Sunday, October 31, 2021

What Happened To Inktober?

Longtime readers may be wondering why I haven't been posting any Inktober drawings since I've been doing it faithfully since 2016. For those unfamiliar with Inktober, it is a worldwide challenge to get out pen and paper and sketch something - anything - each day of October and post it, even if it is only on your refrigerator. When I decided to join in, I decided it would be more interesting for me and keep me on track better if I chose a theme for my drawings. The first year it was cups, the next my shoes, then a year when I focused on Zentangles. Maybe the most interesting and educational for me was the month of Medieval Bestiary. Last year I focused on TV quick draw Portraits as I'd just finished watching a part of a Sketchbook Skool Class that covered that and I not only needed the practice but felt it was something I could do that wouldn't suck up too much time each day. Boy did those other themes absorb my attention and time! But every year I have done this, I've been quite surprised at how good most of the sketches are and how much I learned and how much better I got by the end of the month. I remember being a little disappointed in the Zentangle year and my quick draw portraits often made me laugh or cringe at how bad they were, but I never felt like it was a wasted effort. 

This year though, I simply could not rally enthusiasm for the practice. I tossed around ideas for a theme, unable to settle on anything that I didn't think would be too time consuming, and I've felt so bogged down lately that I didn't want to add anything else to the list of must dos. But paging through those past successful beautiful pages made me not want to break the cycle. I finally decided to go back to a practice I learned in one of the Sketchbook Revival classes, the one where you draw for no more than 10 minutes on a sticky note using two random words as inspiration. That practice was one suggested to do for at least 30 days and while at first it might seem nothing special was happening, eventually one would see usable ideas being sparked.

Well, I tried. I really did. But it was a slog, something I could feel I didn't want to do and wasn't getting into and not pleased at all with results. I fessed up to myself and quit after 6 days. This just wasn't the year.

Oddly enough, this whole thing got me thinking about things that are free, like free You Tube tutorials and free lectures and free e-newsletters. I spend so much time on these free things which is part of the reason I fall behind on other things. It finally dawned on me that much that is "free" out there in the world really isn't free. It may not cost money but it does cost time. And who among us does not usually feel short on time.

So I am now looking more closely at the free things I am spending my time on/with and really analyzing which actually benefit me and my creative journey and which need to be jettisoned. It's hard to pass up those freebies, but if I'm going to break away from too much computer time in order to have quality studio time as well as time for my other interests, then the freebies that aren't all free will have to go.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

A Close Look At Leaves

Daniel Sroka's Untitled Leaf #662

I've shared Daniel Sroka's macro-photography in the past, and am all agog at his recent collection of autumn leaves. You can view the curated page here

I was also intrigued by his Litterfall Gallery Exhibit which includes short videos panning a photo while he describes what has drawn him to this work. It feels like the ultimate in artist statements to me. Go take a look: Rediscovering our Connection to nature.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Leather Long Stitch Link Stitch Book

It started with these, snagged off the 99 cent rack at a thrift store shortly before everything shut down because of covid last year. One is smooth leather, the other suede, both showing enough wear that I didn't feel guilty about cutting them up. There were several book binding structures for leather covers presented in my Handmade Book Club that I wanted to try, and recycling appealed greatly.

Once I started cutting away linings, collars and cuffs, I was surprised by how thin the leather was, about half as thick as recommended for book covers. I'd read where others in the club had fused fabric to their leather and I hoped by doing so, it would give the leather enough heft for a cover. Of course, I pondered over this a very long time before actually getting around to choosing a book binding pattern, determining the size of the book and making signatures. Why I did not think sooner to make a quick sample I do not know, but once I did, it was clear that using Heat and Bond fusible (which is fused with low heat and no steam) with the batik would work on the leather and give it a little more sturdiness.

There were other issues to surmount regarding working with leather. Even with that African batik (which is done on a slightly heavier base fabric than Bali batiks), the suede had a tendency to stretch more than expected along the edges. And I did not have a punch to make the sewing holes with as was recommended. Trying to make them with an awl was very difficult and the holes tended to close right back up. I ended up marking the hole openings on the batik side with micron pen so I'd be able to find them when sewing. It also didn't occur to me that these jackets would be made of smaller pieces of leather seamed together and that I would not be able to find a section big enough for the cover that would not have a seam in it. As it turned out, careful positioning put this seam angling across the back of the cover which I really like.

