Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Waded in the water

Water can be a destructive force.  Water can be a cleansing, life sustaining force.  The traits of water makes it the perfect metaphor for discussing change. 


The flood gave me the opportunity to redo my sewing space.  In spite of the frustrations and added gray hairs and fits of emotion during the restoration, the new space is more open and better.  I had moments that I doubted it would ever come together before spring of next year and at times contemplated becoming solely a hand stitcher.  During this time I thought a lot about 3 hand stitchers whose blogs I read and work I find beautiful, Gerdiary, Jude Hill, and Judy Martin.  I tried to imagine their processes.  I know that I love the pace of hand quilting and find it deeply prayerful.  But I imagined there must be a different mindset when one's primary processes are in a slow hand method.  For one, it is portable which eliminates the requirement of one single location to sew. Second it doesn't depend on electricity (unless one uses a treadle) which gives the option to be outside when the weather permits.  Third, one wouldn't need as many tools which again adds to portability. And possibly, over time, one's knowledge base of how cloth handles and how certain types of needles handle are more keen.  It produces a distinctive "hand" it the outcome of the art.  Although I admire it greatly, the processes, the knowledge, and the outcome, for me it is an additional process and not central to what I want to create. I wouldn't be happy...thus I have to have a "spot" to root to do what I do.


In late September, in the midst of all my artist angst (can't you hear Regina Carter playing the musical score to my blues?), without any heavy pre-planning and human designed intent, I and another artist signed a lease at Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Complex.  A complex I've watched develop since its inception and visit when I want to have an "artist date".  Its full of artist studios, galleries, and retail spaces but maintains the unpolished and raw vibe that attracts me and makes me comfortable.


   It happened like this:  I had been there a few months prior and saw a sign for a sub-lease and on a whim I called it.  After that phone call, I called Estella after and we kicked the idea around...since the summer, on occassions, the topic of "space" would arise in our conversations but nothing with any "intent"....just casually speaking.  It was on that one day late in September when she and another sister-friend, Mary, was able to make it back there with me.  The space was gone but there was another space, an even better space (keep in mind we had no plans that day other than to browse).  We called over to the office and the manager came and told us the scoop...after listening we both looked at one another with Mary's approving glance (you know how when you know people well and a long time you can communicate telepathically?) and said "we'll take it".  Now the funny part is that neither one of us had any money but told Scooter, the manager, that we would return the next morning and be there when she arrived.  It just took us a few hours to rob our own stashes and we returned pronto the next morning.


It is 275 sq. feet.  It offers a break from The Basement Workshop which I sometimes need since the dynamics of my parent's household has changed, not necessarily for the worst, but to the extent my heart sometimes  aches too much to be there as much.  The new space is called The Beauty of Holiness Studio and Gallery.  It will serve as a space to machine needle felt, hand quilt, display my finished quilts, and put small things to sell.  The other artist will use it for displaying items and selling her small pieces and books.  I've known her for close to 30 years and consider her my sister of the heart.  She is recovering from cancer and her recent hand crafts is one of the ways she is helping herself heal.


I have this train of thought running through my head,..how less than 2 years ago I was sewing on my kitchen table and did that for 4 years, trying to make sure I didn't drop needles in the carpet, not get food stains on my cloth, find corners here in the apartment to store my things, the time it took me to repack and sew for a few hours before I had to repack again, and on and on...and NOW, WOW!  We can never know what lays ahead, bad and good, we just never know what is ahead, but the process remains the same and that is to trust the process.  It is easier said when things are working in my favor and harder to remember when they are not and the grief appears all encompassing (like how children use always and never to refer to a singular circumstance not going their way). 

I hope someone finds encouragement and hope in this post.  Not necessarily about artist spaces or studios, but whatever it is that one feels "if something doesn't change I'm going to loose my mind" over.


But as with life, it is always bitter sweet...you can't have one without the other.  For 2 weeks now, we're a 1 car family.  It seems the computer on my car is giving my transmission error messages and totally unrelated to that, my catalytic converter is going out.  The dealer wants a massive amount of money to repair with a base starting in the neighborhood of 2800.  I picked it up from the dealer and its sitting for the moment and I'm only mildly annoyed by it.  I just kinda feel sorry for Peter.  His 91 Camry he purchased new has barely 100,000 miles on it...he does very little driving and me, well, I'm afraid if I calculate how much time I spend in my car it would far outpass how much time I spend any other place.  He works close to the new studio space and that has been convenient and I'm being considerate of his practicality and striking a balance with the amount of running around I do...the real plus side is that we're in the car so much together now that it feels llike when we were "dating".  Now if he comes around and opens my car door like he USED to do, I might take him to a secluded section at UofL's library like we did back in the day ;) (smooch smooch)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Small joys; Great happiness...

