Monday, January 30, 2017

Back To Prepping For The Coming Year.........

After a few distractions we are back to dyeing, Kristin recently handed me 4 inventory lists with numbers that need to be dyed in order to have the numbers we normally take to a show.  Ohhhhh.....I'm tired just thinking about it.
The weather here finally cooled down a bit from the 70 degrees of a couple of weeks out came the portable heater...just to make it comfortable.  You can see the sewing machine in the background, figured if I I needed to be stitching I wasn't going to shiver the entire time.  Something about comfort making it easier to work.
We each have our specialties to dye.....burlap has been mine to do since we's messy, smelly and time consuming.  Once we are done with the dyeing and washing it is gorgeous, not stinky and not stiff.  Hanging on the line to dry is looks pretty darn good, but I know there are many more pieces to go.....yikes!  At the same time I am dyeing silk carrier rods, which are very time consuming....also kinda yucky....why I decided to do these at the same time I don't know.....will probably have to make a note to myself so I won't do it again. 

I plan to take time to do something creative of my choosing before I write again.  Have a great week.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Reminiscence and Creativity......

Sometimes we aren't even aware that what we do is different, not everyone does something creative everyday and many don't look at themselves as creative, but I have been blessed to have creative people in my life.  Is it simply how we look at things, how we challenge ourselves, or is it something much deeper...harder to express.

I was speaking to a guild on Tuesday, talking about "harnessing my creativity", what I do to take note of all the ideas, inspiration that comes my way.  As I was sharing a couple of quilts in a series based on my home state of Minnesota I was thinking about the people who shaped me, guided me and I was struck by one fundamental thing....they taught me to look closely at the smallest, most subtle details in the world around me.  For example, my uncle was 7 years older, I can remember the first time he put a snake, a frog, a lizard. a fish in my hands, I was about 4.  He taught me to really study their colors, markings, shapes and the feel of their skin,  eventually he became a wildlife biologist, working for the Department of Natural Resources.  He taught me respect for the environment, to care about the world around me. Today I am comfortable in the woods, spending time in the northern Minnesota woods gives me balance and I create based on those experiences.
One of my grandmothers and my mother was/is an artist, without ever realizing it color was an everyday conversation.  Whether it was in the garden, in a painting or in a project they were sewing.  I remember having a discussion with my grandmother about the flower seeds/bulbs, why she was placing them where she was.....because the colors worked well together.  Hmmm....simple color theory without even knowing what it meant.  I can remember the first time my mother attempted an abstract painting, it was extremely hard for her to do.  Once finished, we discussed it and I can remember thinking that compared to other things she had done it didn't speak to me.  Now I don't know if I would look at it differently today, but I do know that creating abstract work is very hard for me to do, it is a challenge.  So occasionally I challenge myself by creating outside my comfort zone,  hopefully one day I will convince myself that it is not so difficult to do and just maybe I will enjoy the experience. Turns out that I am my worst critic when I'm done.  It seems much safer to work in a more realistic way even if it seems I am being quite literal as the photo I'm using for inspiration or the memory in my "mind's eye".
 I believe creativity can be learned.  It can be cultivated and allowed.  For many of us we just need to give ourselves permission.  It is hard to let go of what may block/stop our creative process.

Enjoy your creative life!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Inspirational 48 Hours.....

This past Saturday......Fiber on a Whim went to Washington DC. To experience this event with my daughter made for a very emotional 48 hours and one I will cherish forever.  It was a fabulous experience to be a part of and we loved seeing so many people in one place treat each other with love and respect. It didn't matter one's gender, race, religion, nationality, or sexuality. It gives us hope that we as a nation can be united no matter the powers that be. We the people....all of us....matter.

Now I will return to the post I was planning on writing for Friday when we found out that we would both be making the trip to Washington DC. 

Reviewing the different watercolor mediums I used to create the first month's pages in my 2017 Planner.

First I will admit that I changed up the color scheme...just couldn't help myself. I love color!  Last weeks page spread was done using Caran D'Ache Neocolors.   Soft, yet enough color to give the page interest before even beginning collaging onto it.  From my stash of scrap papers came pieces of a French map, a fortune from a fortune cookie and I ripped a piece from my tea bag packaging. 

