Tedious Weather – Escaping Into Cloth

This is the view out the dining room window….day after day after day after….

So I went outside to find the beautiful details of what so much rain can do. Lichen!

I really love this last image. Only some of the Japanese maples have lichen like this on them….many others do not. Must have something to do with the bark. You see that light blueish green color  there? It is the exact color of an Italian green earth pigment that a friend found for me at the Rembrandt Museum. Such a nice thoughtful gift to get yesterday.  Lee received a jar of Sir Basil’s Marmalade. The same friend does our Costco shopping on his way from the airport to Brasstown whenever he comes this way. Two to three times a year we get household necessities in bulk thanks to him.

The stitching goes on at a frantic pace this past week. Forget that “slow stitching” idea. Once threaded and pinned why wait?

So far I have three folios completed on both sides.

And the front side of another folio is finished.

On some of these pages I am using a cloth that Philomena Hali dyed with the soils of Alice Springs. She gave me a strip of the cloth and I used an image of it in my Earthen Pigments book…then of course stored it away til later. It is now later and makes a nice background for my scraps of cloth.

I like how they all feel when folded and stacked one on top of the other. So a book of them is most likely.

The suitcase for Australia is getting fuller by the minute. It is a carry on size but I always check it because of the tools, etc that travel with me. I may have to add some poplar boards for the white line printmaking class. The only wood that works well over there is a very expensive Japanese magnolia sold in print making supply stores. Most of the printmakers I follow down under are using linoleum for block prints. And that just will not work for the white line technique.

The quandary is that I do not want Lee using the table saw at this point and I am scared to death of that finger-eating machine. My son will be here the night before I leave so maybe he will cut up the boards for me and they can be sanded when I get there.

I also might just enlarge my carry on bag to put clothes in. I really hate looking like a helpless old lady who can’t get her bag stuffed in the overhead. It is time to get serious about that packing and stop putting it off. Two weeks from today I will be in Hobart, Tasmania with all my bits and pieces still with me until a friend puts me and them in her car to head to Halls Gap. And when I am there I take advantage of the Post Office to ship things home that will not fit into my bags.

The stupid crow is still banging on the guest room window. I will find something to hang there so that those coming to stay with Lee are not disturbed too much. Scraps of cloth should do it in lieu of a scarecrow.

Not much else new here…..just getting fidgety…..well more fidgety.

Til later.

My Meditation Journaling Satchel

Well instead of thinking I had to make a special container, I found these. They are a set of small travel bags that I bought at a Kathmandu store in Salamanca in Hobart Tasmania. They fitted inside one another and were easy to purchase and pack in my suitcase. The only other thing I bought at that store was a shirt. The clothes at a Kathmandu store are for hikers and trekkers. The sizes range from a weak Asian woman size to one who might have seen the inside of gym. The useless shirt is still in the bottom of a drawer.

Anyway.

These travel bags were used for many years to hold the bits I needed to process soils into pigments for watercolors. They were filled with the evidence of that. But when I saw them I wondered if when cleaned up and filled with the varying parts needed for sewing small meditations, they would become one single carry bag that could go anywhere with me around the house.

So what you see above is the smallest one on the left with the needle pin case, pen, pencil, scissors and threads. It sits on top of the open lid to the middle bag with different fabrics rolled up. Some are scraps of old clothes, some of silks, some botanically dyed, some rough scrim that has been rusted and plain linens. Each bundle is rolled tightly and nestles in the pouch. That bag is sitting on top of the open lid of the largest one that holds a journal to write in and pieces of cloth folded in half.

The linen covered journal I bought in Japan in 1998 and over the years only made marks on the pages so I wasn’t facing a blank journal when I wanted to use it. The beige cloth is some woven silk I bought about twenty-five years ago because I loved it. Other cloth is from not so successful dyeing techniques. (The repairman might have right when he suggested I need to look up the meaning of “hoarding”.)

So rather than make up another object to do the job of something I already have, I am using this little bundle. Here it is closed.

