Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Explorations Episode 16: Further Adventures of Poor Little Diane

Last week I was poor little Diane, sitting on a stool, trying to make transparent foam from a piece of tulle:

I had used iridescent thread to sew small circles into a strip of nylon tulle, representing the bubbles of water created as the rising tide rushes through the furrows in the sand ripples.

I sewed the tulle onto the felted background in such a way that it was suspended between the tops of the furrows.

I don't know whether you can see it in these photos, but I've achieved somewhat of a two-dimensional look.  The beads and iridescent thread-painting, which is worked into the felted background, serves as the bottom of the sand ripple. The nylon tulle, thread painted with the iridescent thread, stands in for the bubbles in the water running through the tiny trough.

Once all those watery embellishments were sewn into and onto the felted background, it became time to attach  the top embellishment, a piece of silk chiffon painted to resemble a band of sea foam. After being painted, this oversize piece of silk chiffon was then layered with Fabric Magic, steamed, and shrunk.  The construction of this chiffon overlay was a big deal, not only because it was time-consuming, but because it was my SECOND effort at this part.  My first effort, made of raw silk, did not reach to the edges in the upper right and lower left corners:

This is the felted background without the painted silk overlay.
 Below is the first piece of painted silk, a monumental effort that was nevertheless too small.  See how it doesn't reach all the way to the edge on the upper right or the lower left?  This entire work has to be 30 x 50, so if I can't cut off the edges of the felted substrate to match the size of the silk, I have to make the silk big enough to reach to the edges of the felt.

So here's my second effort, this time of silk chiffon, and way too big, but that's good.

Below you can see how much too big it is:

It extends a good 8 to 10 inches past the upper right edge of the felted background, but better too big than too small.

So here are the two pieces basted together: the felted background, with its beaded and embellished sand ripples, and the overlay of silk chiffon, representing a band of foam advancing over a tidal flat.

Poor Little Diane, sitting on a bench
Trying to show how rising tide flows into a trench.

Guess what I have to do next?  Beading.  I want to show the tiny bubbles in the foam.

It's gonna be fun!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Explorations Episode 15: I Can't Believe I'm Doing This

I can't believe how long it's taken this piece of art to reach this point, and how many months of effort I've put into it.  It's become the most time-consuming art project of my life, by far.  But I'm starting to like the way it's looking.

When my daughter Leah was a little kid, she was famous for her art fits.  An art fit was the state she would get into if the work of her hands did not match the creation in her mind.  One time, for example, she tried to make a kid-size car out of corrugated cardboard.  Her little hands were not strong enough to wield scissors heavy enough to cut up a big cardboard box, and after mighty effort, she devolved into a fury of anguish, her face flushing to a reddish purple and her eyes spewing tears.  That was an art fit.

Leah has since learned to channel her artistic visions in more productive ways, and I couldn't be prouder of the number of times she's won prizes for her work as Creative Lead at Shapchat.  You can see her doing that here, in late May 2018:

Leah's attitude toward art must be hereditary.  I feel the same way.  If a vision is strong enough, and compelling enough, I too strive mightily to bring it to fruition.

This image.  It's been years since I first started wanting to  turn it into a fiber art creation:

Now I finally have a chance, because I've been juried into an invitation art exhibit that requires me to make a 50 x 30 piece.  I'm recreating this image, but I want to tell you, it's been a long struggle to get this piece to where it is today.

I started the process in early March, but started this piece itself on March 23.  It went through many, many iterations, many materials, and many attempts.  I'm not going to reiterate it all here because this is Episode 15.  Work on this actual piece starts at about Episode 5.  If you want to find out how many versions I've been through, feel free to take a look starting at that episode.

(BTW, I'm documenting all this because that's one of the requirements of this exhibit).

Anyway this is where the piece is now:

I took a piece of silk chiffon and painted it the colors of the foam and stitched 150,600 rows of stitching into it.  Then I took a steamer to it and shrunk it:

Before shrinking

After shrinking
So it's developed all these delightful puckers, looking more and more like the foam.  Now I'm layering it onto the felted background which stands in for the sand ripples:

I'd already used iridescent thread to look like the bubbles floating in each trough of sand.  Now I'm taking nylon tulle and sewing more bubbles into it.  My intention is that each tiny trough will be two-dimensional, with bubbles resting on the bottom, and more bubbles "floating," as sewn into a piece of tulle, above them

 This piece of tulle has had "bubbles" sewn onto it with iridescent thread.  I plan to pad the high points of each sand ripple, so that each shadowed trough is a depression with bubbles appearing to be suspended in water above it.

This is what the trough looks like with the tulle suspended above it.  You can't really see the bubbles resting on the bottom.  Not sure what I'm going to do about that, but I'm trying here.  Can't believe how hard.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Explorations Episode 14: Extreme Persistence

So I broke my arm today.  But that's not stopping me from carrying out acts of extreme  persistence on an epic scale. 

I have a track record for this:  making draft after draft of a fiber art piece because I want to get it right, dammit.  Even if it takes an inordinate amount of time.  For example, I once took ALL the quilting off this 40 x 40 quilt:

Homage to Cabbage II
...and I was much happier with it once I re-quilted it.

Today I continued to pursue perfection.  Or, to frame my actions in more positive terms, to honor my artistic vision.  I decided that a piece of lightweight raw silk, which was painted so carefully, stitched so lovingly, and steamed so thoroughly, all in an effort to imitate the creases and folds of a band of sea foam, was not big enough.

