art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

The Lake Tapestry

I really finished this last weekend, and I was going to wait until I had it mounted and framed, or whatever display I decide on, but I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to back it in black or not, so I decided to go ahead and post it.

lake tapestry for web

Originally I was planning to name this “Lake Effects” but since it changed into a mystery place as I wove it I am renaming it after a comment my friend made: “A Place You’ve Never Been.”

99% naturally dyed silk threads for the weft and cotton seine twine for the warp. 4.75 x 6.75 inches.

What do you think? Should I use this black background and frame it? Or should I mount it to a cloth covered board with a lighter, neutral (beige or cream) color? (I can already see a cat hair, so I’ll have to re-photograph it!)

When I cut this tapestry off the loom, I also cut off a sweet little painted silk weft weaving that I began at Pam Patrie’s cabin long ago. I don’t think it can technically be called a tapestry since the weft is woven all the way across, but some people call any art fabric a tapestry. I’m a bit more picky in my labeling. I have no idea what I will name it, but it is inspired by the beach near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

painted weft tapestry for web

art, book arts

Painted Papyrus Book Workshop

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20210731_132327_0720210801_162246The reason I was at the beach: Dan Essig‘s rescheduled Painted Papyrus Book workshop at the home of Leslie Marsh in Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

We made two books: one with the papyrus showing on the cover, which is finished and I’m happy with, and one with the papyrus as a base.  We covered the one with papyrus as a base with crumpled Cave paper, then painted with several layers of milk paint, then sanded or rubbed off top layers in places, then buffed it with shoe polish. The smell reminded me of my daddy on Sunday mornings.

I didn’t finish the second one because I was NOT happy with the endband binding. It was a hard technique to learn anyway and then I was having vision problems. I’m going to take what I did out now that I got the hang of it toward the end and redo the bottom, add the endband at the top, then glue and stitch the covers together.

Of course, since it is Dan’s workshop, we received pieces of mica to include in our books. I was lucky to get a piece with some great black and rust inclusions so it will be featured on the front cover of the second book.

Leslie’s studio, which has been featured in the magazine What Women Create, is the inspiration that made me start ditching my plastic bins in favor of old cigar boxes and baskets.

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art, coffee pot posts

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Well, let’s pretend that it is still morning. Technically I began this post at 11:55. But I am still finishing the coffee pot.

Above is my latest collage, which I began working on last fall. That seems to work best for me with collages, to let them percolate a while before finishing up. I still need to trim it a bit but it is mounted on a cradled wood panel painted white. The final element came when I attached one of Liz’s tail feathers.  (Liz is our late parakeet.)

Last weekend we went back down to Lake Waccamaw and four friends joined us. We ate a lot of good food and unhealthy food and played games. We didn’t go anywhere this time other than quick trips to the grocery store with masks on – I am not feeling good about going out down there right now. That county has a low vaccination rate. One couple brought a strategy game called Quirkle Cubes and I want to buy that one. We also played Sequence. The weather was hot and muggy some of the time but the breeze was up on Saturday night and we sat out in the yard looking out at the lake and drank mixed drinks and cider.

Tim and Lisa mainly did stuff on their own – they have ongoing renovations at their house and Tim was recovering from surgery nine days before, but on Sunday, he attempted to give our friends a ride on the pontoon boat. Once he got it off the lift into the water, it wouldn’t crank. So he got into the water (it is only about knee deep) and was trying to keep it from bashing into the pier next door. I had on my bathing suit so I tried to hurry into the water to help him, and wiped out on the bottom slick step of the pier and whacked the top of my right foot and shin on the steps. It is fortunate that I crashed into the water instead of hard ground or it would have been very bad. As it was, I was able to walk over and help him push the boat back onto the lift. It’s kind of amazing how easy it is to push a large boat in the water, but he should not have been doing it.

Anyway, after I walked out of the lake and rinsed off the cut on my foot, my sister doctored it up and we sat on the pier and enjoyed conversation for about an hour. I had my leg iced and elevated but it swelled up like crazy. My cut never got infected though and that was my main concern.

