art, Back Forty, Bagstories, coffee pot posts, fiber art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’m sure that most people in the world would rather be doing something else full-time than what they do to earn a paycheck. I am grateful for and appreciate my job very much, not in the least part because I have had some really shitty jobs in the past and worked with some awful people, and my job is wonderful compared to them. I know what a good thing is because I’ve experienced the bad. But I’m going through a period when I ache to be in this studio, weaving or stitching. I alternate between being fearful and anticipatory about my retirement, which, if I’m lucky, is ten years away. I want to leave this country, this state, this city, and then I think that I could be happy here for the rest of my life if I could only ignore politics.

Greensboro is a great small city, really. It’s just that I haven’t lived anywhere else but here and Marietta.

Okay, so this week was very stressful and it wasn’t supposed to be. By the end it all calmed down but only because we all needed to make mind adjustments. Everybody’s stress was rubbing off on everybody else and once we all saw it, we could acknowledge it and work on it. I’m not going to talk any more about work here but I need the artwork more than ever. Stitching on this boro fabric is particularly good for lowering the blood pressure:

Midweek, I stopped on my walk to work to look around when my crow friends were behaving oddly. Sure enough, there was the red-tailed hawk in the tree nearby. The crows were flying around him.

He flew away to the top of the art building, when I noticed his mate was perched nearby. She joined him, and the crows continued to hassle him. I was excited because I had not seen the female before. The male flew away and the crows followed, then he returned and everything seemed peaceful. I put my camera away. Then he hopped on the female and mated! I got to see two hawks getting it on! No photo, it was over quickly when the crows came back to annoy them.

I tried to capture the hawk in my tapestry diary this week. I am a bit frustrated with the limits that I set for this project sometimes, although I think that they are good ones. Using just the cotton and linen thrums on an 8 epi warp and a daily format across the frame for each week is starting to feel a bit oppressive. I think that it is a good exercise, but if it was a closer warp and I used wool, I could weave some beautiful images. This is a bit like weaving emojis from the 90s. However, this is not supposed to be a work of art, it is supposed to keep me weaving on a regular basis, try out a few ideas, and use up these thrums that would otherwise be used for ties or take up space or be thrown in the garbage or compost pile.

One way for me to get through this busy time of the semester at work is to consider all the lovely plans ahead of me. I will be taking online classes from both Jude Hill and India Flint. In May, I’m going to the Tapestry Weavers South retreat on St. Simons Island in Georgia. That’s an area where I’ve never been. It is possible but doubtful that I’ll go to Tommye Scanlin’s tapestry class at John C. Campbell Folk School the week of Memorial Day. The last I checked I was third on the wait list. Susanne and I are going to Leslie Marsh’s Chinese thread book workshop at Topsail Beach one weekend in mid-June. Mid-July, we are spending a week at Lake Waccamaw and my cousin and aunt from Colorado are coming to join us. Then in September, the plan is to take a week to see Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. That’s what the tax return will go to, most likely.

Really, I have such a good life.

Lenten roses are loving the front yard, and the grape hyacinths that I transplanted last year are beginning to peep up. I’ll plant some peas today before the rain begins again.

art, Bagstories, fiber art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Rebel stitching

Have you seen this new phrase? I like it. Rebel stitching. Not following the rules. It is what brought joy back to my interest in sewing. I’ve been fascinated with sewing all my life. My mother was an excellent seamstress and sewed a lot of my clothes until I reached the age of balking at wearing home-sewn. You know how teenagers are. I appreciated it later in my 20s, but by then I had given up on learning to sew properly. By that time, other than sewing me a dress and my niece’s bridesmaid dress, she turned to quilting.

I inherited a huge amount of fabric from her. Much of it I gave to an art project at Greensboro College and to Reconsidered Goods, but I have a lot stashed away that I can’t bear to part with yet.

I was a theater major my first go-round in college. By my senior year I knew that I didn’t want to be a high school drama teacher. My advisor told me that I was too opinionated to teach high school and should shoot for community college! Seriously! Ha, it was like listening to my mother. “So OPINIONATED!!!” What a word. But I am, and that’s fine.

I realized that it was insane to continue in the education program, and although I might have been a good director, I hated dealing with the egos of my fellow acting students, and I had no chance at all to be an actor or the skills to be a techie. So I set my sights on simply getting that diploma and working in the costume shop.