Since I'm behind I think I will include this weeks page spread today too.  For this set of pages I used my Derwent Inktense Blocks.  In this case I wasn't as thrilled because I seemed to need too much water in order to soften my marks made on the pages and the pages warped a bit more than I would have liked them to.  This may have been different had I loaded my brush directly from the block and then applied the paint to the page, so I may try that out next month or at some point during the year.  The pages were divided using washi tape and painted lutradur.  Lutradur is a stabilizer, but has so many other uses, you will frequently see it "pop" into my work, especially since I save painted scraps like they were gold.  For me the way it takes paint makes me look so much more talented that I have been known to spend an entire day painting yards of it.
Beside painting on lutradur you can use an inkjet print to print directly onto lutradur giving an ethereal look to your photograph.  Use Transfer Artist Paper to transfer a photo onto it, which gives you results entirely different than that of direct printing.  You can stitch, using natural fiber thread and then use a heat gun and burn it, the stitching will act as a resist leaving you with a cool pattern.  Create 3 D does not tear, you will need to cut it; the 100gram weight is perfect for this purpose.  I'm sure there are other uses...these are but a few and if you haven't tried it you may wish to play with it a bit.

Time to call it a day; as we will be on the road tomorrow evening for a guild program in Anderson, South Carolina.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Eye Candy.....

"Eye candy....with no calories whatsoever, so  I can indulge"; that is the most frequently heard comment about our products.  Many just stand there, "petting, fondling and absorbing"...I call it filling their "tanks".  We are such tactile and visual beings aren't we?  I know I am...if I wasn't I know I wouldn't be using fabric and fibers as my medium of choice for art making.

I love the days when everything we dye are drying, and then I try really hard to let myself appreciate the stacks of wonderful "colors" piled waiting to be packaged.  Cause if I think too hard about how much work is ahead to get everything ready to be sold, you would probably hear me crying.
For those of you old enough to remember hiding among the bed sheets line drying on laundry day, that is the feeling I get....only this is sweeter, better....hiding in among all this color is like heaven.
This is just a small glimpse at the hand-dyed Rayon Seam Binding and Sari Silk.  After Quilt Festival in Houston we had barely any left of variety that's for here is a small portion of the hangers full of wonderful variegated colors drying.....boy am I glad we have 70 degree temperatures in January. Makes life here so much simpler.
Here we are beginning the stacks to be packaged....before we start processing I can assure you this pile will be higher and there will be more of them. One time I lost Kristin behind a stack of cheesecloth on a table as she started packaging it up...I could hear her, see her legs but not her smile
 As a child growing up in Minnesota I loved seeing the bright green sprouts poking out of the snow as the winter was meant we would be blessed with all the colors of the rainbow as spring blossomed around us.  I guess I have always loved color.  Hand dyeing fabrics and fibers gives me the same rush of happiness, fullness.
The best part is we get to pet, fondle and take in all this glorious color....there are perks to this job.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Not Enough Time To Play....

Do you ever come to the end of the day and wonder where your time went?  I know, we did get quite a bit accomplished today (I will remember to take a photo of the pretties drying on the line tomorrow), but I did not find enough time to play...actually I didn't "take" any time to play.  First rule is to acknowledge that it is up to me to "make/take" time for play/art/creative work...whatever you want to call it.  I know it is on my shoulders to do this and I actually feel like I let myself down.

This past weekend I did make my planner/art journal a priority and spent many hours in my studio.  First thing was to play with color and collage on all of this month's pages.  After doing the first week of January's spread I thought maybe the color was too strong even through the gesso knocked it back a bit...I had used Golden Fluid Acrylics in my favorite color combo...
So I gathered up as many different watercolor products as I could find in my mess of a studio that I showed you in a previous blog post.  First up for the next weeks spread was Windsor Newton watercolors.
After deciding to mimic the first weeks color palette I set to work, once everything was dry I divided up the space for the seven days using a piece of handmade paper, washi tape, hand painted Lutradur and a piece of a restaurant napkin ring. Got to admit that was fun digging through a bin of what I call my recycled collage papers and so very relaxing.  I doodled a bit but....
my formidable studio assistant thought that she would lend a bit of help, well it's all rather new to her.  Blackie has only been with us two years in May, she was my in-laws beloved companion and after my mother in-law passed she came to live in the Deep South.  Now you have to understand life with two elderly people was quiet and she was a northern Midwestern kitty who traveled via car over 1000 miles to find that my studio was the safest room in a house with two dogs.  So when I start working/playing in "my" studio...really her room (maybe if I asked permission she would allow me my tools) however she is always interested...curious.  You should see what happens when I use the sewing machine....anyway I digress....

