Sunday, November 30, 2008

rainy Sunday

Sigh...the last day of a lovely, long weekend. I took my pile of shibori'd fabric with me to the studio so I could trim and throw some at the wall and see what I had done. This color is somewhat inaccurate and this is by no means a composition or a piece -- but rather an inventory of what might work together. Naturally, in the midst of pressing all these pieces, my Black & Decker iron stopped, cold. Grrrr... So I cleaned up (sort of), pole-wrapped some silk and threw it into a dye bucket, along with one of my work shirts that needed a little jazzing up. By that time, it was 5:00 and time to head home. As I left the building, I was dazzled by the reflections of the lights on the wet pavement of the parking lot and despite the rain, took out my camera. These shots have not been manipulated: they are just as they came from the camera.
The bright upstairs window is the hallway where the light is on 24/7.
The parking lot view from the passenger's side of my car.There is a concrete plant across the street - you can see the wall.
A better view. This gritty, industrial scene is so beautiful at night.
Life is full of surprises - my cheapo camera with the bad focus has just given me some gifts, which are going into my "inspiration" file.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This charming painting arrived a few days ago from Regina Dwarkasing who lives in St.Maarten, along with some actual PODS. Wow, Regina - thanks!! I will be so happy when I can get back to my print studio and get busy with them. I love what you did with them here. Regina had read my post about the pods on the trees at Rutgers last month and generously sent me some from the tree in the only park on the island. I am truly honored and I promise to post what I do with them. I already have a couple of ideas. In the meantime, today I was back to the shibori buckets. This process is not for the faint of heart (or weak of muscle) -nor is it for people who are - ahem - impatient. I was dyeing in the kitchen, which is not my preference - but the 5 gal buckets are too heavy to be anywhere but in the sink, where I can dump them out without having to carry them anywhere. It seems that if I am going to do this in my studio, where the sink is down the hall, I will have to figure out a lwi process for it. Today,everything I dyed seemed to come out purple. Actually, I was overdyeing some things I wasn't happy with - and some of them have a long way to go. (what else is new?). Both of these were more blah before I reworked them. They were, as you can tell, one piece. I tore them in two and shibori'd them differently. The one on the right is more interesting but they might just work well together somewhere. This piece started with white and I think I threw it into some black dye. It is a lovely shade of green. Don't ask me what I did with the fabric - I have no idea. I guess I should be writing down what I do with each piece - but I'm in too much of a rush. This was an overdye of a white fabric that had bits of orange on it. Better than all that white.The dilemma is how to use them, but I guess that's the same dilemma we all have with fabrics we've printed. Shibori is ofen so strong that it can overwhelm something else -and it's a matter of using it so it works with your other fabrics and with your own style. Putting beautiful fabrics together does not necessarily become a piece of art just because. I figure this is a good opp for me to work on composition - but to me, the work still has to say something or it is just an exercise. Of course, that's ME. Not everybody feels that way - and I think it would be easier if I didn't. Oh,dear-myspacebarhasstoppedworking-so-I-will-say-goodnight.I-think-it-is-time-to-contemplate-buying-a-new-laptop.AARRGH.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I was too busy cooking and baking to post yesterday and I am happy to have two days during which to recover from all the festivities (and accompanying gluttony). I baked two of these pecan pies - one to take with us to our hostess and the other to remain here. I barely had a sliver of the one we took with us and haven't had any of this one (although the other household member has already had two pieces, starting last night when we got home from a non-stop banquet - go figure). Pecan pie is my favorite but I am always disappointed when I order it in a restaurant. Mine is less sweet than all the others in the world and except for Ms. Parrot's pie, it is the best I have ever had. For me, akin to Proust's madeleine; one taste and it brings back memories. Ms. Parrot was a cook and baker who cooked for a doctor. She and her sister (each of whom seemed to be 100 years old in the 1950's and 60's) lived together in a house on Hartley Street, across the street from the parking lot behind my father's store. When Ms. Parrot asked my father whether she could pay to park her car in his lot at night the answer was "of course you can park but I will not accept any money." So, periodically, Ms. Parrot would come to the store bearing gifts of her baked goods, which daddy brought home to us. Brownies. And at Thanksgiving, always a pumpkin chiffon pie and a pecan pie. Her brownies were dark and buttery and not overly sweet. Not fans of pumpkin, we nevertheless loved her chiffon pie because it was light and not overly pumpkin-y. And the pecan pie was to die for, pure and simple. As a professional baker, she refused to divulge her recipes, but I was determined to find their equals and make them myself. I have never been able to duplicate the pumpkin chiffon pie and have given up trying. But I now make brownies that are taste like hers -- and I kept trying pecan pie recipes till I found one that puts me back sitting around the table in my mother' 1950's kitchen. And I see my father's face.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How did it get to be so late? I spent the evening playing with shibori, but the results were not as dramatic or successful as they were in class. I was trying to do too much in too little space/time. A few came out well, the others I need to redo. The linen I wrapped was really too much volume for the size of the pole and while I got a gorgeous pattern, it was only on one end of the fabric. More, tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ok, ok, OK!