We had sewing lessons in costume shop and it was graded for credit. Soon I was relegated to the simplest tasks for the shows, such as simple hems and ironing muslin. Boy, did I iron a lot of muslin. I have always hated ironing. I worked backstage with the costume changes and the laundry. But I loved the costume shop supervisor, Ella, who was gentle and kind.

I loved gleaning the scraps from the trashcans and stitching them together by hand at home. There were so many different textures and brilliant colors. I sewed them together in patchwork squares, not paying much attention to whether they “went together” or were of the same weight or stretchiness. It was a kind of therapy for me, I guess. Many years later I dug those squares out and they were quite hideous! Most of them ended up going inside and cut up on the top of my Magic Cloth piece, “The Flag of Me”, that I did in one of Jude Hill’s classes. Funny that I can’t find a photo of the finished flag. I’ll do that soon.

Near the end of my last semester, the costume designer professor handed me a bolt of fabric and told me to cut it into three-foot lengths. I thought this was odd and asked her to repeat herself, and she did. She left, and I cut the entire bolt into three-foot lengths. She came back and had a meltdown in the middle of the room full of my classmates. “I said three-yard lengths! How could you be so stupid!” and out she stormed. I gathered my things and slithered out the door, and did not return until after the final test when I caught Ella alone in the costume shop. She treated me with warm sympathy, allowed me to take the written test, and passed me with an A. God, I love her still. I’m sure that she has passed from this world by now and if there is a heaven she is there.

Anyway, that “How could you be so stupid!” rang in my ears for decades. It still does when I see this professor on campus.

But I don’t feel stupid about sewing any more. I revel in it. If I mess up, I might get a little frustrated, but that is toward the sewing machine, not myself. I love to hand stitch whenever I am able to do it.

Who broke me out of that mind-fuck? It was Jude Hill. And a little later, India Flint, who I am doing the Bagstories online group with, and the next project, which is to sew a piece of boro fabric with the little pieces left over from my Wanderbeutel bag. Really, I cannot express enough how much joy these two teachers released when they gave me permission to follow my instincts with stitch. I saw that I was the one that had denied myself this “permission” all these years, and now I am free.

It spilled over into my tapestry work, too. Here’s the end of the tapestry diary for the week.

I like using things that would be thrown away. That’s why I chose the leftover cotton and linen thrums to weave this diary. Next year, I’ll probably use wool.

art, book arts, collage, North Carolina, Wonderfulness

Re(f)use Exhibition at Artspace

Even though this Triangle Book Arts group exhibition at Artspace in Raleigh, North Carolina is much better seen in person, as any book art exhibition is, I took a few photos yesterday when Sandy and I visited. Book arts are so interactive – in many cases over half of what is there is inside a book! In the show, there were many forms of books, some folded books hanging from the ceiling, some hanging on the wall, others were sculptural, and others invited you to explore inside them. One even invited you to add to it!

All were constructed from materials “reused” that were at least 80% “refuse.”

There were many that I wanted to photograph but a camera just could not do them justice. Susan Leeb’s “Catalogue of Nostalgia” installation using an old library card catalog cabinet and cards could have easily soaked up an hour of my time exploring its drawers, but I gave up trying to photograph it.

Here are photos of my two books in the exhibition. “Flow” hung with a group collaboration and was difficult to photograph because it was very long and the lighting was odd. However, I loved the shadows cast on the wall by another hanging book, “Holy” by Lisa Gilbert, so maybe the lighting was perfect. First two photos are details of the front and back of “Flow.” Then the bottom, then a page in the middle.

Here’s “First the Seed,” opened to its first page. I really have to write in this book when it comes home. It’s like the book that refuses to be finished.

See the shapes on the wall cast by the holes in “Holy?” After this photo is a detail shot of “Holy.” I really love this idea of combining a piece with light and shadow.

I love the shadows cast by Barbara Livingston’s fascinating “Renovating the Library” also.

Kathy Steinsburger’s “East:West” really got to me, pictured along with other works along the back wall. Again, those shadows!

By the way, the other gallery exhibit with encaustic collages by Jane Wells Harrison is well worth the trip also. It made my husband and I both want to play with encaustic. I especially loved the map imagery encased under the wax.

