Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lowell is HOT

The temperature is in the 90's and right now, Helene and I are resting in our deliciously air-conditioned room. Here is the view from our window. I love looking out; the red brick buildings on the river are old mills which have been converted into living space. At the lower left is a waterfall.

We drove up yesterday, connected with Shelley Baird whom many of you may know from her years at QSDS, and had drinks and dinner. When we got back to the hotel we spent some time with Laura C-W, who had just arrived and had a long chat with Robbi Eklow before we crashed for the night.

This morning, Helene, Shelley and I met Robyn Daniel for breakfast at the famous Owl Diner (it was too sunny to get a good picture of this vintage eatery, but I will before I leave.) Robyn is an artist who used to make art quilts but has switched to making felt and creating art in this medium she has fallen in love with. After breakfast we went out to Robyn's car for a trunk show: literally. The sunlight was not helpful - but I did get this shot of Robyn talking about the scroll she has made (as she shielded her eyes from the morning glare. Below is a gorgeous piece of art she has mounted for an exhibit; the camera does not do either of them justice. The rest of the day we alternated between slogging through the heat and finding shelter in air conditioned places, preferably those that served ice and caffeine.

We went into the Revolving Museum, a small space that had some kind of exhibit on lighting. It didn't thrill us, but we loved the walls in the Revolving's kitchen. Is it tile?
Nope, it's MATZOH. What an idea for my new backsplash! Here it is accented with crackers - are they Tam Tams? Don't know - but the whimsical walls were a delight.

The shows at the Brush Gallery and the Whistler Museum are both worth a visit. If you are a Jack Kerouac fan (and even if you are not) the Boott Mills exhibit on this Lowell native is fascinating. The Boott is now a national park site and the history in this old textile mill is mind-boggling. Today's adventure is about over but we're looking forward to dinner with Laura Cater-Woods tonight and a visit to the Western Avenue Studios tomorrow.

Monday, July 30, 2007


No, I did not fall into a vat of wax - perhaps I would be better preserved if I had. But today, I was printing in my basement. What?? Not my studio? Nah. It has been very hot and muggy, so I prefer to stay in the air conditioned house and work. It has been a week of experimenting and sorting, printing and overprinting.

A while ago, Helene had sent me some fabrics she had batik'd, most of which were lovely but really did not fit into what she is doing. The not-lovely ones were candidates for my print table. Here is one I think looks pretty nice, but a similar one was not as nice, so I worked on it today.
I mixed up some turquoise dye and here is the resultant overprint. Brighter, anyway.
The best piece of the day was a complete surprise. A deconstructed screenprint that somehow discharged. I have no clue how this happened, but I love the serendipitous result.
There were lots more pieces, but I'll end with this one. A blah beige screened with black. There's nothing like black to add a flattering note. The fabric looks thinner than it did yesterday.

Enough of this idle chit-chat. As usual, off to bed -- and I have an early meeting tomorrow. Ack. I missed you all.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

taking a vacation

After getting a worried e-mail from one of my blog readers, I guess I had better post to say I am fine. The last week has flown; I've been on vacation at home - playing, printing, and just doing things for my soul. It has been a wonderful change of pace. Tomorrow, the studio in the morning if it is cool enough. Monday, a visit to a friend and Tuesday I pack to leave for Lowell for 5 days. Then, home and off to California. So the next two weeks will be nuts. However, I expect to post from Lowell.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

miscellaneous, part deux

Today's activity: I ironed and sorted and ironed and sorted and in between, threw stuff randomly at the wall if it looked worthwhile to me. I was hoping to be inspired, but no dice. A surfeit of fabric - and this is the tip of the iceberg. Enough! I have filled a trash bag with hopeless bits and trimmings and filled a plastic box with nearly hopeless-but need to overdye or do something drastic. Will I bother or will this be the next crop of garbage? Time will tell. In the meantime, as I am sitting here looking at the wall, stuff is falling off. I received the catalog today for Transformations 2007: Reverberations, the exhibit that Sandra Sider juried for SAQA. What a beautiful catalog - and a beautiful exhibit, if I do say so myself. Twenty-four pieces were juried into the show, which will start in Birmingham, England and travel. Schedule is on my website. The full color catalog is only $15 and will be for sale on the SAQA website once the show has opened. The CD is $8 and is for sale on the website now. I have found that I prefer printed catalogs to CDs and I am becoming a show catalog junkie. As IF I have another inch of shelf space. Kitchen guy #3 was here today with a plan that looks like a better starting place than the other plans I've gotten. I am too tired to play around with it, but will do so over the weekend. I am waiting for this to be fun. But while I wait I will escape with Alexander McCall Smith's latest delightful Isabel Dalhousie novel and a cup of tea.


