Hard Truths In and Out of the Studio

I tried a collograph this week. Here is the start using a mat board backing and some textures of papers and cloth. Dried weeds from the dam walk and thick card stock for the rocks.

Added a bit and then covered with PVA glue.

Then gessoed to seal it all in while adding a bit more texture to the rocks.

A good coat of shellac.

Inked up and ready to go.

Pitiful print is the result.

The thing I learned here is that collographs take time, lots of time. Especially if you are using different colors. There is a finesse to the process that needs to be learned before you squash the plate completely flat.

And with Lee slipping a bit more this week I have no time to practice this. I have cleaned up the glass plate of mixed colors and am taking a really hard look at whether I really want to bother with this. What you see here is the third print…the first two just awful….one too wet….one too dry. And I think that to do it more precisely I need to use extra cushion between the roller and felts….more felts would be smart. Also a very lightly dampened paper might be another good idea.

The three I did get printed could get stitched into with cloth….if they don’t end up in the bin.

Things just are not looking like you think they should. For example my latest attempt at a new picture of myself.

It is a rather dull light when I look in the mirror each morning to “fix things up”. Then I step into the light. So today I decided to update my picture….my “selfie” so to speak. All I can say is no wonder my niece thought I looked like her grandmother, my own mother. I really thought I was younger….but seventy-five is beginning to show.


Or one without the bags under the eye.

And one more thing. We found this brand new 19 Crimes wine in the store while looking for the Hard Chard which by the way hits you a bit like battery acid if you drink it as cold as you think you should drink a chardonnay. …better when closer to room temperature.

But this new sauvignon blanc cleverly called “block” is very good. And the story of Mr. Michael Moore convict is nice as well….”I used to make chains in Ireland, in Australia I wore them…..”

Til later when I have something more exciting than a new wine.

One Last Shirt

I looked at the linen cloth that was left after sewing this past week and decided there was enough white linen to try contact printing the pattern pieces for the cowl neck shirt. Since I planted some small leaved Eucalyptus trees last fall, I decided to try some of those leaves. They are the small ones on this test cloth. The large one on the left is from the walnut tree. There was a Japanese maple leaf in there as well. I dipped them all in an iron bath before putting them onto the dry linen. And because there were some Eucalyptus leaves left from two years ago when a friend had some sent from California, I stuck those on as well.

Those leaves from California were completely dried out but I liked the color. I did not like the purply tone of the other leaves….probably too much iron in the bath dip.

So I decided to try it on the pattern pieces with some adjustments in the bath and steaming. (I love using my hide covered rocks to hold pattern pieces in place.)

Here are the pieces after wrapping them dry around small PVC pipe and tying with cotton string as tight as I could get them. They were then dipped only on their ends into the heavy iron bath from before. Then steamed for a bit over an hour.  They looked like they had too much pale rust color showing so I decided to put several large black tea bags in the water and then just lower them all in that for an overnight soak.

This morning I unwrapped them and gave them a rinse in a solution of dirty iron water with black tea water and vinegar. Here they are wrung out and drying until I can wash lightly, dry and iron before sewing them into the shirt.




The back did not pick up the Eucalyptus leaves from California as well as the front. But I like it overall. The nice grey is from the black tea overnight bath and the beige is not as pinkish.

I will show it finished after the sewing.

The linen is lovely and comes from the online store, FabricStore.com.

More later.


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.