It is less than 9″ by 6″ and only 2.5″ when zipped closed. How handy is that!

So I sat and stitched while sitting with Lee in the den. All I had to do was cut some bits of cloth, thread a needle, make that pesky knot on one end and hold all the pieces together where I pinned them.

After two days I have this folio completed.

They are meant to be folded in half like a book folio and the slightly larger beige silk will also be stitched on to then become the back side of the folio. Then if I make a book some day with all the pieces I won’t have to look at the backs.

So these are the scraps saved for someday. These are the threads that I collected in every town in Australia that had a thread store for the sole purpose of keeping a record of all the colors I saw on the way there. These are the tiny scraps of silks dug out of bins at Beautiful Silks in Warnabool, VIC. These are the markings of my day in cloth and threads. And I will use the book to write a bit of a feeling, observation. I may not do this every day but it is so nice to know I have this small place to go and still be here.

The only thing I added just this morning was a small container of beads that my threaded needle will pass through. Sometimes you just need a bead or two.

As soon as the cleaning lady finishes cleaning around Lee in the den, I will head up there and pick up the little satchel, put on my glasses to thread the needle and maybe start the page that will back this one. Or maybe I will sit in the studio and look at all the things that I should be doing in there….all the books that need sorted….all the things I want to give away….packing my suitcase for Australia….

I did promise Robyn Gordon that I would send her a picture of my satchel, so I will put that on her page before I do anything else.

Til later.

 

Dreary Days Make Me Think Too Much

Just a bit of snow the other day. If those grey clouds are going to hang around and block out the sun then they might as well do something besides rain, rain, rain.

The grayness gets to me. It gets in my head and I have enough in there already.

My hands continue and I am now on the third one. Lee stopped driving to the dump/garbage/recycle place here in the area. And I think with his increasing leg pain every time he feeds the deer and birds at dawn that the chore will fall to me as well. Recently I just had to remind him but now I will load the pails and head out and climb the hill myself. I can do it. They count on feed being there and it gives us such pleasure to watch them.

Second hand filled in and the start of a new one….garbage bags and reading menus.

And I finished the long scroll of the bits of things around the studio to put in a wine bottle.

Here is what I wrote at the end of the scroll.

 

These are the things that

lay around my artist studio.

 

I am older and do not

rely on them so much anymore

to inspire,

assist,

and fill my hands with desires

to give them a place

in my work.

 

So I leave them for you

in the only way I can.

 

Listen to what

they can tell you.

S. Webster 2019

 

It was a fun thing to do and now the scroll is rolled very tightly to fit into the perfect bottle neck. I am thinking a single malt or chardonnay….and then of course, an ocean.

Yesterday I ordered some new clothes. It is the only way I can shop now. Order online and then send back if they are not what I had hoped for. I will spend some time at the sewing machine as well, altering and changing up some of my own clothes. It won’t take much to fill a small suitcase for March’s trip to Australia.

I would like to take a cab to Havana Blue while in Melbourne. Something about all those drapey linens and stunning neck pieces might just warrant a closer look. I will pass on the hats that make all their mannequins look like mushrooms. Also I need to get to Melbourne Etching as a trip to that town is not complete without picking up the latest Imprint magazine and more small vinyl etching plates. And they might just have a tool that I will think necessary.

Today is a good day to prepare the next scroll for a bottle. Maybe a short story this time. A friend posted a picture for me on facebook and before I could stop myself, a whole story about who lived in the cabin set out in the middle of a paddock starting fermenting. Maybe I will put that bearded red-haired man and his loneliness in a bottle for someone else to figure what to do with him.

I am finding it hard to shut my mind off at times. Funny that my brain muscle does not wear down with age like the rest of the parts I rely on.

Here’s another picture of the snow from the front door.

We are so looking forward to tiny green buds on those trees.

I was going to wait to post this one….but why bother. Here it is.

Til next time.