Yesterday I attacked my two home studio spaces - the downstairs print studio is unrecognizably neat,except for the dye spots on the carpet - (don't ask). And the upstairs space (which I refer to as "my room") is getting there.
The profusion of color on the left is a fraction of the pile of strips I spent all evening ironing. These treasures are strips Helene Davis gave to me a couple of years ago - and if I am going to use them, they need to be nice and smooth, don't they? Today I am going to iron my own scraps - or at least start the process. It is humid, which makes it a perfect day for ironing. Tune in later.

Monday, July 16, 2007

so today, I went to the studio

It was hot. I sweltered and it was not a pretty picture. However, I did accomplish something in the couple of hours I was there. Obsessesed with my woods, I am trying a variety of methods for developing images. I screened this image onto printmaking paper and was happy with the resulting two prints. The dye was fugitive on fabric, as it was last week: either the dye paste is too old or the soda ash paste is too weak. Whatever. I am tempted to stick with paper for now.
At lunchtime, one of the other artists and I visited Susan Lisbin, who is a painter, sculptor, and printmaker. We admired her live/work space and had not only a delicious lunch, but had a chance to look at more of her work than we had seen before. I came away inspired and for the first time, thought about taking a painting class. Just for the heck of it, I took out my oil pastels and oilsticks and played around with a canvas when I got back to the studio. And yes,I need a class. But thinking and doing are two different things, so we'll see. This image is square, but I must have cropped it when I took the photo.

That was today's adventure. I may or may not go to the studio tomorrow: depends on the weather, but if I go in the morning it should be okay.

I have been on a reading binge. It has been so long since I was at the library that my card had expired. Really. I took out two huge piles of detective fiction: Swedish noir, Italian, and British. I've already read 3 of the 7 books and it feels so good to escape.

Our weekend in Bethesda was pleasant. The weather was lovely - not the usual oppressive D.C. humid heat. I visited with Dominie Nash for an hour on Saturday morning at her home. I just didn't have time to go to her studio but we'll save that for next time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

how odd

Most of the time I am sharing my good results. But this time, I figured I should share a horse of a different color, so to speak. I finally steamed this deconstructed piece from the post below. The greens came out yellow and the purple prints toned down to a pink (ick - I hate pink) so pale they practically don't show. I won't even bother posting those. So, what went wrong? There was soda ash in the fabric and soda ash in the clear print paste. Maybe the dyes were too old? too diluted? too something? Another lesson in unpredictability -- and really, it is okay. I am going to use this fabric as a base and go back in. I have another deconstructed screen waiting in the wings and we'll see how that turns out. Stay tuned once again.
/div>We are leaving for D.C. tomorrow to visit our kids & grands. Am I packed? Nope. Am I organized? ha ha. I am ironing fabric. And washing out that pesky piece of silk that I dyed/discharged and keeps getting uglier and uglier. This morning I dumped it in vinegar, added a few containers of dye, and steamed it. It is in the wash as I write; I am not hopeful.

Monday, July 09, 2007

feng shui - redux

There has been a whole discussion elsewhere about how your creativity improves if you feng shui your studio. I have not necessarily found that to be the case; quite the contrary. Too little clutter and I am so zoned out and relaxed that not a single idea clutters up my head. THIS, on the other hand, is a bit much. I had to move one of my rolling carts upstairs, so my poor downstairs dye studio looks rather unhappy at the moment. Not to worry: I stopped at K-mart this morning and bought another 3 drawer clutter-collector. It is in the back seat of my car, catching its breath before I put it to work. Saturday, in this somewhat - uh - I don't have an adjective for it - studio, I printed happily away. Here is the screen with my attempt at sketching my woods from the deck. Of course, I wrote on the back of the screen, so it is in reverse - but oh, well. Next time I'll do it the other way. Meantime, here are some of the results. Sort of interesting, although you wouldn't know they were my woods from the deck if I had not told you. esp. since they are backwards. Tomorrow, I may steam them. We'll see.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

compared to what the viewer sees...

