Monday, December 31, 2018

Wrapping up the Year

I've hardly posted this month, busy with holiday things, slowed down by a cold that sapped my energy as it went through its stages over two weeks, not spending the sort of time in the studio I thought I might. I'd mentioned that I was saving the reporting of progress on the recycle bookbinding challenge project until it was done, but it now looks like done isn't going to happen very soon. So I may as well show you how things went with my tissue paper dragonflies applied along the flaps with matte medium. It went great!

I adhered those two larger dragonflies onto the spread almost like a test run. The matte medium didn't always get to the edge, hard to see how well it is covering, so there was some going back in to make sure all edges were held down. The trimming around each dragonfly went fairly fast, then it was only a matter of deciding placement. I'm pleased with this arrangement of them all angling the same direction toward the center.

I'd been considering doing something different on each spread's flaps but now I want to add these dragonflies like this to each one, or at least as far as my supply will allow. Perhaps the dragonfly gift wrap my friend passed along will get me there.

I've decided on the sequence of the spreads with their accompanying handmade paper, and I am to the point where I want to fully complete a set and stitch it to its pleat in the binding before doing anymore work on the next. I still have a few dragonflies to add to the front/back of the handmade paper along with some fussycut fabric (which will be fused) but because the back of one is facing the front of the next and so create a sort of spread of their own, it will be easier to keep all straight and cohesive if I approach these finishing steps in the order the signatures will be sewn in place. Not sure if that makes sense. But anyway, the first spread is now done and I've been looking through my threads and yarns for something to bind with. I've settled on this leftover wool yarn from an embroidery kit of long ago because it seems to blend the best overall, being off-white like the teabags. Honestly, here was another thing I did not think ahead about, that whatever I used to sew the signatures to the binding would be so visible along that center fold. It may cover some of my text.

So as the year winds down, I find myself with many partially finished projects to carry forward into the new year, and I am not stressed or concerned about that. I've had a most pleasant month actually, a peaceful holiday week, a few special gifts that awed me for their thoughtfulness and appropriateness, and the trickle of Christmas cards with warm greetings and year-end reviews I so enjoy reading. For all its ups and downs, triumphs and challenges, this year has ended on a mellow and uplifted note. I couldn't ask for better, except perhaps to wish that your year, dear reader, has ended equally well for you in spite of what may have come before or perhaps because of it. Pause to reflect . . . then onward!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

It's Christmas

I confess; I so envied the outdoor decorations my neighbor of the other half of the townhouse put up last year (you can see them here) that I did a little sweet talking as they were putting up this year's, noting that I wouldn't mind at all if they continued the lights across over my garage doors. Just in case they had wanted to but didn't want to assume I'd be ok with that. You know, in case they have time on their hands. For the sake of symmetry, if nothing else. They just laughed and got right to it. I'm so lucky to have them for neighbors. These are the ones that keep my driveway clear of snow too.

The snow in that first picture had pretty much melted away thanks to warm and rainy weather last week. But Sunday morning I was greeted with a wintry scene of fresh snow which made it instantly feel like Christmas. Click on the photo for a larger view and to see what is hanging out on the tree branch.

I couldn't resist taking some shots of the way the snow piled up on the leafless branches of a bridal wreath bush outside my window.

When I think of Christmases when I was I kid, I usually think of the ones after dad finished out part of the walk-out basement into a kind of family room. In my recent scanning of old slides, I found a few pictures taken down there. During the holidays, it was the only room in the house we decorated. The walls were knotty pine and brick, and we hung an old wool blanket behind the heavily tinseled tree to pin Christmas cards we'd received onto.

There was an exposed beam running the length of the room, and dad attached cedar boughs and Christmas lights to it and also ran cedar boughs near the ceiling along the knotty pine walls. Vying with the tree for attention was the fireplace he built, fueled by Prestologs and providing a place to hang our stockings. The mantel was where we placed candles amongst angel hair. Now that I describe it, it was probably a terrible fire trap, but it was a beautiful and fragrant place to spend evenings together.

There were two hide-a-bed sofas and an easy chair, a stereo to play Christmas music, and I have fond memories of sitting quietly with my parents, watching the fire and knitting by the soft light of the fireplace, candles and Christmas lights.

I did a lot of knitting back in those days and I'm getting the itch to pick up my needles again while sitting by my fake fireplace fueled by electricity and a light show of flickering flames (I really miss the crackling) and listening to Christmas cds. it's nostalgia kicking in, and maybe I'll play along. May you find a bit of peaceful reflection and good memories of Christmas past today. Merry Christmas - Happy Holidays! 

Friday, December 07, 2018

The Latest Get Together

My art group got together this week, one last sharing between holidays and before the end of the year. I didn't have a great deal to share, just the Inktober Zentangles finished since the last meeting and this article from Smithsonian Magazine about a fascinating portrait technique by artist Kyle Meyer. If you can't read the text when clicking on the photo for a larger view, this link will take you to the article on the magazine's website. It is not only an interesting story of how he came to do these portraits, but what making them involves, a melding of photography and basket weaving. I think how he does it may surprise you.

You've already seen all my Inktober Zentangles but here are some that Terrie worked up. She was so intrigued by what I showed at the last meeting and that I learned from books I got at our library, that she went straight from meeting to library to check them out. It was fun for me to see how she interpreted the same lessons I had worked through and how she is trying out working some of the tangles into her quilting designs. Above are just a few of the pages she's filled in her sketchbook with this play.

