Back to the Stitch

This is a detail of a very large quilted paper piece that asked the viewer to record on scraps of paper the first stitches they remembered learning.  The response was mostly predictable ….. from grandmothers and mothers teaching them how to sew. I still have this somewhere I think. Anyway it seemed that stitching was always there for me. Poking that needle in and out not with the intention of making a good stitch but more about holding ideas together.

Or making marks…

Sometimes the stitching went with words as part of illustrations. Like this in my artist retreat book. After all our time together as artists came to an end I made this book about what that felt like…to be with others who were just as passionate about their ideas. We all had egos to match our intentions and I love how I saw that and then recorded it here. The sound this book makes with the stitched in rattly pages is just wonderful. I love this book…the words, the images, the sounds and the stitches.

Then there are the books that are held together by stitched spines.

Many of them remain blank because they became about the binding and not about the content. I should go in there and mark them all up….maybe just stitch on the pages.

And this book was all about mending. I steamed and pressed the paper to get the pages to feel more like cloth and receptive to needle and thread.

Sometimes what is happening on the back side is a better story.

And this print on cloth done in undergraduate school. I was warned that I was getting “dangerously close to craft.” I love that and understood exactly what my advisor meant back then and held off on stitching into these prints until after graduation.

And another use of print with stitch and cloth.

I find it harder to thread the needle and notice the feel of the cloth more now. It needs to “feel” like what I am trying to say with it. So with the tattered shawl now being about dementia and the holes left by what we took for granted and now can’t quite put our finger on, I am working slowly on the holding it together part. It feels good….it really does.

And it has sparked a return to the shifu threads colored with the soils of home and travels. These will be used in my journal of the Land of Lethe…a map of what may or may not have happened.

I have moved all this cloth and threads and shawl over to a corner because I have two of my favorite students arriving for an extended time working here in the studio. What is important to me today will not begin to be as important as their plans starting tomorrow. I will be in their heads and well out of my own.

And the good news is I have been asked to talk about my artist books to students at my undergraduate university in a few weeks. They will be receiving many of those books along with my extensive pop up collection. It will be good to share them and talk to students who want to not just know how to do something but why to do it.

And in looking for images for this post I found this one. An altered image of cloth and stitch. It is sort of the essence of something. It is like poetry I think. More will come of this….later. But in the meantime it is an evidence of things held together. It is the holding close by jabbing something in and out that drags a line along behind it….knotted at both ends to stay put. Some very rich stuff in that I think….or it could just be sewing.

Til next week after the students have left me….maybe they will let me post images of their work and talk about the why….or maybe they won’t. Passions are sometimes hard to talk about.


The Garden

It was a good garden this year although no where as giving as last year. Too much rain I think. Too many other things to do than tend to it. So now with the last of the tomatoes coming on, we are letting it go.

Most of the roma tomatoes have been roasted and put in the freezer.

More sit on the window sill until tomorrow.

They will be sliced and seasoned with olive oil and an herb garlic salt I made earlier from other things in the garden.

Once charred a bit in a hot oven, they are cooled and placed in zip lock bags to be flattened and stacked in the freezer.

I packed Swiss chard into countless sandwiches after the lettuce was finished.

And we saw our first cicada release himself from his shell.

Interesting bugs aren’t they? His mother must have placed him here among the grape vines. I will finish up the tomatoes tomorrow and then let the deer have the rest….or the snails that seem to be slithering around the vines. We have enough.

I am going to return to the studio and more sewing before students arrive later in the week. Once they are here my time belongs to them. I will fix them a dinner of chicken breasts smothered in roasted romas with asparagus and a nice Australian red wine.

Later this week I will show more images of the tattered linen shawl and talk about the importance of threading needles, poking repetitive holes and leaving marks on cloth.

Til then.

Oops! That Pesky Earth Pigment – Carl Green Green

So it looked good a couple of weeks ago on my soy milk treated linen scarves from Beautiful Silks. Granted the Carl Green Green was a bit gritty but there was lots of color there and it went on easily in a paste of pigment and soy milk. All the colors looked good then…looked like they might take.

So last Friday I took one of the small scarves and rinsed it out. I found a bit of a hole where one of the green dots were.

The loose weave of the linen was not conducive to holding onto much color but the reds and yellows showed promise if I left them another week. One scarf and one shawl left on the table to wait.

Showing different things to the Art Group on Sunday, I included the linen scarf with the small hole and said that I would just put a patch of something over it and maybe stitch more remnants on the piece. I told them it could be quite interesting and soft. Might even look like it was pulled from a mummy…..which is something I would be more interested in wearing than something new.

But this morning I got to thinking that maybe it was not a good idea to let them sit under the penetrating green pigment too much longer, so I “rescued” the other two. Good idea. Here is the green patterned end of the second scarf.

And here are some images of the shawl.

Those are pretty big holes because I made large circles or squares with the green pigment. But I have to admit that I like the feel and the tatteriness of them. So I will sacrifice the least holey of the two smaller scarves to patch the holes of the other two…..especially the large shawl. I might also add some scraps of contact printing from leaves on silk/wool just for more interest.

I made this a few years ago with the spare parts of more or less ruined shirts. I love this scarf and wear it often. And it never fails to get compliments and questions.

Of course those tattered scarves do remind me of the middle stages of some of my shifu papers using earth pigments.

I think that there is something very appealing in the raggity look. My spell check did not like that word “raggity”…..suggested “fragility”…..which is where these linen scarves are right now out there drying in the sun. They look rotted and dug up from the earth. I think there are possibilities abound with them. They could be fragments in a book or wall piece but I think right now I want to wear them. And I am trying very hard to not make things that go on walls and require framing, glass and a place to show.  Of course now that I have said that and started thinking about it, pieces of the scarves and unspun shifu  would be very interesting worked into collage with prints and more pigments……

Anyway just an early blog on the latest development here in the studio. Maybe next time I can have them patched and stitched….at least one of them anyway.

Til then.



Cleaning Up and Clearing Space

Six bags of things I have no use for came out of the studio closet this week. All went to the trash. It is amazing how many things you think will be used that just end up under or behind something else. Now I can actually see everything in here.

In the main studio there are still corners left to be gone through.

And things that are hard to part with right now like favorite undergraduate pieces.

But I am getting close. There are now several boxes of books to be donated to the Fiber Arts and Book Arts studios of a local craft school. Many more to be given to a used book store.

The best part of cleaning up my space this week was finding a home for my collection of pop up books. When I went to catalog them, I found the collection had grown to over ninety. And I have not added any in at least five years.

I will likely give the same alma mater some of my artist books that have been exhibited but never sold. It is nice to think of them being appreciated by budding book artists. Lots of these are tucked into corners of shelves.

But not the many years of Australia travel journals. Those I will keep for several more years. Here is just one end of the shelf full of those and the few things I brought home from my last trip over in March.

And another group of things I find it hard to part with now are the small wooden tools and foundry molds. They feel so good in the hand and need to be used somehow.

But the studio is cleaner, neater and ready for the Art Group meeting tomorrow. I will sit at my desk/work table ready to take notes.

And they will find their usual places to do the same.

Next week I will go deeper into corners and clear out some more. Ready some things for a burn pile. And get back to the Specimen Journal. Maybe redo the linen scarves that did not seem to hold much of the earth pigments due to their gauziness. And maybe work more with the photos taken of what the driveway has to say to me about the daily trek from one end to the other and back. I am beginning to see a language in the temporary marks of shadows and patches and rain.

More next week about work and workshops.