Sunday, May 31, 2009


I remember being stunned when I read an article discussing the demise of cursive writing...something like 20% or less of students who took the SAT in 2008 wrote the essay part in cursive writing.  The proliferation of keyboarding to communicate and in education is the reason.  The impact of this in my own life has been made clear.  My beloved upgraded the OS system and there are kinks which prevent me from up-loading photos from my hard drive to websites.  I've had at least 3 posts that I wanted to document here and alas...the moments have passed and in retrospect I'm not feeling as enthused to attempt to recapture them.  I could have opened up the gazillion hard copy journals and written in one them along with photos printed directly from my excuses: I couldn't find a good pen, I no longer have a designated space for sitting down to hand write, the lap top occupies the space now, and what of the tap tap tap of the keyboard strokes in a syncopated rhythm which hand writing can't capture, the continuity of my blog will be broken, and in short, I just wasn't feeling it.  I'll be un-plugged this coming week celebrating family-ness and waiting for my beloved to get this all worked out.  Short out-bursts of thoughts will be facebooked this week.


Monday, May 25, 2009

The effectiveness of old dye stock

I pulled out old dye stock and 2 strengths of thickener from the fridge and allowed them to come to room temperature over night for use last Friday the canvas.  Since I didn't feel like bothering with soda soaking I used Afterfix which goes on after the dye is completely dry.  The Afterfix is brushed on dries in about an hour.  It has to completely dry and then the fabric can be washed to remove the Afterfix and the dye remains.  

The dye and thickeners are 9 months old and have not been removed from the fridge since I put them in.  There is no odor to the thickener...seems like I remember reading in Complex Cloth that an amonia smell indicates the thickener is bad. 

I hand-washed the pieces in warm as my hand could stand it water with synthrapol.  I was satisfised with the results and plan to use the remaining dyes for dye-painting.  Here is what I painted today. 


The dye is still wet and will be good and dry when I return to paint on the Afterfix. 



I also tried ink-jet transfers using soft gel medium...the top was on a lighter background and the image was in gray scale.  The image directly above was in colour and the background fabric was darker and I'm thinking the values where too similiar resulting in the lost image.  While I was doing these samples it dawned on me to have my journals either dedicated to "transfers", "embroidery", for example, or either divide up a journal into sections so that I will not have to flip through journals to find (or most often, rediscover) previous samples.  What can I say?  Always slow but sure.

Memorial Day is starting out gray and wet...we are not trekking to the "country" cementary this year but I have fond memories of tradition of going with my Aunts and cousins.  For my mother's family, Memorial Day morphed into remembering the ancestors and not just those who served in the military.  I always used the time to collect family genealogy and stories which I entered into Family Tree Maker, a software program which has since been lost.  Even if I find the back up disc I'm not sure it would even open in the operating systems we have now.  I've thought about re-gathering, rebuilding the information but genealogy is much like quilting for me...enjoyably consuming in time and attention where anything else ceases to exist.  I loved the hunt involved in digging up records (of course much can be done online now) and oral interviews.  Even though I anticipated picking it back up, I don't think I can do it without stressing myself out which would take the pleasure from it.  I don't know if there are any young people in my family who are interested or not...its kinda entertaining to think of the 2nd (3rd?) wave hip-hop generation undertaking genealogy research.(what age demographic is that btw?  15-25).  I think of the first wave being my brother's age in their early 40's now.  The group that was weaned on it.  My 17 year old is writing a paper about the history of hip-hop.  He sees Rap as a sub-genre in Hip-Hop.   He has been struggling with the paper because I can't get it through is thick head that strong research paper goes beyond just citing historians and views of others but should at the heart be his own thoughts, ideas, and impressions of what he has learned, or what he thinks of the thoughts and ideas of others.  When we are talking about it, his self comes through, but he struggles with transfering his spoken words to paper.  At this point I've stopped bumping my head against the wall and I'm leaving him to his own devices and see what transpires between he and his teacher about it.   

