Back Forty, fiber art, Mixed media art

August. Yuk.

I really dislike the month of August. The heat, the humidity, the sudden ratcheting up of my “real” job. Too much to do at home and too hot to do most of it. Lately, like today, I have been outrunning the severe thunderstorms home from work. So far I have made it ahead of the rain.

We have been getting some very intense storms lately, like this one with quarter-inch sized hail. Excuse my camera work. One day I’ll learn not to move it around. By the way, the car did not have any new dents that I could see, and my garden is okay even though this went on for 15 minutes!

Yesterday we had high wind and I eyed the maple tree covered with wild grapevines with some trepidation. I noticed that the top of it snapped off a few weeks ago and it must be lying on top of the vines up there somewhere. It is becoming obvious that I will have to pay somebody to do something about the vines. The good news is that one of the new tenants next door loves to do yard work and has already taken a slingblade to the pokeweed forest between our houses. He has offered to help me on my side of the yard for $12 an hour. I told him that was too low and I’d pay $15.

Boy, you can tell that I’m a Bernie girl, huh?

I had already arranged for Armando, the guy who takes care of my absentee next door neighbor’s yard on the other side of our house, to help me with the yard. He mowed on Tuesday afternoon and will come back to help with pruning, etc. next week. This is such a relief! But it will be helpful for Cory, who lives on the other side of those vines, to hit it from his and my side of the jungle, since a lot of them are rooted on both sides of the property line.

Honestly, between the wild grapevine and the fucking wisteria, I don’t know which is worse. We’ve got both, and I let it get away from us when my neck was hurt. Now I have vertigo when I look up. Sandy’s no use on this issue. It’s time to spend the money on help.

Did I mention I hate wisteria? Boy, do I hate wisteria. I don’t even want to hear about people who like wisteria, or plant wisteria, or think that it is pretty. After 32 years of fighting wisteria, I consider it barely below poison ivy on my list of despised plants. Wild grapevine is third on the list.

The Roma tomatoes are almost done, but we are still harvesting lots of cherry tomatoes, figs, and a few big tomatoes. I have a new crop of raspberries. Not many, but this is encouraging that the one plant has produced twice. I sliced some more lemon cucumbers for the dehydrator and ran it a few hours longer this time. The slices with the seeds were crispy but the slices from the edges without the seeds still have the texture of soft paper.

I mailed my tapestry for the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition going up at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center in Elkin, NC. I’m sending “Dingle Cliff Walk,” which does not have perfect selvedges, but I love it and it’s time to put it out there. I thought it would be good for the theme, which is “Point of View.” This is it on the loom just before I finished it, and shows why its upper selvedges drew in. I was trying to make use of that leftover warp. I won’t make this mistake again, but at the time I started it, I didn’t think it would turn out to be one of my favorite weavings.

Still sewing my little puzzle pieces. I’m working on an idea that takes inspiration from feathers. Maybe attaching feathers?

My spirits took a dive this week. I’m trying very hard to keep away from the hole. Part of it is insomnia, and the news. I’ll have to take a news break. It makes me feel like a terrible citizen, but I don’t do anybody or myself or anything else any good from the bottom of the hole.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, Mixed media art, North Carolina, North Carolina beaches

Ancient Wisdom


A couple of weekends ago, Susanne, Sandy, and I went to Topsail Beach for a long weekend. Sandy hung out by himself mostly while Susanne and I took a workshop with Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller called Ancient Wisdom. We stayed at the Jolly Roger Inn and Pier. The weather was a bit chilly and cloudy and it rained really hard one night but we got out on the beach a little. We had oceanfront rooms and that was nice.

We drove down on Thursday evening and ate dinner at the Beach Shop and Grill. With that name we expected hamburgers and hot dogs but it was a very expensive and wonderful restaurant. Sandy saved us by picking up the check. He had crab cakes that were divine. I am not sure that there was any bread in them at all. Susanne and I had shrimp and grits and I think that they might now be number one on my list of favorite shrimp and grits places.

In the morning, we indulged in doughnuts from the Fractured Prune. At this point I knew that there was no hope for my diet. When we went back to the hotel room, Susanne and I walked on the beach and picked up stuff, as you do, and after we went up to our rooms this guy showed up drawing fabulous runes on the beach in front of our hotel. Our own personal installation artist.

Friday afternoon was spent cutting our windows into bookboard and wrapping the covers with plaster gauze. They had to cure overnight.

When we got back to the hotel, the artist had finished.

Then we drove to Wilmington and ate dinner at one of our favorite places: Indochine. The rumors of its demise during Hurricane Florence are not true, thankfully.

The next day was dyeing day! Leslie had eight different natural dye pots going in her backyard and we spent most of the day dipping our book pages in them. What a great opportunity for overdyeing! I have never had access to so many colors at one time so I went nuts. I could not tell you the combinations on a lot of my pages, but I used indigo on most of them. Turmeric, avocado pits and skins, black walnut, and turmeric made good combinations too. Other dyepots held madder, yellow onion skins, red cabbage (which fades to light gray) and blueberries (also light-sensitive and fugitive). Honestly, I never guessed that you could get such beautiful natural dye results on paper.

