And they're perfect...
Friday, May 22, 2015
While waiting for my beads, I also have been doing a little sketching in that "comforts" sketchbook. Sandwiches seem to be on my mind lately, and a bologna sandwich with a glass of milk joined the spam sandwich. This sketch, though, is more about a memory than about food. Maybe I was moved to draw it because I've been delving into the family archives finally, reading and scanning some letters written by my oldest brother who died when I was quite young, and knowing I have photos I could match up to them, maybe some actual things as well. This is taking more time than I anticipated but is very rewarding, and has sent me off on little research tangents to help me put together a more complete picture and story.
At any rate, it has me nostalgic and if you click on the picture, you should be able to read the nostalgic story behind this thermos. The other reason I wanted to sketch it was because of that rectangle pattern on the thermos. I struggled to capture the subtle gradation of color in the patterning, thinking if I just did pencil I wouldn't mess up, but mess up I did. I actually had a colored pencil that matched the darkest value and really should have used it, but then working out 5 steps lighter and lighter to a very pale yellow - well, I didn't have it in me to try. This is one time that rendering in fabric would have been easier! Oh well - it's all a learning experience at this point (you would not believe how small the first outline of the cup was)...and capturing of memories.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
While waiting for the beads to arrive (got notice they are one their way!), I've decided to finish up some padfolios. I have 5 covers (there are two of the moose one) that were printed out (gulp!) years ago, extras that I didn't need at the time but knew could be used later. Well, later is now as I have a couple of people showing interest in purchasing some for gifts. They already bought the two I had on hand and have been patiently waiting for me to feel up to making more. I think I'm up for it as there are so few decisions to be made - I'd even set aside linings to go with each - and most of what needs doing is sit-down work which suits my energy levels these days. Today the Peltex got fused to them so I can proceed with some "quilting".
Monday, May 18, 2015
|Sample of "Padre" trade beads on order|
In the meantime, I'm sharing an artist I ran across in a tourist guide for my region. I can appreciate Western art but usually I'm not particularly drawn to it. However, Walla Walla, WA artist Sherry Orchard adds a twist that intrigued me. She creates her acrylic paintings directly on feathers. See more of her work here.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
I want to tell you how exhilarating it was to get so many comments on my resurrecting of Masks, that so many of you have been following long enough to remember it. The "eye" patches are all sewn in place but I haven't proceeded with the beading short of laying out bags of potential candidates, mulling what colors to put where and coming to the discouraging conclusion that I simply do not have enough beads of the best colors, and none at all of a neutral that could stretch those that I do have. Isn't it always the way? So I've turned to another "side project" as a diversion.
|Class samples - stamping barely visible|
It's another coming together of divergent things. Do you have bits lying about the studio like I do, things that were experiments or leftovers that have no obvious use but that you can't just toss? That's what these two pieces of wild batik were, used in my first linocut class to test my stamps but a disappointment because of the paint the teacher had us use (see this post). Must be something I can do with them, I thought, and so they were set aside but not away. Later I watched Lyric Kinard demo how she makes covers for sketchbooks, noting a step I'd not seen before. That too got set aside (in my head). Later still, I took advantage of a going-out-of-business sale to purchase yet more sketchbooks, including one with a cover I'd rather not be looking at. Eventually, those three things mulling around in my brain led me to see if the batiks were large enough to cover that sketchbook. I experimentally wrapped them around it and it appeared that they were. But as I was working on something else at the time, they stayed wrapped like that in a spot where the bundle continued to nag to the point of distraction. And so, over the weekend I laid everything out to check measurements. It was as if I'd cut these pieces specifically for this project.
|Can you see which spirals have been outlined?|
The spiral stamped piece turned out better than the larger stamped piece so I had no qualms about fusing it on top, the added band giving a bit more stability to the cover. I spent my usual too much time picking a thread to satin stitch the edges - the spirals were faint enough as it was and too much contrast, I feared, would make them even more pathetic. Frankly, even for a book cover, this was lacking. I'd considered some stitching but I knew I'd end up doing a lot of starting and stopping and pulling threads to the back. Contemplation led me to a simple solution of using a red micron pen to trace around the spiral shapes. Just enough highlight to bring them out.
|Finished cover laid out flat|
I knew I wanted some kind of closure, something Lyric does not mess with. Again, it was lengthy contemplation and a look through my button collection that led me to this simple solution. A button was sewn on the front and the back, and a decorative but strong yarn knotted on one end was pulled through from the underside next to the button on the back. This was done before doing the stitching around the outside to form the pockets that the sketchbook covers slip into.
|Button and string closure|
This "string" can be wrapped around the buttons like the closing on some manila folders. I also added a bit of loop to the inside flap to slide the clip of a pencil through. If you are interested in the basic construction sequence and that clever extra step, you can watch Lyric in action here. (She has lots of other video tutorials on her website well worth looking into.)
|A glitch in practical use|
I will warn that, while a snug fit is good, it is easy to stitch up a cover that is too snug to slip onto the sketchbook. Yes, there was some ripping out and resewing here as I ignored that little voice in my head that I was being too trusting. I discovered this little issue too (shown in the photo above) which only applies to spiral bound books I would guess. While it is very convenient to be able to fold back the sketchbook while drawing, I may not be able to do that with the cover on. Or, I may not notice the lump at all - we shall see.