Monday, May 18, 2009

Painting Canvas

Don't want to speak too soon but I've got a groove going back in the workshop!!  Whew, I was a worried there for a bit.  This is the beginning of week 3 of getting back on the good foot and I'm putting in 15 hours a week again.  (And week 4 of going to the and Ibuprophen have become close). 

I still have till the end of May (self-imposed timeline) to work with the raw canvas.  Through the Quilting Arts/Interweave site I discovered Alisa Burke and ordered her book, Canvas Remix, and enrolled in her online workshop entitled Graffiti Chic.  The timing to discover her was right on since she focuses on raw canvas.  For a week now I've been painting torn pieces and here is some of the results.  If you want to see a few of them up close, I uploaded some of my faves to Picasa here.


These are torn a little larger than 6"x12".  The first one I showed you I actually completed, really, I'm very satisfied.  Here is what I did to the "moon":



A few months back I took inventory of completed pieces that where exhibit ready and thought "yeah" I can submit to the 4 shows I identified without worry of overlapping...well, today I searched for the forms...I know they are there somewhere...the organization of paper has never been my strong suit.  I considered appealing to Saint Anthony but thought, "no, I'd rather be painting canvas".

  One of the positive reinforcements I received from reading I'd Rather Be In The Studio by A. Stansfield was computer organization of files and folders.  I've got to make time to get the data entered.  One day (3-4 hours) every 2 weeks to get info entered and set up seems reasonable.  By the end of the year I should have everything in that I want in and from there it would be easier to track...right? right. right! 

When I find the forms I promise not to wail (here) about another missed deadline :)

To end this entry on a happier note, here is what I think is the most successful collage I've ever created.  It really isn't "quilted"...the only quilt construction is the red rectangle on the left.  Majority of it is built up from the copper painted canvas.  As far as mounting goes, my thoughts were to paint the stretched canvas off white and attache it, but then yesterday I saw  this on The West Country Buddha blog, and I immediately saw this piece with an attached copper wire for hanging.  As typical for me...I'm gonna sleep on it.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Its all good.

This morning it was a song by Kool Moe Dee on the radio that perked me up...nothing like old school rap...I was just "this close" to break dancing and annoying my 17 year old.  'He ain't up on it like that', nor could he appreciate it from an historical perspective...his loss.

I am still rolling (slowly, but still, ya know) at the gym 3 times a week.  This week I added an additional 5 minutes on the treadmill.  Since I've been doing this, its a must for me to take an additional nap during the day and I sleep very deep...a few hours of sleep feels like the next day when I wake up.  My sleep through the night is still broken up, never more than 4 hours straight.  Sometimes I can get back to sleep, but on the nights that I can't I so wish I had my workshop accessible.  When ideas flow in the middle of the night and at the time they seem so fantastic that I just know I'm going to remember them, right!?  Well sometimes I'll write them down. :)

The colour is slightly off, but here is the piece from the previous posts.  You will see I haven't attached the copper wire ring.  Thank you to all the commentors who left suggestions on how to attach it.  I'm still pondering them. I'm leaning toward putting in two holes and using a flat washer painted copper instead.  I mixed the charcoal paint with gel medium and painted the four sides.  I've yet to decide how to hang it, either frame or mounted to a stretched painted canvas...but for the moment I'm considering it complete.


The learning lesson here: painted canvas is unforgiving when stitches have to be stitches are the language of committment! 

Here is an in-process close-up of the next 6"x12".  This is raw and rough.  My current book and the one before present information/perspectives about The Slave Trade during The Middle Passage.  The raw and rough feel to this could possibly be a manifestation of what I'm carrying around as a result of reading Lose Your Mother by S. Hartman and The Slave Ship by M. Reidiker.


Friday, May 8, 2009

I need your help...