Anyway, I’ve spent most of the week working from home and elevating my foot. Tuesday was bad because I didn’t take care of it, because we had to pack and clean up the house on Monday. Sandy can’t do it all these days. The swelling started going down on Wednesday and I decided that I didn’t need to go to the doctor. Friday I was able to put on my shoes and walk to work and back, and I soaked in Epsom salts last night. Today I was greeted with a multi-colored foot and leg that could easily belong to a zombie – I am fascinated with the colors. Greenish yellow, blue, deep purple, brownish red. The only normal color is a circle around the cut. I’ve never had an injury like this and it amazes me that I’m not in severe pain!

So the idea was that we were going to make paste papers at the lake, but none of us were in the mood for it considering everything that was happening, or not happening since we were all TOO relaxed. On Wednesday evening three of us made paste papers at Susanne’s house, and I brought home the leftover paint and used it all up. So I now have a lot of background and collage papers to use, along with a few pieces nice enough to use for book covers.

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I am not very confident about the safety of going back to a normal schedule at work once the semester begins. The administration seems to be determined to make everything as normal as possible, which I understand, but I also understand that there are a LOT of young people out there who for whatever reason have not gotten vaccinated. Fortunately, most of our employees have, according to a survey. I am nervous because I’m not so trusting of the J&J’s effectiveness against the Delta variant. We need to go ahead and get Sandy an antibody test this weekend.

Oh well, the problem with waiting so long to post is that there is too much catch-up to do. I didn’t take any lake photos. I don’t know why – usually I take so many but I didn’t even think about it this time! I will try to post again tomorrow, because I have plenty to write about.

art, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Progress on the lake tapestry

The lake tapestry has taken an unexpected turn as I inched (millimetered?) my way to the finish line. I decided to weave a strip of the brown/grey threads at the top for a hem, and started on the right side and took a break.

When I went back to it, it seems that my lake needs a cliff jutting out into the water in the background. Which means it is no longer Lake Waccamaw, which is round.

Yet, this weaving was abstracted anyway. It began with a very quiet photograph of raindrops on the lake and the blue sky just beginning to poke through the clouds and reflect on the tea-colored waters of Lake Waccamaw. I cropped the photo down to a small area and increased the size. I added the movement of the water on top and below the surface, and it became much more animated. The raindrops would not have really looked this way on the surface if the water had been moving.

Now it seems to me that the raindrops in the tapestry have transformed into boulders and rocks in the water. There are no boulders and rocks in the swampy sandy waters of eastern North Carolina. Not naturally placed ones, anyway.

What do you think? I need to make a decision.

art, collage, North Carolina

Looking back at the TWS retreat and class

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 ^^^Signpost in downtown Elkin, North Carolina

During the TWS retreat I was so anxious that I babbled for the first two days, then started calming down by Tommye’s class on the 3rd and 4th days, a class that I’ve been trying to take in one form or another for a couple of years.. But I was still anxious and burst into tears twice, once from hurtful behavior that I overreacted to, and the second time from sheer kindness that was showed to me. (I was probably a bit cranked up on steroids too.) I got some good ideas for design work though. The design exercises weren’t new to me, but getting Tommye’s perspective of what works in tapestry was valuable. And it was fun to just play with pieces of paper. Maybe once I finish the lake tapestry I will do some of these at a larger sett with larger yarns.

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I really enjoyed having a meal at Southern on Main and at the Angry Troll Brewery on Main St., and I even considered renting a studio space in the Chatham Mill that Foothills Art Center is renovating, right there next to the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center on the second floor. It was so tempting, but I know that I won’t have the time or energy to drive a little over an hour to Elkin even once a week. If I lived 30 minutes away, I would be all over it. Elkin is a cool little town near Stone Mountain State Park, and it is drawing more artists and foodies and nature loving types. In Mayberry land, from the Andy Griffith Show (note the sign that points to Pilot Mountain in the top photo).

art, collage

Collage this week

My muse was waiting for me in the mountains. The collage with the stick and feather was started at Lake Waccamaw. The one with the creek stones is in progress, and the rocks have a bit of mica/pyrite/gold glitter in them. That one and the blue green collage are based on lyrics from Stairway to Heaven.

art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, tapestry, weaving

Afternoon in the studio

^Detail, “Cathedral”

I have managed to get started in the studio again – there’s nothing that I am over excited about happening BUT I have actually started weaving on Cathedral again and glued some stuff down for collage and doodled a pretty good page during a long Zoom meeting.