I chose this particular batik for the lining because of the "S" design on it. The recipient's last name starts with an "S". I was surprised to find that as I handled the book to sew in the signatures, the fabric started fraying along the edges. I expected the fusible to do a better job of keeping it from doing that. I trimmed the threads away and applied some Fray Check around the edges. You can see that I decided to attach a piece of leather to the flap to make a strap closure.

Here's the beauty shot, the stitching holding it all together that shows on the spine and gives the binding its name. The link stitch at top and bottom looks like a chain stitch but isn't done like the embroidery kind. The star in the center actually is an embroidery detail added before stitching the signatures into the cover.

Although there were some struggles in the making, I'm very pleased with how this book turned out and the way the strap closure works and looks. Here's hoping the recipient likes it and finds a use for it. I've found this size of 4-1/4 x 6-1/4 quite handy. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Full On

Gorgeous sunny weekend here and as I enjoyed my Sunday morning cup of coffee, I was also enjoying the view out the dining room window of that birch tree I said was turning color a bit at a time. Well, it has turned all out golden which is an uplifting sight to see. That birch tree is what made me choose this particular townhouse unit over the other two available at the time. Birch trees and I have a special connection and I think of them as my own personal talisman. This one has not disappointed.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

It Begins

Our weather has definitely turned fall-ish: nights getting near freezing with frost in some places, days sunny but brisk in the upper 50's. Trees have not been readily responding though. For weeks I've only noticed a few trees turning color. The maple these leaves came off of has looked so drab that it was a slight surprise to get a close look and see the leaves doing this very slow turn.

The birch behind my place has also been doing a slow turn. It never goes all at once or even a section at a time, but a few here, a few there. These are from a quaking aspen which is also doing a slow turn while the cottonwoods they mingle with show no sign of succumbing to fall. They are almost leathery compared to the more fragile maple leaf.

I really do try not to bring more leaves home, as I have so many pressed and filed away as it is. But this is what I came home with the other day. I think the yellow bunch are from cottonwoods, although the stand that I walk by is still very much green while the stand a few blocks away has turned yellow. More of the aspen in the middle, quite a bit of subtle and not so subtle variation. They would be good for monoprinting, if I'd just get that geli plate and some paints out. The ones up in the right corner are off the same tree. Why, I wonder, are some bright red and some dark, almost brown, burgundy? And why do I keep bringing them home?

A strange October, none of the turned trees very bright (we've been in drought so that is probably why), many still having very green leaves while mingling with those trees starting to turn, and some standing totally devoid of leaves. Hoping we don't get an early snow before all have a chance to drop. In contrast, I've gotten out some very richly-colored quilts with an autumn theme - one to drape over the chest in the livingroom and one to hang on the wall.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

French Link "Cat" Book

Things didn't work out for a return to Pine Woods this week. My "Goldilocks" inner self couldn't find a just right day. Too wet. Too cold, Too windy. Too much stuff to do. Like finally finishing this French Link handmade book with cover made from a recycled cereal box and salvaged tissue paper. I'd gathered materials about a month ago as shown in this post which also mentioned the issues I'd met the first time I made this using cereal box pieces for the cover. Happily, I did a better job with the glue and the covers look pretty perfect.

You might remember that I had a choice of pink or blue of this two-tone ribbon and was so convinced that the pink would work the best that I cut three pieces to length before changing my mind and cutting some blue. It was the lighter side of the pink that I realized didn't look good against the pink of the tissue paper.

I decided to see if I could make this from following the written directions rather than watching the videos which I always do when making a binding first time around. In the Handmade Book Club we are often encouraged to quick make a second book when learning a new binding, quick while we still remember how and can kind of get it into muscle memory. Well, I rarely do that and as I stumbled along trying to remember the various steps with written prompts, I could tell that would have been a really good idea.

 But soon I got the hang of the stitching (first link stitch I did thread the needle through the lower stitch incorrectly but was several signature additions along before I could see my mistake and decided not to take everything out to redo it.). Oops - I forgot to be making the stitches OVER the ribbons so had to take some stitches out and thread ribbon under stitches. French link does not have to be done over tape like this but it is a lovely way to show it off, which it does here so much better over the dark blue than it did over the tan tape I used on my first book.

Because the cover folds over to conceal and hold in place the ends of the ribbons, the inner cover is the same as the outer cover.

And there's not much gap between signatures. The book lies nicely flat in use, as I can attest to while I take notes in the first one I made while watching a webinar. Very pleased with this and am looking forward to hearing what the recipient thinks of it.