Finishing The Sewing – Maybe

I finished the soft grey linen shirt….it really is loose.

I popped the berry vest over it….and it was big too…..too big.

Too loose on the shoulders, etc.

So after cutting the shoulders on a slope I rolled under all the exposed bias edges to make it come in more. And did the same with the green one.

I always have to go over to the guest room and find the only full length mirror behind the door and then face reality. My niece is right. I look like my grandmother….her great grandmother. I look like my oldest sister, now departed. Where is that other Sandy that was there the last time I visited this mirror and was equally disappointed. This does not look like a woman who goes to the gym five days a week, a woman who punches a bag and gets 10,000 steps in a day….well most days.

This looks like an older woman getting comfortable. I might need to start believing in the purpose of darts again….even though I never did like those pinchy little devils.

The good news is that the next time I sneak a peek in here I will be wishing that I was looking like this. Pitiful.

Anyway I looked over these three pieces and took them to the washing machine and then the dryer. Next I googled the question, “Should linen be pressed or left wrinkled?” It seems that that is a personal choice. And really whether I press it or not, which I will do because I love ironing, the clothes will be wrinkly in no time.

Maybe the next fabric will be some synthetic wrinkle free thing….maybe not.

And to tell the truth, I do not look like that cute little grey haired woman who models linen layered clothes and is often posted on Pinterest. I am going to quit looking at her and wait for fall when I can drape more long bits down my front to cover those spills and look thinner at the same time.

Til later. I need to put that machine away! And stay away from the guest room.


Sewing Up Some Vests

I finished two of these vests. This one is a color called Montana Berries and the other one is the color of my car….what I like to call correctly, “frog belly green.” Ford calls it “lime squeeze”.

I worked from my favorite pattern to make sure I had this as wide and loose as I wanted and even flared the sides just a bit to make it more “swingy”. The pattern was cut from some brown paper that was a table cover for a workshop I taught somewhere close by and couldn’t just throw out.

To cut it out of the single yard of linen I folded it with selvage folded back on itself…..across the grain, technically.  That way the front and back of the pattern could be placed on each end of the fold, leaving about 9 inches between the two bottoms. By cutting the shoulder seams on the selvages there was minimum raw seam treatment there.

With the center section that was left, I opened it up to get the three pieces of bias that I needed to finish off the armholes and neck. Granted they are not directly on the bias but enough to fit around the curves.

There was enough fabric still double to cut two pockets which was necessary because I wanted the pocket to drop off a bit in the front. It is just handy to have a quick place to drop those keys while loading groceries.

I used Shanna Leino’s beautiful weights to hold the pattern in place while cutting.

I never have the opportunity to buy thread to match the fabric anymore since the good fabric stores have all closed. So I work with what I have on hand. And even though I would never match this one up in the store, it became almost invisible when used.

And one more final thing….I definitely need a new ironing board cover. This one is pitiful because it is, or was, used with lots of mixed media. There is a black felt marker so far down from the narrow end. What this is for is every time I make pants or have to shorten ones I have purchased, I simply put the waistband at the tip of the narrow end of the ironing board and cut them long enough to allow a hem to this mark. It has saved me loads of time guessing and re-pinning those hems.

I always keep a cheap plastic spray bottle filled with water to spritz the cloth as I sew seams, etc.

Next I am going to work on modifying the shirt pattern here to get a more drapey cowl, narrower shoulders (remembering that I will have to lengthen the sleeve when I do this) and maybe a bit more swing. Two grey fabrics to go and then I will go back to drawing and painting.

More later.

Keeping Busy in the Studio

My new Crocs, the only shoes that fit right now but at least both feet are level with each other!

I can now take the stairs one step at a time with one foot on each tread…going down as well as up. Each weekday this week I have been in the gym working on the recumbent bike for one half hour and then doing some upper body work and boxing…..all finished by 6:30 am. It feels good to be back there.

And it feels good to be in the studio. I am using years of sketchbooks to harvest the things that I thought were important during my time there to use in the tiny books of sketches. It is so much fun to go though them and pick images of the little things. Here are some of the covers.

You see that one in the lower left? I made that for one my early trips down under to a basket conference in Tasmania. I bought that fabric because I thought it looked Australian. They did not think it did that much. Funny how we have preconceived notions of what looks just perfect. And I still think it does….mainly because of the colors but the pathway markings as well.

Here are more of those books opened up to show the things I was drawing.

I love that ant nest made up of leaves and the fierce green bottomed ants that made it. That was on the Katherine pages from quite a while ago. There is a William Ricketts page in the upper right. He was a strange one. Here is a picture of the sculpture I like the most of his. I call it Ricketts as Kangaroo. This one is at Pichi Richi in Alice Springs but my sketches in the book here are from his place in the Dandenongs near Melbourne. There are more sketches of Eucalyptus leaves than anything. Such great colors and forms.

Some of the books have quite a bit of writing in them and I got sidetracked reading the thoughts I had at the time. But so far there are six of the fourteen small books finished. When I get them all finished I will figure out how to put them in a container with the pigments coptic bound pages book. And maybe, just maybe it will be the last piece of work about Australia that I do. Hard to say that with so many of the watercolors left unused, but we will see what happens.