The exhibition is on the first floor gallery on Artspace through March 3. You can see other photos by clicking on any of these photos to go to my Flickr page. There are too many to post here – I know I posted too many as it was.

art, fiber art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Sunday morning bag story

First, the tapestry diary for the week. The knots are showing on purpose, by the way. We had some problems to figure out this week at work. Fortunately, they were resolved and next week’s path forward should be clearer.

I wove a little bit on Cathedral, but my main focus was stitching this Japanese tsunobukuro style bag along with many others all over the “whirled” (India Flint’s phrase) in India’s Bagstories Facebook group. She set it up as a companion online group for those who bought any form of her wee booklet “Bagstories” on Blurb. I bought the PDF, since I am not buying stuff that takes up space in the house this year, unless necessary. Like a new vacuum cleaner.

Anyway, I’ve been obsessed with stitching this bag. I love hand sewing but I have to give it up frequently due to chronic tendinitis problems. Right now I’m on a roll.

This fabric is upcycled from two favorite pairs of pants I wore back in the late 80s/early 90s. They are special to me because they were the first “arty” kind of clothes I ever bought, and when I wore them, I felt beautiful and fabulous. They were my go-to clothes for art openings until I quit smoking and gained a lot of weight. They felt like friends, so I could never get rid of them.

I redesigned it after I began because the brown and gray/orange rayon batik fabric was a little too stretchy so I decided to line it with the brown fabric.


I can’t wait to get this bag put together and use it, and start on the one that is actually in India’s booklet.

This is the closest that India has come to doing an online class, and normally I am enthusiastic about an online or video class for two weeks, then I abandon it. However, I love this group intensely, and I’m glad that she cut off enrollment at a manageable size. It is still over 200 people but most people don’t post. So many times I join a group and unfollow because the number of posts become overwhelming as it gets popular.

India seems to be enjoying this immensely so it may be something that she continues. Personally, I don’t see how many of these artists maintain online classes and social media and get so much wonderful work done. I fall down rabbit holes way too quickly on the Internet.

As far as the vow to not buy stuff this year, I’ve broken it twice so far. At the Women’s March in Raleigh I bought this pin from a street vendor. I mean, seriously, how could I not? I’m not made of stone.


The other item was this 4 bottle set of chalk paints from the shop that hosted Seth Apter’s workshop this week. I always feel like I should buy something to support the venue, and I’ve wanted to try chalk acrylics.

Yesterday we drove around disposing of several boxes I had filled with purged stuff from the studio. It was not nearly enough. A box of books went to the used bookstore for credit. I came very close to getting a couple of book arts books that I had not seen before, but I remembered the point is not spending money…the point is making space. A box and a bag went to Reconsidered Goods. A box of denim jeans that were too good to cut up went to the Salvation Army. Normally I avoid the Salvation Army because of their anti-gay stance, but the Interactive Resource Center doesn’t accept clothing donations and they told me that they give vouchers to homeless people for clothing at the Salvation Army store.

Some of the paper ephemera went into the recycling can and into the kindling box. I mean, honestly, why do I save every little piece of paper?

Now I need to fill up 3-4 more boxes this week.

art, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, Mixed media art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018

Whoa Nelly, two posts in a day

WHOA IF TRUE! I’m so bad. Wonkette is the main source of my news these days. I can’t take much of anything else. Sheer burn out.

Which is partly why these coal carts evolved their way into my tapestry diary early this week for the end of January. There is more of a story here, but it began as a train in the night and was supposed to end with the blood moon. Sometimes what needs to come up comes up.

I’ll work on the rest of the week’s entry this weekend.

My other project this weekend, other than probably a token pick or two on “Cathedral,” is this lovely “Bagstories” project led by India Flint on Facebook this month for those who bought her book on Blurb last month. Much of my fabric is buried in boxes and I’ve yet to find the “eco-printed” samples I made in her class and elsewhere, but I’m not in a hurry and am happy to upcycle some of my favorite batik pants from the late 80s/early 90s that I outgrew but couldn’t let go of all these years.

I’ve got nine squares yet to cut and hem and then I get to sew them into a lovely bag with “horns.” I think that I will line the three larger bag pieces first to make the fabric stronger though. This is pretty lightweight and a bit on the stretchy side.

One of the pieces will look like this:

Once I finish measuring the warp for the future rag rug project and cutting and ironing the pieces for this bag project, I’ll be bringing the rest of the Wharton St. studio home. I’ve cleared out and boxed up more stuff, cleaned off the top of Mama’s sewing machine table, and feel much more comfortable with the extra lighting and changes we’ve made to the front room/studio. Now I just need to take these boxes of stuff around to the appropriate places to drop them off.