As far as Cathedral goes, I finally worked out why I couldn’t weave it for so long. The tension is terrible…so uneven and I tried warping and rewarping this sucker for a solid month before I finally said fuck it and started weaving it anyway. So, after all this time and work I became terrified because it is definitely going to have puckers and and crazy tension problems when it comes off the loom, and I just couldn’t bear to think about it. I was already suffering from severe depression and that just added to the pain.

But all that work and time is wasted if I DON’T finish weaving it, and once I get it off the loom I can warp it with a much shorter warp (at the time I was warping for multiple tapestries – big mistake) and begin another weaving. Now the plan is to be less persnickety about the details and get it to a place that is even on the top and finish it as a smaller tapestry.

^Lighting makes a big difference in how we perceive color. I chose the cool lighting on the left.

Today we are getting some remnants of Hurricane Laura moving through but it’s not bad at all. Sandy and I have decided to go to Haw River State Park tomorrow for our adventure since the weather report is a bit better and I don’t want to stop the studio energy.

I do need to remember to take frequent breaks for my back and neck and shoulders. Yesterday my massage therapy studio emailed to say that they will be re-opening soon for existing customers and I hope that my therapist will continue to work there. I have been seeing her for about four years almost every month until after January. I canceled my February appointment due to bad allergies and at the time we didn’t know that they would be shut down so long.

The good thing about working from home most of the time is that my physical problems are much much better, which leads me to believe that I don’t get up and move enough when I am in my office. Here I can take my laptop to the porch, or to the sofa, or to the bedroom, or answer email on my phone. I get up and play with the cats, take breaks lying down if my back or neck hurts. Teleworking has been good for me.

Not doing too well mentally, though. I brood a lot in my bedroom, play games to numb my brain. Read a little. I can’t watch TV or videos for long – I wish I knew why. It would help to have that distraction and to be able to focus on online workshops.

Okay, break over. Back to Cathedral. I am accepting that it won’t be getting into any shows for technical skill, but it is worth finishing, puckers and all. Who knows, maybe I will be surprised.

art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, crocheting, depression/anxiety

Catching up with some art

Although I am sunk pretty badly, I am not in the hole so I’ve been able to laugh from time to time and do a little bit of art-making. Between Crystal Neubauer and Roxanne Stout’s online classes, I’ve been encouraged to doodle and follow my intuition. I would like to do more but I have almost accepted that my brain is gonna do what it’s gonna do, or not do anything at all. The main thing I’ve been able to do is work on this Tunisian crocheted weather scarf while we watch Doc Martin. Combining Tunisian knit and purl stitches has kept it from rolling up, but the edges are pretty awful. Practice makes perfect, I guess, and I’ll go around the whole thing with a slip stitch or something to firm up those edges.

For Roxanne’s “Notebook Journeys” class, I needed a spiral bound watercolor paper book, but all my watercolor paper is in pads. I do have quite a few spiral bound sketch books, so I am using a 9×12 landscape book and folding and pasting the pages to make them heavier and convert it to a 9×6 portrait oriented book. I’m trying very hard to use up what I have before buying more supplies. This studio space is still bursting at the seams.

It’s been fun to doodle in, especially with ink washes and Pitt brush pens. I’m going to do some sewing and writing, maybe a little more collage. Cutting some pages and seeing how they interact with the pages before and after is an interesting exercise.

As for the collage – well – my plan to make one 4×4 collage per day fell apart 3 days in. I love collage but I don’t love glue. I mixed up some Yes paste and Golden acrylic satin glaze according to Crystal’s method and I hope that will help with the papers curling so badly. The consistency is very thick and I might have to mess around with it some more.

When I am awake at 3 a.m. I keep thinking about cloth. So eventually I will be playing with that again. I could not explain to you why I am not doing it right this minute.

art, Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I am spending a few minutes at a time tying on a new warp. Maybe I will get these curtains finished before the end of the year!

Looking back to yesterday. I did garden clean up, threw down some fertilizer, and put in a small area to plant peas with metal hoops and the screen fabric I saved from when we took down the gazebo roof and screening. Inside I planted Zephyr squash, tromboncino squash, and some kind of cucumber seed that I got at a seed swap and no longer know what it is. One luffa gourd seed. Gosh, maybe I should be crazy and plant two, ya think? They might come in handier than I expect one day.