We forced ourselves to stop and paint our plaster covers so that they would be dry by the time we bound our books the last day. I cut my mica too close to the edge because I was thinking that the plaster would be covering it. Stitching it that close to the edge ripped out through the sides so i improvised. Those sea oats were picked up off the road after the hurricane, by the way; no illegal picking of sea oats happened here. I scratched and stamped circles into the plaster to honor the art work I had seen on the beach – this is still a work in progress.

That night we ate at Sears Landing in Surf City near the bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway. This is a place where I will definitely return. All the weight I lost and more came back by the end of the night.

After dinner we went to Quarter Moon Books and Wine Bar  where the three of us and Pam, a friend we met at the workshops down here, had drinks and listened to some great acoustic music by The Doug McFarland One. (He is a hoot.)

On Sunday we bound our beautiful colorful signatures with longstitch (for using as warp for weaving later) and then put the whole shebang together with coptic stitch.

We didn’t have time to do the woven binding but I drilled holes in the back cover and I am working on embellishing this book further now.

Thanks, Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller for another exquisite workshop experience! Also to Bee Shay for spending her lunch teaching a few of us to wrap stones with macrame stitching for hanging. What a sweet weekend it was.

book arts, Mixed media art, Reading, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This was a busy week. First, here’s the tapestry diary as of last Sunday. I haven’t worked on it so far this week so it will be a simple narrow entry for the entire week and I’ll weave it as soon as I am done here.

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On Tuesday, I went to Seth Apter’s 52 Card Pickup class at Betty’s Creative Studio here in Greensboro, NC. I had not known about Betty’s before I saw Seth’s announcement on his “The Altered Page” Facebook page, and that was a welcome surprise since I was trying to figure out how to go to Lexington, Kentucky to take a joint workshop with him and my favorite book arts teacher, Dan Essig. As usual, there are way too many things that I want to do and sometimes the knowledge of this is overwhelming, since of course I can’t afford it all or take the time off for it all, especially between January and April. And yes, he is as nice as you have heard.

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This was a nice break from work, since it was fairly mindless and relaxing. We learned his process for making textured painted backgrounds on a deck of cards that had been painted back and front with black gesso, plus two slightly larger bookboard pieces to use for covers. Messy fun!

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The idea was that you would collage one side of the card and journal on the other side. The cards are not bound so you’d pull out a collaged card to suit your journaling mood or subject for the week. We didn’t get around to much collage. I got a little overwhelmed with the free stuff that was being passed around to choose from, since I’m trying to use or purge this kind of thing from my studio. There are still so many boxes of random papers in there!

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This is a method that I will reuse, although I think that the next batch of papers or cards will be less busy so they will be easier to write on.

I started out the gate with some serious sinus problems and so I stayed home from work on Monday. I’m pretty sure that cleaning out and trying to repair the vacuum cleaner was the main cause, because I am getting over it too fast for it to be a cold. All that diatomaceous earth from the carpet flea treatment sandpapered the inside of my head. I made it known publicly that I would not be offended by the gift of a new vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day. Sandy, however, is Mr. Fix-It in his imagination and sometimes he does actually accomplish some of these repairs that he says that he can do, so I’m giving it until I get my year-end kickback check from Costco and then if it is not fixed I am buying a new one. I can’t keep up by using the attachments on the hose!

The rest of week I had my head down catching up on work, dealing with a lot of grids and spreadsheets, so that will show up in the tapestry diary entry for the week.

Sandy ended up going to the City Council meeting without me and speaking, among others, in opposition to the way the city is treating Cafe Europa. Sadly, I don’t think that much will come of it, but there are some passionate people on Jakub’s side so I hope that my pessimism turns out to be wrong.

Last night I finished watching “Godless” on Netflix, which I highly recommend if you can take violence that serves a purpose in a very well-written story. I have been a big fan of Merritt Wever since watching her play Zoe on “Nurse Jackie” so it was great to see her play a badass on this one season Western series. I thought that it was a touching story of redemption, with the twist of a town full of very strong self-reliant women. Sandy found it very sad, but he liked it enough that he watched it again with me.

I finished “Run” by Ann Patchett and am now reading “Straight Man” by Richard Russo, which is pretty hysterical, especially if you have had the experience of working in a small college or a dysfunctional academic liberal arts department. Not that ours is that bad, but much of it rings true.

I was planning to cut back the fig tree hard, like by half, and set up my little greenhouse this weekend, but it appears that it is going to rain for four days. Oh well. As long as it is not flooding, I will not complain about rain. It is time to start seeds and I’m going to give that another try this year. We’ll see how the tomcats in the house behave. If I can get a few weeks of good behavior from them then I can set up the greenhouse and move some seedlings out there.

Tomorrow I hope to write about the project that I’m doing in India Flint’s Bagstories group. It has been such a joy.

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.

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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:

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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.