Finishing the Sewing for Now

The past several days I have been altering the clothes I bought from Havana Blue in Melbourne, Australia. Mostly I don’t try things on…..just see if they are on sale and if the size looks right. And because I follow Havana Blue on Facebook just to see the cut of the clothes, I wanted to get to the shop while there. Then of course buy whatever would haunt me later if I didn’t buy it.

This white shirt was actually some kind of soft linen coat. I looked like a walking duvet cover when I put it on at home. At least one third of it is now in the “spare cloth” bin. Next I went to the pants that this was bought to go with. A navy blue or cobalt, not sure which because I only wear pale blues. They were quite roomy due to not only the cut but the rectangular opening in the side front. I closed that over and took further tucks on the inseam hem.

They actually look wearable now.

Next was another over-sized top from the same shop. I have to say here that the younger, very pretty woman who was showing me things in the shop, looked also like she was packing on some more than necessary pounds but managed to look very stunning in a blue pants, top and duster. I tried to talk her into just going into the changing room, putting something else on and letting me buy what she was wearing. She wouldn’t. But after a quick and yet discreet look at my body, she started pulling things off the rack.

The kind friend, Barbara, who took me to the shop was, as most Australian women are, kind. There were no comments like, “Sandy, you do not want to wear that.” Those comments are more like what I would hear here in the states, either verbally or with a look, or a decided shake of the head. So thank you, Barbara for your kindness and the opportunity to remake what looked like a good idea at the time.

Here is the soft grey open weave top.

And again, about one third is in the bin with the white linen. The necklace with this was inspired by my looking down at the floor and seeing all the small scraps from sewing the past several days. Unfortunately I spent two days thinking it was a good idea to stitch on all the squares…kantha stitches, and when I finished it was way too much….totally “goobered” as one might say. So I made another one  because there are so many scraps. I used a stiffening iron-on something papery and than hand stitched them closed around the linen like cord with matching sewing threads.

I like the softness of it and the practicality as it might just cover whatever I have spilt down my front. Here it is with the dark grey top.

And finally here is the label inside the Havana Blue clothing.

Of course I am supposed to wash it in cold water, dry flat, not wring it out….maybe I can just hose them off in the yard with a bit of dish detergent. Then a day later when they are dry go ahead and fish them out from under a tree, peel off the bird mess and then press with a warm iron.

And don’t you just love how it says bananablue. Now was this really made there in Australia, where the lovely women told me, “Right here in Melbourne” or somewhere where they had a hard time doing the translation of Havana Blue.

Regardless, I would not trade that experience of being there and buying these clothes for anything. She even managed to sell me a great linen scarf to “tie it all together.” It is a very usable white with lots of splotches of different blues on it. Lovely.

What is left to sew on is hemming a black pair of pants from a shop in Asheville….then I quit for now. What I have to get rid of are some blouses that never will fit and I never liked that I got on sale, therefore had to buy them. Those and two pairs of rayon slacks that for five years I have meant to hem but the pesky buttons up the sides seemed more trouble than it was worth. I have a taller friend who will get the lot later this week.

So that is it for now. End of sewing stories unless something spectacular happens.

Til later.

PS In the meantime I am staying out of shops.

Sewing and Drawing and Kudzu

This must be the best year for kudzu to go unchecked! It hangs over the roads from branches of trees that it has climbed while burying bushes, fences, and likely any cow that stands still long enough. Too bad it is not harvested for something. Something that is not just the novelty of flour and making a few baskets. It is fascinating to look across the landscape and see everything covered with this virulent vine. It would make a good southern horror story.

Kudzu was brought over from Japan in the mid 1800s to control erosion and like cane toads being brought to Australia, someone was not doing their research first. The good thing is that the second it turns to a freezing temperature, kudzu dies back and we can see the trees, bushes and cow skeletons.

Aside from all that drama, I did two days of sewing. New top made from a pattern drafted from a favorite shirt and pants….both linen that I can no longer buy from fabric shops (because most of those have closed), but I can get linen online and hope that it feels like what I thought it would. I miss fingering cloth first hand.

The pants pattern has four darts on each leg at the bottom to give it what they call, “lantern cut” pants. It still did not tuck in enough for me so I did what I often do and that is take an extra pleat after they have been hemmed. This is on the outside seam.

Today I plan on altering a bunch of clothes that I bought, either here or in Australia, into something I am more likely to wear. You know how it is….something on sale and you just buy it for that reason and then hang it in the closet only to shove it aside to find the usual. We will see how it goes and hope that they are not destined to be shoved over forever….or until I just give them away.

Also I did have a bit of time to start the fourth Hands of Responsibility.

I had to hide Lee’s shaving equipment that required soap and a sharp razor. Now he can only use his electric buzzing one. I spent one whole morning unclogging his rototiller because he wanted to test it out on three foot high weeds. It is now cleaned up and stored away til spring. He has trouble getting his work gloves on the right hand. And now cuts everything on his plate up into bite size pieces. And all of it must be cut up before he will take a bite. Funny how our brains work….or don’t work as the case might be. Now he is out there somewhere using his weeder eater until it runs out of battery or string. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about those outside tools.