One thing about being a papermaker is that I can always make my own damn toilet paper, thank you very much.

Since I will be doing a lot of collage, I inventoried and found that the only thing I am short on is PVA glue so I ordered that from Amazon. As long as I was doing that I ordered some Equal Exchange hot cocoa mix and coffee beans.

My main goal today is to get some more yard/garden work done, and prepare for some online classes. I need some easy projects to pick up between phone calls and emails and breaks from work that don’t require a lot of brain power too, so I’ll put together some stitching projects.

I have a Coronavirus Chronicles art journal going, from a book I made in a class with Traci Bunkers eleven years ago. I have a bunch of postcard sized junk mail and I’m going to sand and gesso them for a junk mail journal and collage.

I got out the Nature Journal I did in Roxanne Stout’s Mixed Media Nature Journaling class from Art-is-You Petaluma 2014 and found that it is mostly done as a photo and sketch album of the trip, with many photos from Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. I can do backgrounds for these pages since many of the photos are barely attached and sew in the photos. Fun!

Roxanne is offering this workshop free online (without the trip to Cornerstone Gardens, of course) on her website under workshops. Check out all her workshops. I love her style.

Other free art stuff: as always, Jude Hill’s web site is a treasure box. Please send her a donation.

Karen Abend is offering a free workshop called Sketchbook Revival that begins on Wednesday.

Many art communities are revving up on Facebook. Seth Apter and Crystal Neubauer are two that I love for collage and mixed media. Oh gosh, I cannot possibly name all the inspiring artists on the web and Facebook.

Of course there are literally thousands of online classes available for a fee. Support your artist teacher community at a time when they are reeling from their workshops being canceled. Personally, I don’t like learning through video for some reason. I don’t even like watching movies and TV that much for very long. I much prefer books. But I have taken quite a few classes online and I’ve learned a lot and had some fun. I just take a whole lot longer to finish them.

My next-door neighbors got home last night from Thailand. Whew! I was worried about them, and I still am considering that they just flew halfway across the world in airplanes. It’s good to have a child growing up on the street again.

Here is Pablocito to say that every little thing is gonna be all right.

art, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina beaches

Leslie Marsh’s Nature Bound workshop

I do not have many photos from this workshop, a sign of excellence for me. It means that I was so much in the present moment that I forgot to take photos. It is generally hard to get into one of Leslie’s workshops because they fill quickly, but someone canceled and I took their place. Leslie Marsh has a beautiful home and studio on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands at Topsail Beach.

A trademark of Leslie’s book workshops is natural dyeing. She studied with India Flint and developed her own techniques of eco-printing. I particularly like Leslie’s method because she skips the mordanting step and puts everything in the dye pot. When we wrap our papers and fabrics with leaves around copper pipes, all we need to do is wet them and bind them tightly to the pipes. Then she pops them into her potion and they come out transformed. I have found that I do not like the mess of natural dyeing and so this is like heaven for me – the magic without the prep and clean-up. I am not fussy and precise. I enjoy the surprise.

This particular workshop was special because it definitely took me out of my comfort zone. We learned Leslie’s method for her metal book covers, which involves liquidified solder! Leslie is a wonderful, patient teacher and gave each of us individual help as we used these tools and methods for the first time.

We spent a cold Saturday preparing the dyed and leaf printed papers and wool felt, and metal covers for our books. Then we spent Sunday binding the books with coptic stitch, which I do so seldom anymore that I always need a refresher. The second photo of the finished book was taken by Leslie.

I took a little while during the lunch break on Sunday to visit the beach and collect some shells. I love the old worn out ones with holes in them. Sandy mostly stayed in our room at the Jolly Roger because he was sick on Saturday, but he revived on Sunday and drove around exploring while I finished my book. Our room was oceanfront, and I was really impressed with these surf fishers who were out there even late at night. Because he was sick we didn’t eat out Saturday night but we had appetizers and dessert at the Beach Shop Grill on Friday night. Their crab balls are exquisite. Expensive restaurant though. We couldn’t afford to eat there often if we lived nearby.

Anyway, I would take every workshop from Leslie Marsh that she offered if I could.