished project from the Abstractalicious workshop I took from Lyric Kinard several years ago. I am a beginning quilter so I have many mistakes ahead of me to learn from. I was upset and angry last week and adding some spiky stuff to this design seemed to help.

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The butterflies don’t seem to mind the heat. I planted Joe Pye weed with the idea of making paper from the stalks, but the main purpose served has been food for the bees and butterflies

Sunday morning coffee pot post

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This time, from the studio that I rent at a nearby church!

I have this floor to myself these days, at least on the weekends and evenings when I can get here. I guess it is just too hot for most people. Turning on my little AC unit the night before and covering my east-facing windows with fabric panels is the only way to get it bearable. I’d leave it on all the time but this church struggles for money and I want to be good to them. I absolutely love this studio space.

Now I have an old laptop and printer here so that I can blog and print off designs and photos for my artwork. Life is good.

Back Forty update: I haven’t done a lot of gardening this year, due to physical problems this spring, and nowadays the heat and the mosquitoes are too much for this post-menopausal body to deal with.

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The herb garden is full of black-eyed susans. Apparently the woodchuck moved on this year because last year it ate the heads off all of them. However, I did see a raccoon run across the yard yesterday, with birds shrieking behind it. The cat from across the street, Penny, has been hanging out in the Back Forty lately. I am a great admirer of Penny because she just doesn’t give a fuck about anybody but Penny, plus she looks almost exactly like Miss Jazz. I like that in a cat.

The tomatoes are in the whiskey barrel planters and under chicken wire cages, but most of them are dying. Guess I need to change out the soil or plant them elsewhere. In this small area it is hard to rotate crops! My butterbeans are not producing yet. I got a late start planting them and they will not flower when it is this hot. Guess that they will be a fall crop. However, I am beginning to harvest some field peas. A couple of ground cherry volunteers came up and are producing.

Even though I still am not in the mood for cooking these days, there is no excuse not to this time of year. Yesterday I went to the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market and bought milk, eggs, lettuce, soap, Sungold tomatoes, okra, corn and green peppers. The milk from Homeland Creamery was in the cow on Friday morning. How often do you hear that? The eggs were from pasture-raised chickens, the lettuce was hydroponically grown, the soap locally handmade, the tomatoes organic, and the corn, ohhh, that corn. I grew up on a farm where we never ever ate corn out of a can. My father grew enough Silver Queen corn so that July was a time when pickup truckloads of corn were shucked in the shade of the pecan tree in our back yard, then blanched, cut off the cob (Daddy had false teeth) and frozen for eating all year round. So when I tell you that the bicolor corn that Rudd Farm grows is the best corn I ever tasted, I do so with the voice of experience.

I shucked the corn, cooked it up, and it was delicious without any butter or salt. That’s how good it is. I was going to buy enough to freeze some for this winter, but the folks at Rudd Farm said that they will have it until frost, so there’s no rush. I then cut up the corn shucks into pieces about an inch long to freeze for papermaking later.

Physically, other than another annoying cold, I am doing much better since a visit to my chiropractor. I am taking naproxen sodium once a day and doing stretches for my hip, and I’ve been able to get to sleep fairly quickly most nights. Now I am trying Slo-Niacin for my high cholesterol. So far the flushing has been minimal, since I am following the directions to start out with 250 mg, take at bedtime, and to eat a little something and take an aspirin about 30 minutes before. I found out something very interesting when I researched niacin and cholesterol. I have been taking no-flush niacin for quite some time with no real improvement in my cholesterol. HOWEVER, I discovered that no-flush niacin is NOT the kind that helps cholesterol. I wasn’t told this by the salesperson in supplements or the doctor’s office! You need nicotinic acid for that. Here’s an article about niacin and cholesterol.

All in all, I feel happier and freer than I have in a long time, if I don’t pay attention to the news. If I do that, then I crash. I feel helpless.

So, time to sew!

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