Terrie's original design includes her hand-painted and hand-dyed fabric

Terrie also shared a 24" x 30" "fabric design", quilted and stretched over canvas, that she is submitting to a call for artwork to be displayed on an old carousel purchased by a local couple and now under restoration. Read more about the Carousel project at This link will explain the Art Panel Project that Terrie is submitting to:

1 yard sample printing of Meg's original designs

Watercolor sketches used to develop designs

Meg was anxious to show us the results of her efforts to develop a fabric line. She's been working up her own designs and motifs with sketching and watercolor before bringing them into a program that lets her combine individual motifs, work out repeats and play with different colorways. Learning a lot, she says, but it's a beginning what she has put up on She's had them printed out twice on a sort of swatch layout at full size to see how they read in real life. The first printing was on an inexpensive cloth much like muslin, and the second on a better quality Kona cotton which produced a sharper, more colorful image. This experience makes her think this is really what she wants to do, design fabric. You can take a look at her shop at:

Anne's resin pours

Our newest member, Anne, brought examples of some trials she is running on resin pours, something the rest of us had not heard of. It started with a project her husband is working on that he wants protected with the resin. She couldn't resist trying out mixing it with paints and inks to see what would happen.

She also brought along another eco printed scarf (she'd brought a dozen or more to the first meeting she attended) as well as some pieces of regular cottons that had been eco printed with rusted objects for the mordant. And because we all love hand-dyes, she also brought a sample of some of hers. We just want to steal all her stuff when she's not looking! No need to steal though. She's opened an Etsy shop featuring her beautiful scarves, EmdaArt.

Meg's testing of Craft-Tex

Finally, Meg proudly showed me the results of her putting the samples of Craft-Tex I'd given out at the last meeting to the test. First up, a square that she'd applied paint to, fused fabric to and stitched through. The second square is one she applied oil stick paint to, washed, crumpled, dried and ironed. At some point she handed it to her daughter who promptly put a big tear in it. Well, so much for the manufacturer's claims that it does not rip! However, the paint did not scrub off in the wash, but the wrinkles did not iron out (although it would flatten out - the piece here we all had balled up to feel how it changes the hand). She liked it enough though that she has ordered some for her own purposes, which made me very pleased I'd shared this, thinking she might be interested.

I'm still working off and on on my dragonfly-themed bookbinding project and to spur me on, Meg handed me this heavy wrapping paper with dragonflies printed on it! Yes, I was unduly excited and thankful, and now pretty much have no excuse for not finishing my book. 

Monday, December 03, 2018

What Other Artists Do And Say

Designer Alexander Girard's textile organization system
Here are some things I've been saving to share with you. Grab a cup of tea or coffee, settle in and get ready to follow some links. Let's begin with this fabric storage method used by designer Alexander Girard. I have to admit that putting swatches on the front of a storage bin so you know exactly what's in it is better than my longstanding method of trusting my memory to steer me to the right bin, box, cabinet or drawer. But even for an organizer and neat freak like me, this struck me as obsessive. No, probably just smart for his purposes. If you follow this link to Austin Kleon's blog post where I found this, there will be more links about Girard to follow.

Next up, one of my favorite artists who is not only a master bookbinder, but creates intriguing multi-media pieces with found objects and is a poet as well. Kaija at Paperiaarre recently recounted some unexpected successes and recognition she'd received, and how in the doing, she had struggled a bit with direction. In the end, she decided to trust herself and feels that was the key to success. The very last line of that post, Lost & Found & Forgotten & Found, really struck a familiar chord with me:

I’m glad I dare to do me in all I do.

Upon reading this, I realized how many years I did not dare to do me in my artwork, at least not with any real confidence, but that these days I have found myself proceeding more with ears and eyes shut against a world that would tell me I'm going about it all wrong or that my vision doesn't fit the current trends. I find it a comfortable place and hope that I remain here, just doing me in all I do. I hope you will read the entire post or at the least the final paragraph, beautifully written, with pictures of her work and one of Kaija herself. You can also see her work for sale in her Etsy shop.

I subscribe to The Painter's Keys which offers good overall advice to would-be artists on a variety of subjects that more than just painters can benefit from. Here are two I felt worthy of sharing. The first, The Five Minute Rule, deals with the bane of us all, procrastination. You've perhaps heard of this trick, to tell yourself you are going to do something for just 5 minutes (some have you set a timer for 15), which almost always turns into staying at whatever task for longer than that initial short period of time; things in motion stay in motion according to Isaac Newton and it tends to be true. But here's something else to remember too:

Now that you’re on the dance floor, understand that the path to proficiency is long — it rambles over dunes of ugliness, stumbles among boulder-sized re-dos, and falls into perfectionist back-eddies. The pain of doing it poorly is part of the activity of learning. The elation of doing it well is the hard-won result of beginning this activity in the first place. Begin now. “If you wait,” said Mario Andretti, “all that happens is that you get older.”

Now that you've got your procrastination issues solved, move on to the second Painter's Keys I found of interest, Golden Day. The idea here is to take a full day to just work on your art, morning to night undistracted.

You set aside a clear and uncluttered day to work and love your craft. Start early; end late. You put your head down and push yourself from one thing to another. It’s a day where everything comes out of the end of the brush (or pen, or chisel), a luxury day where all that counts is the universe of your creation. After, on your weary way to bed, you can give yourself a badge.

I think most of us would agree this sounds like a wonderful luxury. If you've ever been on a quilt or artist retreat, you have a sense of what this would be like and what you could accomplish. It's certainly worth considering if one could manage a full day without turning on the computer or tv or answering the phone, telling any spouses or children to pretend you are not home. Among other things, the writer says, "Before long you’re pushing into bonus territory and you may startle yourself." I miss being startled by what I find myself doing, achieving. Haven't had that feeling for awhile and no doubt because I haven't been spending the sort of time in the studio I once did. It's a thought.

And now because you've been so patient with me and my words without pictures, here's a little slideshow of some interesting art quilts by Judith Beaver.