This picture still proves that I am terrible with a camera. It is called African Textiles and one of my studio mates had a copy she had taken out of her library. As soon as I saw it, I needed to OWN a copy. It arrived yesterday and I haven't had a minute to read it. How annoying is that? On another subject: there is a discussion at the moment on the QuiltArt list (one of the more intelligent discussions, unfortunately all too rare) about whether the meaning in your art (ed. note: assuming there IS meaning) is deliberate or emerges as you work on a piece you started without intent. There was also conversation back and forth about whether it matters what your intent was; whether you care how the viewer interprets your work, or whether the only important thing is what YOU see. There are a lot of people who start with an idea of what they want to say with their work and as many who see the meaning emerge as they work or, in fact, after the piece is done. For the most part, I fall into the latter category. Tonight, as I was scrolling through some old posts looking for something, I came across a post from early 2006 that seemed à propos.I had put up a picture of something I was almost finished making, along with this comment, which still holds true for me. This is a piece I have needed to make for 8 or 9 years and I haven't been able to make it work. But this time, without thinking about it or trying to execute the idea I have had in my head for so long, there it is. I started with the fabrics and no idea of where it was going...It doesn't matter to me what YOU see, it is what I know it is about that makes the difference. How do you feel about the subject?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

blah blah blah

I've been on the phone tonight with friends in other time zones and now, of course, I am totally wired and getting hungry all over again since supper was about 6 hours ago. So I have to blog to unwind. What a concept!

See this fabric? It's a collaboration. A friend of mine, who shall be nameless, sent me a pale yellow-green piece onto which she had stamped wax. I threw it into a turq dyebath for about 2 seconds and took it out again. Underwhelmed by my quickie dye job, I decided to slather it in wax and keep going with it. Here it is.

Next, I painted on some dark dye I had at hand: blue or purple or some such color.
Then, the best part: I ironed, wrapped it in newspaper and steamed for 20 min. Here is what it looks like now. I've munched on a few pita chip crumbs, a few pieces of brie, and have finished unwinding. Off to bed.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

o frivolous day

I played. Worked my way through about half the fabrics on the drying rack in my previous post, dye painting, waxing, screening, steaming. It was lovely...even if all the results were not. I didn't care because this is the first day in eons I have frittered away the afternoon just to see what would happen. If the truth be known, many of these were in triage; some still are, even after I worked on them.This one to the left, for example, blah. I screened with wax, stamped,overdyed,discharged, and the result is below.

A few more transformations....this was just plain turquoise. I screened with wax and dye-painted back into it. This icky piece of red cloth was perfect for another wax experiment. I masked it with blue tape to see what would happen. Love that blue tape!

This is not as dramatic as I had hoped it would be, but it is still a big improvement. I may want to go back into it - and it has some nice bits. Needs more wax and more black dye.< And I couldn't resist deconstructing, especially after watching the students all weekend who were printing such divine fabrics. This looked better before I steamed and washed it.Hmmm..

Now I think this one is my favorite.Click on the detail below it for a good look. There are more pieces but I'll leave it here for the time being. Hopefully, these will inspire me.

decisions, decisions

Yesterday's icky weather gave me a good opportunity to stay in and start organizing my ROOM (I don't know what to call it anymore since I have an official studio elsewhere and I still work in the basement print studio - uh - alcove - occasionally).

While I was at it, I took a bunch of uninteresting or "can this fabric be saved?" victims and dunked them in soda ash so I could go back in and work them into something presentable. This is not my normal way of working, since I don't generally think ahead about what pieces I want to rework - but I thought it was worth a shot. Here they are, all nice and dry and ready to play with.

BUT WHAT? Play how? Shall I overdye them? discharge them? use Thiox? discharge paste? use screens? add wax? All of the above? None of the above? Too many choices. And then there is the question of whether I work at home today or go to the other studio. I am feeling lazy, so I think I will stay here. But work on the deck? work in the basement? Hmmm...

In the end, I know I have a number of processes I want to experiment with - so I should make a list (horrors!) to organize my thoughts. I won't make the list here because it will be too boring - and after all, I am just starting the day.

But stay tuned. I am starting to get an idea...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

street art splasher

Remember this? When I was in NY a couple of weeks ago, I took a picture of a mailbox that somebody had dripped paint all over. The mailbox was right outside the art gallery I had just left, but I didn't connect the dots. I just thought it would make a great screen. It did.