Not big enough?  After all that time and effort?

But it's not big enough.  Take a look:

Sand and Foam--Under Construction
The band of foam doesn't go all the way to the upper right corner and doesn't reach the lower left corner either.  What to do?  I can't make the base of the piece (merino wool felted onto raw silk) any smaller because the final product has to be 30 by 50.  If the base can't be smaller, then the band of foam has to be wider and longer.

But maybe I could patch it.  I experimented with that.  I thought I could make a patch out of some of my earlier scale models for the sea foam.  When I first started this project, I made scale models out of different kinds of silk, in a spirit of experimentation.  For example here's the scale size piece I made of silk chiffon:

...and this is a scale size model made with lightweight raw silk:

I liked the way the raw silk came out crunchy and textured like the foam itself.

If I used that piece of lightweight raw silk as a patch, here is an example of the way it might look if I used it to extend the silk foam in the lower left corner:

Can you see where the patch begins and ends?  It looks okay, I guess, but I'm thinking about the time I would spend fussing with it and worrying over it.

So I decided the time might be better spent starting all over, using hindsight to make the piece of silk foam longer and wider.  Plus I could try another kind of silk.  When I did the sample pieces, I really liked the way the piece of silk chiffon came out.  I also liked the way the lightweight raw silk came out, too, and  I chose the lightweight raw silk for the full size piece.

But it came out too short.

So I'm using this as an opportunity to change my material.  I'm going to use the silk chiffon.  It's going to take a long time to get it done.  First I have to cut out a piece of the chiffon, then transfer the pattern to it, making it 40 percent plus bigger because of the shrinkage that will happen.  Then I have to treat it with GAC 900.

That's where it is in this photo, treated with GAC 900 and the pattern transferred to the silk:

Now I'm starting to put on the paint, and so far it looks good.

Did you notice the sling?  I broke my arm this morning.  As you can see, I'm left-handed, so I can still use my left arm.  I broke my arm while bending over the raised bed, which is about knee-high...

...planting two Veronica Incana Pure Silver from Digging Dog Nursery:

...which don't look like much now, but are going to be a gorgeous addition to the silver garden, once they get bigger, if my gardening efforts are successful:

As I worked, I was bent over from the waist with my arms extended over the bed.  When I was done digging and planting, I straightened up and stepped back.  Or tried to step back.  The heel of my right shoe got stuck on the asphalt of the driveway, and refused to budge, while the rest of me fell over onto my arm and side. As I used my right arm to try to get up by pushing myself up off the driveway, I could feel my bone sliding and popping and refusing to support me.  It felt like something was very wrong.

A fractured head on the radius of my right arm, as it turns out.  Until I see the orthopedist on Monday, I'm to do nothing that requires any force or effort.  Like pulling myself up the stairs by the bannister.  Or even brushing teeth this morning hurt.

That means I can't do anything to help with the gourmet picnic we'll be having tomorrow at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, CT.

As a result, Joe has to do it all.  Poor Joe.  He's taking it like a trooper:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

And Now for Something Completely Different

I've been working my little buttsky off lately on a project for a high-stakes art quilt exhibit called Explorations:  Journey Into Creativity.   If you've been reading my blog postings, you may have already seen a plethora of information on that endeavor.  And if you've been following that story, you're not going to believe what I decided to do next.  I'm going to tell  you about that, but first, OMG I need a break from it, if for just one evening.

That's why I've decided to put together a little chronological photo show of this year's gardens from the time of the first blooms until today (6.7.18).  I know I'll feel much better when I finish it.  I also hope that anyone who has never seen my gardens up close and personally will love feasting their eyes on them as much as I do.

4.4.18 hellebores (helleborus orientalis)

4.30.18 hellebores and corydalis (helleborus orientalis and corydalis bulbosa)

4.30.18 Virginia bluebells and myrtle (Mertensia Virginica and vinca minor)
5.1.18 epimedium sulphureum and myrtle (vinca minor)

5.5.18 Today's bouquet

5.6.18 Dicentra formosa

5.6.18  Old-fashioned bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

5.6.18 grape hyacinths (muscari) and euonymus Emerald Gaiety.  Upper right corner, euphorbia dulcis chameleon.

5.10.18 Lamium pink pewter

5.10.18 lilacs

5/10/18 wisteria
5.12.18 Today's bouquet
5.17.18 rhododendron yakusimanum
5.19.18 euphorbia Bonfire

5.19.18 euphorbia Bonfire
5.23.18 Today's bouquet
5.2518 Honeysuckle (Lonicera harlequin)

5.26.18 Helianthemum Wisley Pink
5.27.18 Today's bouquet
5.27.18 First roses (Applejack).
5.28.18 Honeysuckle (Lonicera Harlequin)

5.31.18 Today's bouquet: Joyful, joyful

6.1.18 Snow in Summer (cerastium tomentosum)
6.1.18 baptisia and peonies
6.3.18 plethora of pinks

6.6.18 Heuchera Silver Scrolls, Japanese Painted Fern (athyriun pictum), couple different kinds of lamium

6.6.18 Today's bouquet--Fragrant Delight
6.7.18 Applejack roses
Sometimes people think  I must have a huge yard to have so many plants.  Au contraire.  The lot is 50 x 150, or 7500 square feet--standard lot size for the older part of West Hartford.  An acre is 43,560 square feet.  That makes my puny lot about a fifth of an acre.


But I do what I can with it.

And it sure felt good to put together that photo show.  Better better better.