On Tuesday, I have a special treat for myself. I’m taking a day workshop from Seth Apter right here in Greensboro! I didn’t even know about this place when I saw his announcement about it on his Facebook page. It’s called 52 Card Pickup, and nyah nyah it is full, but I will post about it and take photos if I am not so completely enthralled in what I am doing to think about it. A workshop where I can take my new bag full of little bits to make collages with! YAY

It’s funny, because I was seriously considering driving to Kentucky to take a workshop from him when I discovered this one right here in my town.

Right after the workshop on Tuesday, I’ll be joining my husband and many others at the City Council meeting to demand to know why the control of Cafe Europa’s lease oversight was magically transferred from the city by one city staff member to the park’s board, a private corporation, and demand that our friend Jakub is fairly treated and the city take back management of the space.

If I’m gonna do all this, I better get cracking.

art, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, Mixed media art

Jan-Ru Wan and “Slow Art”

Last night I found a new artist crush at GreenHill gallery’s “Slow Art” exhibition in Greensboro, NC. My camera ran out of juice, but the photos didn’t do justice to the work anyway. For example, I am not posting the photos of the series that stopped me in my tracks, “The Efforts of Preserving Oneself.”

Her name is Jan-Ru Wan. See her website for more art and much better photos.

Go to GreenHill Center for NC Art to see the show, which runs through April 15. It features four artists, including Greensboro’s Setsuya Kotani, a legend around this parts whose story written by Ian McDowell is on the cover of this week’s Yes Weekly. I didn’t have the privilege of taking classes with Kotani, but I’ve had the luck being seated next to him at a dinner party and I can confirm that he is fascinating and charming. Jan-Ru Wan is doing an artist talk on March 18 and I’m putting it on my calendar. Kotani’s artist “dialogue” is schedule on March 28.

Detail:

Powerful stuff. Lit a fire under me this weekend. What’s funny is that I pretty much had to be dragged downtown by my husband last night. I didn’t go to the opening reception for the Triangle Book Arts show in Raleigh. It was cold and I didn’t want to be in a crowd. We had dinner at Cafe Europa afterwards, which is always a pleasure. This restaurant/bar in the Cultural Arts Center is in danger of losing their lease and there is quite an uproar about the unsavory circumstances in which it is happening. But more about that in another post.

Go see this show.

art, North Carolina, political activism, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018

Women’s Rally on Raleigh, etc.

Yesterday’s protest rally was a family affair: husband Sandy, sister Lisa, me, brother-in-law Tim.

My favorite sign was the Black Mirror sign, although I like that the sign on the left covers most of the bases:

I also delivered my book to Artspace where the Triangle Book Arts exhibition will be installed. Opening reception is Friday, Feb. 2 evening. I haven’t decided if I am going or not. I would like to. I didn’t have much time to spend there, but I loved the mixed media show by Megan Bostic and Davis Choun currently in the front gallery.

WATER IS LIFE! And so are seeds and worms…

Birds cluster around the areas where the snow has melted.

Tapestry diary completed for the week. (My weeks begin on Monday in this diary.)


Now going for a massage to get my poor back and hips in shape, then a bit of grocery shopping and studio time at the “other” studio.

art, book arts, collage, Upcycling

Flow


I finished the insides of the panels for the Flow book today. Tomorrow I will finish the back sides, which will be much simpler. I messed around with laying them on the floor and switching them around to make them “flow” better. I can already see what I will change in the process for the next book, but I’m going to finish this one and send it off.

When it hangs it needs to be ten feet long so I’ll have to do math tomorrow!

art, book arts, coffee pot posts, collage

Sunday morning coffee FILTER post

Random stream of consciousness writing is what I categorize as “coffee pot posts” since they usually happen on weekend mornings when I have time to drink a small pot of coffee. At first it was an exercise to simply write until the coffee ran out. Today it is a pot AND filter post.

I started saving my used paper coffee filters made by If You Care back when I realized they were not breaking down in the compost pile and are made of high quality paper. I buy these from Deep Roots Co-op in Greensboro because I am committed to buying recycled products when possible. It is most ecologically sustainable to use the reusable washable filter that comes with the coffee maker, and that is mostly what I do, but that’s not what this post is about.

Anyway, I am working on an accordion style book that is supposed to hang on display in the Triangle Book Arts group show in 2018. The book’s theme is “FLOW” which is turning out to be rich creative ground for me, almost too much. As I started thinking about the back side of the pages and the connectors, these coffee filters came to mind. I knew that they took markers well so I decided to do ink washes on them.

I found out that some of them have wonderful resists to the ink. Next time I pull any out of the compost I will set them aside to see if it was the compost effect.

Now the problem is too many ideas. This might be a good problem to have if it helps me make a unified body of work, but as someone with panic disorder it can stop me cold. I will try to focus on getting this one book finished over the next three days and jotting down the other ideas for later.

art, art retreats, book arts, Focus on Book Arts

Focus on Book Arts 2017

Susanne Baker and I attended our third Focus on Book Arts at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon last week. It was recommended to us by my friend Judy Strom, who I met at Journalfest in Port Townsend, Washington in 2009 and we have met up at FOBA ever since. We love this retreat/conference for many reasons:

  • The selection of workshops is perfect. There are 1-4 day workshops over the course of five days. You can take all five days or just one day. There are always classes for advanced, serious bookbinders, and classes for beginners, and lots of levels in between. There are structural classes, historical conservation classes, and playful, creative classes.
  • They keep the class sizes small.
  • The instructors are excellent and often known nationwide for their work.
  • It is completely run by volunteers, who are passionate about this event.
  • Forest Grove, Oregon, is a lovely town and Pacific University, the first university founded west of the Mississippi, is a historic campus of great beauty, with manicured lawns, towering redwoods, and flower gardens. Honestly, I have checked out the real estate ads and the job listings for this place quite a few times.
  • It’s about 30 minutes west from Portland and another hour going west will get you to Cannon Beach.
  • I ALWAYS meet the friendliest, most interesting people there!

This year, Susanne, Judy, and I took a class in beginning embossing from Janice Fisher on the first day. I couldn’t get any good photos – embossing is hard to photograph, and when I’m into what I’m doing, I don’t remember my camera. I did better later. My main takeaway from the class was that embossing paper is so much simpler and easier than I ever guessed, and you can do it on almost any kind of paper with as little as a stencil cut out of an old manila file folder and a popsicle stick. Janice was very into recycling and repurposing ordinary objects for embossing.

On the second day, we all separated to go to different classes. Judy went to a different class every day. Susanne chose a four-day long class in twined binding taught by Roberta Lavadour, and she was in heaven the whole time. I chose a two-day class by Jennie Hinchcliff called “Collecting & Keeping: Chinese Thread Books.” I was hesitant about choosing this one since it involved some origami, but I LOVED IT. LOVED IT. LOVED IT. It’s too hard to show you how much fun this book is without taking a video, and I’ll put one up in a few days when I have some help.

We built two small learning books on the first day, and on the second day the third book encompassed what we learned. It was turning very hot and we were in an older building with no air conditioning, so the glue dried very quickly. I ended up hurrying a bit too much at the end and glued down my insides facing the wrong way, but it still works just fine. (I was very lucky to go to a room the next day with AC when the temps rose to 97 and 99. Judy ended up in the room I was in and she’s pretty tough, but even she had to leave the room to finish her class project.) I would like to take another class from Jennie.

The third class was the one I was most excited about – Leighanna Light’s “Lily’s Book.” I had taken a class from Leighanna in 2010 called the Vintage Metal Deck that fascinated me, and I’ve wanted to take another class with her since. I love her textures and her palette and her expertise with attaching things to each other.

For this one we brought a large piece of heavy gessoed canvas, then used gesso to stencil and stamp all over it for texture. After brushing on a base layer of paint or ink wash, we tore the canvas into pages for the book and played with Leighanna’s assortment of acrylic mediums and Venetian plaster. We glued down cloth and paper and other stuff, laid the pages out in the hot sun to dry, and kept on layering and painting the pages until we ran out of time (see top photo). Then we did a simple longstitch binding (thank God for my Japanese screw punch – those pages were thick). The next step for me will be attaching more stuff to the cover and spine. I brought some of my metal deck cards from the 2010 class and one of them just happened to be perfect for the cover. I’m eager to work in this book some more but have had some challenges getting back to it yet.

If you’d like to read about my previous trips to FOBA, you can find those posts here:
FOBA 2011
FOBA 2015

Next post: Photos from Forest Grove