A Remarkable Australian Basket Maker

I have wanted to talk about an extraordinary basket maker in Australia for some time now. Judy Gray-Gardner. In the above picture there are five of her small pieces that she gave to me a very long time ago. It was so generous of her and I would seek her out whenever attending a basket conference over there just to see what she was up to. Sometimes we would sit and weave together and other times she would show me a technique.

I will talk about each of the five pieces and what I remember about them in a bit but first to the other things on the shelf. The assemblage next to the basket box (which is actually an old drawer) was made by a charming man who bought a church in Campbelltown, Tasmania and turned it into a restaurant. I don’t think it is still a restaurant but when he owned it he collected bits and pieces to make into art. There is a fairy penguin bone perched atop a bit of wood, some bit of leather with eyelets, a bit of barn wood with an old brooch of turquoise pieces on brass. He was grey-haired, bearded as I recall, a good cook, and charming so how could I not purchase an artwork of his to stuff in the suitcase.

Below that piece is a student’s clay olive bottle. I bought it from him at a student show at Arrowmont more than ten years ago. Never used it for oil but keep it next to this gourd voodoo basket from Africa. All the beads on strings jiggle when you pick it up and when opened reveal all the strings hanging inside.  I bought it at a fiber conference for my daughter and when I gave it to her I said, “It’s a voodoo piece. Let’s write the name of someone we don’t like on a piece of paper and put inside then give it a good shake at midnight. In the morning we will give them a call and see how they are feeling.” Her response…..”Why don’t you just keep it, mom.”  I never did try that exercise but with our present white house occupant, I might reconsider.

Other pieces in the box are Toni Rogers’ sticks with burned patterns. These were the first ones I acquired as a gift and bought several more from her over the years. Toni is another wonderful artist using natural fibers in her work. Other than those sticks it is just a magnolia pod and some driftwood.

So now back to Judy.

I know, I know there is quite a bit of dust on these. But I do not let my cleaning lady take them out and I really did not see how much dust there was until I moved the photos from my iphone to here. So just overlook it. This one I always thought she told me was rosemary. Maybe in the middle. It no long smells of anything but maybe dust. But what I like about her technique here is this grass looking crochet type of lashing in different directions to hold it all together.

And this random woven vine ball.

And coiled jacaranda stems. Judy’s stitches are so even and I think it took a bit of strength to keep this shape and control over those stems. Here is the other end that might be the starting point.

And a coiled corn husk ball. Again look at those even stitches.

And my favorite, a red hot poker boucle coiled piece.

You can see that same cord lashing the coils together. Judy showed me how to make this boucle cordage at a basket conference in Tasmania. We had set aside some time for her to show me and she had the red hot poker stems all soaked and ready. With two pieces of the wet leaf in your left hand held tight with the thumb and forefinger, you use the right hand to twist away from you and before you cross it over to the left and pick up that part with your right, you over twist until it turns back on itself. Brilliant! It takes quite a bit of the leaves to do this as it is curling back on itself, but I love the look of it. And it would have taken so much time for her to make the materials for this small ball that is so much fun to hold in your hands.

The last time I experienced Judy’s generosity was when my daughter (same one who declined ownership of the voodoo basket) and I stayed with her in Adelaide. Judy showed us how to eat big lumps of avocado on wheat toast and call it breakfast. With her friendly neighbors Judy taught us how to play Hoy. It was a game with cards or bingo bits, I don’t remember exactly because it was twelve years ago. But the best part was if you were the winner, you got chocolate and if you were one of the many losers, you got hard candy, or lollies as they say over there. How fun is that!

Anyway, I just wanted to show Judy’s work and say how much I love these pieces and her generosity in just insisting I take them. And her time showing me how to do something with basket materials. I will not be attending the National Basket Conference in South Australia this year. It will be near Adelaide and if anyone sees Judy there, please give her my best. And if she has left this world to gather materials somewhere else…..well, she was certainly one of the best that was on offer down under.

Til next time.