I promised I'd continue about the workshop, so here I am again. It's Tuesday morning and I am going to finish what I started yesterday before I start my multi-tasking for the day (paying my mother's bills, cooking, baking, going to the doctor and TRYING to find time to do a small shibori thing). This is one of my pieces -- bamboo skewers and rubber bands. Gloria Hansen's blog has fabulous pix (she was non-stop with the camera) and it turns out that she and I took a lot of similar shots - so check her blog when you're done here. In the meantime, here are some pictures that she doesn't have on her blog - LOL. Some of my own favorites. I love the serendipity -- and of course, I can't remember what I did to get these results - but even if I did the same thing again, it would be different.
That's enoughfor now. I had better get back to real life and the chores at hand. For those of you who asked, Jan Myers-Newbury does not have a website and I don't know her e-mail address, so I would think the best way to contact her if you want to book her for a workshop is to contact the Pittsburgh Fiber Arts Guild and have them forward your message to her. I think their website has her schedule listed if you want to take a workshop with her. Don't forget to check Gloria's blog for more great pictures.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Put me into rehab

I've got another addiction. I started to post last night about Shibori Heaven day #2 but was just too tired to continue. So I scrapped the post and you'll get two days worth tonight, if I don't conk out en route. Jan is a wonderful, giving, teacher and you should RUN if you have a chance to take a class with her. Pictures are worth pages of blablabla inutile, so here are some of yesterday's surprise packages when we emptied the dye pots. The circle was stitched shibori. Gorgeous. Somebody asked what the poles were for. We used the PVC pipes to wrap/tie and or twist and scrunch our fabrics as we wrapped them around the pipes. Results vary, depending on the diameter of the pipe and a million other variables. Too tired to post any more. To be continued.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

shibori heaven

It's 1:am and Benedicte and I just finished doing our homework for tomorrow. Stitching, clamping, wrapping. And most important, putting our names on our cloth...because once it comes out of the dye bath you have no clue whose piece it is unless you've signed it. Here, Jan was about to demonstrate one way of pole wrapping. But that was early this morning and it seems like eons ago: we can hardly remember the process by now -- there have been so many other things in between. Notice the rapt attention Gloria and Colleen are paying while Sherryl gets ready to take her own picture of the demonstration. Benedicte IS adding soda ash to the buckets: she and I were the chief stirrers this morning -- every 15 minutes we waltzed into the other room and put our hands in the buckets after the cloth had been thrown into the dye. I still don't understand how I got dye on my right hand while I was wearing my long, heavy rubber gloves. Of course, Benedicte's were the crème de la crème of heavy duty gloves - but oh, well - I guess I can check out her supplier. Here are the somewhat crowded buckets while the dye was working its magic. Looks like a mess, doesn't it? But wait till you see what some of the results were...Cut to the end of the day and Jan was giving a stitching demo - which was, in fact, part of our homework tonight. Not my cuppa, as you can imagine - but we'll see what tomorrow's results bring. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 21, 2008

It really IS Friday!!