Really, I need suggestions on how to attach this piece of copper.  What would a mixed media artist use to attach this, is the question I posed to myself.  I really don't want to use thread...I thought about copper jewelry wire but I'm not sure how strong it is...would it snap or break?  I thought about stringing the charcoal beads and using them to intertwine throughout the copper circle and it would also secure them down using fishing line. 




I didn't go with the black lines, instead I pulled the colours at the top into the bottom using thread and then will pull the charcoal into the top with the tiny beads.

I want to make 10 of these before the end of May.  These are small, 6"x12" simple designs and exercises in colour combinations.   I like the size and the design and after flipping through old sketch books I saw several of quick sketches just like is even a postcard I made in 2006 with pretty much the same design.  I called it House of Peace. 


 I'm also still uncertain how I'm going to finish the edges.  the canvas is to stiff and thick to roll back using a facing and I do not want to zig-zag...if I did a satin stitch I would want perfect matching thread for the charcoal and the coppery coloured top half.  What if I mounted it on foamcore and then used heavy weight card stock to cover the edges????  I even thought about mounting them on stretched canvas and either using rice paste glue or Y.E.S. glue or a permanent spray adhesive to attach it to the canvas? 

Since I declared Wednesday that I'm getting back on the good foot and shaking off the funk, I've spent 6.5 hours at my workshop.  I did bring somethings to work on while I'm home just in case I do not make it back tomorrow.  On weekends I have to have flexibility since my guys, youngest son and adorable partner, are out of school and off from work.  But I'll be back at the gym tomorrow and am looking forward to it (I can't remember ever feeling like that before...I use to look forward to jazzercise because my sister and I would stop afterwards and get ice cream that was next door to jazzercise).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

From Piddlin' to Productive.

Workshop Companion 001

You got to use your imagination...clean vertical lines in the gray area, close together in size 12wt cotton...a singular vertical line of black tube beads about an inch in from the right....the black lines near the circle will maintain the circular edge under the stitches in the copper section but the tiniest of seed beads (not sure of the colour) sprinkled in.  I thought of placing a little bit of shimmer under the circle but didn't want the metallic reflection to go into overkill.  I'm going to bead around the circle.  These pieces are for design and familiarity with canvas.  I don't have a jean needle which is what I'd prefer to sew through this...I'm going to try it with a universal needle, size 14.  I'm trying to decide on just how to finish the edges...I know I want it clean but not bulky...there will be black batting but I'm thinking the back will be either heavy water colour paper or sewn to black foamcore.  Any suggestions??????

Here is the piece I'm beading on in the previous post:

Workshop Companion 003 

There will be more beading but this is what I did to wind down the last 20 minutes in the workshop.  Its about 12inch-ess by 14 inch-ess, meaning I'm just guessing at measurement.  Deborah, my sister, wants this one but wants me to make another one with a mirror image.  When she told me, I was like "really????"; this is the type of exploratory busy playing around that I would only share here on my blog and then hang at home or store for reference, so I was kinda shocked when she said she wanted it.  When I started this piece I just wanted to work with the zig-zag free motion stitching, thread painting, and straight stitch free motion.  The beading was added because it relaxes me and I want to use my statsh...I discovered today that I don't really have a good assortment of purple or orange beads.  There was something else I discovered today while painting.....ummm....oh, I like Golden's Zinc White in fluid acryllic.  It is such a very bright clean white that plays well with other colours.  The bottle I have is a 1 oz bottle and its almost gone.  I also love Setacolour's Raw Sienna.  Need to remember this in order to save for larger bottles.


When I go to the gym (all of week 2) it is early morning and most of the people there are clearly senior I'm almost 50, but the folks I encounter are people, without hesitation, I say are my elders.  They see me with the oxygen tank and come over to give me encouragement and advice to take it slow and build up gradually...and some joke with me about returning...I get so tickled inside because these 70+ year old individuals are the ones hogging the treadmills and bikes going at rapid speed.  So with that surrounding me, I couldn't quit if I wanted to!  Seriously, I feel very much at ease and not at all intimidated.  On Mondays, 2 women play raquetball and I can see them when I'm on the weight machines and I do wish I had that type of stamina.  One of my senior buddies caught me watching them and I guess she could tell I was a little saddened...she came up to me and said "don't worry, that will be me and you next year"...we fell out laughing.  I told her I was going to hold her to that. 