However, 10 days after I shot this picture, an article appeared in the NY Times about the protesters who were throwing paint over street art to protest the fact that street art in NY has gone commercial. Huh? Today there was another article saying that the protesters are just throwing paint blobs, handbills, and stinkbombs at street art and galleries without having any real focus for their campaign. It's not clear what they are trying to do. The mailbox must have been a trial run.
I took the screen with me over the weekend and at one point, demo'd how to print with a Thermofax . Here is the result.

On another note, here is my demo piece for the soy wax. I used these items because they are rather graphic illustrations of what you can do, but I think this piece looks too much like others I have printed. Can I get out from under myself?

One more picture I forgot to post. This is what happens when you try to open a plastic container full of dye that has been sitting in the sun and has created a vacuum. Fortunately, I was wearing my oldest, paint-splattered Birks. Don't try this at home. This morning, in my nice hot shower at 78 Sullivan, I gave myself a Reduran pedicure and most of it is gone. Never a dull moment

Sunday at Peters Valley

Sunday morning we plugged in the wax pots outside and I showed the class how to use wax as a resist, both on screens and on fabric. They took to it immediately and went to work with thickened dyes to create some beautiful fabrics. In the foreground, Russ is working on a piece of fabric which he then took inside and painted with dye in several layers. On this piece, he was applying the wax directly to the fabric. It was still not finished when class ended on Sunday, but I hope he will send me a picture when he gets home.Meantime, in the studio,Ann was working on her fabric. First she applied wax to the fabric. Next, she is printing over the waxed fabric with a waxed screen. Here is what the cloth looks like after a couple of passes with the screen. How yummy!I had only one day in which to throw a ton of information at the class; it was intense. Next year at QSDS, we will have the luxury of an entire weekend in which to explore the exciting possibilities of soy wax. I can't wait!

After class was over, we had an informal show and tell of work people had brought with them. Ann's trunk show of to-die-for nuno felted bags, hats, and garments made me want to run to take a nuno felting workshop as soon as I have a break in my schedule. Here, examples of her gorgeous work. This rug is incredible! It is a combination of felted, shibori'd fabric and cloth printed with deconstructed screens. I would have bought it in a minute if it had been for sale, which it was not. Anne Flora's garments were in the fashion show at the SDA conference and I am so glad I got to see them close-up and in person here.

Here is Russ again, showing his beautiful quilt made with hand-dyed and commercial fabrics. My picture doesn't do it justice. Here, a scroll made with Russ' hand printed fabric - before he discovered deconstructed printing and soy wax batik. He's a natural. Russ lives in the D.C. area and would love to find a group of kindred spirits for surface design and critique. Please contact me if you are in that area and would like to reach out to him; I'll put you in touch with him. I wish he lived in New Jersey - I would love to invite him into my own group!

At the end of the day, here is what it looks like on Thunder Mountain outside the studio. If this were a painting, it would be too corny for words. But this is real. By 10:00, we had cleaned up the studio and Kerr had set up for Monday's class. We were both wired - and starving, so we drove to the so-called Layton Hotel, 3 miles away, to have some bar food and drinks and unwind. The Layton Hotel is now a bar and upstairs is the proprietor's residence. We closed the place - LOL. It was a wonderful day.

Monday, July 02, 2007

a jam-packed 36 hours

I'm home from my whirlwind teaching gig at Peters Valley - and a fun time it was, too! Got there late Saturday afternoon, in time to see Kerr's students deconstructing their little hearts out. What gorgeous fabrics were on those walls! I was so busy admiring and trying to keep out of the way that I didn't take pictures. Oops.

After dinner, we went back to the fiber studio to work; the studios are open till 10:pm. I attempted to prepare for the next day's teaching. However, the wood studio across the way was having a ping pong tournament, fireworks, and general carryings-on, so Kerr and I headed across the grass to join the party. I don't play table tennis, but I went to cheer on Kerr, who lost by 1 point in a neck-and-neck game. Here she is, warming up.

And here we are, clowning. Does it look like we're having fun? I left relatively early and drove down from Thunder Mountain to the faculty residence to retire for the evening. I couldn't resist watching a bit of Kerr's DVD which I had bought first thing, but I only got as far as how to tape a screen before I turned in. Haven't had time since, but it's on my agenda for tomorrow.

Blogger is not letting me post pix, so I'll give you the next installment tomorrow.

soup weather in June and a little more

DISCLAIMER: Blogger is giving me grief tonight, which you will see by the varying sizes of the type. Ye p, soup weather and it's ...