Finally, caught up with my wishful thinking. Benedicte is here and we had an interesting afternoon -- well at least a couple of hours -- playing with soy wax and silk in the studio. We went back into a couple of scarves that I was not entirely happy with (that is an understatement). The "before" pictures weren't even worth taking, but here they are in the second round. The first one, Benedicte went back into with more wax and more color and it is a great combination of colors. Makes me look like a bad embalming job but it would be gorgeous on the right person. The other was deadly but is livelier with the black hieroglyphics and varied background. Trust me, these are greatly improved. You can't miss by going back into something you're not happy with.
Tomorrow, we're off to our class with Jan Myers-Newbury. We've loaded the car with buckets and PVC tubes and we'll try to post tomorrow if we are still standing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I kept thinking it was Friday

but it appears not, since tomorrow is Friday. This afternoon I spent a few hours in the studio, working on some scarves with my newest tjaps...or at least one of them. I realize as I look at this one that it is all in the dye painting. I did another one with the same tjap and it is just boring. Click on this one to see it bigger. I had to leave early for an appointment, so a few of them need to be gone back into. Perhaps tomorrow, if I have time. I am getting ready for my shibori class with Jan Myers-Newberry and have to make sure I have all the equipment I will need for the three day class that begins on Sat. Benedicte Caneill arrives tomorrow and we'll hit Home Despot for some PVC pipe. Sherryl Buchler asked me to bring scarves, so I have spent time tonight ironing (with the new green iron, of course) and folding several of them to take with me. I mentioned books last night: I sat up till 2 a.m. to finish Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay. Couldn't put it down. And while I'm on a renewed Halsman kick, I ordered Halsman at Work. I think my parents have the book, but I figured I should have my own copy just in case. Written by Yvonne & Philippe, it is interesting because they talk about their interaction with their subjects, including Woody Allen, Marilyn Monroe, and Nixon. Insights into their true characters; fascinating tidbits and personal observations. It is out of print, of course, but I found an inexpensive copy on-line. I am really happy that my doctor called to cancel my appointment for tomorrow morning. What a sweetheart! She called tonight to tell me her office had double-booked and she was so booked that I'd have to wait for an hour or more. Instead, she offered me another day. Can you believe it???? Most doctors would let you come in and cool your heels forever; that's why I left my last doctor for this one. So, I can sleep late, get up and make my lasagna and maybe even have time to go back into a scarf of two before Benedicte arrives. These are dark-chocolate covered espresso beans from Trader Joe's. I am going through this chocolate thing and ate about five of these a little while ago, as if they were going out of style. However, since all that caffeine has failed to make a dent, I figure it is time to turn in. Anon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the eyes have it

This out of focus picture of scarves drying will give you an idea of how everything looked to me for a good part of the day. The retinologist super-dilated my eyes at 8:am and it's a good thing Marty insisted on coming with me. I could not have driven home. Back of my eye is swollen, so 2 different kinds of drops for 4 weeks and hopefully, it will go down. We came home and I lay down for a nap mid-morning: what else could I do? This afternoon was Marty's turn to go to the eye specialist. He drove, I navigated. I hate to say it was the blind leading the blind, but that was more or less the story. By tonight, my world is pretty much back to what passes for normal. Last night I finished taste-testing that wonderful dark chocolate we bought at Trader Joe's a couple of weeks ago. See? Empty wrappers. I think the chocolate from Ecuador was the winner. The Venezualen chocolate was excellent - but the stuff from Ecuador was more bitter - my preference. But just to make sure I'm not wrong, I need to go back and buy some more to double-check. I finally plugged in the new iron tonight because I needed to iron one of the scarves I had washed. I ironed this chiffon scarf while it was wet because it shrinks in the dryer, so I didn't need to use steam. It was fine. I have another iron that won't work unless it is on steam - annoying. The tjaps I wasn't going to buy any more of, arrived today. I'll take them to the studio tomorrow and play around with them on another scarf. Oh, good. Here they are. Very geometric. My eyes are closing - I was up till 2:am finishing a book I couldn't put down. Will get to the books tomorrow. I have another early app't.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