I left there and picked up my oldest and his 3 y.o. son and went to breakfast...I left the camera in the car otherwise I would have thrown up a cute-grandchild photo. 





Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Really Do Have Everything I Need...

and then some to create art quilts!  This statement has become a personal affirmation that I say often. I've got to get back on top of my throne...I've got to shake the funk off...I've got to get with it or quit it (something my mother use to say).  I've given myself grace to piddle long enough! As of tomorrow (dare I type this out loud), but let me say it again...AS OF TOMORROW I'm returning to a minimum of 15 hours each week at my workshop and for the next few weeks...I'll work with the painted canvas strips and then when June rolls around I will return to The Poetry Series!  I've said it here...and friends, family, and strangers who read here, don't hesitate to call me on the carpet if I stray from this plan.  I of all people know that the lights are never green at the same time and waiting around for everything to be "perfect", whatever that really is, doesn't make sense in the world of the peasant woman that I profess to be.  I'm placing the brakes on all the introspection and philosophising and lamenting over the malaise and physical hurdles that characterize what feels like months.  (The good thing about keeping a blog for me is that I can go back and read previous weeks to get a perspective shift...very similiar to when my kids would say "You always..." or "I never..." when that isn't the truth but only FEELS like it).  In the moment of funkified-ness it seems all encompassing and like its been that way all the time.  I was even leaning toward "i'm not worthy to be an artist"  "what have i made that was worthwhile or of any value".  Ooops upside my head!  Why in the world am I entertaining Evilina at my dining table and pouring her a glass of wine??????? 

While Todd was cutting my table


I was starting a database to inventory all the things in my workshop and deciding to kick Evilina out and reminding myself that I really do have every thing I need including the most valuable component, ME!

After Todd left I did just a little bit of putting things back where they need to be and ended by doing some beading.  This is the type of work I like to bring home and do late night if I happen to be up...most of the time I never get around to it here at home.  Piddlin' will be relegated to small spans of time and will not be the main use of my time...beginning tomorrow!




Here are more canvas strips...digging the gray with the sienna and gold!



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Piddlin'

Yesterday I sat down and ripped unprimed canvas for what I thought would be the beginning of my first fabric book but after painting them, I started seeing small quilts.  I kept telling myself there will be time for that later and just play with getting a book made.  This is where I left it.  Since Saturday I'm been physically run down with a feels like a tooth ache, swollen gums but all over my body. In spite of feeling not my best I made it to the gym to walk (sllllllllooooooooowly) on the treadmill and to pedal (sllllllooooooooooowly) on the reclining bike.  Having been spurred by Juanita's discipline and my oldest son's workout, I've gone all of 4 times since Monday a week ago.  Today is a designated rest day but I did manage to meet the carpenter this morning who will convert a table for me into a sewing table.  He will actually do the work tomorrow on the table I found on Craigslist...the source for most of my workshop furniture. 


I think quilts with canvas is in my future.  I like the texturized look of the canvas and the weight of the drape...kinda heavy and slow moving like me.  I have a yard of hemp that I've been saving for years and hope that working with the canvas will give me the courage to use the hemp...the texture is there but the drape is comparatively lighter than canvas. 

Speaking of lighter, I took advantage of the break in last weeks weather and went to get my head shaved...(with a new barber, I always feel like I'm cheating on Rolando who has cut my hair for 20 years).  He did a fabulous job and then I even went to get my brows waxed using a gift card I had forgotten about, suki suki now!...These 2 things do wonders for my disposition, I tell ya! But alas, it did turn damp and gray again...but at the moment I can see the sun is trying to shine...but I'm off to take a nap.


very close crop!!!!!


pieces of painted canvas, experimenting with various paints...