Most of my handiness goes into the making of art that when it comes time to get it properly photographed, hung, and even submitted to exhibits, I find I'm left deft and confused and tired.  Multi-tasking has never been my strong suit and in fact I find it over-rated.  The ability to focus and concentrate deeply on several closely related tasks is my gift (although in the last few years this has been challenged).  I'm a slow thinker...it takes my brain a while to shift when its time to move on to another topic, task  especially when it is a shift from generating creativity to pragmatic matters at hand.  Thats the way I'm wired but I keep trying to learn to re-wire some parts that will allow me to complete the cycle of productivity.  I don't know why I'm talking about this here other than to say I've spent most of the day thinking about how to display 4 small pieces.  I want them matted and framed but without glass covering them.  From there I think "I should learn to mat and frame my own pieces".  From here I jump to "but damn, thats just another thing to learn and there is only one of me".   I know, I know, I make myself crazy this way...but it always comes back to the thrill of the process of making the art and this is where I want to use my time and resources and all else let come what may and I'll deal with the consequences. Its is especially sweet and its own reward when I create pieces I love such as the pieces below.  I forgot I had a 12"x6" series going back in the summer...it gave me joy to uncover them.

Img007 Crossroads

Img008 Sunset (how cliche a title?)

Copper Sun



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Laid Back Sewing and Design

After clearing off my paint/cutting table, which didn't take me that long, there was no need to wait until Monday to start sewing.  I meditated first and then selected some blocks that I've had for some time and dibbled and dabbled with for a few years.  I purchased these hand-dyed 2 inch squares from Wendy Richardson at AQS in Paducah.  I loved them so much I came home and ordered another box of them.  I used some of them to make placemats for a girlfriend who was having a show of her hand-made dinner works in clay,...but that was at least 3 years ago if not longer.  So these gems have been around at least that long.  Over the past summer when I hung out for a day with some quilt buds I sewed them together in a 4-patch just to have something to sew.

What was important to me today was just to work calmly and steadily and sewing the squares together provided me this.  Once I started arranging them, it became about colour and value...nothing more.  Then after I was satisfied with the arrangement I wanted to introduce another fabric which was a soft entry for me to start thinking about design.  Here is where I left it:


b/w filter applied to check for value placement

I'm not going to make any plans for it before I return on Monday but will design in the moment as I go and see what occurs.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Enough is Enough!

Thats what I said to myself...all the impatience, all the lamenting, all the self-doubting...so what if I will not be able to pick up the groove where I left off in July, stop complaining about how dry the well is when all I have to do is turn around and I'm facing a river...

Finally! I'm using my machine needle felting and for this moment in time it is enough.  I even laughed when I broke 3 needles in the first 15 minutes of use...(what movie is this from: "I laugh in the face of danger"...I can't recall).

My first attempt was using silk fusion as a base and dmc embroidery floss that was already stitched into the silk.  After the needles broke I switched over to china silk with wool roving and it glides like hot buttered soul...can you dig it? 


This is my practice piece...I have water-soluble stablizer underneath the silk and I am not using a hoop.  The next one I'll use a hoop and not the stabilizer and the 3rd piece I'll use them both together to see if there is any difference.  Without anything (wool into silk, no stabilizer) there is more bunching of the silk foundation...maybe there is a point where it will equalize out the same as using the stabilizer but I didn't want to use my time to discover this as it does consume time just to complete a small area. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

And she danced off into the aether!

I'm having fun..trying to squeeze as much out of the days as I can before the season who will not be mentioned sets in.  The last five or so days I've been marinating in the memory of spending time with artist Penny Sisto in her home and studio up in the knobs over in Indiana.  Its gorgeous there this time of year and her home is a meditation all to itself...and when you add in her fun and beautiful spirit it was a retreat and vacation from the concrete and wires and metal of a city steeped in commerce that I call home.

While there Penny showed me how she paints on fabric with wild abandonment and then looks into the fabric to see what emerges...very similiar to what Mystele calls "Gut Art".  The piece below is what came for me and I fell in love with it and trying to discover just who this was going to be.  I had a general idea but it wasn't quite affirmed.  On the ride home I kept looking at it but then decided to fold it up in the weathered "teepee" fabric she had given me for a possible background.  Well, beloveds, when I arrived hom and unfolded the fabric, she was gone.  I've looked all throughout my car and around it...she is gone!  I'll employ the Saint Anthony prayer (been using it for nearly 25 years and I know it works...if its not found after I employ Saint Anthony...IT AIN"T TO BE FOUND!  I have about a dozen small bags to riffle through and I'm hoping she will be in one of them...but as it stands now she has danced off into the aether!


Another big girl fun time was attending the grand-opening of Earthworks at the Carnegie in New Albany, Inidia...Congratulations to Valerie White,Pat DaRif, and Joanne Weiss (doesn't have an online presence) on a well put together exhibit that also heightens awareness to our MotherEarth and her struggles which are really our struggles.  November 7 and December 3 the artists will give a Gallery Talk.  This opening drew some of the art heavy weights out too, sculptorEd Hamilton, scuptor William Duffy, and scholar/artist Bob Douglass.  You have until December 30th to see Earthworks...get there!