I do think the pages are softer, but it didn't make any difference in the ability to read what I wrote down.  Sure would be easier to travel with this planner/art journal and my Windsor Newton compact pan set, I will show you what the other watercolor mediums turned out like in a future post.  For now I think it's time to call it a night.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness; Messiness....Leads To Creativity?....

Remember the saying; "cleanliness is next to godliness"....that was one of those saying used to get us to clean our rooms, school desks, lockers and just about any other place our "stuff" could be found.  Logically, I know that "feeling" I get when my studio becomes a disaster is a hold over from my upbringing; however as these photos will show you it is more than a disaster, I can justify the mess since there are very good reasons for how it got that way.  However, I must admit that taking the time to clean it up just seems overwhelming.

The major reason for this mess is that my computer had a total and complete melt down as I was making my grandson's Christmas gift.  I did get a new computer for Christmas and he was very understanding about an IOU, but having to shift everything around to set up the new computer has taken a toll.  Then there are still all the parts needed to complete those unfinished Christmas gifts still "stacked" around.
When this room was photographed for an article in Quilting Arts several years ago it looked really good, but very sterile not necessarily a true representation of a working studio.   Flash forward to today and my continued reading about creativity...there are many studies out these days that lean toward the fact that messy/disorderly environments (oh I like that second description) inspire creativity, may even be a sign of "productive genius".  Hmm...that could very well make my head swell, but it doesn't help with putting order to this chaos or the internal struggle with my upbringing to be neat.

As you can see there are organizational systems in place around the room such as this Ikea hanging pots/shelves, a commercial thread drawer barely visible behind the sewing machine or the stack of drawers on the floor.  There are other shelves, a chest of drawers, walk-in closet, etc; which make putting things in their place fairly easy.  The everyday problem is how to have the current working projects close at hand, especially when you work in various mediums at any one time so that you can easily shift from one to another without just tossing things here and there.  If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.
For right now I will have to pick up as needed to complete a task at hand, because we are in full swing of show prep for the first half of this years shows....dyeing and processing will come before a true deep clean.  I think I can wrap my mind around that feeling of having to be neat, so that I can spend time on my "planner/art journal project" I mentioned last week.  I do have my priorities.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year, Jump Start Needed....

 Do you ever wonder where a year has gone?  Does this happen as we get older or is it really true that "time flies when your having fun"?  I don't know which way to point the I am getting older and  I am having fun, most of the time.  Looking back at the lack of posts this past year on this blog I cannot believe how few I wrote, don't really have an excuse as we were not on the road as much, but we sure did seem to be busy.  I always feel that I need to have something creative to share, or beautiful photos of scenery to inspire you with.

Well I must admit that I haven't really felt all that creative over the last couple of years (some would argue with me), seems like I have just been "making" things for the booth, to show how to use our products or dyeing fabrics and fibers. Not that this is bad, but it seems to leave me drained for my own work.  As a creative person this has happened to me before, I do know I just need to go into my studio and create.   Over the years I have worked in many mediums, concentrating the last 20 years on mixed media, my way.  That was when I started combining fabric, beads, found objects and paper to express myself.  However, working just on paper has never felt natural, consciously or unconsciously I have always felt the pull, a desire to do so, but fear of failure...not being good enough stops me every time.   One of my grandmothers painted in watercolor, worked in pen and ink; she would have said she grabbed whatever was nearby in order to express herself creatively.  When someone close to you is so good at what they do it can be quite intimidating...this I need to shake off...time to conquer what scares me the most.

Hold onto that thought, it's a new year and the mail comes, bringing with it the new Cloth Paper Scissor magazine. Now honestly we have gotten this magazine for years....the only thing I can think of is "right time, right place"....Dawn DeVries Sokols' article on a one-of a kind planner just struck a cord.  The planners I've been using the past few years don't give me much space daily and I have always been a "doodler"....perfect.  The more I mulled this project over the more it seemed a perfect way to cure what ails me...procrastination to take time out to be creative just because I want to.  Ta-Da!  So here goes....fear aside I have started....

Not a work of art, but a way to play with paints, inks, gel mediums, gesso and all that ephemera I have been collecting for years.  Now back to reality...
Ironing all this osnaburg....there are actually 2 chairs down at the end of this table, holding all this fabric, at least I hope so...cause it would be really frightening if that "heap" was from the floor to the top shelf of that book case...don't you think??

Happy New Year Everyone....may it be a fabulous year!!!