Here's my favorite Christmas quote of all time: "If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life.--author unknown
I can't believe it has been well over a month since my last post. Life has been very FULL lately. During this past month I have traveled with my son and husband to the Seattle region to look at colleges. Came home to celebrate Thanksgiving and then head out again to New Orleans to help care for my mom. Came home from that and was thrust into Christmas planning and the return of my daughter from Italy and her study abroad adventure. Luckily she got home hours before the horrible weather broke loose in Europe. So thankful to have her home and to have a FULL nest again. Needless to say I have done very little art and it is making me restless and anxious and with little direction on where I want to go with my art next. So I'm taking advantage of these dark days to ponder my path. And I am hoping for some light to illuminate the way.
During the summer my brother sent me a copy of a photograph he took several years ago while visiting me in Colorado. He asked me If I could needle felt this landscape for him. "Sure" I said, no problem. Being the detail perfectionist that I am, the more and more I looked at the photo, the more anxious I became. Why didn't he just ask me to paint a picture? I could have done that and captured many of the details. But needle felting is different. Capturing all those trees and rocks, etc, etc. is not easy with roving and a barbed needle. And I had to make it more difficult because I HAD TO CAPTURE ALL THE DETAILS OR IT WOULDN'T BE GOOD ENOUGH! So the photograph has sat on my worktable for months until a few weeks ago it dawned on my poor perfectionist self that I didn't have to capture ALL the details. I could EDIT out some things and still stay true to the beauty of the scene. This is such a hard concept for me to wrap my head around. Instead of recognizing the limitations of the medium, I would rather get down on myself and think that if I was a better needle felter I would be able to make a perfect replica of the photo. Not a good way to think. Only hurts myself and keeps me from moving forward.
But I told myself that I should just try. Play with it. If it didn't work, I could always make up some story about why it couldn't be done. I could also, do a sample, see how it went, maybe do another and another. Just play and see what happens. And slowly but surely, I began to edit out unnecessary parts and came up with this.
Here's a closeup.
I'm happy with it so far. I am resisting going back and adding more details. Keep telling myself to just let it be what it is.
Moral of this story: IN LIFE AND IN ART, EDIT OUT UNNECESSARY DETAILS AND FOCUS ON WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT.
One of my latest Etsy shop finds is Jenny Fields Fibers. This photograph is of a luscious art batt I recently purchased. The colors and variety of fibers makes for great TEXTURE. It reminds me of the canyon walls around my home. Can't wait to use it in a felted landscape. Jenny's shop address is http://jenny13.etsy.com/ . Have fun looking through her shop.
1. Everything old is new again. Old fabric, old clothes, old linens and lace. Old cloth to new cloth.
2. Look below the surface. You never know what you'll find.
3. I've always loved handstitching--now more than ever.
4. Never throw away your scraps.
5. Slow down; enjoy the process; accept where you are in the process.
6. Cloth has a story to tell.
7. Listen to the cloth. It will tell you what to do next.
8. All learning should include some fun along the way.
9. Jude Hill is a great teacher.
10. The end is just the beginning.
When I was a little girl I loved to go to my grandmother's house and play in her backyard. It wasn't much of a yard. More of a cement slab, no grass, but flower beds around the perimeter and lots of pots of flowers. I vividly remember coming out of her back door and seeing a large white enamel dishpan with red trim filled with portulacas. Today these are still one of my favorite flowers. I think it is because of the variety of colors they come in and because of the sweetness of the flowers. They are precious little rose- like flowers that bloom all summer long in hot dry climates. When I moved to Colorado I started planting them every summer in honor of my grandmother. I was lucky enough to find a dishpan just like my grandmother's tucked away in a cabinet of our mountain cabin. When my husband and I bought the cabin, the contents came with the structure. Most of it was junk which we promptly got rid of. But when I came across the dishpan I was so happy you would have thought I had discovered gold in them there hills. But this lowly dishpan has become one of my most treasured items because of the joy it brings me when I plant portulacas for my grandmother, and the fond memories it brings back of being in her yard on a hot, sultry New Orleans summer day
The flowers are sweet and silky. But the sprawling stems are succulent with cylindrical leaves that provide beautiful TEXTURE in the garden. Tonight will be our first freeze so I took these photographs to put in my journal. So when I'm knee deep in snow this winter, I'll have a picture to remind me of one of summer's great pleasures.
Can you guess what this is? Check out all the hills and valleys, the striations, the little pricklies in the dark green. It's the stem from one of the blue hubbard squash in my garden. I love squash stems for their fabulous texture. I love how the knubby browns are interrupted by the smooth green stritations. I think I'll try to carve a stamp to replicate this. What textures in nature do you like?
"There is something magical in seeing what you can do, what TEXTURE and tone and colour you can produce merely with a pen point and a bottle of ink." Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
The Cloth to Cloth workshop continues. I've had a cold all week (my annual back to school cold--my kids go to school, bring home a cold and give it to me), and I haven't had much energy for anything other than keeping up with the lessons. The first 3 pictures are small anchored weavings I plan on adding to larger pieces. They measure about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches. The last two photos are from this week's lesson on double weavings. Five layers of fabric are used which allows you to cut into the layers to reveal what is below. This allows for all kinds of options--highlighting special fabrics, creating windows to reveal treasures, making weaves within weaves, and on and on. Lots of possibilities. We have also been exploring stitches for securing ragged edges. Next week we work on embellishment. Can't wait for that.