My trip for 2019 is pretty much all set now. My rides to various places are set on friends’schedules. Just flight and hotel arrangements to go. Hopefully the classes fill and then I can think about what to pack for students.

And just about an hour ago a South Australian newspaper insert magazine arrived with this picture in it.

These were several of the pieces on exhibit for the Waterhouse Art and Science Exhibition at the South Australian Museum. Thank you Madeleine, that was very thoughtful to send it to me. The awards went to well-deserving pieces…..some very complex.

There is not much else going on here. Art Group met last Sunday. We are such a diverse group of artists. It is always inspiring to see what they are thinking about and how that manifests itself in the work.

I am going to do some sewing next week. Lovely linen shirt fabric is on the way and I am figuring out how to sew that utility zippered carryall for tools. It will be a Chinese puzzle to figure it all out but I feel the urge to just sew something.

Til later.


More Tiny Sketchbooks in the Works

I am using my previous sketchbooks done in Australia as the source for these tiny books. It is easy to get lost in the memory of each page. Some of these are from spending time with Barbara Rowe at her condominium in Melbourne. See that teal tea pot there? I sketched this pot every time I stayed with her. The color, the shape and that carved open spout.  She has had it for years and always fixed me tea in it. Another memory of her is that first one on the left. Barbara is an extraordinary master of placing things together. It could be her ikebana training or she is just a natural. Anyway that was the largest green glass pot that held just a couple of stems of grasses. The way the light caught in the glass and colored the things around it and the way the breeze rustled the grasses as it swept gently through from the balcony ten floors up was so beautiful and quiet. I loved staying with her because of the quiet and gentleness of her and her things. One time she took a tangerine and used a bit of hand twisted daylily leaf to tie it up like a gift. Then she placed it on a bit of dried hard green grass she rescued from someone’s mower on the street and placed this arrangement in the center of the table. It was beautiful and that tangerine is sketched onto one of these pages.

And some of these pages are from the garden between Janet DeBoer’s house and Gallery 159 out the back. Janet would be busy writing and organizing the Textile Fibre Forum magazine and I would have the quiet time in this space to pick up leaves and pods to record. I think that is called a shrimp plant that I also found in her yard. The pepper tree branch in the center of the picture is from the ride across Australia in 2001. I treated myself to a first class ticket on the Indian Pacific Railway and because I was a lone traveler, mealtimes found me filling in at tables made up to seat four. Luckily I was placed quite often with three sisters traveling together. When they saw my sketchbook they would pick bits of the bush whenever we stopped to look around. I do not think the peppers are edible but they were so delicate to draw with those lovely flowing little leaves along the thin branches. I had made a special book to take on this train ride for all the things I wanted to write about only, no sketching. I left it on the train and it was lost forever. But the sketchbook from that time brings some of it back. And you can not be down under without seeing and hearing a kookaburra.

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns and then Melbourne and the work of John Davis seen in the most amazing exhibition of his life in art. All those fish made with muslin, sticks and asphalt. The catalog from that show is right up there with the one from Lee Bontecou’s retrospective in Chicago. Both heavy on earth tones. Both keeping you transfixed in place while you just look in wonder and appreciation that an artist can and did do this.

I wish there was more work like this. So much today is “showy”, colorful, and about being beautiful. It seems the materials used is what the work is about. And we can all look at it and say, “lovely”. And that is all there is to say.

We were having a talk the other day in the studio about this. If someone who makes lovely arrangements of Japanese bits and pieces into collages and then teaches a workshop in doing collage, I would guess that the students would bring to class all their bits and pieces similar to what the instructor uses.  And with a couple reminders from the instructor on good design basics, they would end up with pieces all looking alike. There would be bits of exposed Japanese writing, some beige paper, corrugated card board is often used, a bit of that rich dark red, but not too much, maybe an old piece of wood or an old paint brush, a smear of gesso, something tied down with raffia, you get the idea. And yes, some stitching somewhere.

But if just one person was different. What if the only thing she had that she loved and wanted to use was old plastic bread bag closures in various colors. They are not particularly pretty, so making something beautiful or “lovely” might be out of the question. But to me they seem so much more powerful because she has them for a reason. Some of them have expiration dates on them. Her work becomes about time, expiration, “daily bread” and says something about her as an artist. These little bits of plastic seem so much more powerful and important than the placing of pretty objects. And the work becomes quite likely unforgettable.

And once you see them in an artwork, you do not forget. I still remember a student in my class a good fifteen years ago whose husband told her earlier that month that he did not love her and was leaving after over forty years. He told her this after she had fixed his breakfast. She went to the kitchen and took off the bread bag closure that had that date on it. She used it in a book about her family life.

Anyway the conclusion of the discussion is that some of us look for meaning that simply is not there. Some do work that is just fun to make with pretty materials. And some of us can’t even pick up a bit of anything without the meaning being there first.

Okay enough. My foot is out of the boot. I am in crocs and art group is tomorrow.

Til later.