At any rate, it was a learning experience (especially that solution to improve the spirals - lately I feel like I'm learning basics like a beginner), those bits of fabric are used and no longer distracting me, and I have a prettier cover to a sketchbook.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
|Initial pencil sketch to show just in case I messed up...|
I started a new sketchbook recently, one I bought last year when I ordered up an assortment to try out. This one is geared toward mixed media/multi-media in a classic landscape orientation sized 5.5 x 8.5, and I had thoughts of using it for outdoor sketching with splashes of watercolor paint. Instead, I've noticed a trend in my eating habits towards food from my youth, things that I'd gotten away from eating but feel like comfort food now, and I thought it might be fun to capture some of these in this sketchbook. I don't sketch fast enough to work from life, so I've been snapping photos to work from later before diving in.
|Sketch after applying colored pencil and text|
The pages are mostly smooth on one side and rougher on the other. For now I am coloring with pencil, and this one of my Spam sandwich is done on the rougher side that is not as well suited for it. Still, it is giving me good practice in experimenting with my set of Prismacolor pencils and the Verithin ones too. You can see along the spiral binding where I've tested colors and the blending of several. The pages are perforated just in case you create a masterpiece worthy of framing which gives a little space for this. I puzzled over the color of Spam, discovering that I could simulate it fairly closely with Deco Pink over Light Peach. I'm making these pages almost as much about narrative as illustration, something I picked up on while viewing work on the Urban Sketchers sites. It will be like a little memory book. I'm finding that I like designating a theme for each sketchbook. I'm also finding that I like the size and orientation of this sketchbook better than the one I'm using for my architecture urban sketching.
This sketch is nothing to brag about, so why am I sharing? Well, I thought it would help make the point of one of the reasons I blog, which I ran across in this post on Austen Kleon's Tumbr:
Artists frequently hide the steps that lead to their masterpieces. They want their work and their career to be shrouded in the mystery that it all came out at once. It’s called hiding the brushstrokes, and those who do it are doing a disservice to people who admire their work and seek to emulate them. If you don’t get to see the notes, the rewrites, and the steps, it’s easy to look at a finished product and be under the illusion that it just came pouring out of someone’s head like that. People who are young, or still struggling, can get easily discouraged, because they can’t do it like they thought it was done. An artwork is a finished product, and it should be, but I always swore to myself that I would not hide my brushstrokes.
When I first started blogging, I wondered just how much of my struggling I should share - would people, especially the potential buying public, be disillusioned if they found out I didn't just whip out good work like magic? Would they turn away and call me a fraud if the curtain was pulled back and they saw all the missteps and doubts? I eventually quit worrying about that because I naturally enjoy sharing and I naturally enjoy buoying people up who are struggling as they learn because, hey, I've been there. Few people jump in the deep end with marvelous results. (I secretly resent those who do!) And I've learned that people really are interested in the process, the "brushstrokes", and heartened when they hear it isn't always easy, that there's hope if they too are on an artistic journey and struggling. No reason to hide. Not even sketches like mine.
Sunday, May 03, 2015
|Kuba "Bwoom" Helmet Mask|
"Ok, what's next," I pondered, as I started cleaning up a bit from my Tyvek bead excursion. I was about to gather up all the little bags of beads and beading supplies when a muffled sound came from the closet. I recognized it as my "Masks" quilt trying to point out that as long as all these beads were out, why not resume work on it. I had identified it as one I might be able to finish up in time for ArtWalk and felt I'd received some confirmation of that as well as my thought to add beading when I saw the Kuba Helmet Mask above on an episode of Antiques Roadshow earlier this year. It looked so much like the faces I saw in my cloth and picked out in quilting that I could hardly believe it. And here too were some guidelines for how I might add the beads. Sometimes putting a project aside for awhile is a good thing!
|Densely hand-quilted "Masks" awaits the finishing touches.|
So I pulled the quilt from the closet and unfolded it to reveal where I had stopped when life intervened back in June 2012. Ah yes, it was all coming back to me now. I'd gotten frustrated with those squares with eyes printed on them - well, not with the squares themselves but with trying to get a random yet sensical arrangement to them without any covering up of important areas of the masks. I struggle with asymmetrical arrangements, and I remember being a little put out with myself that the only placements I could come up with were too symmetrical and boring. This was one of the projects I took for critique to my art group's first meeting in January 2013. To my amazement, Donna simply took a square and overlapped it with another, solving my problem. With that simple move, I could immediately see my way out. However, it still went back into the closet until now. I trimmed down a few of the squares, shuffled things around a bit from what you see above, consulted the last blog post about it just to refresh my memory, then continued where I left off.
|Quilting "between" less than an inch long with microscopic eye!|
One of the things that surprised me were the tiny needles parked in the quilt. Did I really use something this short for the cross-stitching? Did I really use anything this short at all? Well, that just shows how long I've been away from my hand quilting and applique, because indeed, this is the between needle that I came to use on almost all my hand sewing. One can lose one's skill from disuse, and as I clumsily picked up the needle and put in a few stitches, I felt like an absolute novice. Ok, so maybe I haven't lost my skill, but boy, is it rusty! By the time I started in on the third square, I'd gotten some rhythm back, my eye/hand coordination was gauging the spacing better and the needle didn't feel so foreign anymore.
I am in the perfect mindset for handwork right now so I am glad this quilt called out. Even better that I can leisurely work at it now that I no longer have the ArtWalk deadline looming over me. My work table, which once the fountain quilt left became instantly cleared off to the point of startling me when I entered the studio, is now pleasantly filling up with this quilt, possible bead options to mull and the next few small projects I'll be playing with. Can you sense my smile?