content no longer relevant

While I have learned not to take it personally when my work is not accepted into a juried exhibition, I have not yet learned to do the same when someone unsubscribes from my blog. Feedblitz feels it is necessary to let me know when someone has unsubbed - and WHY. Why am I wounded to the quick when someone opts out of receiving my updates? God knows I have done the same -- when I am overwhelmed, when I am consistently bored with a blog, or when in fact, I no longer find the content relevant to my life or interests. So why should I take it personally when someone leaves my blog for the same reasons? Sigh... I guess I am haunted by the comment about my content. What is no longer relevant about it? Is it too personal? Does it stray too far from ART topics? Do I show too much of my work in process -- or not enough? Or, after 4 yrs of blogging, have I become redundant? Not thoughtful enough? Too superficial? Second-guessing is an exercise in futility, so I shall move on.
Another day in the studio and a scarf commission. But here is the problem when somebody says "I want THAT one" and it is already sold. They say "make me one like it." But there is no such thing. You can maybe put some of the same elements into another piece (and this is not just scarves, but any artwork - right?) - but it will never be the one they fell in love with that was already taken. So for those of you who do commissions, how do you deal with it? I left a bunch drying - but one of a kind is one of a kind. In the meantime, the scarves are not only a change of pace, they are major avoidance. I have two pieces needing to be stitched and I have not been in the mood. Maybe once my right eye is back to normal, I will be in a better mood to sew. I have been to the eye doctor so often that one of my friends asked whether I was having an affair with him. SNORT. Friday, Monday, and now tomorrow I am seeing the retinologist because I have a swollen macula - a side effect of my Sept. cataract surgery. Fun, fun, fun. Winter has crashed into New Jersey - there was a dusting of snow on the cars early this morning; gone by the time I was up and out. But winter jacket, clogs:-( and gloves are now the order of the day. Bleh. Today, I brought my own homemade soup for lunch - the Caribbean health food place is still shuttered. Meanwhile, back at the house...there may be a freeze warning for tonight, but I can still pretend it is warm as I water my asparagus fern. Look at these red berries: does anybody know whether they are just decorative or are seeds or what? (Can you tell I'm plant-challenged?). Funny that they only appear after I've brought the plant indoors. I mean, what blooms in November?The titanium-sole-plated Panasonic iron I ordered from Amazon arrived today. Sarah Ann Smith raved so much about hers, to which nothing reportedly sticks, that I decided I needed one, too. After all, nobody can have too many irons. Now I just have to decide whether I use it here or take it to the studio. Ok, now I understand why that person ditched my blog. Who on earth wants to hear about irons? Time for some dark chocolate.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I always come home ravenous after my printmaking class on Monday nights. It must be the stress of having to plan ahead to make those prints. Last week's assignment was to glue leaves and twigs to a plate and print. After crawling around on the ground outside the studio and picking up some things I hoped were not poisonous, I trudged upstairs and tried to glue them to a piece of board and slathered gel medium over everything. Have you ever attempted to glue dried leaves and twigs down flat? All I can say is "don't." After going through all that work, I'm not sure the results were worth it. I think I like the immediacy of monoprinting better - but I'm keeping an open mind. These two were not too bad, but the first two ended up in the trash. All I could think was this: "if this were fabric, I could wash it out." But when I tried to wash out the first ugly print, it didn't work. I wonder why. I am washing some chiffon scarves I batik'd this morning at the studio after dyeing them the other night at home. I ask myself why I do this - it is so much work. At least, the way I do scarves, because there are so many layers. Am I nuts? Anyway, here is one I was working on today. Since I hate pink, I can't imagine how it ended up that color. I think the scarf gods were trying to challenge me. Eeewwwww After dye-painting what seemed like several thousand layers till I was happy, here is what it looks like now. And then another pink one that I batik'd, dyed, discharged, and overdyed. I think it's done. Same deal as in my previous post - pre-Thanksgiving sale $60 -postage included. Silk chiffon - machine wash, hang to dry. And now, it is an ungodly hour so I am going to bed.