PLEASE EXCUSE THE LOOKS OF THIS POST. BLOGGER HAS CHANGED IT'S FORMAT AND I HAVEN'T THE ENERGY TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT AND MAKE THINGS LOOK GOOD.
Lesson 2 of the Cloth to Cloth class involves creating an anchored weaving. Three methods were given and I choice to focus on the third one in which you cut slits into the base fabric to form the strips that you can then weave into. Very simple and eliminates one layer of fabric. So this first photo has been titled "WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" We have here GAREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!, gold and rust. I had this idea of summer transitioning into autumn. Only thing, nature isn't quite so garish.
So after I picked myself up off the floor from rolling around in laughter, I decided that I liked the rust colored fabric which is an old silk scarf that I painted awhile back. I didn't like the way it turned out, so I repainted it with setacolor paints and did some sunprinting with maple leaves. This fabric led to the tan fabric I had rusted last year and the fabric with the writing on it which is a cotton with the words of a Mary Oliver poem, The Journey, handwritten on it. I colored it with burnt umber and indigo blue watercolor paints which then led to the dark blue leaf print and trim.
Here's what I ended up with. I kind of forgot the part of the lesson about using a fairly sturdy fabric for the base. The rust colored fabric is a habotai silk which is very flimsy, but with some TLC I was able to work with it. I know I am jumping ahead with embellishment, but I so rarely have an opportunity to follow through on all the ideas rolling around in my head, I just decided to go with it.
Of all the quilts I have ever made, this is my favorite which I made in 2000. I used over 100 different fabrics, which is the way I do quilts. I can't stand piecing the same fabrics over and over again. I love the fact that I took the time to hand quilt it even though I was in the middle of being a mom. This was the quilt my kids went to when they wanted to snuggle and read.
I have piles of strips leftover and have waited for the perfect project to use some of them. A few weeks ago I found it when I signed up for Jude Hill's Cloth to Cloth online class. http://spiritcloth.typepad.com. We started this week and what what fun it has been. There are a huge number of participants and the pictures and comments posted so far have been wonderful. Our first exercise was to do some cloth weaving which is now my new addiction. I'm showing my first two below. I've already got an idea on the applique and embroidery I want to do on the surface, but I'm going to wait until we get a little further along in the class in case I change my mind.
Jude has a wonderful blog so even if you can't take the class (I don't know if it is full or not), you'll be able to see her beautiful work. She's a hand stitcher and that is why I love her art so much. She also has an article in the current Quiilting Arts magazine which you can also check out.
I"ll be posting more pictures as the class goes on.
I finally finished my Rebecca Ringquist sampler and turned it into a pillow. In order to finish the sampler I had to add some fabric to the top and bottom so I could work with in a hoop. Then added some more strips to the sides. Then I added three rows of running stitches all the way around changing colors as I came to the end of a thread. More using up bits and pieces of leftovers.
Because it ended up being a odd size I made my own pillow form, finished off the back with a scrap of a reproduction fabric, added the trim, three buttons and it's all done. This is a sitting pretty on a chair pillow, not a take a nap with pillow. I'm really happy with how it turned out and I did it all just for pure pleasure of embroidery.
Early this year I took an online class with LK Ludwig--Printed, Patterned, Painted Journal Making (http://gryphonsfeather.typepad.com). I used some of the papers to make this little book. It's about 3"x4" so very small. I wanted to do something special with it but for the longest while no ideas were coming. Then I came across some poetry from Tracie Lyn Huskamp (http://thereddoor-studio.blogspot.com) that I love and I immediately knew what to do. To me the poetry is all about stopping to smell the roses, enjoying simple everyday moments and being grateful for life itself. One thing that I am grateful for is that I am a collector. I have a huge collection of dried leaves and flowers. When I look at them, my heart quivers. Even though some of the color has faded from them, they are as beautiful as the day they first caught my eye. In some cases the color has mellowed into something even more beautiful then the original intensity I was attracted to. I love my seashells--the broken ones as well as the more perfect specimens. All are treasures from the beaches I have walked in my life. And then there is my antique fabric collection, especially the fabrics and bits of lace from my grandmother. It makes me so happy to think of her touching these textiles and loving their color and design just as I do. When I see this basket of lovelies I feel connected to her and using them in my art is a way of honoring her life.
So back to the book. I've always wanted to use some of these treasures in a way that would be a memoir of my life. I know that it is in everyday life with family and nature that I find my greatest joy. So with Tracie's poetry, my handmade book and the bits and pieces I have colllected since childhood, I have created another treasure that helps me to remember to pay attention to life, to honor my life as well as those who have gone before me. The pictures aren't the greatest but you'll get the idea.
When my daughter was around 8 or 9 one of our favorite books to read was the Lost Flower Children by Janet Taylor Lisle. It is a wonderful story about how we deal with the pain of loss and the redemptive power of the garden. When I look at my mid summer garden I dream of fairy children playing under the canopy of leaves,
coloring the blossoms
swinging from the tendrils and whispering in the ears of each plant words of encouragement.
How does the earth know what to do with the seed?
How does the flower know when to release itself so that the fruit may spring forth?
How does such wonder come about? Only the fairy children know for sure.
Mixed media artist who loves to play with fiber, textiles, paper and color. I am a member of the TAFA Team! TAFA The Textile and Fiber Art List is an organization of textile business and fiber artists. Visit our blog at www.tafateam.blogspot.com We have textiles, fiber art, accessories, vintage and supplies!