This winter I will work more on the Dementia Shawl. It feels lovely in the hands and is so soothing to think I am holding things together.

That’s about it for today.

Til later.

Printmaking Me Pretty Much Finished

Well this morning between constantly fixing the weeder eater cord for Lee I finished the left brain dormer. Tidier than the right brain.

Full of prints that took time and concentration. There is an order to doing these types of prints. Some contact prints are in the attic.

So here I am, Printmaker Sandy.

Now I have to clean the studio up for the sewing to take place. I still need to think about wheels for all of the heads but that can wait til a brainstorm hits me.

But what we could do is go back to the discussion about “art”. Using this piece to make my point.

First of all you could not say it is “well crafted”. What are the techniques even if you could label them…..mostly it is different glues and using found objects to talk about something.  There certainly are no perfectly processed prints involved. The books are pretty easily put together….no perfection there. And can we really say that have very well-placed wood chips?! They are tucked into all the cracks and shellacked heavily.

So whatever this object is, it does not speak of technique and specific materials. Even if we could say the stamps and books and head are materials…..each of them is in service to something else… idea.

So if it was in an exhibition, sitting up on a pedestal, the viewer would see that it is a head first of all. And that it definitely has two sides….one dormer has some things just stuck in and the other has definite order. Plus anyone can see that the “hair” is made of printing stamps.

So maybe, just maybe what they are looking at is a sculpture that talks about the left and right brain of a printmaker…specifically Sandy Webster because inside one of the books is her name. And of course the name SANDY appears in the center top front of her head.

So this work is an idea fixed in a visual form. Therefore to my way of thinking it is definitely art.

I am not saying it is “good” art….that is way too hard to define. But it is not decorative art because it was not made to decorate the body or a home. It is not a work of craft because just where is the craftsmanship?

So there is nothing else there but the question, “What is this about?”

My next one will be the “Homemaker” and I may need a tall house atop the head just to get all the bits of things fitted into the idea of my years invested in making a home.

Til later.



Getting More Work Done

I know, I know this is soon for me but I have been busy in the studio this weekend. Here the dormers have been added to the printmaking head with a wood engraving block carved into “her” forehead. There is even a print freshly “pulled from the block.”

I was inspired to keep going with this because I found so many of my early collographs, intaglio and woodblock prints from undergraduate school when I first learned printmaking. Also a recent phone call from an old friend who we share a love of the process got me channeling those earlier times. She and I used to spend countless hours talking about art and since I no longer have the art group to talk to, she was just what I needed. Here is a detail of the block and print in the front of the head.


I also added the wood chips in and around the stamp letters and numbers on her head. I may end up shellacking those later.

Today I spent the day filling in her left brain with experimental prints and a book of words that have a lot to do with questioning, “what if?” Even the attic has some bits and pieces of things.

Once I get the left brain dormer filled up with those prints and ideas that took much more thought and planning I will set her aside until I think of a way to put wheels on her. Here is the left brain dormer waiting to be filled.

My thought is to have wheels on all of them so they can gather in a circle or just follow each other around. Each of them is a part of myself….so by gathering them together, I will be whole again. Anyway, that is the plan.

I still have these very large letters that might be used as part of this one. Maybe she hauls a wagon with her…but that would mean more wheels. Speaking of wheels I got to thinking that I should not have buried the mechanisms to the specimens from the Expedition to Elsewhere….lots of wheels there… underground.

While working on this and thinking about how I go about things, and how for me “art” is an idea fixed in form, not some well-designed piece of work that speaks of materials and technique first and foremost. Because quite often an idea can be overshadowed by the perfections of those materials and the extraordinary technical skill of the maker. I am happy my old friend called me so I could be reminded of the many hours we talked about those things and the makers we knew who believe that because a piece is well designed it automatically is “art”. Because it is pretty, it is art and on and on. Our question always was, “Yes, but what is it about?” “Does it say what you wanted it to say?” And most times what they wanted was something that was well-accomplished or like my friend in Hobart told me, “Sandy, sometimes we just want to make things.”

In handling some old parts to work on these heads I was reminded of a friend, now deceased, who would come here regularly to do work she could not do elsewhere….an extraordinary body of work reinterpreting the old testament through old dolls, rusted bits, old foundry molds and immense talent in putting it all together. I miss her terribly. Whoever was lucky enough to see her work that rarely came out of the boxes once it left here were amazed by her desire to see her ideas fixed in form.

I keep a picture of her in my studio and feel lucky to have known and worked with her. She is still good company.

Once I put this head aside and before I start on the “homemaker” one, I am going to do some sewing. My Hobart friend who is also a dressmaker helped me cut a pattern from a favorite shirt and I recently bought the linens for two of them. So I will be sewing which requires a total clean up of all these messy bits.

Til later.