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 perfectionism.  Or to frame my actions in more positive terms, to honor my artistic vision.  I decided that the 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.  It's going to take a long time to get it done.  First I have to cut out a piece of silk chiffon, transfer the pattern to it, making it 40 percent plus bigger, then 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.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Explorations Episode 13: Graying it Up, Toning it Down

Did you know that, in felting, a person can apply color as easily as if it were paint? --but sans brush and sans spills.  That's what I've been doing this week, applying wisps of fiber as if it were paint.  I'm working against an August 1 deadline, using merino wool to change some of the colors a major piece I'm working on.

 This is for an exhibit called Explorations: Journeys in Creativity:  The Artist's Studio.

The background was 'way too bright.

Those golds and light yellows, intended to show the raised parts of ridges in the sand, were just too bright.  Yes, they were supposed to show something that was shining because it was raised, and catching the light.  But in this case those colors stole the show when combined with the luscious piece of textured silk which I've painted and stitched and made to look like a ribbon of foam.

The color of those ridges needed to be less assertively bright.

So I used browns and grays to kick down the brightness a notch.  First I applied gray and brown wisps by hand:

Then I used my Baby Lock felter to mesh them even more tightly on the background of raw silk layered on top of wool quilt batting:

Now that background looks like this, more subtle:

And it especially looks better now with the painted silk layered on top of it:

Progress on this piece is slow, but at least it's progress.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Explorations Episode 12: Extreme Shrinkage

Today I used a steamer to apply steam to a piece of raw silk which I had painted, layered with a product called Fabric Magic, and stitched.

Here's my little steamer:

Here's what that piece of silk looked like after I painted it, layered it with Fabric Magic, and stitched it, but before I steamed it:

Here's what it looked like after steaming:

Pretty cool, isn't it?

I'm well on my way to turning this piece of silk into an undulating band of foam: